Last year I wrote an article about former New York City Ballet ballerina Yvonne Mounsey coaching a young dancer, Melissa Barak, in the lead role of George Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son.”
Mounsey danced the role in the early 1950s. By all accounts, she was an amazing, full-blooded dancer. She went on to become a great ballet instructor.
On Saturday Kent and I joined a wonderful celebration of Yvonne’s 90th birthday.
The party took place on the grounds of the former beach house of actress Marion Davies, the longtime mistress of W.R. Hearst. The 110-room house was demolished in 1957. For decades a parking lot stood in its place.
Yes, that would be Georgian Revival architecture on Santa Monica beach. Designed by architect Julia Morgan, financed by Hearst. Life was kooky in California then. It still is.
Lots of celebs partied at the house during the last Depression – along with Hearst Castle, the locale of ornate costume parties. Here Marion Davies relaxes with two weekend guests, actor/interior designer William Haines on the left.
Yvonne had a special girlfriend with her at the party: Patricia Wilde, the great former ballerina from New York City Ballet.
I grew up ogling photos of Pat Wilde in “Balanchine’s Complete Stories of the Ballet” from the shelf of my high school library. Who knew that one fine evening I would be with her at a ballerina’s beach party?
Prodigal Son photo: Baron Studios
It looks like that might be Jack Haley with Marion Davies and William Haines.