Monday, 31 March 2014

Patricia Van Cleeve Lake: Her Paternity, Hearst and the Real Story - Part 2

If it is true, the real paternity of Patricia Van Cleeve Lake is one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood. It was a mystery covered-up by the richest, shrewdest businessman and media mogul, William Randolf Heart, and his girlfriend, Marion Davies. The true facts of the case have been heavily disputed over the years with Lake’s birthdate and even her deathbed confession questioned by historians. Overall, the sad reality is that history and film lovers will never fully know the entire truth of the story or the place gossip and rumour played in shaping it. 
Horace Brown and his wife Marion Davies and the Lakes
The truth was apparently revealed in October 1993 when Lake on her deathbed divulged to her son, Arthur Lake Jr., the facts surrounding her parentage. She exposed the story that Davies had first told her that she and Hearst were her biological parents when she was 11. This was followed by Hearst who acknowledged her as his daughter before her marriage to Lake. After her death, Lake Jr. attempted to have his mother’s birth certificate changed to reflect her actual parentage. She was instantly brandished a fraud and a liar. "One man called the mortuary and raised holy hell," Arthur Lake Jr. said. He continued, “She lived her life on a satin pillow. They took away her name, but they gave her everything else.”

Although, Lake and her son appeared to sincerely believe the story of Hearst’s and Davies’ cover-up there is little concrete evidence of the scandal other than Lake’s facial similarities with Hearst. Many people argue it was the death of George and Rose Van Cleeve’s first child during infancy that prompted Davies to give up her child to her sister. This theory seems disproven by the behaviour by Lake’s official parents during the kidnapping and fiery custody battle. The extreme actions of both the Van Cleeve’s to keep access to Lake demonstrates to many historians that she must have been their biological daughter. However, this is not completely irrefutable because many parents of adoptive children would probably behaviour in a similar manner.

Hearst and Davies
The issue of dates is also a problem for the diverse sides of the argument. Clearly, due to the fact Lake married her husband in 1937, she must have been born at least before 1920. This is because if she was born in 1923 as some people claim she would have been aged 13 at the time of her wedding. If indeed the date of her marriage is correct, Lake’s birth can be assumed as being somewhere around 1918 and 1920. During this period, Davies film career was booming and she was in the middle of several film and publicity commitments. According to several authors on Nitrateville, she had just completed a film, Getting Mary Married in March of 1919 and it was released that she was to begin filming The Dark Star in April. Interestingly she was reported to have suffered a bout of influenza between these films; however she was not absent from filming for enough time to carry and give birth to a child. Davies appeared in four films in 1919, two in 1918 and another two in 1920. Unless the year of Lake’s birth is outside this period and her age was greatly altered by Hearst, Davies and the media, she could not be the daughter of Davies.   

It is a near impossible task to logically discern the mystery surrounding Patricia Lake’s birth and paternity. If she was indeed the child of Hearst and Davies the cover-up undertaken by both was thorough and mostly successful. Although it is unclear if Lake was the daughter of the millionaire and his starlet mistress, it is evident that Lake had an extremely close relationship to the pair. This is shown through her long trips to San Simeon, her marriage to Arthur Lake – a personal friend and faviourite of Hearst, her inheriting half of Davies’ estate and her place of rest located in the same crypt as Davies. DNA testing is the only method of proving the truth of the Lake’s claims and, with all parties long dead, this will never be undertaken. The ‘myth’ of Hearst and Davies illegitimate daughter with forever be one of Hollywood’s unsolved mysteries, similar to the death of Marilyn Monroe or Natalie Wood.   

An image of San Simeon


  1. Actually, in terms of DNA testing, the birth parents need not be living. It's a simple matter of any of Patricia's descendants spitting into a test tube and sending that away to a lab. Costs less than $100, these days. If the profile comes back with Hearst family DNA matched, voila. The Hearsts, themselves, wouldn't even need to participate actively, provided any Hearst line cousins' profile is housed with the millions at popular genealogy research DNA labs, which is highly likely these days. The company would then provide Patricia's descendants with a list of surname and familial matches. Direct DNA from The Chief, or his sons' heirs would not be needed, a cousin with Hearst DNA would do, because there really wouldn't be any reason for Patricia to have Hearst DNA some other way. It would also show if there are matches to Van Cleave DNA, or not, which, in itself, would be telling. DNA matching is becoming increasingly routine, which promises to clear up questions like these, and put uncertainties to rest, long after the principals are gone. Thanks for the entertaining post. I've subscribed to your blog, and look forward to more! :D

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