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Barbara La Marr Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (5) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (2) | Salary (3)

Overview (5)

Born in Yakima, Washington, USA
Died in Altadena, California, USA  (tuberculosis and nephritis)
Birth NameReatha Dale Watson
Nickname The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Reatha Watson (Barbara La Marr) is possibly most famous as supposedly being one of the first drug-related deaths in Hollywood, but while she had a serious drinking problem she in fact died of tuberculosis with complications of nephritis. She is notable for other reasons, among them her successes as a screenwriter. Born in Yakima, Washington, she had a career as a child stage actress in the Pacific Northwest until she outgrew child roles but was too young to play an adult. Her family moved to the Imperial Valley in California, where Reatha began her explorations of Los Angeles high life as a teenager and tried unsuccessfully to break into the movies. There were several disastrous marriages, during which she developed a distinctive style as a dancer that brought her some success in the cabaret world, though finally dancing became too strenuous for her delicate constitution. She married vaudeville actor Ben Deeley; after they moved to New York Reatha (under the name Folly Lytell) was contracted to write six film scenarios for Fox. She made the successful leap from writer to actress in Douglas Fairbanks' The Nut (1921), and her career skyrocketed under her new name of Barbara La Marr. She lived extravagantly, lavishing expensive gifts on friends and relations. After an affair with John Gilbert and legal complications over the legality of some of her marriages and divorces, her career went into a decline and her contract with Metro was terminated. Mismanaged by her new studio, scathing reviews brought her to despair as her health declined, in part due to destructive crash-dieting methods. Her high-powered lifestyle and drinking continued at fever pitch, however, and she was finally diagnosed with active tuberculosis (a terrible scourge in the 1920s), from which she died in January of 1926. The TB was kept quiet, the official studio press release blaming her death on "vigorous dieting". Her 'adopted' son Marvin, actually her own child, was then adopted by La Marr's best friend, Zasu Pitts.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Joel J. Rane <jsmog@earthlink.net>

Barbara La Marr was born in Yakima, Washington, on July 28, 1896, as Reatha Watson. Her childhood was mostly uneventful, mainly because Yakima--today a medium-sized city with a population of over 50, 000-wasn't exactly a beehive of activity. Her parents eventually moved to the Los Angeles area, where she began to explore the show business lifestyle in whatever form she could. Barbara loved the L.A. way of living and was forced to grow up fast. She was still Reatha at the time, but her arrest for dancing in burlesque while still a teen caused her to change her name to Barbara La Marr to avoid being associated with her past. Her passion was dancing and writing, but the powers-that-be in the movie industry thought she was meant for other things--her dazzling beauty captured the imagination of all who came across her path. Moving to New York, she was ultimately lured into the film world, her first picture being Harriet and the Piper (1920). She was still going by her married name of Barbara Deely (already working to shed her fourth husband) and was being dubbed "The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful." The next year she appeared in The Three Musketeers (1921) and Desperate Trails (1921). While the pictures were mediocre at best, it was her role as Claudine Dupree in The Nut (1921) that sent Barbara into superstardom. Hordes of fans flocked to theaters to see this beautiful actress in movies such as Arabian Love (1922), Trifling Women (1922), Domestic Relations (1922) and The Prisoner of Zenda (1922) whose beauty kept them enthralled. In 1923, she kept up her frenzied filming pace with such pictures as Poor Men's Wives (1923), The Brass Bottle (1923) and Souls for Sale (1923). The public adored her, as evidenced by the volumes of fan mail she received, but Barbara was more interested in the late-night partying she was involved with. The combination of alcohol and drugs was, clearly, beginning to wear her down. She made four films in 1924 and three in 1925. Her last picture was The Girl from Montmartre (1926). On February 2, 1926, Barbara died of tuberculosis in Altadena, California. Her demise was, no doubt, brought about by her constant late-night partying. She had lived a lifetime and had made 30 films, but was only 29 when she died.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (5)

Jack Dougherty (5 May 1923 - 30 January 1926) (her death)
Ben Deeley (1918 - 1921) (divorced)
Phil Ainsworth (13 October 1916 - 1918) (divorced)
Lawrence Converse (2 June 1914 - 1914) (annulled a few days later)
Jack Lytell (1913 - 1914) (his death)

Trivia (16)

Never had more than two hours of sleep a day, because she felt that life was too short to waste any of it by sleeping.
She was one of the first Californians to become rich in the motion picture industry; she was also probably the first to become an actress after being a scenario writer first. MGM chief Louis B. Mayer chose Hedy Lamarr's name in honor of Barbara La Marr.
Stage actress and cabaret artist.
The morning after her marriage to Lawrence Converse, he was charged with bigamy. He banged his head against his cell bars, calling for her, until he was knocked unconscious.
Phil Ainsworth, husband #3, wound up in San Quentin for passing bad checks.
She developed an addiction to painkillers after being prescribed morphine for a sprained ankle while on the set of Souls for Sale (1923). Supposedly it was studio-ordered so that she could continue filming.
In 1923 she secretly had a child from one of her numerous affairs. She "adopted" the child to save face and named him Marvin Carville La Marr. After her death in 1926, little Marvin was adopted by good friend Zasu Pitts and her husband Tom Gallery. He was renamed Don Gallery.
Arrested at age 14 for underage burlesque dancing.
Barbara was adopted by a foster family when she was a month-old baby. No birth certificate was ever found.
Although her foster family maintained she was born in North Yakima, Washington, she always listed Richmond, Virginia as her place of birth on all official documents, including marriage certificates.
Was, for a time, great friends with the actor William Haines until a falling-out in 1923. They never spoke again.
Her half-sister, Violet Ake, was also an actress. In January 1913, Ake and a friend were arrested for taking 16-year-old La Marr on a car ride. Her parents issued warrants for her arrest to bring back La Marr. It was published in the Los Angeles Times.
Her brother, William W. Watson Jr, was a 20s vaudeville comedian who went by the stage name of Billy DeVore.
In the 1920s she lived at 6672 1/2 Whitley Heights Terrace, in a Mission Revival mansion in the Whitley Highs district of the Hollywood Hills.
On the 1900 and 1910 Censuses for Portland, Oregon, and Fresno, California, it states that Barbara La Marr was born in the state of Washington. In the Los Angeles Times, her sister, Violet Ake, is listed as her half-sister who was from her mother Rose's first marriage. It is highly unlikely that she was adopted, and a tale that she made up for her show business career.
LaMarr's beach house was blown up for a scene in the film "Inside Daisy Clover"(1965) starring Natalie Wood.

Personal Quotes (2)

Men--bah! I am sick of men.
I like my men like I like my roses . . . by the dozen.

Salary (3)

Flame of Youth (1920) $10,000
Quincy Adams Sawyer (1922) $6,500 /week
Souls for Sale (1923) $3,500 /week

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