The Times We Had: Life with William Randolph Hearst


I just finished reading Marion Davies autobiography, “The Times We Had: Life with William Randolph Hearst.”  Apparently, she recorded her memoirs, which were later found and put into a book.  The format of the book I read was not a typicaly paragraph format, but rather it was written in columns, which was a bit distracting.  However, aside from the odd formatting, I found the book easy to read and very interesting. 

I have only visited Hearst Castle once, but found it quite fascinating and since craved  more insight on the life that was lived there. Davies was William Randolph Hearst’s companion for more than 30 years, and her account of the lavish parties and old Hollywood was exactly what I had been wanting to read!

Marion describes her acting career, which made millions! In the 1930’s she was signed to an acting contract for $500,000 a year- an unheard of amount back then!  She claims she was not a very good actress, but that she enjoyed acting.

I prevoiusly read an account that W.R. attempted to divorce his wife so that he and Davies could marry, and that they had the entire wedding arrange when divorce negotiations broke down and W.R. refused to give in to his wife’s damands.  Regardless, Davies and W.R. never married, but she shared his opulent life with him an tells a tale of two people who really loved each other and cared deeply for one another.  This woudl be proved when Davies would loan W.R. $1 million dollars to help him with his finances.

My favorite part of the book was when she described the parties. She recounts which Hollywood stars are there and what costumes people wore. The book is full of pictures so you can see everyone all dressed up! Norma Sheerer wore a Marie Antionette dress to one party and wouldn’t take off the white wig even though the 25 pounds of weight from it gave her an aweful headache!

Davies also describes how W.R. came to amass so many antiques, and that he would spend days in England and Ireland scouting for treasures.  W.R. was purchasing the items himself, resulting in a meticulous memory of each item.  Davies claims that W.R. would often turn down offers to buy his antuques, opting instead to hae the items displayed in a museum for many to enjoy.  I had the chance to visit the L.A. Conty Musuem of Art two years ago where Hearst’s spectacular possessions filed numerous rooms.  Having enoyed those items, I am thankful for W.R.’s vision to share his treasures with the world.   

I would recommend this book to anyone who is intersted in old Hollywood or the mystic surrounding Hearst Castle.

Have you ever been to Hearst Castle?

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