Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
California State Guard Base Hospital No. 1
(Marion Davis War Work Hospital)
 
Distinctive Unit Insignia of the 1st Medical Regiment, California State Guard
 
Within a month of the attach on Pearl Harbor, actress, philanthropist and mistress of media mogul William Randolph Hearst; Marion Davies began the process of helping to actively defend California against a potential Japanese attacks and possible invasion. On 9 January 1942, Ray Van Ettisch, Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Examiner provided Hearst's personal assistant, Joseph Willicombe a “copy of [the] letter Gov. [Culbert] Olson sent yesterday to Miss Davies”:

“I have just been advised by Brigadier General Joseph O. Donovan, the Adjutant General of the State of California, that you have turned over the Marion Davies’ Foundation Hospital in Southern California to the First Medical Battalion, California State Guard.

“I understand that you have also made available all of the facilities and equipment so that we can use these facilities as a State Guard war base hospital.

“As Governor of the State of California and on behalf of the people, I want to thank you for this splendid contribution in making this hospital available to the Guardsmen whose sole goal and main objective is to aid and protect life and property during our present war emergency.”
 
On 13 January 1942, Miss Davies turned over the keys of the Marion Davies Children's Clinic located at 2101 Barry Avenue in West Los Angeles to the State of California for use as a military hospital and garrison for the California State Guard's 1st Medical Battalion. This unit was later expanded and redesignated at the 1st Medical Regiment.
 
Initially established as the California State Guard Base Hospital No. 1, it was renamed as the Marion Davies War Work Hospital by California State Guard General Order No 53, dated 24 July 1942. The site is now Brawerman Elementary School West. For her efforts the state commissioned her a Captain, Nurse Corps in the State Guard. She was allowed to wear a unique uniform, to include a cape, by the Commander of the 1st Medical Battalion, Major Frank Nolan. Captain Davies and her "War Committee", which counted many of Hollywood's elite as members, worked hard to support the hospital. Members of the Hollywood community often volunteered and donated money and equipment to the hospital and the 1st Medical Regiment. An example was Hollywood's Temple Israel's donation of a 1939 Packard Ambulance to the hospital.
 
On 15 April 1942, Hollywood turned out to support the hospital (and the 1st Medical Regiment) at a large fund raising gala gala held at the Hollywood Palladium. Hosted by Davies and Hearst, ensured that A-List actors would attend.
 
For more information about Captain Marion Davies and here service in the California State Guard, go to www.coffmanbooks.com/HAMpdfs/20_HAM_11.pdf
 
Images
 
Due to the relationship between Miss Davies and William Randolph Hearst, the Los Angeles Examiner, a Hearst newspaper, photographed some of the activities of the hospital. These photographs are now part of the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
 
From the 13 January 1942 edition of the Los Angeles Examiner: "Pictured is Marion Davies handing over keys to Major Frank Nolan, Commander, 1st Medical Battalion of the California State Guard. This is the modern, two-story hospital which was turned over today to the California State Guard by noted screen actress, Marion Davies, for the duration of the war. To be known as the Marion Davies War Work Hospital, the hospital, located in West Los Angeles, will be used as State Guard medical headquarters."
 
From the 12 January 1942 edition of the Los Angeles Examiner: "This is the modern, two-story hospital which was turned over today to the California State Guard by Marion Davies, noted screen actress, for the duration of the war. To be known as the Marion Davies War Work Hospital, the hospital, located in West Los Angeles, will be used as State Guard medical headquarters."
 
 
 
And they all enjoy doing it! These are some of the many society and film women who work as nurses' assistants at the State Guard's Base Hospital No. 1, as part of their preparation for the gala Military Ball to be held April 15 for the benefit of the hospital. Left to right, Mrs. Athel Young (wife of cartoonist and Blondie creator Chic Young), Mrs. Lorraine Miller (wife of movie director Raoul Walsh), Mrs. Richard A. Carrington, Jr., Mrs Nan Kelly (actress, and wife of actor Edmund O'Brien) and Mrs. Hope Chandler Hearst (wife of David Whitmire Hearst, William Randolph Hearst's youngest son). They are shown carrying food to patients on April 11, 1942.
 
 
Members of the Women's Auxiliary of the Marion Davies War Work Hospital talk with Private H. Blackburn in wheelchair. Left to right are Mrs. Nan Kelly (actress, and wife of actor Edmund O'Brien), Lieut. John Botti (1st Medical Regiment, California State Guard), Mrs. Kay Fidler (wife of Hollywood gossip columnist Jimmy Fidler) and Mrs. Charles Shuey.
 
 
 
 
Sources: History of the California State Guard, Los Angeles Public Library and Hearst and Marion: The Santa Monica Connection.
 
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Updated 8 February 2016