In her 64 years, Marion Davies lived many lives in one. “I’m the captain of my soul,” she said. “Therefore, what I want to do, I want to do myself.” As an actress, she played strong female protagonists, representative of an era in film history that elevated women’s stories. In the mid-1920s, tired of the period pieces that had become her signature, she broke new ground as a comedienne, laying the foundation for such comedic descendants as Lucille Ball and Carole Burnett. Determined to make the transition to sound film, Davies fought a severe and persistent stutter to become one of the few stars to successfully make the transition, through hard work and sheer grit.
Offscreen, the Marion Davies Children’s Clinic provided free health care to low-income children in West Los Angeles. It still exists today as a part of the UCLA Medical Center, and Davies considered it the pride and joy of her life. Her 33 year partnership with William Randolph Hearst is one of the great untold love stories of the 20th century, from its theatrical beginnings to its tragic and dramatic end.
Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies is the product of nearly a decade of meticulous archival research. Through intimate interviews, letters, notes, and the taped remembrances of Davies herself, the book gives the reader an unparalleled look into Davies’ complex insights, emotions, and thoughts over the span of her lifetime. These, intertwined with the history of the early 20th century, paint a layered and nuanced portrait of a remarkable soul, a fiercely independent woman who carved her own path in her personal and professional life.