Marion Davies - Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hello, and welcome back to the ATT blog!  We considered offering you more tantalizing information about the wonderful display of Omrod's Giant World of Miniatures (our newest name for the Omrod collection - we think it's going to stick this time!), but instead wanted to deviate from the predictable just a little bit.  We're like that.  A little crazy, a little wacky.  We will stay in the Music Room, though, and discuss a little-noticed head shot tucked away in a corner.  It is of an attractive brunette actress named Marion Davies.  Never heard of her?  Well, maybe you know her better as the mistress of one of the great media moguls of the early 20th century - William Randolph Hearst.

Born Marion Cecilia Douras in 1897 in Brooklyn, New York, the young beauty decided to change her last name to Davies in the effort to bypass the racial prejudices that plagued America back then (fortunately, we as a country have gotten over the small-mindedness of judging people based on their ethnicity or the clothes they wear, but back then it was a big deal).  It was a smart move because, by the time she was twenty, she was an accomplished model and actor, headlining silent comedies.  Davies was a comedy actor, and that's where she shined best. Unfortunately, her boyfriend wanted her to become a dramatic actor, and he would stop at nothing to make her that.  William Randolph Hearst owned many of the most successful newspapers in the country, and he began an advertising campaign on Davies' behalf that became a running joke among critics and the public alike.  By the age of 42, Davies had been in numerous movies, but was regarded as no more than a novelty.  She retired, and devoted herself full time to entertaining for Hearst and taking care of him until his death.  Her first and only marriage occurred after his passing, and it was not a happy one.  She focused the remainder of her life on charitable causes, dying at 64 from stomach cancer.
QUESTION:  During one notorious party that Hearst and Davies hosted, a film producer died under mysterious circumstances.  What was his name?
A)  Thomas Ince
B)  Charlie Chaplin
C)  David O. Selznick
D)  Joseph Mankiewicz

STRIKE!!!!  The notion of unionization of workers evokes many different reactions from people based on their personal backgrounds and their careers, but their impact on labor relations in the United States cannot be minimized.  On this day in 1936, the United Auto Workers (UAW) implemented their first sit-down strike, at a General Motors plant in Atlanta, Georgia.  The next day, a second one occurred at their plant in Flint, Michigan.  It would be nice to say that relations between management and workers improved after this, but we don't want to lie....

RIKKI-TIKKI-TAVI.  Born on this day in 1865 was the British author Rudyard Kipling.  His most famous work, unquestionably, is The Jungle Book, written in 1894, although he has numerous other excellent books on his resume.  So, why would a blog with the word "American" in its title celebrate an Englishman?  Well, he happened to live near the "small" (comparatively speaking" town of Brattleboro, Vermont right around the time he was writing this famous novel.  You can, in fact, stay at one of the homes he stayed in.  It is a rental!  Happy Birthday, Rudyard!

QUOTE:  Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. - Rudyard Kipling

ANSWER:  A)  Thomas Ince.  Chaplin was at the party, too, though.