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February 15, 2022

Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful For Hollywood

Born 1896 as Reatha Dale Watson in Yakima, Washington, American actress and screenwriter Barbara La Marr spent her early life in the Pacific Northwest before relocating with her family to California when she was a teenager. After performing in vaudeville and working as a dancer in New York City, she moved to Los Angeles with her second husband and became a screenwriter for Fox Film Corporation, writing several successful films for the company.

La Marr was finally ‘discovered’ by Douglas Fairbanks, who gave her a prominent role in The Nut (1921), then cast her as Milady de Winter in his production of The Three Musketeers (1921). After two further career-boosting films with director Rex Ingram (The Prisoner of Zenda and Trifling Women, both with Ramon Novarro), La Marr signed with Arthur H. Sawyer to make several films for various studios, including The Hero (1923), Souls for Sale (1923), and The Shooting of Dan McGrew (1924), the first and last of which she co-wrote.

La Marr appeared in twenty-seven films during her career between 1920 and 1926. She was also noted by the media for her beauty, dubbed as the “Girl Who Is Too Beautiful,” as well as her tumultuous personal life.

During her career, La Marr became known as the pre-eminent vamp of the 1920s; she partied and drank heavily, once remarking to the press that she only slept two hours a night. In 1924, La Marr’s health began to falter after a series of crash diets for comeback roles further affected her lifestyle, leading to her death from pulmonary tuberculosis and nephritis at age 29 in 1926. She was posthumously honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to the film industry.

Take a look at these vintage photos to see the beauty of Barbara La Marr during her short career.

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