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084 Bara, Theda
 

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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084 Bara, Theda

Theda BaraTheda Bara, born Theodosia Goodman, was an American silent-film star born on July 20, 1885 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended the University of Cincinnati from 1903-1905 and moved to New York City in 1908, where she made her Broadway debut in The Devil.  In 1915, she gained the lead role as a vampire in A Fool There Was. Soon after, she earned the nickname “The Vamp,” (short for vampire) which was slang for a sexually predaTheda Bara in Celopatratory woman. Bara is known as one of cinema’s earliest sex symbols. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, “her films set the vogue for sophisticated sexual themes in motion pictures and made her an international symbol of daring new freedom” (Theda Bara”). Bara had become the first fabricated star. According to IMDB, “publicists sent out press releases that Theda was the daughter of an artist and an Arabian princess…” and her name was changed to Theda Bara as a screen name, meaning “Arab Death.” She was often photographed with skulls and snakes, wearing beaded, fringed clothing for publicity reasons.

A Fool There Was Bara appeared in more than 40 films between 1914 and 1926 including, A Fool There Was (1915), Romeo and Juliet (1916), Under Two Flags (1916), Camille (1917), Madame Du Barry (1917), Cleopatra (1917), Salome (1918), and Kathleen Mavourmeen (1919). She played “the irresistible, heartless woman who lived only for sensual pleasure” (“Theda Bara”).  In 1927 Bara retired after she attempted a comeback in Hollywood and had an unsuccessful appearance on Broadway. She married director-writer Charles Brabin until her death from abdominal cancer on April 7th, 1955.

Ragtime discusses the figure Evelyn Nesbit as a symbol of sex and beauty during the times. She is suffering from her husband’s trial for the murder of her ex-husband StTheda Bara in Cleopatra costumeanford White, whom she had been sexually engaged with. Nesbit gained all sorts of publicity during the trial and her testimony created the first sex goddess in American history. She was seen on the front page of newspapers all over. Businessmen wanted to create individuals like Nesbit for their own mediums. Evelyn Nesbit “provided the inspiration for the concept of the movie star system” (84). Theda Bara was inspired by Evelyn Nesbit and became one of the first sex symbol of the movies in the early 1900s.


Other Links:

http://www.goldensilents.com/stars/thedabara.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000847/bio

"Theda Bara (American Actress) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia." Encyclopedia - Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Web. .

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 00:26  

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