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William Haines' Lyonnaise Potatoes

We paid tribute to this fearless film star and from the 1920s and 30s.

William Haines rose to stardom at M-G-M in the 1920s and starred in films opposite Marion Davies ("Show People"), Joan Crawford ("Spring Fever") and Lon Chaney ("Tell It To The Marines"). He was openly gay and refused to bow to pressure from the studio to date women. In the mid 1930s he gave up his film career and went on to be one of the most sought after interior decorators in the country. His marriage to his partner Jimmy Shields lasted 50 years.


I found a recipe for Virginia Ham and a sandwich recipe attributed to William Haines. Lara and I opted out of those due to dietary reasons. Instead we decided to make something from "Castle Fare Featuring Authentic Recipes Served in Hearst Castle" by Marjorie Collord and Ann Rotznzi. It was published in 1965. William Haines was a close friend of Marion Davies and a frequent guest at the Castle.


6 Peeled, cold sliced, cooked potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt

pinch garlic or sage

1/4 cup minced onion


Heat butter in skillet; add potatoes, onions an seasonings. Saute without stirring until browned on under side, turn and brown.

Special Guest

Lara Gabrielle is a writer and film historian. Her new book Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies was recently released from UC Press. She writes book reviews, festival coverage, and pieces on the history, theory and culture of film on her blog Backlots. You can find the book on Amazon or at Larry Edmund's Bookshop in Hollywood.

The Final Product

Lyonnaise Potatoes were easy to make! My potatoes got burned a bit, but I liked the crispy texture and the crunchy onions. This makes a great side dish for breakfast or dinner and can go with a variety of other foods. I wound up baking my potato in advance for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, but I think I should have done it for about 45 minutes instead.

There are several Billy Haines movies on DVD and on Turner Classic Movies!

Learn more about William Haines with the books "Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood's First Openly Gay Star" by William J. Mann and "Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator" by Peter Schifnado and Jean H. Mathison.

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