Barbara La MarrThe Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood

Barbara La MarrThe Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood

Sherri Snyder

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780813174259

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

Abstract

In 1914 at age seventeen, strong-willed, infamous Reatha Watson was declared by juvenile authorities to be “too beautiful for the city” and banished from Los Angeles. She soon returned, became further mired in scandal, and was subsequently barred by the film studios from working as an actress. Reborn as Barbara La Marr, she achieved renown as a dancer in the foremost cabarets throughout the country and on Broadway, acted in headlining vaudeville skits, and became a highly paid screenwriter for the Fox Film Corporation in the same town that cast her out. Her exotic beauty, curvaceous form, and potent presence enticed film producers; she temporarily averted association with her increasingly turbulent past long enough to reign as a preeminent vamp of the silent screen in the 1920s. Through it all, her stormy private life striped the pages of newspapers and film magazines. “There was no reason to lie about Barbara La Marr,” her publicist confessed after her death at age twenty-nine in 1926. “Everything she said, everything she did was colored with news-value. A personality dangerous, vivid, attractive; a desire to live life at its maddest and fullest; a mixture of sentiment and hardness, a creature of weakness and strength—-that was Barbara La Marr.” Her life story is one of tempestuous passions and unbending perseverance in the face of inconceivable odds. It is of a woman’s fierce determination to forge her own destiny amid the constant threat of losing it all to scandal and, ultimately, death.