|Born||in Brooklyn, New York, USA|
|Died||in West Los Angeles, California, USA (heart attack)|
|Birth Name||Clara Gordon Bow|
|Nickname||The "It" Girl|
|Height||5' 3½" (1.61 m)|
Mini Bio (3)
Clara Gordon Bow, destined to become "The It Girl", was born on July 29, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in poverty and violence. Her often absentee and brutish father could not or did not provide and her schizophrenic mother tried to slit Clara's throat when the girl spoke of becoming an actress. Bow, nonetheless, won a photo beauty contest which launched her movie career that would eventually number 58 films, from 1922 to 1933.
The movie It (1927) defined her career. The film starred Clara as a shopgirl 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 friend trying hard to assist her. She used a pair of scissors to modify her dress to try to look "sexier." The movie did much to change society's mores as there were 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 presented a worldly wisdom that somehow sex meant having a good time. But the movie shouldn't mislead the viewer, because when her boss tries to kiss her goodnight, she slaps him. At the height of her popularity she received over 45,000 fan letters a month. Also, she was probably the most overworked and underpaid star in the industry. With the coming of sound, 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 (1932) in 1932. It was somewhat of a failure at the box office and her last was in 1933 in a film called Hoopla (1933).
She then married cowboy star Rex Bell at 26 and retired from the film world at 28. She doted on her two sons and did everything to please them. Haunted by a weight problem and a mental imbalance, she never re-entered show business. She was confined to sanitariums from time to time and prohibited access to her beloved sons. She died of a heart attack in West Los Angeles, on September 26, 1965 at age 60. 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 It (1927) has the legacy of her films to confirm that she was a wonderful lady and America's first sex symbol.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson
Clara Gordon Bow was the sole surviving child of three; two girls born before her had died, one after two hours and the other after two days. She was brought up in poverty in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (New York City). Her father, Robert Bow, who hailed from a large and once well-off family of Scottish and English descent, was unreliable and often absent. Her schizophrenic mother, the former Sarah Gordon, once tried to Clara after the latter won a photo beauty contest and declared her ambition to become an actress. Clara Bow would go on to appear in 56 feature films, with only a small number of talkies among them. Best-known as the uninhibited flapper type. Bow reached the top as the "It Girl" in 1927.
With the advent of sound and the Depression with its financial repercussions on disposable income, Bow's popularity faded. Adding to her problems were gambling debts, unpaid taxes and several sensational public court battles involving alienation of affections by certain spouses of men with whom Bow had reportedly had affairs as well as Bow's lawsuit against her secretary for embezzlement. Bow wed cowboy star Rex Bell at age 26 and retired two years later, in 1933. Plagued by personal crises, mental instability and weight issues, she never made another film. She died in 1965, aged 60, following a heart attack.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Herman Seifer/Robert Sieger
Clara Gordon Bow, the future "It Girl", was born in a run-down tenement in old Brooklyn, to a schizophrenic mother (Sarah Gordon Bow) and a chronically destitute, physically abusive father (Robert Bow). As a child, she was a tomboy and played games in the streets with the boys; since her clothes were so ragged and dirty other girl children wouldn't play with her. Her best friend Johnny burned to death in her arms when she was 10 years old after he got too close to a fire. Years later, she could make herself cry at will on a movie set by listening to the lullaby "Rock-A-Bye Baby". She claimed it reminded her of her small friend. She also told reporters simple, brutal, honest stories about her horrific childhood, which was a big no-no in her day. Mental illness was considered shameful.
She entered "The Fame and Fortune Contest" as a teenager. Girls from all over the country competed, and the 1st Prize was a part in a movie. Bow showed up in ragged clothes and the other girls smirked at her. The contest judges paid no attention until she did her screen test - and then they unanimously chose her over all the other girls. Bow lit up the screen and got the part but it was later cut from the movie. During this time her mother tried to kill her and was institutionalized where she remained until her death.
Bow was taken to Hollywood by B.P. Schulberg, who used her sexually and financially. He worked her like a horse and paid her very little compared to other stars of the day. Even so, the talented actress became a superstar, and the first ever Hollywood sex symbol. She could flirt with the camera just by looking into it with her big brown eyes and mischievous bow-tie grin. She exuded sex appeal from every pore in her little body and was not afraid to flaunt it. She personified "flaming youth in rebellion". Her characters were always working class gals; manicurists, showgirls and the like. Her movies reportedly emancipated many young people from the restrictive morals of their parents. Bow's characters were unashamed about being attracted to men and went after them with gusto. Her shop girl in It (1927) sees the boss's son one day, and says "Oh Santa, gimme him!" She knows exactly what to do to get him interested and then keeps him on his toes. Her characters cut their dresses up to look sexier, cut off their hair, drank and smoked in public, and danced all night long. At the height of her career, she received 45,000 fan letters a week, a record that has never been equaled. She was the idol of working girls and the dream of working class guys everywhere.
Although the public adored Bow, Hollywood elite shunned her. Many of Hollywood's big names of the 1920s had also come from poor backgrounds but after they made it big they tended to develop upper class values and personas. It was later discovered by a biographer that Clara suffered from mental illness, although not as severely as had her mother. She had very public affairs (her euphemism was "engagements") with a score of leading men and directors, including Victor Fleming, Gary Cooper, and Gilbert Roland. This behavior horrified her peers, and eventually she was driven out of Hollywood. Nasty rumors about her sexuality floated around the movie colony, including one about her taking on the entire USC Football Team one night, which was finally disproved by a biographer, David Stenn.
The coming of sound was like an earthquake to Hollywood. It shook up everything. Her fans probably wouldn't have minded her blue collar Brooklyn accent, since most of them were working class gals themselves, but Bow got herself so worked up with mic fright she had breakdowns during her first talkies. Before she could recover from this, she ended up in court with her private life splashed all over the papers, which didn't help matters one bit. Her secretary and best friend, Daisy de Voe, was caught embezzling from her. When Bow took de Voe to court, the secretary told the court about and the press reported uncensored details of Bow's sex life, much of which was exaggerated. Bow had another more serious breakdown and entered a sanatorium. Soon after, she retired and moved to Nevada with her new husband, cowboy actor Rex Bell. The couple had two sons. She died in 1965, aged 60, from heart disease.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: email@example.com
|Rex Bell||(3 December 1931 - 4 July 1962) ( his death) ( 2 children)|
Personal Quotes (12)
|Beyond the Rainbow (1922)||$50 /week|
|Down to the Sea in Ships (1922)||$35 /week|
|Two Can Play (1926)||$1,750 /week|
|The Wild Party (1929)||$5,000 /week|
|Call Her Savage (1932)||$125,000|