Poor Marie

Marie Prevost made 121 pictures in her abbreviated career, some of them bordering on great: she got excellent reviews in the 1922 The Beautiful and Damned, though F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t like her; Ernst Lubitsch thought enough of her to cast her three times, most notably in Three Women; she had the lead in Howard Hughes’ The Racket. What all these had in common was a lack of a soundtrack; she proved capable in talkies, but she had other problems. One of those problems was Howard Hughes; Marie was already depressed and drinking a bit, and a brief affair with Hughes made things worse for her. In the 1930s, she was both drinking and overeating.

Marie Provost in publicity still for The Beautiful and Damned

Marie Provost in proper Twenties costume

Marie Provost in publicity still

In the 1970s, British rocker Nick Lowe turned out a song about Marie, which proved to be something of a stretch, particularly the chorus: “She was a winner / Who became a doggie’s dinner / She never meant that much to me / Poor Marie.” This untimely demise was described by Kenneth Anger in Hollywood Babylon; it is true that after she died in January 1937 — it was two days before her body was found — that her dachshund had bitten her on the legs in an attempt to rouse her, but the little hound wasn’t that hungry.

Prevost’s plight did have one positive outcome: Hollywood stars and executives would forthwith create the Motion Picture (later, “& Television”) Country House and Hospital, a place to care for ill stars and nonstars. The facility was operational through 2008; after some dollar-related crises, it has since reopened on a firmer financial footing.







Comments are closed.