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March 22, 2021

Theda Bara: The First Sex Symbol of the Film Era

Born 1885 as Theodosia Burr Goodman in Cincinnati, Ohio, American silent film and stage actress Theda Bara moved to New York City in 1908 and made her Broadway debut the same year in The Devil.

Between 1915 and 1919, Bara was Fox studio’s biggest star, but tired of being typecast as a vamp, she allowed her five-year contract with Fox to expire. Her final Fox film was The Lure of Ambition (1919).

In 1920, Bara turned briefly to the stage, appearing on Broadway in The Blue Flame. Her fame drew large crowds to the theater, but her acting was savaged by critics.

Bara was one of the more popular actresses of the silent era and one of cinema’s early sex symbols. The studios promoted a fictitious persona for her as an Egyptian-born woman interested in the occult.

Bara made more than 40 films between 1914 and 1926, but most were lost in the 1937 Fox vault fire. After her marriage to Charles Brabin in 1921, she made two more feature films then retired from acting in 1926, never appearing in a sound film.

Bara died of stomach cancer in 1955. For her contributions to the film industry, she received a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. Her star is located at 6307 Hollywood Boulevard.

Take a look at these fabulous photos to see the beauty of young Theda Bara in the 1910s.


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