Was ‘30s star Marion Davies a Hollywood mistress plagued by scandal? Author hopes to let ‘her story be known’
Marion Davis, the Hollywood star who eclipsed her “greatest movie ever” career decades after her death, is back in the spotlight.
The actress who made her mark in the silent film era and the first decade of Talkies is the subject of a new book titled “Captain Soul” By screenwriter Lara Gabriel. It chronicles Davis’ rise to stardom as a sought-after comedian, as well as her tragic final years. For the book, Gabrielle tracked down some of Davis’s surviving confidants who were eager to shed new light on their friend.
Davis died in 1961 at the age of 64 of cancer. In recent years, Kirsten Dunst and Amanda Seyfried have starred in 2001’s The Cat’s Meow and 2020’s Mank on Netflix. Seyfried, 36, scored her first Academy Award nomination in 2021 for the biographical drama.
Gabrielle told Fox News Digital that she wanted to set the record straight for Davis, who has always been portrayed as a beautiful, but untalented party girl and high-profile lover.
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“Up until now, Marion Davies was seen as the mistress of William Randolph Hearst,” Gabrielle explained. “And it was so much more. For one thing, their relationship was so much more. [than that]… They were really soul mates … She saw herself as the captain of her soul. Those were her words. This is a woman of this age who made her own decisions. She negotiated her own contracts. She decided she would retire on her own terms. And I think this story is very relevant to this era, where we see women for what they are.”
Hearst, who built the country’s largest newspaper chain, first met Davis when she was 19 as a chorus girl in New York City. The 53-year-old married businessman fell on his head in the wake of the young artist and I vowed to make her a star. According to Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Hearst spared no expense but rather set up a production company solely for her projects. It also took advantage of deals with major studios to distribute its films.
“Hearst’s marriage to Millicent was basically done,” Gabrielle explained. “They didn’t have much of a life together. Meanwhile, Hearst and Marion bonded over literature. They read together and talked about characters. Marion was an avid reader. So was Hearst. And so their relationship grew, and it was a very natural love for them.”
The relationship lasted three decades.
Gabrielle stressed that despite their controversial romance, Davis worked tirelessly to prove her worth in Tinseltown. She continued to produce her own films.
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“Marion was extraordinarily talented,” Gabrielle explained. “She was a talented comedian. If you watch any of her movies today, they are just out loud. She was famous for this steely guts when she was working on set. She made all of her own decisions and was so amazing. A skilled businesswoman, which is unheard of.” at that time “.
“She had a stutter that affected just about everything,” Gabrielle said. “But she didn’t really let it get to her. She kept her poise and strength. I feel like that’s something a lot of people don’t know about her today…It was very touching to see how she handled her struggles.”
Davis found herself in a lot Claimed to be a murder mystery. She was on Hearst’s yacht when director Thomas Ince died suddenly in 1924 at the age of 44. For years, it was rumored that Hearst shot Incy after he thought it was Charlie Chaplin’s fault in the dark for an alleged affair with Davis.
When I heard her talk about this in her autobiographical tapes, she would say, ‘How can anyone think this happened? This is so stupid,” Gabrielle said with a laugh. “Everything is falling apart so fast… He was basically sick. Took a water taxi back to San Diego with a doctor on board and back to Los Angeles where he died at home…but people love good stories.” Meow has firmly entrenched this myth. I keep getting this question a lot.”
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Then there was ‘Citizen Kane’ which is still referred to as “The greatest movie ever.” The 1941 film, which is said to have been inspired by Hearst, features a character named Susan Alexander played by Dorothy Comingore. Portrayed as an untalented blonde singer, Kane (Orson Welles) tries to legitimize her by furthering her career. While many associate the role with Davis, Gabrielle has said opera singer Jana Walska and her relationship with businessman Harold Fowler McCormick are a closer role model.
“There are definitely a lot of similarities,” Gabrielle said. “But Kane and Susan Alexander were a mixture of different people… Susan Alexander was portrayed as an untalented drunk who used Kane for his money and left him in the dust. Hearst was very upset with the movie. Marion wasn’t quite as much, in the least publicly [later] He said Orson Welles could make any movie he wanted to make and “Who am I to tell him how to make his?”
Citizen Kane, which depicts a maniac mogul in the middle, has hit a nerve. History.com reported that Hearst was so angry that he led a bitter campaign against the film. According to the director, he first tried to stop production. He then published personal attacks against Wales. After that, he went so far as to ban ads for the movie. Wells later said that Citizen Kane was not a biopic of Hearst, but rather a composite of several strongmen. Nor did he ever intend to call Davis a character like Alexander.
Davis chose to expand her career as a real estate investor in California. According to reports, Davis was so successful that she gave Hearst $1 million to save his business from financial ruin during the downturn of the Depression.
But behind the glamor of her Hollywood life, Davis has struggled with personal struggles. It has been speculated that a disabled stutter is the end of her career. Her last film was in 1937, “Ever Since Eve”. Hearst then died in 1951 at the age of 88.
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“The relationship lasted until the moment of his death,” Gabrielle said. Kissing Marion Davis was the last thing William Randolph Hearst ever did. She was with him until he fell into a coma. But that pretty much says it all about their relationship. They were devoted to each other. She held a three-day vigil by his bedside before he died Without a wink of sleep.”
Gabrielle said Davis’ last years have been “difficult” as she has dealt with alcoholism and unhappy marriage To Horace Brown. The sea captain has been described as having a lookalike of Hearst. They married in 1951, months after Hearst’s death.
“They weren’t right for each other,” Gabrielle said. “She almost divorced him a few times, but didn’t go through with it. She struggled with alcoholism a lot more after Hearst’s death. She had it always, since her choir girl days. But some people started noticing that she had an alcoholism problem. Hearst was worried about her and this disease she already had. He made a lot of effort to keep alcohol off her. But after his death, there was no one to do that to her. So it only got worse… One reader wrote that the book was a really great piece, But the past ten years don’t make reading happy, and that’s true.”
At the time of her death, the New York Times described Davis as a “tired, sad, and lonely woman”. She died 10 years after Hearst.
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Today, Gabrielle hopes that audiences will recognize Davis’s whirlwind in Hollywood, which appears to have become forgotten over time.
“Marion wasn’t dedicated to being a star,” Gabrielle said. “Marion considered herself a normal person who just happened to work as an actress… She was proud of her work, she was proud of what she had accomplished. She kept all her films, but she wasn’t the type to trumpet her horn. All of that and she didn’t take herself too seriously, it was really her character and yet she’s been taking damage for years. I hope this book Let’s finally know her story.”