Author Archives: Sherri

View Barbara in The Three Musketeers (1921)

Those who were unable to attend my performance as and lecture on Barbara La Marr; the signing of my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood; and the screening of The Three Musketeers (1921), starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Marguerite De La Motte, Nigel De Brulier, Barbara La Marr, and Adolphe Menjou, on March 24 at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre may view The Three Musketeers for free online (see link below).

When The Three Musketeers premiered in New York City in August 1921, it was hailed by critics as “a thrilling, gripping, unadulterated success”; “the greatest achievement since the birth of the motion picture industry”; and, “in the words of D’Artagnan”—the film’s gallant hero played by Douglas Fairbanks—, “Marvelous.”  House records were shattered worldwide as crowds stormed theaters, literally fighting their way to box office windows and necessitating calls for police protection.

The Three Musketeers marked the end of Barbara’s time in the shadows of obscurity as an actress.  The thought both exhilarated and frightened her.  While still employed as a storywriter at Fox in 1920, Barbara first met Fairbanks on the set of his film The Mark of Zorro, after Marguerite De La Motte—Barbara’s friend and Fairbanks’s leading lady in that film and The Three Musketeers—invited her to accompany her to work one day.  Barbara’s beauty, charisma, and talent so impressed Fairbanks that he gave her a small part as a tempestuous gangster’s moll in his film The Nut (1921), then offered her the much-coveted role of the iniquitous spy Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers, a film which was already anticipated to be an international sensation.  Fearful of being recognized as notorious Reatha Watson on the big screen, and the subsequent exposure of her infamous past, Barbara nonetheless accepted the role.  She became disheartened, however, when vaudevillian and film actor Ben Deely, her husband at that time, and various others close to her discouraged her from pursuing an acting career, instead advising her to stick with writing.  Fairbanks refused to hear of it.  When filming for The Three Musketeers concluded, Fairbanks made a prediction. “You are going to be one of the biggest girls on the screen,” he told Barbara.  “Wait and see.”

Indeed, critics applauded Barbara’s supporting performance in The Three Musketeers, declaring her “dazzling,” a “fiery” actress, and worthy of stardom.  More film offers rolled in for Barbara, and within two years she was an established star.  At the height of her fame, she credited the encouragement she received from Fairbanks and director Fred Niblo on the set of The Three Musketeers with preventing her from quitting and fueling her determination to succeed as an actress.

*** Watch Barbara in The Three Musketeers here.

Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, November 2, 1921, image of Barbara as Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers.

(To learn more about the films Barbara wrote and appeared in, visit the Filmography section of this site.)

 

NOTES:

“a thrilling, gripping, unadulterated success”: “‘Three Musketeers’ Has Greatest Reception Ever Accorded a Film,” Moving Picture World, September 10, 1921, 190.

“the greatest achievement”: “Praise ‘Three Musketeers,'” Motion Picture News, September 17, 1921, 1514.

“in the words of D’Artagnan”: “In the Words of D’Artagnan—Marvelous!!,” Wid’s Daily, September 4, 1921, 2.

“You are going to be one of the biggest”: La Marr, Barbara, “The True Story of My Life,” Movie Weekly, January 24, 1925, pg. 20.

“dazzling”: “Girl of ‘Too Much Beauty’ Wins Fame,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 23, 1921.

“fiery”: untitled photo caption, Picture Play Magazine, March 1922, pg. 42.

Barbara La Marr Event at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre

Join me, Sherri Snyder, for an afternoon of legendary silent screen siren Barbara La Marr and swashbuckling adventure at the Egyptian Theatre on Saturday, March 24.  I will be portraying Barbara in a self-authored performance piece, then lecturing about her, spotlighting her tragically short, oftentimes scandalous life, notable career, and impact upon cinematic history.  I will also sign copies of my recently released book, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood.  A screening of the 1921 box office sensation The Three Musketeers, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite De La Motte, Barbara La Marr, Nigel De Brulier, and Adolphe Menjou, will follow.  Click here for details and tickets.

(Left to right) Barbara La Marr and me as Barbara

My Barbara La Marr biography

Barbara (as the villainous spy Milady de Winter) and Douglas Fairbanks (as the gallant D’Artagnan) in The Three Musketeers.

Barbara La Marr: Beyond the Legend

Legendary silent screen goddess Barbara La Marr was known as much for her laudable career as for her infamy.  Her tempestuous life, the scandalous headlines she generated, and her sultry screen image are only part of the story, however.  Learn more in my guest article, “Barbara La Marr: Beyond the Legend,” on Midnight Palace, a website devoted to classic film culture.  (NOTE: Due to technical difficulties on the Midnight Palace site, I have temporarily removed the link; until the link is up and running again, feel free to read the article I wrote for Classic Movie Hub, “Barbara La Marr: Life on Her Own Terms.”)

(Read Barbara’s complete story in my newly released biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, available on the University Press of Kentucky website, on Amazon, and from other booksellers.)

Barbara La Marr Featured on a Postage Stamp!

A newly released set of six postage stamps, created for the Isle of Man Post Office in honor of celebrated British novelist Hall Caine, features Barbara La Marr, Pola Negri, Anny Ondra, Richard Dix, Conrad Nagel, and Norman Kerry—silent film stars who appeared in adaptations of Caine’s esteemed works!

Barbara La Marr’s stamp commemorates her starring role in The Eternal City (1923), a film based upon Caine’s bestselling 1901 novel of the same name.  As the author of Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, I was honored to have been asked to provide photos for Barbara’s stamp, one of which (a portrait, not an image from the film) was chosen.

View and learn more about this exquisite collection of stamps here and here.

 

 

Barbara La Marr: Life on Her Own Terms

Classic Movie Hub invited me to contribute a guest blog for their website.  In my post, “Barbara La Marr: Life on Her Own Terms,” I discuss Barbara’s commendable talents and her unbending determination to succeed in life, despite myriad obstacles and frequent association with scandal.  Read it here.

(There are still opportunities to WIN a copy of my newly released biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, courtesy of the University Press of Kentucky and Classic Movie Hub!  Get the details here.)

WIN a copy of my new Barbara La Marr book!

Classic Movie Hub, in conjunction with the University Press of Kentucky, is giving away SIX COPIES of my newly-released biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood!  Winners will be selected on the following dates: December 9, December 16, December 23, December 30, and January 6.  For more information and to enter the giveaway, visit the Classic Movie Hub Blog.  The sixth winner will be chosen January 6 via Classic Movie Hub’s Facebook page (get the details for the Facebook version of the contest here).  The sooner you enter, the more opportunities you have to win!  Good luck!

December 2 Book Signing for My Biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood

Join me on Saturday, December 2, from noon to 4 p.m., for the Hollywood Heritage Museum’s 6th Annual “Afternoon With the Authors.”  I will be signing copies of my newly-released biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood (published by the University Press of Kentucky and sold by the museum), after briefly lecturing about Barbara’s tempestuous life and her contribution to cinematic history as one of the silent screen’s most laudable—and infamous—sex sirens.

The event will feature fourteen authors of books pertaining to Hollywood’s Golden Age (including Darrell Rooney [Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937], Charles Epting [Bebe Daniels: Hollywood’s Good Little Bad Girl], and Mary Mallory [Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found, and Hollywood at Play: Celebrating Celebrity and Simpler Times]), all of whom will present lectures and sign books.  (See photo below for a complete listing of attending authors.)  A percentage of book sales will go toward upkeep of the museum.

The museum is located at 2100 North Highland Avenue in Hollywood, in the fully-restored Lasky-DeMille barn, one of Hollywood’s first film studios.  Parking and admission to the event are FREE.

***Those unable to make the event may purchase Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood from the University Press of Kentucky, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Book Reviews:

“The ‘Girl Who Was Too Beautiful’ moniker is both a blessing and a curse for Barbara La Marr’s legacy.  It ensures her place in the pantheon of Hollywood’s most intriguing figures, but at the same time discourages modern audiences from viewing her as anything more than Roaring Twenties eye candy.  Therefore, the task that Sherri Snyder has undertaken is invaluable; Snyder manages to humanize an actress who is all too often defined merely by her physical appearance and freewheeling lifestyle.  Expertly researched and captivatingly written, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood manages to paint the most complete picture of La Marr’s life to date.  A scholarly work on Barbara La Marr was long overdue; the silent film community as a whole should be thankful that Snyder was not only up to the task, but has created a work that will serve to define La Marr’s life and career for decades to come.” ―Charles Epting, editor, Silent Film Quarterly  

“Snyder’s work is fresh and enthralling.  Her dedication and compassion for her subject shines through.  And we are richly rewarded with a truly well-written biography of a long-forgotten star.” ― Stephen Michael Shearer, author of Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life, Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr, and Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star

“Sherri Snyder peels away the gossip to reveal the truth of the life of Barbara La Marr.  Snyder illuminates La Marr’s artistic struggles and personal demons with depth and sensitivity.  Scandal seekers take note!  The truth is far more compelling than any fictional account on record.” —Karie Bible, co-author of Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, film historian, and Hollywood Forever tour guide

“Sherri Snyder digs deep into the life of Barbara La Marr, giving an in-depth look at the intelligence and talents of the ‘Girl Who Was Too Beautiful.’  We see the real three-dimensional La Marr for the very first time, a thoughtful, generous, and creative woman who died much too young.”  —-Mary Mallory, film historian and author (Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found,  and Hollywood at Play: Celebrating Celebrity and Simpler Times)

“Snyder beautifully steps up to the task of providing film scholars a thoughtful and well-researched depiction of La Marr’s life, career, and legacy.  Snyder’s work offers an honest and incredibly personal perspective of La Marr’s life.  Snyder’s prose justly portrays both the rewarding and challenging moments throughout La Marr’s life and career.” —- Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood

“Snyder’s completed manuscript is impressive in both its scope and detail . . . . A fluid and captivating narrative.”  —- Christina Rice, author of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel