Marion Davies


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(1897–1961). Film and stage performer. The wide-eyed blonde beauty mostly remembered as the mistress of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, the singer–actress was featured in nine movie musicals in which she demonstrated that she was more than a pretty face. Davies was born in New York and was a show girl on the Manhattan stage, appearing in the chorus of the Broadway musicals Chin Chin (1914), Nobody Home (1915), and Miss Information (1915). She got featured roles in the musicals Stop! Look! Listen! (1915), Ziegfeld Follies (1916), Betty (1916), Oh, Boy! (1917), Miss 1917 (1917), Words and Music (1917), and Ed Wynn's Carnival (1920). Davies entered silent films in 1917 and Hearst founded Cosmopolitan Pictures in 1919 to showcase her in romantic period costume pieces. For the next four years she starred in melodramas that were highly publicized by Hearst but audiences didn't embrace the manufactured star and the studio collapsed. Ironically, audiences loved Davies when she was in light comedies and, when sound came in, musicals. Her movie musicals include Hollywood Revue of 1929, Marianne (1929), The Florodora Girl (1930), Blondie of the Follies (1932), Going Hollywood (1933), Hearts Divided (1936), Cain and Mabel (1936), and Ever Since Eve (1937). Davies retired from films in the late 1930s and became a successful businesswoman and company executive. Autobiography: The Times We Had (1985); biography: Marion Davis, Fred Lawrence Guiles (1972).

From The Oxford Companion to the American Musical in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music Theatre.

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