Life of Old Hollywood, J. Paul Getty & Equine Artistry
By Carleton Varney
Donna Long – artist, socialite, horsewoman, world traveler, style icon, daughter of silent film star Ann Rork Light, mother of Wendy Fritz, proprietor of Fritz Gallery West Palm Beach;
Diantha Woods, equestrian trainer; Douglas Rudolph Woods, ship captain; and stepdaughter to J. Paul Getty.
On the scene, Donna Long shows that life and painting continue after 80! Just look at Gloria Vanderbilt, Edwina Sandys (granddaughter of Winston Churchill) and Susan Phipps Cochran, painting each day and dressing for evenings out on the town.
An Esteemed Family
Donna Long’s pedigree goes back to early Hollywood. Her lineage were pioneers in the movie business. Her grandfather, Samuel Edwin Rork, founded Hollywood’s first motion picture studio, First National Studios, in 1922. The film studio headlined the stars of yore – Will Rogers (Sam’s best friend), Rudolph Valentino, Gilbert Roland, and Doug Fairbanks, Jr. Sam was the godfather of Donna’s brother J. Paul Getty, Jr.
There was once a Hollywood. Some believe a touch of glamour still exists, but polls indicate the movie-going crowds of yesteryear no longer exist. Movie attendance has decreased 22 percent and, in my opinion, the industry should look at positive story lines and focus on happiness, not violence.
The Getty Connection
Ann Rork was 14 when she ran away from her mother in Boston to find her father in Hollywood. He had absconded with actress Clara Bow to Los Angeles. J. Paul Getty met Ann Rork when she was 14 and he was 32, married to his third wife, Fini. Ann said “I do” when she was 20 and they married in 1930. J. Paul Getty, Jr. was born at sea in Italy in 1931. Their second son, Gordon Peter, who lives in San Francisco as an opera composer, was born in 1932 in Los Angeles. In 1936, Ann Rork Getty boarded a train to Las Vegas for a six-week divorce. In the Club Car, she met a handsome stockbroker. He proposed and they were married six weeks after Ann’s divorce was final. Donna Maria Wilson (now Long) was born the following February, 1937. But the marriage didn’t last and Ann moved with her children to Malibu to live in J. Paul Getty’s beach house. In 1945, Ann married attorney Joseph McInerney, the son of the architect who designed the Golden Gate Bridge.
Life As A Painter
Donna Long’s artistic exposure came early in life. She lived at the Malibu beach house until age 3 and thereafter in homes that her mother purchased and decorated after her divorce from the man who would be known as the wealthiest man in the world.
Donna and her brothers attended boarding schools, but sadly schools found little Donna unruly, and off to another school she would go. Donna eventually found education was a plus, earning a special education degree at Vanderbilt and a psychology degree at Sonoma State University.
Donna is all about life. She began drawing in 2004 for the first time. She presents her experiences of situations and animals (horses in particular) on canvas. Her paintbrushes and palettes are in her studio beside the swimming pool in her Palm Beach home. Donna could walk to Worth Avenue and enjoy the colors in the Palm Beach shop windows. She loves fine things but appreciates more the beauty of nature. In Donna’s paintings, she brings her remembrances to the forefront. Figures of people and animals play together, as do movements of landscapes. There is much colorful motion in her work that I find intriguing. One can study Donna Long’s work for hours and all will acknowledge enjoying the mind of the artist.