This Sunday at the Annenberg Beach House party goers will revisit the glamour of Old Hollywood as the Santa Monica Conservancy reprises its annual birthday celebration, Happy Birthday, Marion.
For those who need a primer on their silent-film-stars-and-their-mansions trivia, Marion Davies was a silent film star, philanthropist, and lover of William Randolph Hearst. Hearst was so smitten by Davies, he developed the Annenberg for her.
The 1920s-constructed estate once housed invite-only soirées for the economically-privileged-only of the day, personalities popping in the giant estate ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill.
These days the 2009-rehabilitated Beach House is a gorgeous public marvel, a community center now open for all to enjoy. Although the Beach House might’ve been renovated for modern times, Happy Birthday, Marion still exudes that old-school Hollywood feel.
“Marion Davies and her beachside house are something from a bygone era,” Constance Farrell, public information officer of Santa Monica said in an email. “Coming to the Annenberg Community Beach House is both a step back in time and a community gathering space fit for this era.”
Farrell says the event will celebrate both the rich history of the Beach House as well as the silent film star who once held court there, while also introducing party-goers to a slice of Santa Monica history and all you can do at the public space today. “It’s now a tradition that many look forward to – dressing like silent screen stars of the Hollywood heyday and filling the plaza with music and dance. It’s a perfect time to learn about Marion and her former home by taking a Santa Monica Conservancy tour.”
Speaking at the event will be Davies’ biographer Lara Fowler. Fowler describes Davies as a talented actress in both comedy and drama, but who’s real passion came from her philanthropy.
“She had the means to give as much as her heart desired, and she thrived on making others happy,” Fowler said. She describes Davies as a self-effacing Hollywood star, a rarity in the industry. Davies was someone “more at home in her slacks” than doing the usual Hollywood hustle and bustle. Although Davies’ parties at the Annenberg were always noteworthy, the selfless Davies often threw them for others, a testament to her giving nature.
“I talk to people who knew Marion, the first words out of anyone’s mouth are ‘Marion was a wonderful woman,’” Fowler says. “I think she would be thrilled that the Beach House has turned into a community center. It’s exactly what she would have wanted.”
Events at the celebration will include entertainment from magician Tom Frank, music from LA Love Band, and dancers from Santa Monica’s Arthur Murray Dance Studio. Producer Elaina Archer and Davies’ biographer Lara Fowler will provide rare mementos and insights from Davies’ life via an audience-led discussion.
The celebration is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, at the Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica. Parking is $3 per hour or $8 for the day. RSVP at (310) 458-4904 or HappyBirthdayMarion2018.eventbrite.com
For more about Lara Fowler and her biography on Marion Davies, visit laragfowler.com.