Lara GabrielleFeb 27, 2023
Captain of Her Soul
The Life of Marion Davies
University of California Press 2022
From Marion Davies's humble days in Brooklyn to her rise to fame alongside press baron William Randolph Hearst, the public life story of the film star plays like a modern fairy tale shaped by gossip columnists, fan magazines, biopics, and documentaries. Yet the real Marion Davies remained largely hidden from view, as she was wary of interviews and trusted few with her true life story. In Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies (U California Press, 2022), Lara Gabrielle pulls back layers of myth to show a complex and fiercely independent woman, ahead of her time, who carved her own path.
Through meticulous research, unprecedented access to archives around the world, and interviews with those who knew Davies, Captain of Her Soul counters the public story. This book reveals a woman who navigated disability and social stigma to rise to the top of a young Hollywood dominated by powerful men. Davies took charge of her own career, negotiating with studio heads and establishing herself as a top-tier comedienne, but her proudest achievement was her philanthropy and advocacy for children. This biography brings Davies out of the shadows cast by the Hearst legacy, shedding light on a dynamic woman who lived life on her own terms and declared that she was "the captain of her soul."
Lara Gabrielle is a film writer and researcher whose work on Marion Davies has been featured in The Missouri Review, The Wall Street Journal, and on PBS’s American Experience. She has spoken about Davies at film festivals and retrospectives worldwide and has served as a consultant on her life and legacy for books, dissertations, and film projects. Gabrielle’s biography of Davies, Captain of Her Soul, is included in Alta Journal’s Top 16 Books to read this September. She lives in Oakland, California.