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Marion Cecelia Davies (Douras)

Also Known As: "Rosebud"
Birthplace: Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, United States
Death: September 22, 1961 (64)
Hollywood, CA, United States
Place of Burial: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Bernard J. Douras and Rose Claire Douras
Wife of Horace G. Brown
Partner of William Randolph Hearst
Mother of Patricia Douras Lake
Sister of Reine Davies; Ethel Davies; Rose Davies; Rose Douras; Charles Douras and 1 other

Occupation: Actress
Managed by: Scott David Hibbard
Last Updated:

About Marion Davies

Famous mistress of William Randolph Hearst; though in the morality of the 21st century she would merely be referred to as his "partner". She is scandalously known by the nickname of 'rosebud'.

Marion Davies (born Marion Cecilia Douras) was an American film actress who is best remembered for her relationship with married newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, as her high-profile social life often obscured her professional career.

Marion was the youngest of five children. Her elder siblings included Rose, Reine, and Ethel. A brother, Charles, died at the age of 15 from drowning in 1906.

The Douras brood lived near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, but already the bright lights of Manhattan beckoned to the sisters. They all became showgirls on the Great White Way, where Florenz Ziegfeld was beginning his spectacular annual "Ziegfeld Follies" shows. These shows were considered the high end of vaudeville.

The girls changed their surname to Davies, which one of them spotted from a realtor's sign in the neighborhood. Even as New York was the melting pot for new immigrants, having a WASP surname greatly helped one's prospects.

Marion outshone her siblings with a 20-year movie career, playing light comedic roles well into the 1930s and giving generous financial assistance to her family and friends. These facts are still overshadowed by her relationship with William Randolph Hearst, who was married to former showgirl turned society grande dame Millicent Veronica Willson, and Davies' fabulous life as hostess at San Simeon and Ocean House in Santa Monica. Her career, however, was hampered by Hearst's insistence that she play distinguished, dramatic parts, as opposed to the comic roles that were her forte, as well as her increasing dependence on alcohol (she used to hide bottles of liquor in San Simeon's toilet tanks).

In all she played in 50 films. She was producer in 10 of them. Her last was in 1937.

She is sometimes confused with the shrill, talentless Susan Alexander character portrayed in Citizen Kane, which was based loosely on Hearst's life. But there's little similarity between the fictional character and real woman.

At one point Hearst's empire crumbled and he was about to lose everything. Over Hearst's objections, Davies sold millions of dollars of the gifts Hearst had given her over the years to raise money to bail him out. Davies commented that the gold digger had fallen in love.

Ten weeks after the death of William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies married for the first time, at the age of 54, on October 31, 1951. Her husband was a former sea captain and policeman and sometime actor, Horace G. Brown. It was not a happy marriage: Marion filed divorce papers twice but no divorce was ever finalized.

In 1952 Davies donated $1.9 million to establish a children's clinic at UCLA, which still bears her name. She also fought childhood diseases through the Marion Davies Foundation.

Marion Davies died in Hollywood, California. Her funeral was attended by old-time Hollywood legends and President Herbert Hoover. She is buried in the Hollywood Forever Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood.

During the lifetime of Davies' niece Patricia Lake (née Van Cleeve), the latter was said to be the daughter of Marion Davies's sister Rose Davies and her first husband, George Van Cleeve. (Patricia married Arthur Lake, who played Dagwood in numerous films.) After Patricia's death, her family announced that she was in fact the daughter of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst, though this claim does not appear to have been verified independently. However, Patricia and her husband are buried with Marion Davies.

Actress. She is remembered for being an actress in the pioneer years of the Hollywood film industry. With her three older sisters, Rose, Reine, and Ethel, being successful performers in New York City on Broadway, she had a desire to follow in their footsteps. Starting in school plays, she became a chorus girl after graduation and eventually appearing in the famous Ziegfeld Follies. While being a model, she met William Randolph Hearst, a publishing tycoon, and, although he was married with children, she began a very public intimate thirty-year relationship with him. He was thirty-four years her senior. In the era of black-and-white silent movies, at the age of twenty, she made her first film, "Runaway Romany" in 1917, which she wrote and her brother-in-law directed. In 1918 she appeared in three more films, which were financed by Hearst, including the one that made her a star, "Cecilia of the Pink Roses". From this point, she appeared in more films which were financed by Hearst. After Hearst's wife and children returned to New York in 1927, the couple lived together in his grand mansion, Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, California. They hosted legendary parties attended by many Hollywood personalities. Although some sources state that her popularity as an actress was due to her association with the newspaper magnate Hearst, many newspapers not owned by him gave her favorable reviews for her performances. Although Hearst felt she belonged in more serious costume dramas such as "When Knighthood Was in Flower" in 1922, "Yolanda" in 1924, and "Lights of Old Broadway" in 1925, she is believed that she performed best in light comedies such as "Adam and Eva" in 1923, "The Fair Co-Ed" in 1927, "Show People" and "The Patsy" in 1928, "The Florodora Girl" in 1930 and "Bachelor Father" in 1931. With the introduction of the "talkie" films, she was concerned about passing the voice test but did despite of stuttering when she was nervous or excited; her transition was successful. She continued to have roles in the 1930s, but as the years passed, she had fewer and fewer roles offered. In her memoirs, "The Time We Had", she blamed Hearst for her decline with pushing her to do drama, over promoting her, and his financial problems in the late 1930s. She sold over a million dollars worth of her jewelry to allay his financial problems. Her last role was in "Ever Since Eve" in 1937. A large blow to her reputation came in 1941 with the release of Orson Welles' film, "Citizen Kane", which was claimed to be based on Heart's life and featured a character named "Susan Alexander"; this character apparently was based on Davies' part in his life. Moviegoers came away from believing she was a no-talent, drunken floozy whose rich and powerful lover forced his newspapers to only print favorable reviews for her movies. Since this movie, many film historians have attempted to restore her professional reputation. Although she began to have some problems with alcohol abuse after her retirement, she was a very sharp businesswoman. After Hearst's death in 1951, she married Horace Brown and even after filing for divorce twice, remained married to him until her death. Before her death, she was involved in charity work especially fighting childhood diseases through the Marion Davies Foundation and financing a $1.9 million children's clinic at University of California at Los Angeles in 1952.* Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy: Aug 2 2022, 17:32:40 UTC

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Marion Davies's Timeline

January 3, 1897
Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, United States
June 18, 1923
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
September 22, 1961
Age 64
Hollywood, CA, United States
Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Plot Garden of Legends (formerly Section 8) east side of lake GPS (lat/lon) 34.089 -118.3166), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States