Wednesday 26 March 2014

Patricia Lake: Her Paternity, Hearst and the Real Story - Part 1

The truth behind the real paternity of Patricia Van Cleeve Lake has been one of the great mysteries of Hollywood and a puzzle that – through the ambiguities and vagueness of lapses in time - will never be fully solved. At its centre is the even more secretive newspaper magnate, William Randolf Hearst, his opulent mansion - San Simeon, and his openly acknowledged mistress, Marion Davies. Allegedly, Lake communicated to her son Arthur Lake Jr on her deathbed, that she was in fact the only biological child of the illicit long term affair between Hearst and Davies. Many biographers and Hollywood figures have touted the claims as false citing difficulties proving Lake’s actual birth date and the influence of the facts on gossip and time. Officially, the daughter of George Van Cleeve and his wife Rose, the sister of Marion Davies, the actuality of Lake’s parenthood has never fully been uncovered.   

Patricia Van Cleeve Lake was born sometime between 1919 and 1923 just outside Paris, France. Publicly and privately, Lake, was never fully aware of her actual birthdate; although, many historians estimate the earlier years 1919 or 1920 to be the closest approximation. According to the public, Lake was the legitimate daughter of George and Rose Van Cleeve – the latter a sister of Marion Davies. In 1924 during a dispute between her parents, Lake was allegedly kidnapped by George Van Cleeve who was on the run with his daughter for five years. They were finally discovered after Hearst’s detectives located the pair and brought the child back to her mother, Rose. A bitter custody battle insured between the couple with George Van Cleeve gaining custody after proving Rose Van Cleeve was an alcoholic.
Marion Davies
As she grew into a young adult, Lake showed a blossoming acting talent and looked to have potential to follow in her aunt’s and mother’s shoes and become a starlet. She attended the Lawlor Professional School in Hollywood and a few other schools in New York and Boston which was reportedly all paid for by Hearst. During her adolescents she was a regular feature at Heart’s San Simeon estate even traveling with Hearst and Davies on several trips to Europe. Through her famous relatives Lake became part of Hollywood’s A-list attending parties with Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Charlie Chaplin. Aged around 17, Lake met Errol Flynn at a beach party and they began a relationship together that lasted for many years. Lake said in the months before she died, “God, I wish Errol Flynn was still alive. He was a barrel of laughs, and pretty good in the hay, too."

In 1937, Lake married actor Arthur Lake – most notable for his performance in the Blondie television, radio and movie series – who she had met at Marion Davies’ beach house. It was later reported that the scandalous affair between Lake and Flynn persisted during the engagement and early into the marriage. Apparently, Hearst lectured Lake on her illicit affair stating that, "You have got to stop this. You are a married woman." She, according to reports replied, “What about you?" referencing his affair with Davies. Nevertheless, the couple remained married until his death in January 1987 and had two children, Arthur Lake Jr and Marion Rose Lake. A few years after their wedding, Lake’s acting career began to take off.
Patricia Van Cleve and Arthur Lake's wedding 
She was named as one of the MPPA ‘Baby Stars’ of 1940, a replacement of the earlier program WAMPAS Baby Stars. She completed mostly stage work from the 1930’s to the mid-1940’s and later took over from Penny Singleton as the voice of Blondie Bumstead in the radio series Blondie, opposite her husband. Lake also worked alongside her husband in a television comedy, Meet the Family released in 1954.

In 1961, the death of Marion Davies caused Lake a great amount of pain. She had lived with Davies – and occasionally her lover Hearst – for much of her life and grieved her death. In her will Davies bequest her “niece” a large inheritance of half of her 20 million dollar fortune. It would be sign of what was to come in the public life of Patricia Van Cleeve Lake with the connection between her and Davies revealed over 30-years later. Lake died October 3, 1993. On her death bead, according to her son, Arthur Lake Jr., she spilled her long kept secret: that she was in fact the illegitimate daughter of Marion Davies and William Randolf Heart and the fact was concealed to save both parties reputation. 
Hearst and Davies
Coming soon Part 2!! In which I discuss all the theories of Patricia Van Cleve Lake’s paternity, all the Hollywood gossip and the truth.


  1. If to love someone so completely and for many years is a sin, many of us are guilty.
    Christianity is supposed to be about love and forgiveness. These people were caught in the restrictive moral code of the time. Mr. Hearst wanted a divorce to marry the woman he loved.
    To me it is a sin for his wife not to have given him the life he wanted.

  2. No, Marion was just not 'woman enough' to put a ring on. Just a 'no class sloppy second' woman, far from being a real lady. Couldn't even acknowledge her own daughter, yet after reading this 'the apple really didn't fall too far from the tree' with all the affairs, like mother like daughter?..

    1. You sit here and judge people that you do not even know. I am guessing you think you are perfect right?

  3. With DNA testing this could be easily be verified for around $200.00. One of William Randolph Hearst's
    grandchildren (from wife Millicent) could test along with one of Patricia Lake's children. Mystery solved.

  4. If Hearst thought so much of her he would have married her• She was 30 yrs his junior: his young plaything to keep him feeling young and giddy. Hearst told her at one point that his wife wanted too large of a divorce settlement for him to divorce. Oh please. If he really wanted to divorce he easily could have, he would have still been filthy rich, moreover his wealth would not have been lost because his wife had 5 children with him.

  5. Pat new she was their daughter
    As far as her having affairs there were not many
    She truly loved Errol Flynn & Arthur lake
    And they were in a time where u don't air your dirty laundry not like today
    She and her beautiful family all new who they were

  6. seriously, what does your comment have to do with this post? sheesh.

  7. I think Marion Davies truly loved Mr. Hearst. He left her over half of the estate and she turned around and sold it back to his children for $1. He did the right thing by asking for a divorce and she said no, he respected that. Marion Davies is not trash by any means. None of us were there and have no right to judge others because I'm sure your lives have been absolutely perfect. I'm not sure what you mean by Marion Davies wasn't woman enough to "put a ring on it" lol that makes no sense at all.

  8. These people tried to be as discreet as was possible and yet be together and loved one another. When Mr. Hearst almost went bankrupt, Marion Davies (from her own earnings in movies) cashed in jewelry, real estate, etc. to save him from that disaster. How are any of us to judge. Their love lives on.

  9. This also happened with Hepburn and Tracy. He was married and catholic. His faith said it was impossible to get a divorce. They lived without much fuss for the rest of his life. This is just how it was that long ago.