Saturday, February 17, 2007

Person of the Year - Clara Bow

There were archetypical movie stars: America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford, The Great Lover Rudolph Valentino, The Swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks, and others; but Hollywood never had the shameless sex symbol before Clara Bow set the precedent for future Mae Wests and Marilyn Monroes.

Clara Bow was in 6 films in 1927. Besides Wings, the first Best Picture Oscar winner, she was in Get Your Man, Hula, Rough House Rosie, Children of Divorce, and her defining role: It.

"It" simply refers to sex appeal. This euphemistic use of the word was coined by romance writer Elinor Glyn, and the movie adaptation of her novel was a showcase for Clara Bow's perky and flirtatious personality. It was a manufactured phenomenon, perhaps, but it's hard to imagine just any pretty face pulling this off with as much sincerity and charm as Bow.

The Jazz Age was a period of social liberalization, despite (or perhaps because of) Prohibition, and the flapper lifestyle flourished. Flappers were young women of the time who embraced progressive ideals and modernity and were characterized by their short skirts, bobbed hair, and frank sexuality. They hung out at speakeasys, drank, smoked, and danced provocatively. Clara Bow had a significant influence on this culture, particularly her look: her clothes, her hairstyle, and, in particular, the distinctive way she wore her lipstick.

See the The Clara Bow Page for her detailed biography and tons of photos (That's where I got these photos - thanks!)


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