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Happy Birthday to the Lovely Barbara La Marr (July 28, 1896 – January 30, 1926)!

“The girl who was too beautiful,” “the world’s wickedest vamp,” “immoral woman”…  Barbara La Marr wore many labels throughout her short, oftentimes scandalous life and meteoric career as one of the silent screen’s brightest stars.  Yet to those who loved Barbara, she was far more than the debauched women she played, her demons, and the shocking headlines she spawned.  Ramon Novarro, Barbara’s friend and costar in three of her films, saw beyond what he termed the “glittering, enchanting personality” Barbara erected around herself; he found in her a sincerity, humility, and “kindness that made her lovable.”  Alice Terry, Barbara’s Prisoner of Zenda (1922) costar, affirmed, “[Barbara] was as lovely in her personality as she was in her ravishing looks…She was very big-hearted and generous and loved to please people.”  Indeed, Barbara’s generosity knew no bounds; she routinely donated large sums to charities, allowed struggling artists to live with her until they found steady work, and bestowed lavish gifts upon friends and co-workers.  Reporters and columnists, expecting Barbara to behave in person as her impious screen characters would, were pleasantly surprised when meeting her for the first time, encountering instead a charming, “regular girl” who “radiates good fellowship.”  Directors, her castmates, and film crew members consistently spoke of what a joy she was to work with.  A film critic, praising Barbara’s performance in her final film, The Girl from Montmartre (1926), noted that the picture depicts Barbara in her real nature, “a whole-souled and loving girl.”  Writer Willis Goldbeck was said to believe Barbara’s virtues to be “of the mind and spirit,” and that her weaknesses were “all of the flesh.”

Barbara in one of her Prisoner of Zenda costumes, 1922.

(To learn more about Barbara, check out my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, recently published by the University Press of Kentucky and also available on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and elsewhere.)

Notes:

“glittering, enchanting personality”: Ramon Novarro, “Ramon Novarro Tells of His Screen Loves,” Movie Weekly, April 25, 1925, 5.

“[Barbara] was as lovely”: Terry quoted in Jimmy Bangley, “The Legendary Barbara La Marr,” Classic Images, May 1996, 17.

“regular girl”: Regina Cannon, “‘My Private Life’s My Own Affair,’ Declares Barbara La Marr,” Movie Weekly, May 31, 1924, 3.

“a whole-souled and loving girl”: New York Graphic quoted in “Newspaper Opinions,” Film Daily, February 28, 1926, 197.

“of the mind and spirit”: Goldbeck quoted in Adela Rogers St. Johns, “The Life Story of Barbara La Marr,” Liberty Magazine, December 15, 1928, 67.

Barbara La Marr’s Whitley Heights Home is for Sale!

What a thrill it was for me to visit Barbara’s former residence at 6672 Whitley Terrace in Los Angeles this past weekend.  Nestled in the historic Whitley Heights neighborhood, an area that was once home to a constellation of some of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the beautiful house is currently offered for sale at $1,595,000.

It was reported in early 1923 that Barbara had recently moved into the newly built home.  She resided in the house—with her infant son, various struggling artists she often invited to stay with her, and, later, her final husband—until she leased it after leaving for New York the spring of 1924 to film a series of starring pictures.  She returned to Los Angeles the summer of 1925, perilously ill but determined to complete one last film before being forced into seclusion in a temporary residence in Altadena, California, that October.  Following her tragic death from tuberculosis and nephritis at age twenty-nine in January 1926, her Whitley Heights house was seized and sold by one of her creditors.

The home has been remodeled through the years (and is therefore slightly different than described in my book, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood), but many original features—including gorgeous stained glass windows, elegant hardware, doors, and spectacular views of the Hollywood sign—remain.  Have a look.

(Photo: [left to right] Barbara La Marr in the living room of her Whitley Heights home in 1924; me beside the same fireplace in 2018.)

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