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Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild

Overview

Silent screen sensation Clara Bow (1905-1965), the greatest box-office draw of her day, was the embodiment of the Roaring Twenties, Hollywood's first sex symbol, and a natural talent with an independent spirit. Raised in the slums of Brooklyn by a family plagued with alcoholism and insanity, Clara catapulted to fame after winning Motion Picture magazine's 1921 "Fame and Fortune" contest. Despite her overwhelming popularity - she once received 45,000 fan letters in a single month - the onscreen vitality and allure...
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Overview

Silent screen sensation Clara Bow (1905-1965), the greatest box-office draw of her day, was the embodiment of the Roaring Twenties, Hollywood's first sex symbol, and a natural talent with an independent spirit. Raised in the slums of Brooklyn by a family plagued with alcoholism and insanity, Clara catapulted to fame after winning Motion Picture magazine's 1921 "Fame and Fortune" contest. Despite her overwhelming popularity - she once received 45,000 fan letters in a single month - the onscreen vitality and allure that beguiled millions would be her undoing off-camera. David Stenn captures the 'It' girl's legendary rise to stardom and fall from grace, her success marred by studio exploitation and sexual scandals.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his first book, Stenn, a screenwriter, has produced a movie biography that tops most of the current crop of Hollywood stories. Assiduously researched, the book contains hitherto unpublished material from Clara Bow's son and others who knew the screen goddess who expressed the spirit of flaming youth during the 1920s. Mistreated by a psychotic mother and abusive father, Bow grew up in the Brooklyn slum where she was born in 1902. She escaped by winning a ``fame and fortune'' contest in her teens and a part in a silent film. Before long the pretty redhead's singular talents made her extremely popular with producers and public alike. She personified sex as fun, earning the sobriquet ``The It Girl,'' coined by Elinor Glyn to define her allure. The actress lived the role offscreen as well, having affairs with Gary Cooper, Gilbert Roland, Victor Fleming and others, creating scandals that prompted even her amoral father to ask her, ``Why can't you be like Lillian Gish?'' But as Stenn's admirably balanced profile shows, Bow was not as wild as accounts paint her. Notoriety, nevertheless, ended her career before she was 30, after starring in numerous silents as well as early talkies for which she learned to temper her Brooklynese accent. Apart from one or two roles, like her part in the World War I aviation epic Wings , her films did not show the real gifts of this star who was usually cast in profitable potboilers, notes Stenn. Bow, married to Rex Bell and living in semi-seclusion, died in 1965. In this sensitive biography, readers will find a vibrant woman to empathize with, as well as an engrossing history of early picture-making. Photos not seen by PW. (September)
C. Winecoff
Tracing the meteoric rise and nasty fall of the screen sexpot who presaged Harlow and Monroe, TV writer Stenn never loses sight of the scared working-class girl who spent a lifetime trying to escape her past.
Entertainment Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792425892
  • Publisher: Bantam Books
  • Publication date: 9/15/1991
  • Pages: 338

Table of Contents

Author's Note
Prologue 1
I Brooklyn Gothic 3
II Hollywood Flapper 33
III The "It" Girl 77
IV Talkies 153
V "This Ain't No Life" 207
VI Mrs. Beldam 247
Epilogue 281
Aftermath 284
Filmography 287
Sources 314
Notes 321
Index 359
About the Author 369
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