“I couldn’t act, but the idea of silent pictures appealed to me, because I couldn’t talk either.” – Marion Davies, who spoke with a stutter.
Source: The Times We Had by Marion Davies (edited by Pamela Pfau and Kenneth S. Marx).
Photo: Ruth Harriet Louise in 1926.
April Folly (1920)
“I was constantly thinking of myself, nothing else. Young people never appreciate the beauty of things. Maybe I was the one and only, but I’d look at things in a gallery or a museum and I wouldn’t see them. It was a long time afterward that I realized that they were marvelous.” — Marion Davies
Source: The Times We Had, by Marion Davies (Edited by Pamela Pfau and Kenneth S. Marx).
Photo: George Hurrell
Artist: Thelma June Tretheway. Year: 1925. Oil on board. 11.5 x 9.5 inches.
Artist: Nikol Shattenstein. Year: not given. Oil. Top photo: 81″ (h) x 41″. 3″ (w). Middle photo: 81″ x 41.” Bottom photo: 42 x 80 canvas oil painting. Commissioned by Davies for one of her homes.
The door to Marion Davies‘ portable dressing room at M-G-M, circa 1926. (LAPL: 00094294)
With Antonio Moreno in Beverly of Graustark (1926)
With her sister, Ethel Douras, attending Rudolph Valentino’s West Coast funeral held at the Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd (505 N. Bedford Dr., Beverly Hills) on September 7, 1926. (LAPL)
“I drop my work in the middle of everything when I find that I am fatigued. And during every change of scene, I go into my dressing room and sit quietly with my eyes shut, even only for five minutes.” — Marion Davies
Photo: The Red Mill (1927)
“People with nerves should never go into the movies, and people without nerve can’t.” – Marion Davies
Source: Myrtle Gephart (1928)
Photographer: Ruth Harriet Louise (1928)
Marion Davies as Pola Negri.
“Marion Davies was a mimic and a parodist and a very original sort of comedienne, but though [William Randolph] Hearst liked her to make him laugh at home, he wanted her to be a romantic maiden in the movies, and—what was irreconcilable with her talent—dignified.” – Pauline Kael, film critic, explaining why Hearst kept Davies from making too many comedies.
A gag photo on the set of The Patsy. Photo taken in late 1927.
Left to right: Davies, Nils Asther, John Arnold and director Robert Z. Leonard on the set of The Cardboard Lover.
Behind the scenes production still of The Cardboard Lover, co-starring Nils Asther. In this shot, left to right: Assistant Director Dave Howard, Cinematographer John Arnold (behind camera), Robert Z. Leonard (sitting in his chair), and gag man Ward Wing, sitting right of Leonard.
Director King Vidor poses with Davies on the set of Show People (1928) Bizarre Los Angeles
“Hollywood is a place where one hundred people have convinced the world that they are more important than the other many millions who live on the old globe.” — Marion Davies
Source: Myrtle Gebhart (1928)
At the Hollywood premiere of The Broadway Melody at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Feb. 1, 1929. LAPL
Marion Davies, Charles King, and Aileen Pringle in a still from the ill-fated musical, The Five O’Clock Girl, a late 1920s film that was either never completed or shelved indefinitely. A true piece of Lost Hollywood.
Marion Davies poses for caricature artist Major while William Haines looks on. Haines is wearing a gob for the movie Navy Blues (1929). Chances are that Davies was filming Not So Dumb (1930) at the time.
Davies at a costume party thrown at her Santa Monica Beach House around 1930. The mansion was often referred to as “The Versailles of Hollywood” and provided the setting for a number of lavish parties.
Posing with Norma Shearer.
With George K. Arthur
Views of Marion Davies’ Santa Monica Beach House in its prime.
The Hollywood Pantages Theatre opened June 5, 1930, with the premiere of The Floradora Girl, starring Marion Davies. Here she is with Charles Chaplin. In the bottom photo, they are joined by character actor Walter Catlett. The master of ceremonies (inside the theatre) was Eddie Cantor.
Edwin Shallert of the Los Angeles Times wrote:
“Crowds throng the streets as only crowds can when the show is programmed to have all the stars present. The huge lobby of the new theater was ablaze with lights. The radio hummed with the introductions of the sparklers of cinemaland, and their brief comments. Fashion and display prevailed as only fashion and display can prevail when a new theater for pictures is to be dedicated.”
Its builder, Alexander Pantages, who faced charges for the alleged rape of a showgirl, spent the night in the Los Angeles County Jail, listening to the premiere broadcast from a hospital cot.
“I like to be myself and try to avoid roles incongruous to my own personality. I want to keep on playing in comedies.” — Marion Davies
“If I can make people laugh I am content to leave the sobs to others.” — Marion Davies
In 1932, Gary Cooper threw a private party at his home for John Hay Whitney and his wife. In attendance were Helen Hayes, Mary Pickford, Richard Arlen, and Marion Davies. Here they are, posing in Coop‘s den.
“There are too many tears in real life. I would rather supply some laughs. I enjoy living and like to do what I can to help make others enjoy themselves.” — Marion Davies in 1931.
Photo: C.S. Bull
“To tell the truth, I am afraid of death for myself…I am afraid of nothingness. I think I could tackle any problem, any new work there might be to do – in any new world – but oblivion terrifies me, the me that is me. There is something about nothingness that is so unbearably cold and lonely.” — Marion Davies
Source: Gladys Hall (1933)
Photo: C.S. Bull
Inside Marion Davies‘ portable star trailer in the 1930s.
Photographer: C.S. Bull
One of the “fourteen-room dressing quarters” built for Marion Davies on the MGM lot. The cost of the house was in the neighborhood of $100,000. When Davies left MGM, in 1934, the building was dismantled.
“With me, it was 5% talent and 95% publicity.” — Marion Davies
“One of the alleged reasons Marion departed the M.-G.-M. lot was that the best stories were given to Norma Shearer. ‘The Barretts of Wimpole Street’ was one. Another was ‘Marie Antoinette’ with Miss Shearer, but the stork will hold up production. So what do you think will be the first picture for Miss Davies at Warners? Why, ‘Marie Antoinette,’ of course. And Jack Warner will personally supervise the show.” — article Marion Davies, House and All, Quites M.-G.-M., November 17, 1934.
Photo: As Marie Antoinette. The Warner Bros. rival project, however, never materialized.
Famous lips of 1935: Bette Davis, Ann Dvorak, Winifred Shaw, Glenda Farrell, Dolores Del Rio, Verree Teasdale, Marion Davies, Jean Muir, Josephine Hutchinson, Olivia de Havilland, Anita Louise, Patricia Ellis, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Margaret Lindsey and Kay Francis.
“Movie Stars Homes on Beach at Santa Monica.” The large white building at the bottom of the picture is Marion Davies’ Santa Monica Beach House, c. 1930s.
Photographer: Bob Plunkett.
“I’ll probably be remembered more for the parties I gave at the [Santa Monica] beach house, but the clinic is the real joy of my life.” — Marion Davies in 1960 (a year before her death).
Here she is in 1958, presenting a check for $1,500,000 for the construction of the Marion Davies Children’s Wing at UCLA Medical Center.
Patricia Van Cleeve Lake (seated left) was always introduced as Davies‘ niece. She confessed in 1993, however, that she was really the illegitimate daughter of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst. This confirmed a lot of speculation dating all the way back to the 1920s. In fact, friends and acquaintances for years had noticed how much Davies’ niece resembled Hearst.
As the story goes, Hearst and Davies traveled to Europe in 1923 so that Davies could give birth out of wedlock and avoid a scandal. Arrangements were then made for the newborn to be given to Marion‘s sister to raise. Hearst was said to have paid for Patricia’s care and the child often accompanied Hearst and Davies on trips. According to family legend, Hearst eventually confessed to Patricia that he was her biological father on her wedding day. (Note: There is a year discrepancy as to when Patricia was actually born. U.S. Social Security records state that her birth took place in June of 1919.)
In 1937, Patricia married Arthur Lake (standing far right), who was famous for playing “Dagwood Bumstead” in a series of “Blondie” B comedies. Patricia would have likely been between the ages of 13 and 18 at the time, depending on the actual year she was born. Apparently, Lake never knew for sure when she was born. The other people in the photo include Mrs. Huntington Hartford (Marjorie Steele) to the right of Davies, and (standing left) Douglas Wood and Capt. Horace Brown (Davies‘ husband at the time, who also reminded people of Hearst).