Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #587 - Theda Bara Hollywood's First Sex Symbol - Musical Monday for 1702.13

Theda Barton
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #587 - Theda Bara Hollywood's First Sex Symbol - Musical Monday for 1702.13

Hi Mom,

It's Musical Monday again (even though I am finishing this on Tuesday), and it's time for something a little different and not directly VALENTINE'S DAY related (that's tomorrow).

I have this tendency to save things in text files, so that one desktop of my two screens is covered with text files (though not quite entirely).

see below

desktop screen two 1702.14

So I saved this playlist at some point and for some reason. Date and time stamp tells me it was October 10th 2014 (1410.10). You were still alive then, Mom. That was just two days after the last of your birthdays you would spend with us. You had a bad run just a few months before in the hospital with infected kidney stones. We almost lost you, but you didn't want to go yet. We bought you one more year of life. It was worth it.



Okay, but that's not about Theda Barton, who I di not know was Jewish (which is cool).

This is a better biography than the WIKI for THEDA BARA. Though the Wiki does contain the filmography and a great more detail, but I like Wasserman's writing and some of the content much better.

So I reprint the JWA content here (with due credit).

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/bara-theda

THEDABARA

1890 – 1955

Long before Mae West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlowe, and Madonna vamped their way across the silver screen, there was Theda Bara—the original celluloid “vamp.”

Born Theodosia Goodman on July 22, 1890, in Cincinnati, she was the daughter of Bernard Goodman, a Jewish tailor from Chorsel, Poland, and Pauline Louise Fran├žoise de Coppet, who was Swiss of French descent. Bara had an older brother named Marque and a younger sister named Lori.

At age eighteen, she decided to become an actor and moved to New York City. Seven years later, she became known throughout the country as the sex goddess of the silent screen. Between 1915 and 1919, she starred in forty films as a deadly seductress, ushering in the age of the “vamp,” a word that came to be used as both noun and verb. In movies with such titles as Sin, Destruction, The Serpent, Salome, and Cleopatra, she played exotic and wicked characters who lured helpless men to their ruin.

Her fame began in 1915, when director Frank Powell discovered her and asked her to star in a Fox Film Company production titled A Fool There Was. Realizing that her career on the stage was not progressing, she reluctantly accepted. Concerned about casting an unknown actor alongside the well-known Broadway star Edward Jose, William Fox, head of Fox Film Company, staged the first ever sensationalized publicity campaign. Fox’s press agents promptly changed Theodosia Goodman’s name and origins. “Theda Bara,” they announced, was an anagram for “Arab Death.” Born in the shadow of the Sphinx, they claimed, she was the daughter of a French artist and his Arabian mistress. In reality, Theda was a contraction of Theodosia, and Bara came from her maternal grandfather’s name, Fran├žois Baranger de Coppet.

A Fool There Was was based on Porter Emerson Browne’s 1909 stage melodrama, which in turn was based on Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Vampire.” Kipling had been inspired by Sir Edward Burne-Jones’s painting of the same name. The story revolved around a temptress who squeezed everything out of men—money, dignity, and finally life itself.

Little did Fox have to worry about casting the unknown Bara—she was an overnight sensation. The New York Dramatic Mirror wrote: “Miss Bara misses no chance for sensuous appeal in her portrayal of the Vampire. She is a horribly fascinating woman, vicious to the core, and cruel. When she says ‘Kiss me, my fool,’ the fool is generally ready to obey and enjoy a prolonged moment, irrespective of the less enjoyable ones to follow.”
Her large black eyes, accentuated by heavy kohl makeup, set off her rounded, dead-white face. Elaborate props such as a tiger-skin rug and a long gold cigarette holder embellished her exoticism, as did her penchant for veils, crowns, large hoop earrings, and bronze bangles. With her long, dark hair and voluptuous figure draped in low-cut gauzy gowns, the vamp perpetuated a familiar stereotype of European passion and exoticism. At the same time, the character created a popular image of women as sensual yet powerful. The vamp dominated and triumphed over men, and contrasted sharply with the clean-cut WASPish characters portrayed by Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish.

Bara scandalized the mores of the middle classes. Meetings held across the country put the burgeoning film industry on trial and focused on Theda Bara—the vampire, the wickedest woman in the world, as she was billed by Fox. Of one film, a critic wrote, “Were the National Board of Censorship possessed of any judgment whatsoever, this is the kind of picture it should place the ban of its disapproval upon.” Local boards issued edicts condemning her films.

But her popularity was unstoppable. In 1915 alone, she starred in eleven pictures. Labeled “Hell’s Handmaiden,” she received two hundred letters a day, including over a thousand marriage proposals. Adoring fans named their babies after her. Her movies ran continuously, sometimes playing six times a day.

Some fans failed to distinguish Bara from her fictionalized roles. One bitter moviegoer wrote, “It is such women as you who break up happy homes.” Bara replied, “I am working for my living, dear friend, and if I were the kind of woman you seem to think I am, I wouldn’t have to.” Another, a criminal defendant, claimed that he killed his mother-in-law after viewing one of Bara’s films.

Bara defended her role: “The vampire that I play is the vengeance of my sex upon its exploiters. You see, I have the face of a vampire, but the heart of a feministe.” But she also worried about the image she perpetuated: “I try to show the world how attractive sin may be, how very beautiful, so that one must be always on the lookout and know evil even in disguise.” Besides, she added, “Whenever I try to be a nice, good little thing, you all stay away from my pictures.”

Fox refused to renew her contract after 1919. More significantly, by 1920 the movie industry had reached a larger public. Filmmakers such as Cecil B. DeMille cleaned up the vamp image for a wider audience. No longer menacing or mysterious, stars like Clara Bow and Louise Brooks exuded a cleaner image of sex and sexuality. 

After 1919, Bara did some stage work and starred in two more films in 1925 and 1926. In 1921, she married director Charles Brabin. Their marriage lasted until her death on April 7, 1955. Theda Bara created, with her characterization of the vamp, a seminal and enduring image of female sexuality in American popular culture. Tragically, A Fool There Was is the only one of her films that has survived intact.

Bibliography

AJYB 24: 117; Bodeen, Dewitt. “Theda Bara: The Screen’s First Publicity-made Star Was a Woman of Sensibility.” Films in Review 19 (May 1968): 266–287; DAB 5; Ewen, Elizabeth. Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars (1985); Koszarski, Richard. An Evening’s Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915–1928. In History of American Cinema Series. Vol. 3 (1990); MacCann, Richard Dyer. The Stars Appear (1992); NAW modern; Obituary. NYTimes, April 8, 1955; Zierold, Norman. Sex Goddesses of the Silent Screen (1973).

More on: ActingFilmTheater




Here's some great stuff from -
http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2014/07/before-flapper-naughty-vamp-scandalized.html


BEFORE THE FLAPPER, THE NAUGHTY ‘VAMP’ SCANDALIZED NEW YORK

Two iconic actresses of the early silent film industry share a birthday today — Theda Bara (born July 29, 1885) and Clara Bow (born in Brooklyn, July 29, 1905).  Bow became the screen’s leading flapper archetype of the 1920s, but Bara’s exotic, controversial antics set the stage one decade earlier.  In honor of their birthdays, I’m re-running this article from last year about ‘the vamp’, a sort of proto-flapper popularized by Bara and the ladies of the Ziegfeld Follies, later to influence the changes in perceptions of women in the 1920s.


Maneater: Theda Bara in an unconventional portrait. Her publicist claimed it was her lover and that ‘not even the grave could separate them’.

“A vampire is a good woman with a bad reputation, or rather a good woman who has had possibilities and wasted them” — Florenz Ziegfeld
Progressive, liberated women were clearly so frightening one hundred years ago that equating them to undead, bloodthirsty creatures borne of Satan didn’t seem so unusual.
In the late 1910s, women were on the verge of winning the right for equal representation in the voting booth. Women were asserting power in unions, and, in the wake of disasters like the Triangle Factory Fire, those unions were influencing government policy. They were taking control of their destinies, their fortunes, even their sexuality (Margaret Sanger‘s first birth control clinic opened in 1916).
This surging independence came just as the entertainment industry heralded the female form as one of its primary attractions. Ziegfeld’s sassy, flesh-filled Follies — and its many imitators — defined the Broadway stage, mixing  music, sex and glamour with a morality-shattering frankness.
But it was the birth of motion pictures that gave the allure of female bodies an unearthly, flickering glow, as nickelodeon shorts became feature-length films, and the first era of the movie siren was born.
Combine the power of liberation with the erotic potential of cinema, and in the late 1910s, you got the vampire (or as we would come to know, the ‘vamp’).

The queen of the vamps was one of America’s most mysterious movie stars — Theda Bara (at left). The magnetic actress, with her steely gaze and jetblack hair, was the prototype for a movie bad girl. She shook convention so dramatically that a critic called her a “flaming comet of the cinema firmament.”
From 1915-1919, she made over three dozen films, most in movie studios located in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It were here that she acquired her famous nickname, based upon her role as a home wrecker in a film inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Vampire’. During this period, Bara lived in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park with her family — at 132 E. 19th Street.
She put a face to a new sort of young lady. These were the spiritual children of the prior generation of newly empowered women who fought against the constraints of Victorian society. A few years later, as another vein of female power (the temperance movement) helped bring about Prohibition, these young women would be called flappers, carefree and fueled on the powers of jazz and illegal alcohol.
But to the established class, these ladies weren’t trend-setters. They were devils in black gowns. ‘Know a ‘Vampire’ by the Card She Plays‘, warned a New York Evening World article from March 1919, accompanied by a Theda Bara-like illustration of a snake-like monster.
The article recounts the efforts of a Newark judge attempting the rid the streets of “flirty girlies,” as he called them. “A vampire is a woman who flirts on the street with men, bleaches her hair, camouflages her face, disguises herself with clothes and gives wrong names, but is unable to change her eyes or dimples.” The article laughs off his puny efforts. “Can vamps, of whatever sort, BE suppressed?”
Vampires were of course more readily seen in Times Square, dancers, actresses or cabaret stars. But even your stenographer could be one!, warned one article.
Unlike Bara’s iconic identity as a raven-locked seductress, most ‘real’ vampires were blondes. “[T]he vampire of real life hath the golden hair of an angel, which is never disarranged, same when she letteth it down, to DISPLAY it, on the beach,” warned columnist Helen Rowland, with a little tongue in cheek. (Ms. Rowland was famous for her writings as a ‘bachelor girl’.)
“No one ever saw a vampire in a high neck dress,” said an Evening World advice columnist in 1918. “All vampires must reveal their collar-bones and the contiguous territory.”
The woman vampire was an urban creature, up all night, sleeping all the day. The city was partial cause for her condition. As the New York Times suggested in 1920, “The idea of New York as a vampire to the rest of the country is one which a number of persons have entertained and expressed. To some of them the vampire is Wall Street, to others it is the region of white lights [Broadway].”
Many actress got stuck with the term ‘vamp’ or ‘baby vampire’ — or else, embraced the coy terminology. Juliette Day was a known ‘baby vampire’ for her role in the scandalous 1916 play ‘Upstairs and Down’. It’s no surprise that in the film version from 1919, the role is reprised by the notorious Olive Thomas, a Ziegfeld girl who met a bitter end the following year.
Some actress fought against the alleged stigma. Actress Clara Joel, playing a vampire-type role in a 1918 film, made it known in the Tribune that “she is not a vampire and that she was born in Jersey City.”
The irony of stage actresses trying to shed a vampire image is that Theda Bara, the original vampire, in her first stage attempt in 1920, flopped. The play was supernatural-themed ‘The Blue Flame‘ which opened at the Shubert Theater to cavalcades of unintentional laughter.(A ‘terrible thing’, according to the Times critic.) Bara, who had to deliver such lines as “Did you remember to bring the cocaine?” was roundly trashed.
Shortly thereafter, the vampire moved to Los Angeles. Her film career lasted a few more years, but sound pictures and a strict Hollywood production code pretty much eradicated the existence of vamps on the screen. In New York, meanwhile, her sultry spawn morphed into flappers, populating the speakeasies and cabaret nightclubs of the city.
Below: A 1919 romp called ‘The Vamp’ performed by the Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra



I have one more goodie, but I am going to save it for another day.

So, obviously, this playlist is dedicated to the silent film "vamp" Theda Bara.

Apparently, the list was created by Karina Longworth, the creator of the well known and much revered You Must Remember This podcast.

The music playlist comes from this link, which  is dead but the podcast exists

http://youmustrememberthispodcast.com/post/99410649764/ymrt-17-theda-bara-hollywoods-first-sex-symbol

Here's the podcast link, which looks active

http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com/front/


I made a You Tube playlist for all these videos, and it's here.

LINK TO MY YOU TUBE PLAYLIST FOR THIS THEDA BARA PLAYLIST


Discography:
“Preludes for Piano 2” by George Gershwin
“You Could Never Tell” by The Horrors
“Atmosphere” by Joy Division
“Untitled” by Body/Head
“Undercover Vampire Policeman” by Chris Zabriskie
“Readers! Do You Read?” by Chris Zabriskie
“Ball and Biscuit” by The White Stripes
“Surprise Ending” by Helium
“Baby Vampire Made Me” by Helium
“Rub ’Til It Bleeds” by PJ Harvey
“Benbient” by canton
“Ceremony” by New Order, covered by Galaxie 500
“Damned if She Do” by The Kills
“Gymnopedie No. 3” by Eric Satie, performed by Kevin MacLeod
“Rock My Boat” by DNTEL
image






“Preludes for Piano 2” by George Gershwin





“You Could Never Tell” by The Horrors





“Atmosphere” by Joy Division




“Untitled” by Body/Head




“Undercover Vampire Policeman” by Chris Zabriskie




“Readers! Do You Read?” by Chris Zabriskie




“Ball and Biscuit” by The White Stripes





“Surprise Ending” by Helium




“Baby Vampire Made Me” by Helium






“Rub ’Til It Bleeds” by PJ Harvey



“Benbient” by canton





“Ceremony” by New Order, covered by Galaxie 500







“Damned if She Do” by The Kills




“Gymnopedie No. 3” by Eric Satie, performed by Kevin MacLeod




“Rock My Boat” by DNTEL










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Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 589 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1702.13 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
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