Marion Davies was the stage name of Marion Cecilia Douras, born in Brooklyn, New York on January 3, 1897. She was the youngest of five children born to Bernard and Rose Douras.
Watching her sister achieve success in show business turned Marion’s inclinations toward a career in drama early in her life. After leaving school she became a model for the famous painters of the day. She assumed the stage name of Marion Davies and quickly established herself as a talented actress.
By the time she first met William Randolph Hearst, she had already made a name for herself acting on Broadway. Between 1915 and 1917 she appeared in “Chin-Chin,” “Stop, Look and Listen,” “Ziegfeld Follies,” “Betty,” “Words and Music,” “Miss 1917,” and “Oh Boy.” Her first encounter with Hearst came while acting in the Ziegfeld Follies.
Her brother-in-law George Lederer directed her first film, “Runaway Romany,” supposedly written and scripted by Davies herself. In 1918, shortly after meeting Hearst for the first time, she starred in “Cecilia of the Pink Roses,” a film backed by Hearst. From this point on, as a gifted comedienne, she was the most advertised actress in the world. She also produced movies herself.
During the next ten years she would appear in 29 films. By the end of her career she had starred in a total of 46 films, including 16 talkies. In the early twenties, she and Hearst moved their company, Cosmopolitan Productions, to California and joined forces with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. All of her major films were produced by Cosmopolitan Productions and filmed at Paramount, MGM and Warner Brothers studios.
Shortly after meeting Hearst she became his constant companion and confidante. She was Hollywood’s foremost hostess, throwing lavish parties at both Hearst Castle and at a extraordinary mansion on the beach in Santa Monica. Dignitaries, Hollywood stars and famous athletes eagerly accepted invitations to her parties. She followed the recommendations of Hearst’s financial advisors, avoided debt, and invested wisely in real estate.
During the late thirties, hard times hit Hearst Corporation, and Marion gave Hearst a check for one million dollars to save the company from collapse. According to those who knew her, this selfless act was just one example of Marion’s character. She founded the Marion Davies Children’s Clinic, now part of the UCLA Medical Center. In 1947, Davies and Hearst left San Simeon for the last time and moved to her home in Beverly Hills where Hearst died four years later.
Davies died on September 22, 1961 from cancer and is interred in the Douras family crypt at Hollywood Memorial Park.