“It—that quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force.”—Elinor Glyn.
The first in an occasional series devoted to the most popular movie pin-up star of a given era. More of a snapshot of the era than any insight into my own quirks and preferences.
Tomorrow, the male equivalent.
Clara Bow, the Silent Era's greatest sex symbol, will forever be known as the "It Girl." Born in Brooklyn in 1905 to a schizophrenic mother and an abusive father, she made her biggest splash in the 1927 silent movie, It, about a sales girl who has an affair with a wealthy playboy. The movie made her an instant star.
That same year, she co-starred in the first best picture winner in Oscar history, Wings, playing the girl-next-door who loves a young pilot who winds up flying on the western front during the First World War.
Sound, however, didn't do her career much good—she had a thick Brooklyn accent—and a series of other problems, some tax related, some sex-scandal related. She later battled mental illnesses of her own, left movies in 1933 and died in relative obscurity at the age of sixty.
[But click here for a more nuanced look at Clara Bow.]