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UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program present

Marion Davies: Captain of Her Soul

Marion Davies sitting in front of a typewriter.
February 4, 2023 -
February 26, 2023
In-person: 
Lara Gabrielle, author, Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies.


A producer, philanthropist and vivacious screen presence, Marion Davies was always more than popular myth allowed her to be. The lifelong companion of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, Davies never engaged the rumors and gossip that swirled around her until the fictional character of Susan Alexander in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane cemented the image of her as a woman without merit, riding on the largesse of a wealthy patron. Welles, who knew Davies, regretted the association but it persisted for decades. In her new, exhaustively researched biography, Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies, Lara Gabrielle sets the record straight, drawing a portrait of Davies as a fiercely independent film industry pioneer who charted the course of her own career, on her own terms. It is a picture of the real Davies that matches the plucky, canny persona she brings to her most engaging and entertaining roles. A star in the silent and sound eras, her brand of breezy, confident comedy synced with the sensibilities of an emerging American modernity. In films such as Show People (1928), The Patsy (1928) and The Bachelor Father (1931), her blend of physical and verbal humor set the stage for the screwball genre and comedians such as Carole Lombard to follow. The Archive is pleased to present this series in celebration of Davies’ long-overshadowed life and career with Lara Gabrielle in person for the opening weekend.

Special thanks to Lynanne Schweighofer, Library of Congress; Beth Rennie, George Eastman Museum.

Programs & Events

Image Title Date and Time Location Buy Tickets
Actors William Haines and Marion Davies sitting in a theater.

Show People

February 4, 2023 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Two women standing at the foot of some stairs.

Blondie of the Follies / Peg O' My Heart

February 5, 2023 - 7:00 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Actors Onslow Stevens and Marion Davies in uniforms.

Beverly of Graustark / The Cardboard Lover

February 12, 2023 - 7:00 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Marion Davies sitting in front of a typewriter.

Lights of Old Broadway / The Patsy

February 26, 2023 - 7:00 pm Billy Wilder Theater