The Tragic California Venus
A sad tale of beauty and obsession....
It began as a contest, who would be crowned the most beautiful girl in California. In San Francisco in the year 1892 it was decided that this contest would be held and the winner would have a statue of themselves made to be displayed at the 1915 Saint Louis World Fair, a triumph for any girl in that era. A bit risqué by the standards back then, many women paraded past judges wearing nothing but a bathing suit and a smile, until Marian Nolan aged 16 came sashaying past and then and there it was decided, a unanimous vote, she was the most beautiful girl in all of California.
Marian saw this as an opportunity to not only gain fame but to pursue the career she had her heart set on, acting. Unfortunately Marian was admired for her beauty and not her acting skills, she was offered several small bit parts mostly consisting of two lines or less, on most occasions they wanted the young woman to stand on stage in the pose she was placed in for her statue, saying nothing, doing nothing. She did however gain a bit more fame as she was used as the model for the Statue of Liberty that was set to grace the dome on San Francisco’s City Hall.
Marian went on to marry a wealthy Mexican planter named Santiago Cabrara, however that marriage was to end shortly after it began but left Marian fairly well off and able to do what she wanted. By 1900, Marian was a wealthy single woman who just happened to be admired by millions around the globe, she loved the attention and thrived on little else. She also was inundated with many suitors; it appears she was content to date randomly with no real ties to any. Unfortunately one decided that she was to be his and no others.
Edward Marshuts advances were accepted for a time and it seemed that perhaps Marian was ready to settle down again as rumors of their engagement began to spread, however Marian tired of Marshuts quickly and tried to be polite but firm in her rejection of him. This did not go over well with Marshuts who was apparently deeply in love with the image that Marian portrayed, he began to stalk Marian. Marshuts began a campaign of letters to Marian some more bizarre than anyone could imagine with grand plans for himself and Marian.
On October 20, 1902 the day began as most often it did for Marian, she awoke, she ate and dressed and then went out to meet her mother for a bit of shopping. It is said that Marian and her mother had a grand time shopping and gossiping as was usual then. The mother, Mrs. Nolan had then dropped Marian near her home at around 5 as Marian had a theatre engagement later in the evening and wanted to prepare herself. Sadly, Marian would never again enjoy the love of her young life, the theatre.
It was reported that many saw Marian walking down O’Farrell Street where she resided. Many apparently saw Marshuts come up to Marian and begin tugging and grabbing on her while she yelled and beat at him with not only her fists but her umbrella. It was reported by witnesses that Marian did hit Marshuts so hard that the handle of her umbrella broke off, but it did her little good. Marshuts withdrew a 32 caliber Smith and Wesson from his pocket. By 6 pm Marian’s body lay lifeless, shot twice by a man obsessed with her and while she lay bleeding, he shot himself so that since they could not be together in life they would be so in death.
It is not known what the young Marian may have accomplished later in life as she was not given the opportunity to fulfill any hopes or dreams she may have had, instead she died at the hand of an obsessed man who at the time of his death was little more than a pauper.
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