The Fascinating Life of E.W. Marland

Another story of the influence of the oil business in Oklahoma which is still relevant today….

Welcome back. If you are in the oil business you’ve heard the name before because at one point in time he controlled close to 10 percent of the world’s oil supply. If you are in politics you may know him as a governor of Oklahoma in the 1930s. In Ponca City he built parks and statues and paved the streets while also supporting most every charity and church in town. Personal friends with Will Rogers, Ernest Whitworth Marland was a true wildcatter of the early 1900s era who made and lost millions and then through sheer determination made it back again only to lose it all again. He left Ponca City with a story made for the big screen and folks I just saw the premiere on Thursday night at the Circle Cinema in Tulsa. The stars of the film were all there along with the directors and producers. The women were dressed in their best attire and the men were decked in tuxes so the event had all the glitter of a Hollywood opening.

If you don’t know, the Circle Cinema itself has a rich history beginning with its construction in 1928 at a cost of $62,000 in Tulsa’s historic Whittier Square Shopping Center on Lewis Street. In its heyday the theater was popular with teens, showing films like the Green Hornet. Today the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and it is Tulsa’s only remaining historic movie theater. Circle Cinema has become a not-for-profit art house with screening that include current documentaries, premieres of locally produced and directed films and student made films. The Marland film was a perfect fit for this venue.

The film tells how E.W. Marland lived, gave back to the community and built two impressive homes in the depression, providing hundreds in the Ponca City area with good paying jobs. Marland’s Grand Home is right in town. Construction started in 1914 and finished two years later and the house boasted several “firsts” for the state including a central vacuum cleaning system, an automatic dishwasher and Oklahoma’s first indoor swimming pool. The film does a great job showcasing the house which I’ve recently toured and it’s a must see.  Today the house also contains an extensive Native American art collection, an archaeological exhibit created by the Daughters of the American Revolution and a large collection of artifacts from the 101Ranch.

The Marland Mansion outside of town is also thoroughly depicted in this film. The 43,561 square foot villa was built in the Italian Renaissance style and features extensive ornamentation both inside and out, including exterior gargoyles and carving of jackals and owls. One can only imagine the excitement in Ponca City during the 1930s when this elaborate home was under construction.

Throughout the film I noticed several scenes that were shot in Bartlesville, including shots of the Nellie Johnstone well. As I left I felt lucky to have the opportunity to see this very interesting film premiere which was sold out. I would gladly pay to see it again but you folks won’t have to because “High Stakes: The Life and Times of E.W. Marland” will be shown soon on OETA. If you can’t wait call the Mansion at 866-763-8092 to purchase your own copy. Running time is 57 minutes and they are twenty bucks each and worth every cent. I’ll leave you with one last tip: it is well worth it to take a couple of days to visit Ponca City and tour both the Marland Grand Home and the Marland Mansion. I’ve been there several times over the last year and I know there are quite a few affordable motels in the area.

As for me, my next coming attraction will be two days at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds this weekend where one of the largest gun shows of the year will be going on.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…….