Pretty sure the ghost of Marion Davies was my photo research assistant yesterday…

So true confessions: over the last few years I’ve let the digital archive of the family photo collection get into a bit of a happy mess. There were duplicates, massive files, small files, photos with old watermarks, some with my new watermark, and so on.

With my LA talks coming up I found the mess made pulling my presentation together a bit mind-boggling. Every time I sat down to choose from the hundreds of photos in the archive, I’d end up going in circles.

So I took a few days off to clean everything up, shed duplicates, create new folders and generally organize everything. I have to say it felt terrific. A beneficiary of this clean up was one of my favorite categories of photos: the stunning publicity photos signed to either my grandmother Mitzi or great-grandmother Ida.

One of these is the fantastic Marion Davies photo (I love that artist palette hat!) below, which actually came to me in 2015 when my aunt sent over a huge delivery of photographs, memorabilia, scrapbooks and other mementos.

I guess I was marveling over it when for whatever reason I Googled “Marion Davies.” I can’t actually remember what I was looking for but being a huge believer in serendipity I might have just been testing the Universe to see what it might deliver in reply.

And as you can see above, what an answer! My eyes popped out of my head when I saw this February 1926 issue of Motion Picture Classic, an early fan magazine.

Isn’t it terrific how they used that black and white photo as a jumping off point for a cover image that is essentially Marion Davies but not a perfect match to the photo? I love thinking about the artist, Leo Korber, working at his table with the photo taped somewhere nearby while he painted his own richly colorful version.

Eventually that issue was published and put out on newsstands, and young women paid their 25 cents, took the magazine home and oohed and ahhed over it for days.

I just love it when these amazing connections are made…

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