Well this is slowly turning into an epic all of its own. Part three was going to be the conclusion, but I think we have to detour from the narrative to look at the discoveries being made by Anna and Countess.
Thanks to Countess we now know Ouida/Eunie/Eula was indeed married, briefly, to a mr RH Burgess in 1905. She was 19, he was 24, and the marriage lasted no longer than five years. Presumably Burgess is husband no. 1.
Countess also dug up the 1940 census record for the Rathbone household, which tells us a few interesting snippets. The family were employing no less than three maids at the time – one English girl, Nellie Green aged 26, a Mexican, Celia Rivas aged 18, and a Dutch woman,Theresa Glassbergen aged 30. In addition there was a “houseboy” called Thomas Honda and a cook called Eupesnia Caballero. So, quite a stable of domestics even by Hollywood standards.
And Ouida was lying about her age. 🙂
Anna discovered the marvellous extract from CALIFORNIA AND CALIFORNIANS by Rockwell D. Hunt which I’ll quote in full below. I think it would be good to know who actually wrote it. As someone said the incoherent prose style is very similar to the 1917 “agency” advertizement. Is that because Ouida wrote them both or because it was some kind of prevailing style?
But the most significant thing has to be the snapshot it provides of what Ouida was claiming to be her personal history in 1932. Because almost every “fact” she offers that can be checked turns out to be false. Her lifestory as told to the author of this book amounts to almost total reinvention of her past. Not just names and dates, but detailed “memories.”
Read for yourselves and see what you think. I’ve helpfully emboldened the parts of the story we know to be totally fictitious (don’t you get the impression an awful lot of people who knew her would have been grateful for such a service?)
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Oulda Bergere, whose talent as an artist of the stage and the screen has brought to her much of distinction and gracious popularity, and whose career has been exceptional in many of its phases, in that she has traveled and lived in all parts of the civilized world, now centers her interests in her beautiful home at 628 Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County. In private life she is the wife of Basil Rathbone, and these two distinguished artists have made their California home known as a cultural center and as the scene of communal hospitality of the most gracious order.
Ouida Bergere, whose maiden name was Ouida DuGaze, made her advent into the world under exceptional circumstances, as she was born on a railroad train that was enroute to Madrid, Spain, her mother having at the time been on her way to visit the home of her husband’s parents, in that city, and not having anticipated the appearance of a little daughter prior to her arrival at her destination. Ouida Bergere is a daughter of Stephen and Marion (Manners) DuGaze, the former of Spanish lineage and the latter of French and English ancestry. Miss Bergere passed the first four years of her life in the home of her paternal grandparents, in Madrid, her parents having in the meanwhile traveled extensively about the world. She was able to speak only the Spanish language when she was four years of age, and thus was not able to understand when her mother returned to Madrid and spoke to her in English.
Between the ages of four and six years Miss Bergere lived with her parents in Paris, and then she was in England until she had attained the age of eleven years. She then came to the United States, and she has pronounced herself [p.492] a veritable commuter in voyaging back and forth between this country and England during the intervening years, though she now takes pride in being a full-fledged American citizen. Miss Bergere advanced her education by attending the Potter School at Bowling Green, Kentucky, the National Park Seminary in Washington, D. C., and Mrs. Mason’s exclusive school on the Hudson River in New York State. After coming to this country she lived for a time in Connecticut, thereafter was in the home of an aunt in Virginia, and she had similar experience in New Orleans and at Little Rock, Arkansas, as well as in Kentucky.
Miss Bergere became associated with the stage when she was but a girl. Winchell Smith, the well known playright, gave her a first opportunity to play a part, and her talent enabled her to make rapid progress, but an affliction came to her in the loss of her voice, so that she was compelled to abandon her stage career. Under these conditions she showed the versatility of her talent by turning her attention to literary pursuits. She thus wrote for the New York Herald and for various magazines, besides writing stories for motion-picture production. The silver-screen industry eventually enlisted her attention to such an extent that she learned virtually all things pertaining to the production of motion pictures and their business exploitation.
She wrote and directed plays, designed costumes and stage settings, wrote titles, did the cutting of films, and appeared in leading roles. Thus she gained wide experience in the earlier period of modern motion-picture production, and she has won much success and distinction in connection with this great industry and art. She wrote most of the stories for the various films in which Elsie Ferguson was starred, many of the best for May Murray, including On With the Dance, in which Miss Murray registered her first great claim to stellar honors. Miss Bergere has written many stories also for Pola Negri, for Corinne Griffith and for others who have won stardom. She prepared in 1920 the screen version of Peter Ibbetson, in which Elsie Ferguson and Wallace Reid appeared. In this connection fate played for her a most gracious part, for it was in this connection that she met Basil Rathbone, who was playing lead in the stage production of this play, this casual meeting having ripened into a friendship that culminated in marriage, in 1926.
Among the Paramount pictures Miss Bergere prepared for Elsie Ferguson may be mentioned The Avalanche, Society Exile, and The Witness for the Defense. For May Murray she did Idols of Clay, On With the Dance, and The Right to Love, for Poli Negri she did Bella Donna; for Bert Lytle and Betty Compson she did To Have and To Hold; for Corinne Griffith she did Six Days; and for Fanny Ward she offered Common Clay, New York, and others. Her first husband, George Fitzmaurice, directed many of these plays. In 1929 a notable play written by Miss Bergere and successfully released through the medium of the screen was Suburbia Comes to Paradise. She has done pictures in England, France and Italy.
In Rome she did the picture entitled The Eternal City, which enlisted the cooperative assistance of the Facisti and of the great Mussolini himself, the American ambassador in Rome having aided her in obtaining this cooperation. She photographed in this connection a scene in which Mussolini was depicted in the writing of a letter, and summoning a man to post it. She later asked the distinguished dictator if he really wrote the important letter and thus dispatched it, and he replied in the affirmative, he having acceded to her a most gracious assistance and having proved to be a man of great charm, as she still remembers with recurrent pleasure.
Ten thousand of the Facisti appeared in the Coliseum scenes for The Eternal City. After her marriage to Basil Rathbone Miss Bergere gave up her picture work to assist him in his work and in the management of his business affairs, she having designed and executed [p.493] sets used in his various plays. The career of Basil Rathbone is made the subject of individual record on other pages of this publication. The home life of Mr. and Mrs. Rathbone is ideal in its varied relations and influences, her hobbies are birds and dogs, and her home has a splendid aviary that is one of its many attractions, another of its attractions being a wonderful outdoor swimming pool, much used by Mr. and Mrs. Rathbone and also brought into commission for plunge parties for their guests. Swimming and horseback riding form the chief diversions of Mr. and Mrs. Rathbone, and their delightful home, of English design, is the stage of many and lavish social events.
Hmmm….so our Cosmopolitan gal with Spanish/French/parents, couldn’t even speak English until she was four.
Gee, that must have made things reaaaaal tricky for her growing up in Little Rock AR.
I think it’s totally legitimate at this point to wonder if the stuff we can’t or haven’t yet checked about her is any more real than the stuff we have.
Did she really have to abandon acting because she lost her voice? (So, when did it come back?) Did she really design costumes,”write and direct plays” and do film cutting? Was she really educated at the National Park Seminary in Washington DC? How come the groundbreaking talent agency gets no mention in this CV? For which of her husband’s plays exactly did she “design and execute the sets”?
And more explicitly where on the spectrum of fantasy-prone personalities does Ouida/Eula/Eunie/Bergere/DuGaze/Burgess/Branch belong?
And how much did Basil know about this woman, before or after she got to use his name? Is the person he describes in his memoirs any more real than “Ouida DuGaze”, fictional Spanish-speaking child of fictional “Stephen Du Gaze” and his totally made-up wife “Marion Manners”?