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Clara Bow

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Clara Gordon Bow, destined to become THE flapper of the 1920's, was born and raised in poverty in Brooklyn, New York, on July 29, 1905. Her family was also beset with violence. Her mother tried to slit Clara's throat when she attempted to enter the film industry. She won a photo beauty contest which launched her movie career that would eventually number 58 films, from 1922 to 1933. It was the movie IT, in 1927, which was to define her career. The film starred Clara as a shop girl who was asked out by the store's owner. As you watch the silent film you can see the excitement as she prepared for her date with the boss, her girlfriend trying hard to assist her. She was trying to use a pair of scissors to modify her dress in order to look more "sexy". This movie did a lot to change society's mores as there was only a few years between World War I and Clara Bow, but this movie went a long way in how society looked at itself. Clara was flaming youth in rebellion. In the film she was presenting a worldly wisdom that somehow sex meant having a good time. But you shouldn't be misled by the film, because she was still close to Lillian Gish in that when her boss tries to kiss her goodnight, she slaps him. Yes, she, too, was a good girl and a first cousin of Trueheart Susie. At the height of her popularity she received over 45,000 fan letters a month. She, too, was probably the most overworked and underpaid star in the industry. With the coming of sound, which did lend itself to her thick Brooklyn accent, her popularity waned. Clara was also involved in several court battles ranging from unpaid taxes to being in divorce court for "stealing" women's husbands. After the court trials, she made a couple of attempts to get back in the public eye. One was CALL HER SAVAGE in 1932. It was somewhat of a failure at the box office and her last was in 1933 in a film called HOOPLA. She, then, married cowboy star, Rex Bell and retired from the film world at the age of 26. She was a doting mother of her two sons and would do anything to please them. Haunted by a weight problem, and a mental imbalance, she never entered show business again. Clara was confined to a sanitarium from time to time and was not allowed access to her loving sons she adored very much. She died of a heart attack in West Los Angeles, on September 26, 1965. She was 60 years old. Today she is finding a renaissance among movie buffs, who are recently discovering the virtues of silent film. The actress who wanted so much to be like the wonderful young lady in the IT GIRL has the legacy of her films to confirm what a wonderful lady she really was. She, too, was America's first sex symbol.
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