Pola Negri: Hollywood's First Femme Fatale

Pola Negri: Hollywood's First Femme Fatale

by Mariusz Kotowski


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Pola Negri (1897—1987) rose from an impoverished childhood in Warsaw, Poland, to become one of early Hollywood's greatest stars. After tuberculosis ended her career as a ballerina in 1912, she turned to acting and worked under legendary directors Max Reinhardt and Ernst Lubitsch in Germany. Negri preceded Lubitsch to Hollywood, where she quickly became a fan favorite thanks to her beauty, talent, and diva personality. Known for her alluring sexuality and biting artistic edge, she starred in more than sixty films and defined the image of the cinematic femme fatale.

Author Mariusz Kotowski brings the screen siren's story to English-speaking audiences for the first time in this fascinating biography. At the height of her fame, Negri often portrayed exotic and mysterious temptresses, headlining in such successes as The Spanish Dancer (1923) and Forbidden Paradise (1924), before returning to Europe in the 1930s. The devastating effects of World War II soon drove her back to the United States, where she starred in Hi Diddle Diddle (1943) and pursued her vaudeville career before retiring from the entertainment industry.

Kotowski also illuminates Negri's dramatic personal life, detailing her numerous love affairs — including her engagement to Charlie Chaplin and her romance with Rudolph Valentino — as well as her multiple marriages. This long-overdue biography not only paints a detailed portrait of one classic Hollywood's most intriguing stars and the film industry's original Jezebel, but also explores the link between Hollywood and European cinema during the interwar years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813144887
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 04/22/2014
Series: Screen Classics
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mariusz Kotowski is the chief executive officer of Bright Shining City Productions, a film production company.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction 1

1 Early Years in Poland 5

2 The Move to Berlin 17

3 With Lubitsch in Germany 23

4 Postwar Berlin 37

5 Switzerland to Paris to New York 47

6 Coming to Hollywood 53

7 Paramount Pictures, 1922 63

8 Engagement to Chaplin 69

9 Gloria Swanson 83

10 Paramount Pictures, 1923-1924 89

11 Forbidden Paradise 99

12 Becoming a Star 105

13 Finding Valentino 119

14 Losing Valentino 129

15 Paramount Pictures, 1927 149

16 Princess Mdivani 155

17 Working in Europe 161

18 First Talkie 167

19 Return to UFA 173

20 Escape from Germany 183

21 Life with Margaret West 187

22 Final Days 195

Acknowledgments 201

Chronology 203

Filmography, Discography, and Stage Works Notes 221

Bibliography 229

Index 235

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