Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara

Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara

Article excerpt

Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara by Eve Golden. Vestal, New York: The Vestal Press, 1996. ISBN: 1-887322-00-0, $29.95 (cloth), 288 pages, ill. Distributed by the Vestal Press, Ltd., PO Box 97, Vestal NY 13851-0097. Telephone: (607)797-4872, Fax: (607)797-4898.

The original "Vamp" - short for "vampire" - was condemned by ministers and film censors, but adored by her fans - more than a thousand babies were named after her. Starring in the scandalous 1915 film, A Fool There Was, Theda Bara became a star overnight, and for the rest of the decade ranked third in popularity to Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Box office receipt garnered by the movies' first sex symbol Marilyn Monroe, Bara was able to deal with the burden of fame and notoriety, and with the frustration of a career cut short. Bara starred in "Theda Bara Super-Productions" Cleopatra (1917) and Salome (1918) and other hit films before mysteriously disappearing from the screen.

Surprisingly, until now no biography of The Vamp has been written, although newspapers and fan magazines were full of articles and stories about her. Bara threatened to write her own "because nobody ever wrote a true word about me." Seven decades later, author Eve Golden has uncovered the woman who was a talented actress as well as a self-aware, funny, and very intelligent woman, able to cope with disappointment. In response to exploitation by William Fox, Miss Bara exacted the best revenge by living well - very well, in fact, for the rest of her life. …

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