Clara Gordon Bow, later to become the personification of
the Roaring Twenties, was born and brought up in near 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
Best known as the uninhibited flapper, she reached the
top as the 'It Girl' in 1927. 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
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 advent of sound
and the Depression's disfavorable attitude towards Jazz-Age
extravagances, her popularity faded.
Also, adding to her woes were the problems she had over
gaming debts, unpaid taxes, and several sensational public
court battles involving alienation of affections. 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 screen at the age of
She was a doting mother of her two sons and would do anything
to please them. Plagued by personal crisis, a weight problem,
and mental instability, she never entered show business
again. Clara was confined to a sanatorium from time to time
and was not allowed access to her loving sons very often.
She died of a heart attack in West Los Angeles, on September
26, 1965. She was 60 years old.