Marie was born on Oct. 7, 1865 in
the small town of Four Corners, located in Butte County, northern
California. She was the daughter of Allyn Mather Barnard and
Sarah Ann McIntosh. (Her middle name is sometimes given as Elaine,
Ellene or Ellen.)
Please note that there is reason
to believe that not every detail in Marie's obituary was entirely
correct. But here are some of the details of her life that we
can be fairly sure of.
Marie studied music at Mills College
in Oakland as a member of the class of 1884. At first she taught
music in San Francisco but eventually she began her own career
as a singer. Her stage name was Marie Barna. Marie sang with
John Philip Sousas band and also with the Boston Symphony.
She had married Justin H. Smith in Newport, Rhode Island therefore
her name while living in Boston was Maria Barnard Smith. Marie
also sang with the Damrosch-Ellis Opera Company and performed
in several European cities. But she apparently never achieved
any starring roles.
On Sept. 19, 1899, she married amateur
opera producer Frank Russak in Newport, Rhode Island. Frank and
Marie moved to Paris in 1901. Frank died on Nov. 29, 1914.
Marie had become interested in theosophy
by 1898 and it was in that field that she achieved her greatest
success. From 1906 and 1910, she lived in India where the headquarters
of the Theosophical Society was located. Eventually she became
an important member of the Society, better known as Marie Russak
or Marie Russak Hotchener, As part of the major role she played,
Marie became the international spokesperson for the society and
lectured overseas on their behalf. Marie was also a co-founder
of the Order of the Temple of the Rosy Cross, along with Annie
In 1916 Marie married Harry Hotchener.
Of special interest today is the
fact that Marie Russak Hotchener was the architectural designer
for a large of houses in Los Angeles. It was very unusual in
those days for a woman to be an architect. Members of the Krotona
Colony of the Theosophical Society were the intended buyers.
Many of these buildings still exist as homes today. Primarily
these buildings were a blend of both Moorish and Mission-revival
styles but there were also added features that would appeal to
members of the Society. It certainly didn't hurt that Marie's
husband was already successful in the real esate business.
One of Marie's most well-known creations,
Moorcrest, was probably completed in 1921. They rented it to
film star Charlie Chaplin before selling it in 1925 to another
stars parents, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Langhanke. The Langhankes' daughter
Lucille acted under the stage name of Mary Astor. Through this
family connection Marie and her third husband Harry Hotchener
became involved with Mary's fiance John Barrymore. Harry later
became Barrymore's business manager and Marie became his astrologer.
Marie died on March 4, 1945 in Hollywood,
Los Angeles County, Calif. She was buried on April 14, 1945 at the
Chico I.O.O.F. cemetery, Chico, Butte County, Calif. Harry Hotchener
died on Aug. 21, 1959 in Ojai, Ventura Co.,Calif. He was also
buried in the I.O.O.F. cemetery in Chico on March 30, 1960.
Moorcrest is located at 6147 Temple Hill
Drive, Los Angeles, California
I am indebted to researcher Alfred Willis, Ph.D. at Hampton
University for making me aware of Marie's accomplishments. Click
on the links above to read his very interesting article. The
footnotes at the end of the article contains a short biography
on Marie but other details about her are found throughout the