Theda Bara (who is Theda Bara?)

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Theda Bara, born Theodosia Burr Goodman on July 29, 1885, was an American silent film actress and one of the most popular screen actresses of her era. Known as "The Vamp," (short for vampire), Bara's image as an alluring, seductive woman was solidified with her portrayal of femme fatale characters.

Early Life: - Theda Bara was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a Polish Jewish tailor named Bernard Goodman and his wife, Pauline Louise Françoise (née DeCoppett). - She attended the University of Cincinnati for two years, where she participated in local theater productions.

Career Beginnings: - Bara moved to New York City in 1908, where she found work in theater and in films around 1914. - She made her film debut that year in "The Stain," produced by the World Film Company.

Rise to Fame: - Bara’s breakout role came with Fox Film Corporation's "A Fool There Was" in 1915, where she played the vamp character that would become her trademark. - The film was a hit, and her performance as a femme fatale led to her typecasting in similar roles.

Iconic Roles: - She appeared in over 40 films between 1915 and 1919, including "Carmen" (1915), "The Serpent" (1916), and "Cleopatra" (1917). Unfortunately, most of her films are now considered lost due to the 1937 Fox vault fire and the natural decomposition of the nitrate film stock of the era.

Image and Publicity: - Bara’s studios promoted her as having an exotic background, claiming she was born in the shadow of the Sphinx in Egypt to promote her mysterious persona. - They fashioned her as a vamp, accentuating her unique and somewhat unconventional beauty with kohl-rimmed eyes and elaborate costumes.

Later Years and Personal Life: - Theda Bara married director Charles Brabin in 1921, and they remained together until her death. - Her popularity waned with changing tastes in the 1920s, leading to the decline of her film career. - She attempted a comeback with the movie "Madame Mystery" in 1926 and made a few other film appearances, but none matched her earlier success.

Legacy: - As one of the few prominent sex symbols during the silent film era, Theda Bara was an archetype of the cinematic vamp. - She was also one of cinema's earliest sex symbols, and her name became synonymous with the dark, dangerous allure of the femme fatale.

Death: - Theda Bara died of stomach cancer on April 7, 1955, in Los Angeles, California.

Most of Theda Bara's films are lost, which contributes to some difficulty in fully appreciating her impact and performances. She remains a figure of intrigue because the majority of her work no longer exists except in still photographs and promotional materials.

For more extensive information on Theda Bara, the following resources would be informative: - "Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara" by Eve Golden, which is a biography of the actress. - The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States, which provides a comprehensive filmography and additional details on her individual works. - Archives such as the Library of Congress or the UCLA Film & Television Archive may also have articles, images, and possibly footage connected to Theda Bara’s career.

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