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Marion Davies
Marion Davies - Emerald Green.jpg
Davies in the 1920s
Born
Marion Cecilia Douras

(1897-01-03)January 3, 1897
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died September 22, 1961(1961-09-22) (aged 64)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Resting place Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Occupation
  • Actress
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • philanthropist
Years active 1914–1937
Spouse(s)
Horace G. Brown (m. 1951)
Partner(s) William Randolph Hearst (1917–1951; his death)
Relatives Rosemary Davies (sister)
Reine Davies (sister)
Charles Lederer (nephew)
Pepi Lederer (niece)

Marion Cecilia Davies (born Marion Cecilia Douras; January 3, 1897 – September 22, 1961) was an American actress, producer, screenwriter, and philanthropist. Educated in a religious convent, Davies fled the school to pursue a career as a chorus girl. As a teenager, she appeared in several Broadway musicals and one film, Runaway Romany (1917). She soon became a featured performer in the Ziegfeld Follies. While performing in the 1916 Follies, the nineteen-year-old Marion met the fifty-three-year-old newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and became his mistress. Hearst took over management of Davies' career and promoted her as a motion picture actress.

Hearst financed Davies' pictures and extensively promoted her career via his newspapers and Hearst Newsreels. He founded Cosmopolitan Pictures to produce her films. By 1923, Davies was the #1 female box office star in Hollywood due to the popularity of When Knighthood Was in Flower and Little Old New York, which were among the biggest box-office hits of their respective years. During the zenith of the Jazz Age, Davies became renowned as the hostess of lavish soirées for Hollywood actors and political elites. However, in 1924, her name became linked with scandal when film producer Thomas Ince died at a party aboard Hearst's yacht.

Following the decline of her film career during the Great Depression, Davies struggled with alcoholism, and she retired from the screen in 1937 to devote herself to an ailing Hearst and to charitable work. In Hearst's declining years, Davies remained his steadfast companion until his death in 1951. Eleven weeks after Hearst's death, she married sea captain Horace Brown, and their marriage lasted until Davies' own death due to malignant osteomyelitis (bone cancer) of the jaw in 1961 at the age of 64.

By the time of her death, Davies' legacy as a talented actress was already overshadowed by her popular association with the character of Susan Alexander Kane in the film Citizen Kane (1941). The title character's second wife—an untalented singer whom he tries to promote—was widely assumed to be based upon Davies. However, many commentators, including writer-director Orson Welles, defended Davies' record as a gifted actress and comédienne to whom Hearst's patronage did more harm than good. In his final years, Welles attempted to correct the widespread misconceptions which the film had created about Davies' popularity and talents as an actress.

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