THE TIMES WE HAD: Life with William Randolph Hearst by Marion Davies

THE TIMES WE HAD: Life with William Randolph Hearst

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A personal memory. . . possibly an autobiography, but probably not,"" these are taped reminiscences, as Marion Davies talked them twenty years ago. Randomly, sometimes inaccurately (dates?), in snatches. Here and there, this and that. A curious combination of guilelessness and discretion, Marion describes Hearst as the ""kindest, most innocent, naive person you'd ever want to meet."" She seems to be exactly the same--this young girl who first went on the stage at thirteen, then was something of a show/playgirl in Florida where she first met W.R., who reappeared in her life when she went on to make her films and graduated with nervous difficulty to the talkies. Finally she became Hearst's acknowledged mistress, presiding at the 60-guest-room San Simeon, called ""the ranch,"" where he insisted on paper napkins only, even if there were often as many servants as rooms. Finally when W.R. was 78, she retired from films to be his companion, working jigsaw puzzles in the evening. As the editors readily admit, you'll have learned more about the two of them from Fred Guiles' Marion Davies or Swanberg's Citizen Hearst, while Orson Welles contributes an introduction repudiating many of the assumptions occasioned by his famous film. It's pleasant incidental reading as only-yesterday celebrities surface (Churchill, Shaw, Cooper, Crosby, Thalberg, Harlow, not to forget Garbo who unkindly said to Marion, ""to me you are null and void""). Obviously Miss Davies--who knew she ""was no Sarah Bernhardt""--was nonetheless a very kind presence.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1975
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill