Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica to Celebrate Marion Davies’ Birthday||
By Jorge Casuso
January 3, 2014 -- The guests may not include the likes of Charlie Chaplin, and it will take place in only a sliver of what was once a magnificent estate on Santa Monica Beach, but it is Marion Davies’ birthday and, true to her legacy, the party must go on.
On Sunday, January 12, the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Conservancy will celebrate the 117th birthday of the silent film actress, philanthropist, famed party hostess and the mistress of one of the most powerful men in America, William Randolph Hearst.
The celebration will take place at the Annenberg Beach House, which once served as guest quarters for what was known as the biggest house on the beach between San Diego and Vancouver and which served a the love nest Hearst and Davies shared during the heyday of Hollywood.
Sponsors promise that “many of Marion's famous friends and family members will be on hand to share their stories and memories of her,” if not in person, at least in their likeness.
“You may encounter Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Marlene Dietrich, and WR Hearst, among others,” they wrote. “Docents will be attired in period dress, and guests are encouraged to do the same.”
Guest house tours will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by “naughty and nice tunes of the 20s and 30s” performed by Janet Klein and John Reynolds.
“The Bachelor Father,” a 1931 film starring Davies, will be screened at 11:15 a.m. in the Event House, sponsors said. Rare photographs from a private collection and a rediscovered oil painting of the actress will be displayed.
At 1:30 p.m., there will be refreshments and partygoers will toast a woman who was once known as the “bubbles in a glass of champagne.”
After making her first film backed by Hearst in 1918, Davies stared in a score of silent films that revealed a comedienne of uncommon wit and beauty before transitioning smoothly to talking films in the 30s.
During her heyday, Davies and Hearst hosted lavish parties at the mansion, which boasted more than 100 rooms and an ornate marble swimming pool. Among the guests were the biggest names in Hollywood, including Chaplin, Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Gloria Swanson.
When Hearst's Cosmopolitan Pictures folded, Davies retired from the film business and moved to San Simeon, where she devoted herself to being Hearst's "companion."
Davies lived with Hearst, whose wife refused to give him a divorce, for decades. He died in 1952 and Davies entered an unhappy marriage eleven months later. She died of cancer in 1961 after a decade of charity work.
Refreshments will be provided by Fred Deni of Back on the Beach Cafe and Vanilla Bake Shop at 5th and Wilshire.
The Annenberg Community Beach House is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant. For disability related accommodations, please call Guest Services at 310-458-4904.
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