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The Times We Had: Life with William Randolph Hearst

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  414 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
The Times We Had : Life with William Randolph Hearst
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 12th 1977 by Ballantine Books (first published 1975)
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Jan 07, 2008 Korynn rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
This book was based on a series of recordings that Marion Davies made over the years. First off, she is not a reliable narrator. She continually plays herself as a dumb clumsy blonde, she lies about her age, she can't remember people or dates correctly...I really wish she had been interviewed by someone or at least had written the book with someone who could have supplied the research. Instead we have Marion meandering through her past in a completely non-linear manner, compliments to the ...more
Mike S
Jul 27, 2013 Mike S rated it did not like it
A shallow, superficial book written by a shallow, superficial actress about her shallow, superficial life and friends. She couldn't understand why Japanese Americans didn't want to be in the internment camps. "I didn't know what they were complaining about, because they had lovely menus in their camps; I had a copy of the menu. They had the most wonderful breakfasts, and chicken for luncheon, and anything they wanted at night. But still they were dissatisfied." (p.290)
P.J. Sullivan
May 01, 2011 P.J. Sullivan rated it liked it
Inside view of life with William Randolph Hearst by his mistress. Very biased in his favor, of course, but candid and revealing. Some local gossip, insights into his finances, politics, pets, and personal quirks. And his many famous guests at his San Simeon ranch.

The author was a Hollywood actress who spoke with a stammer. Her movies lost money but were underwritten by Hearst. She says of her acting career, "I couldn't act, but the idea of silent pictures appealed to me because I couldn't talk
Feb 22, 2009 Lesley rated it liked it
I read this book just after visiting Hearst Castle. I impulse bought it on my way out of the gift shop. It was a light read - I finished it in a single evening.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Marion Davies is full of interesting anecdotes of the time, and I felt I had learned a decent amount about both her and Hearst from a perspective that biographers might not present.

By the end of the book, though, I found myself quite depressed. Obviously she had not had a terrible life as the mistress of a wea
Jul 24, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it
I got this book while at Hearst Castle in Cali. It was fun to read after having been to Hearst Castle. It is written in first person and it is like listening to someone talk and not be able to ask any questions. This also means that the telling of her life is from completely her perspective and time line. The editors add in little notes to make sense of things or give more details on an event. This book is a fun, light read. Marion Davis is the fascinating mistress of W.R. Hearst. However, she ...more
Lise Sirois
Oct 13, 2015 Lise Sirois rated it it was ok
I just bought his book at Hearst castle since I was curious about Hearst and his kid mistress. She positionned herself as a poor little girl but I think that she was much more smart than that. Why do you stay with a man 40 years your senior ? Advantages, money, etc... She seems to have liked him but it must have been much more on his part to kind of love her. However, it was interesting to read parts of it because of the movie scene in the early years. The authors interviewed her when she was ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Sallie rated it liked it
Fascinating oral memoir("as spoken to a tape recorder") by William Randolph Hearst's mistress of many years who was is not always a reliable witness, but all the more intriguing because of it. My husband was reading a biography of Hearst at the same time I was reading this book, and we had a lot of fascinating discussions about the differences in Davies' perception of the facts and the biographer's.
Jan 21, 2009 Kathy rated it liked it
This is a very light read that I have to admit I enjoyed. It is basically and autobiography of Marion Davies the mistress of William Randolph Hearst. All the famous movie stars and politicians that came in and out of their lives over a period of around 30 years was amazing!
Feb 07, 2015 Bender rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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Bad Penny
Aug 18, 2012 Bad Penny rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Not all that interesting and terribly written; I couldn't force myself to make it through after about half of this dreck.
Sep 21, 2016 R. rated it it was amazing
In her book, Marion Davies offers a glimpse of “living the life of luxury during the 1930’s” among the jet setters and Hollywood elite. The book may seem disjointed to some readers, but I found it to be like reading someone’s diary: different stories on different days, sometimes referring back to a previous event and elaborating on it. The book's Preface explains how this book is being presented and surprisingly, the Foreword was written by famous actor, director, and producer Orson Wells.

Rena Sherwood
So, I've been reading about this really rich guy with outrageous habits who wants to be President. And then I look in today's newspapers and turn on the TV and there's ANOTHER really rich guy with outrageous habits who wants to be President. The more things change, the more things stay the same.


The guy I'd been reading about was William Randolph Hearst -- a man so rich he basically owned the planet. He started wars to drum up publicity for his newspapers. He collected so much art that most of hi
Nov 07, 2016 EL rated it liked it
A lot of fun anecdotes, but the book lacks any kind of chronological or thematic structure. It's hard to figure out when each anecdote is happening because Marion rarely gives dates and only occasionally mentions events. It's difficult to get a feel for Marion's personality even after reading 300+ pages of her own words. I wonder how smart, and how good an actress, she really was.
Mar 12, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
Memoirs of actress Marion Davies, probably even better known as the mistress of publishing/movie tycoon William Randolph Hearst for over 30 years. He died in 1951; Ms. Davies started tape recordings her reminiscences shortly thereafter, and this book was then published after her death in 1961. There are lots of photographs of many stars from the golden age of Hollywood and certainly many stories of the famous Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California and its guests.

It's a curious mix of tasteful
Jenn Chaplin
Aug 14, 2016 Jenn Chaplin rated it it was ok
Typos and some failure at story structure aside, I was expecting a bias opinion of W.R and that's exactly what I got. I know she's known as a bit of a liar and admitted to it herself, and as a result I found many of her contradictions frustrating. She's been quoted saying, "the gold digger had fallen in love." I do believe she started off as an opportunist, and with W.R's help she amassed a small fortune and she felt indebted to him so she stayed. But also, I believe because she loved him and no ...more
Jun 19, 2013 Sally rated it really liked it
From Marion's memoirs- a whole book of great stories! Marion was a woman of a different era when women were coming into their own. She lead a privileged life, even before WR was a part of it. Kind of creepy that WR spotted her when she was 13 and they were officially introduced when she was 16 and he was 58. They were together for 32 years, during which he didn't speak to or see his wife.

The book is transcribed from recordings made by Marion, and the writing is a little clunky because of that.
May 03, 2014 Linda added it
Well, the book isn't going to win a Pulitzer, but it does give the reader something of an insight about life inside Hearst Castle in its heyday. The main thing the book did for me was open up an interesting dialogue with my brother who saw me reading it and mentioned that he had spent the night in the castle (including a stop at the wine cellar) back in the early 70's when he and a friend were bicycling the Pacific Coast Highway and happened to strike up a conversation with the keeper of the ...more
Dec 07, 2014 David rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, though I didn't always agree with some of the opinions of thew author. Marion Davies was the helper/mistress/friend of William Randolph Hearst during his most powerful years. My only criticizm of this book is that, while Marion claims to be basically a talentless idiot, during her time with Hearst she amassed a fortune in cash and property and did philanthropic work that would have been impossible for a woman who claimed only to be Hearst's arm candy. I think Marion ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
What an entertaining book. I don't know much about what the 1920's or 1930's but this book was a delightful romp through that time period. It was written by the silent film and 'talkie' film actress Marion Davies who was the companion and life time love of William Randolph Hearst. The book follows her career and the friendships they had with numerous Hollywood stars, producers, directors and studios. It also talks about Mr. Hearst's many businesses. He owned many newspaper's as well as being ...more
Mark Meneses
Dec 19, 2013 Mark Meneses rated it it was ok
Picked this up at San Simeon after touring Hearst Castle - what can I say, I was just very 'inspired' to see what this Hearst guy was about. Novel was a sub-sincere account of some of the happenings in Hearst's life, Davies's affair with the man, and a (sometimes too long) series of name-droppings and party descriptions. Pretty fun at times, though - Davies can sometimes be funny, but that's not to say her 'society life' isn't wholly irritating to read about. Two stars for the parts about Hearst ...more
Jan 03, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Honestly, I was hoping for more dirt on their relationship. It was interesting to read about their fancy parties and vacations, but it just seemed a bit phony. She also gets a lot of facts wrong - there are notes on almost all the pages giving historical background and corrections. This could be because she was fairly old and forgetful when she recorded the audio-tapes, or she was a bit of a fibber. I mean...she got her own age wrong by almost a decade! All in all, it's a good read, the pictures ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Julie rated it liked it
The memoirs of Marion Davies, written as a stream of consciousness, about her life—especially living with William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon. From the age of 16 (Hearst then 58), she never knew anything except extreme wealth; and her attitudes reflect that. Because I have visited San Simeon, and find the history interesting, I also found the book interesting. Lots of Hollywood involvement in their lives. I would only give it 3 stars because it isn't very well written.
Sep 10, 2013 Katrina rated it really liked it
This is a delightful read and first-person account of Marion Davies's life w/ William Randolph Hearst. I've visited Hearst Castle a million times and bought this book during a recent visit. It's a fast read and will prob only appeal to those who are fascinated with W.R.H. and Davies, but it's definitely absorbing! Marion lived a fascinating life, having met and worked with movie stars, heads of state, royalty, politicians, and everyone in-between.
Mary Bryan
Jun 16, 2013 Mary Bryan rated it really liked it
While not a classic writer this book was interesting as it was told by Marion and you could almost feel as if you were in the room with her while reading it. I got this book after reading The Chief about Hearst. I would say that unless you really want to know about Marion Davies or W.R. Hearst you probably wouldn't want to pick this book up and read it.
Ky Matthes
Nov 21, 2011 Ky Matthes rated it it was ok
It was entertaining to read, but it was strange reading a book where there were foot notes correcting what the author wrote. Davies would tell crazy stories about things they did and the editor would then say, "actually so and so was never in NY at this time..." It made it feel almost like I was reading a fiction book.
May 06, 2012 Diane rated it did not like it
Shelves: biographies, owned
If you are looking for any great revelations about Marion and "Mr. Hearst" as she calls him, don't get this book. You will be disappointed. She protects him at every turn. It's a bit hard to follow and she doesn't reveal anything that might put her or Hearst in a bad light, which I suppose is understandable. I guess I just expected more.
Nov 30, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok
Recommended to Rachel by: Melissa
Basically random thoughts that lead to nowhere. I was told that Marion was drunk the entire time she was being interviewed for this book and it shows. If someone wanted to write a bio of Marion as a tribute then they would have made it more lucid.
Apr 01, 2015 dini rated it liked it
Narrated VERY unreliably. Davies contradicts herself a lot and the timeline jumps all over the place. It's easier to assume that it's all fiction. However, she certainly was a remarkable woman who led an intriguing life.
Jill Barton
Mar 27, 2014 Jill Barton rated it really liked it
If you are as fascinated by Marion Davies or William Randolph Hearst as I am you will love this book. Marion Davies is sometimes child like yet I get the distinct impression she is a very smart woman & much sharper than her public persona.
Nov 10, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
We lived not far from Hearst Castle in the 1980's and took all the tours, plus we went to a wonderful private party and concert one night, so I was interested in learning even more about Hearst and his actress mistress. What times they had!
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