As mentioned yesterday, the subject of this week’s Monday Quiz may not be immediately familiar to our readers under a certain age, but think of Marion Davies this way:
Recall the Susan Alexander character in Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece, Citizen Kane. You know, the aspiring opera singer (played by Dorothy Comingore) who sang flat, and was pushed way beyond her artistic limits by her media mogul lover determined that he was not about to made to look ridiculous.
That character was very loosely based on Marion Davies.
She led a most interesting life, put up a pretty decent movie career spanning silents and ‘talkies’ in the Twenties and Thirties and wound up rich and well thought of. Ok, let’s get to the answers to our Marion Davies Quiz. (To review the questions, just scroll down to Monday’s blog below.)
1) Answer: c) Hedda Hopper. Although rival columnist Louella Parsons was a mouthpiece for William Randolph Hearst, it was Hopper that Davies preferred on a personal level. Hopper returned the favor in her 1963 book, The Whole Truth and Nothing But. In it, she wrote about Davies: She had a heart as big as the Ritz Tower…Socially, in Hollywood she was the queen bee for more than thirty years.
2) Answer: d) 34.
3) Answer: b) False. Davies is described this way by Hearst biographer Ben Procter: Although by no means a classic beauty, she was wonderfully attractive with youthful appeal. Her naturally blond, curly hair framed a pretty face that featured large blue eyes and a flawless complexion. There’s no doubt Davies’ movie acting career benefited enormously from Hearst’s vast financial muscle, but it’s a decent bet she would have made it in Hollywood on her own.
4) Answer: c) Davies stuttered noticeably. Hearst found it “delightful.”
5) Answer: b) False. Davies got around quite a bit, especially when Hearst had done something to anger her. She wasn’t considered promiscuous but she enjoyed human contact, wrote her biographer, in the bedroom and in the the parlor. She considered sex just another form of pleasure…less exhilarating than a fast Charleston or even a particularly gamey joke.
6) Answer: b) False. Davies and Hearst genuinely loved each other right to the end.
7) Answer: d) 1929’s Marianne in which Davies portrayed a French farm girl who falls for a World War I American soldier. The picture proved to be a box office hit, and assured Hearst that she could flourish in ‘the talkies.’
8) Answer: c) MGM principally because Hearst was considered “an unofficial board member” of the studio since its founding in 1924.
9) Answer: d) A Merchant Marine captain by the name of Harold Brown. He and Davies stayed married for 10 years until her death at age 64 in 1961.
10) Answer: a) Davies is regarded today as a remarkably gifted comedienne, all too often miscast in overstuffed costume dramas.