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Marion Davies ~ The Talented Mistress

She was born Marion Cecelia Douras on January 3, 1897, in Brooklyn, New York. Marion was the fifth child of a police magistrate. Tragedy struck in 1906 when her brother drowned. When she was a teenager she worked as an a model and joined the Ziegfeld Follies in 1916. She also posed nude for Howard Chandler Christy and Charles Sheldon. While dancing in the Follies she met married married billionaire William Randolph Hearst and quickly became his mistress. Hearst formed Cosmopolitan Pictures and spent more than five million dollars to launch her acting career. Marion starred in a string of hit silent films including Yolanda, Quality Street, and Show People. The beautiful blonde became the top box-office star of 1923. She was a talented comedienne but her career was often overshadowed by her relationship with Hearst. The couple lived together in a giant mansion called “San Simeon” where they threw lavish parties for their celebrity friends.

Marion DaviesMarion Davies Magazine Cover

Marion Davies

Although she loved Hearst she had affairs with Charlie Chaplin, Joel McCrea, and Johnny Mack Brown. In 1924 she was involved in a scandal when producer Thomas Ince died mysteriously after attending a party on her yacht. Rumors swirled that in a jealous rage Hearst had attempted to shoot Charlie Chaplin but accidentally murdered Ince instead. Marion was nervous about making the transition to sound films because of a stutter. However she was able to overcome this problem and her box-office success continued. She costarred with Clark Gable in Polly Of The Circus and with Bing Crosby in Going Hollywood. Marion desperately wanted to get married and it broke her heart when Hearst refused to divorce his wife. During their long romance she had several abortions and gave birth to a secret daughter, Patricia, who was raised by her sister. When Hearst got into financial trouble in the 1930s Marion sold her jewelry to help him.  Unfortunately by the age of forty she had developed a serious drinking problem and started putting on weight.

Marion Davies
Marion DaviesMarion Davies

She decided to quit acting after making the 1937 comedy Ever Since Eve. The character of Susan Kane in the Oscar winning 1941 film Citizen Kane was based on Marion. Susan is an untalented dumb blonde who uses her billionaire lover for his money. Sadly the film tarnished her reputation in Hollywood for decades. Marion remained devoted to William Randolph Hearst until his death in 1951. Despite the fact that they had lived together for more than thirty years she was not allowed to attend his funeral. She impulsively married former actor Horace G. Brown on October 31, 1951. It was a rocky marriage and they separated several times. Marion was still a very wealthy woman and she supported numerous children’s charities. She once said “I can’t say I was ever unhappy, not at all. It was a big, gay party, every bit of it.”  Her health began decline after she suffered a stroke in 1956. On September 22, 1961 she died from stomach cancer at the age of sixty-four. Marion is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

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