Santa Monica Conservancy members convened at the Annenberg Community Beach House on Sunday to celebrate what would have been the 117th birthday of silent film actress Marion Davies, the house’s former owner.
Davies had famously been the mistress of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, whose Cosmopolitan Pictures backed her first film in 1918. Skewered in Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” as a talentless screen siren forced onto the American public, Davies went on in real life to appear in three films by “Gone with the Wind” director King Vidor and others starring Clark Gable, Bing Crosby and Gary Cooper.
Sunday’s celebration featured a screening of the 1931 Davies film “The Bachelor Father” followed by singers Janet Klein and John Reynolds performing cheeky tunes from the 1920s and ‘30s.
Actress Mary Carlisle, who was a close friend of Davies and turns 102 in February, said during the party that Davies’ high-profile relationship with Hearst overshadowed her immense talent.
“I grew up with Marion. All the naughty things, you can throw it away!” Carlisle said.
Text and photo by Michael Aushenker