Clara Bow

Active - 1922 - Present  |   Born - Jul 29, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Died - Sep 27, 1965   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy, Crime, Comedy Drama

Share on

Famous as the "It" girl of the Roaring 20s; Clara Bow was the flapper to end all flappers. The daughter of a Coney Island waiter, she spent her youth in poverty. At 16 she won a movie magazine beauty contest; part of the prize was a trip to visit the New York studios and a bit part in a silent, soon leading to other roles mostly in low-budget films. Under contract to producer B.P. Schulberg, she went with Schulberg from New York to Hollywood's Paramount, where the studio's publicity machine helped mold her into a star, particularly after Mantrap (1926), her first smash hit. Soon she became a symbol of the emancipated woman during the flapper age: vibrant, liberated, energetic. Her bobbed hair, bow lips, and sparkling eyes came to represent the era, and her bangled, beaded "look" soon became imitated by women throughout America. After appearing in the film It (1927) she became known as the "It" girl, a woman with "something extra" which set her apart from the common herd. While living the life of the Roaring 20s, however, she became the victim of numerous scandals and quickly fell from grace with the public (which in a 1928 poll had named her America's favorite actress). With the advent of sound, her career ground to a halt. In 1931 she eloped with cowboy star Rex Bell, who eventually became lieutenant governor of Nevada. Bow retired from the screen in 1933.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography

Factsheet

  • Grew up in poverty.
  • As a teenager, she won a beauty contest run by Motion Picture magazine, and her prize was an appearance in the silent film Beyond the Rainbow (1922). 
  • Made 15 movies in 1925 alone.
  • Became known as the "It Girl" after appearing in the film It (1927).
  • Personified the popular flapper image of the 1920s. 
  • The advent of sound in films contributed to the decline of her career.
  • Retired from acting in 1933.