Clara Bow (1905-1965)

Clara Bow - Silent and Sound Movie Star

“The Brooklyn Bonfire” ~ “The It Girl”

The first real screen flapper of the 1920’s, Clara Bow (nicknamed “The It Girl” – “It” meaning sex appeal), was born Clara Gordon Bowtinelli in Brooklyn, New York on July 29th, 1905. Her father worked on and off as a waiter at Coney Island. Her mother was a mentally unstable semi-invalid, who tried to kill Clara rather than see her leave home to become an actress. At age sixteen Clara escaped her nightmarish home life and poverty by entering and winning a fan magazine beauty contest. When the New York – New Jersey studios at the time didn’t recognize her talents, she moved to Hollywood, and quickly found success. She started in small parts in 1922, but made an impression right away, and by 1925 she was so popular with the public that the studio rushed her through fourteen films in that one year alone. Clara’s first screen nickname was “The Brooklyn Bonfire.” Her film “Mantrap” (1926) made her a star, and made her rich for the first time in her life, although she continued to live in a modest bungalow and not a mansion, unlike other stars of the era.

The silent romantic comedy classic “It” (1927) was another huge success for Clara, and millions of shopgirls and waitresses across America began to imitate her style. Bow’s offscreen list of admirers included a young Gary Cooper, who had a small part in “It”, and director Victor Fleming. However by 1931 Clara was growing tired of scandals and the fast party life of Hollywood, and she married cowboy actor Rex Bell and had two sons, settling down to ranch life and domesticity. She made a few sound films in the early 1930’s, then retired from acting permanently after “Hoopla” (1933). Struggling with a weight problem and depression later in life, she never did manage to make an acting comeback. However Clara Bow’s sparkling movie performances, particularly in her silent films of the roaring 20’s, continue to capture the imagination of new generations of film fans; her legacy lives on. Clara Bow died from a heart attack on September 27th, 1965, in West Los Angeles, California. ~ Copyright © 2004

Clara Bow’s Silent Films

Three Weekends (1928) …. Gladys O’Brien
… aka Three Week Ends (1928) (USA: poster title)
Fleet’s In, The (1928) …. Trixie Deane
Ladies of the Mob (1928) …. Yvonne
Red Hair (1928) …. Bubbles McCoy

Clara Bow in a glamour shot, colorized by

Clara Bow in a glamour shot, colorized by

Get Your Man (1927) …. Nancy Worthington
Hula (1927) …. Hula Calhoun
Wings (1927) …. Mary Preston
Rough House Rosie (1927) …. Rosie O’Reilly
Children of Divorce (1927) …. Kitty Flanders
It (1927) …. Betty Lou Spence
Dance Madness (1926)
Kid Boots (1926) …. Clara McCoy
Mantrap (1926) …. Alverna
Runaway, The (1926) …. Cynthia Meade

Clara Bow kissing co-star James Hall in The Fleet's In (1929)

Clara Bow getting ready to kiss co-star James Hall in “The Fleet’s In” (1929)

Fascinating Youth (1926) …. Guest
Dancing Mothers (1926) …. Kittens Westcourt
Two Can Play (1926) …. Dorothy Hammis
Shadow of the Law (1926) …. Mary Brophy
My Lady of Whims (1925) …. Prudence Severn
Ancient Mariner, The (1925) …. Doris
Plastic Age, The (1925) …. Cynthia Day
Best Bad Man, The (1925) …. Peggy Swain
Free to Love (1925) …. Marie Anthony
Primrose Path, The (1925) …. Marilyn Merrill
Keeper of the Bees, The (1925) …. Lolly Cameron
Kiss Me Again (1925) …. Grizette
Parisian Love (1925) …. Marie
My Lady’s Lips (1925) …. Lola Lombard
Scarlet West, The (1925) …. Miriam
Lawful Cheaters (1925) …. Molly Burns
Eve’s Lover (1925) …. Rena DArcy
Adventurous Sex, The (1925) …. The Girl
Capital Punishment (1925) …. Delia Tate
Black (1924)
Black Oxen (1924) …. Janet Ogelthorpe
Black Lightning (1924) …. Martha Larned
This Woman (1924) …. Aline Sturdevant
Helen’s Babies (1924) …. Alice Mayton
Empty Hearts (1924) …. Rosalie
Wine (1924) …. Angela Warriner
Daughters of Pleasure (1924) …. Lila Millas
Poisoned Paradise (1924) …. Margot LeBlanc
… aka Poisoned Paradise: The Forbidden Story of Monte Carlo (1924)
Grit (1924) …. Orchid McGonigle
Maytime (1923) …. Alice Tremaine
Daring Years, The (1923) …. Mary
Enemies of Women (1923) …. Girl dancing on table
Down to the Sea in Ships (1922) …. ‘Dot’ Morgan
Beyond the Rainbow (1922) …. Virginia Gardener

To learn more about Clara Bow visit her profile on The Internet Movie Database


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