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Interesting Facts & Iconic Images Of Hollywood Legend Marion Davies


December 30, 2020

"The Times" noted in her obituary that she was “one of the last survivors of the ultra-lavish era of Hollywood.” Here are some interesting facts about the life and times of Hollywood legend Marion Davies.

Best known for her comedic roles, Davies retired in 1907 after her illustrious career took a turn, following the release of the iconic film "Citizen Kane" (1941). Netflix released the movie, "Mank" which one essence, is a film about the slew of drama and politics surrounding "Citizen Kane," directed by one of Hollywood's greats, David Fincher.

But Fincher quickly peels back those layers, and we discover that there’s a lot more to Marion than we think. She’s not just Hearst’s mistress — she’s a star in her own right.

Beginning Of Her Life

Marion Davies Wilson (born Marion Cecilia Elizabeth Brooklyn Duras ) was an American actress, producer, and screenwriter born in 1987 in Brooklyn, New York.

As a teenager, Davies appeared in several Broadway musicals and a film, “Runaway Romany” (1917), after leaving school to pursue her passion.

Rise To Stardom

The talented Davies began to pursue a career in Broadway musicals actively. She was one of the Silent era's great comedic actresses and one of only a handful to make it from silent films to talkies (or whats we know as movies with synchronized sound).

Her “rags to riches” story from chorus line girl to affluent and accomplished actor would become nothing short of outstanding as she dazzled her way into Hollywood. 

Before The Fame

Before she became the star she eventually would, Davies started her career as a chorus girl. It was then, while appearing in follies, that a teenaged Davies was spotted by middle-aged media mogul, William Randolph Hearst, and became his long-term mistress.

In addition to their affair, Hearst signed Davies to an exclusive contract and continued to push her career as an actor in mostly serious roles despite the fact that she saw herself as a comedian rather. 

Ruined Reputation

The release of "Citizen Kane" ultimately turned the winds on Davies’ life and career following the classic film’s release, her acclaim began to fall to tatters. Audiences had wrongly perceived her to be the unalloyed inspiration for the screen character Susan Alexander Kane, the talentless mistress to Charles Foster Kane.

The similarities that brought people to this conclusion were largely based on the idea that Charles's character was perceived to be Hearst, with whom she had a real-life affair. This misconception had long-term effects on Davies’ career and ultimately contributed to her eventual demise. 


Her Death

Davies died of stomach cancer in 1961 at the age of sixty-four. According to "Vogue", "The Times" noted in her obituary that she was “one of the last survivors of the ultra-lavish era of Hollywood”.