Category Archives: New Photos

In Honor of Father’s Day

Though silent screen star Barbara La Marr and her father, newspaperman and writer William Watson, had their differences—he initially disapproved of her film acting aspirations; clashed with her free-spirited nature; and endured her turbulent, oftentimes scandalous life—, they loved each other very much. When Barbara was allegedly kidnapped at age sixteen by her estranged half-sister, William told the press he would spend every cent he had to find her. He was by her side when she wrote stories for the Fox Film Corporation in 1920, typing her manuscripts as she dictated them to him. And, when Barbara, plagued by incipient pulmonary tuberculosis and nearing her life’s end, struggled to complete her final film, The Girl from Montmartre (1926), William accompanied her to work at the studio to support and watch over her.    

(Photo above: Barbara La Marr and her father, William Watson, arrive at United Studios in 1925 during the filming of The Girl from Montmartre.)

Saluting Barbara on the Anniversary of Her Passing

After collapsing in a coma on the set of her final film, The Girl from Montmartre (1926), silent screen star Barbara La Marr, suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, was forced into isolation in Altadena, California, by her doctor in October 1925.  As the months passed, Barbara often worried that those in the outside world had forgotten her.

They hadn’t.  Following her death at age twenty-nine on January 30, 1926, while she lay in state for four days in a Los Angeles chapel, an estimated 120,000 mourners—other Hollywood stars and friends who had worked with or known her intimately, fans who had worshipped her luminous image on film screens, and folks who had been touched by her kindness and unyielding generosity—filed past her golden velvet bier, paying their respects with tears and floral offerings. 

Among the flowers engulfing her bier and filling the chapel to overflowing was a single red rose, tucked beneath her hand by a twelve-year-old girl.  “To my Beautiful Lady,” the accompanying note read, “whom I have longed to meet in this life and whom I look forward to ‘knowing’ when my time is over here.  May my life be as lovely and unselfish as yours has been.”  The girl’s rose, considered by Barbara’s father to be the greatest tribute, was buried with Barbara.  

(Photo above: Barbara La Marr, 1924)

“The Lady That’s Known as Lou”

Barbara is pictured below as she appeared in The Shooting of Dan McGrew (1924), a film said to have been at least partially adapted by her from Robert William Service’s poem of the same name.  Barbara portrayed “the lady that’s known as Lou,” a dancer who falls prey to a cunning gambler (Lew Cody) while trying to make a better life for herself, her husband (Percy Marmont), and her son (Philippe De Lacy).  Oozing with sex appeal, Barbara’s heated, heartfelt performance was deemed a success by several critics upon the film’s release—though Film Daily warned that her “near-nakedness” would likely prompt scrupulous censors in certain areas to ban the film.

(This photo is among the many in my collection that weren’t included with the seventy-six allowed in my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood [2017].  There will be more photos to come.)

The Shooting of Dan McGrew (1924)

On This Day in 1923…

On this day, May 5, in 1923, tall, handsome, red-headed actor and stuntman Jack Daugherty arrived at the Whitley Heights home of screen siren Barbara La Marr for a dinner date and received one of the shocks of his life.  “You’re going to be married tonight,” Barbara informed him when she greeted him at the door.  Her declaration rendered him virtually speechless; “Huh!” he exclaimed.  Jack later confessed to being so “insane about Barbara” after meeting her through their respective film work in 1921 that “I couldn’t even think of the [films] I was doing—and was desperately trying to marshal up enough courage to propose.”

True to Barbara’s word, she and Jack were wed the evening of May 5 in Ventura, California, at the officiating reverend’s home.  A Los Angeles Times reporter, somehow learning of their sudden, secret elopement, was in attendance alongside Barbara’s mother and brother, and writer, director, and producer Paul Bern (Barbara’s friend and Jack’s best man).  “At noon today,” Barbara proclaimed to the reporter, “I had no more idea of marrying [Jack] than—well—than of marrying you. Then—well—I just decided.”

Barbara would soon speak to other reporters of the considerable heartbreak, scandal, and scathing publicity she had endured while searching for her ideal man—including serial relationships and marriages, a bigamous marriage, and the bitter dissolution of her affair with homosexual actor William Haines three days before her marriage to Jack.  Reminded by one newsman of her oft-repeated avowal that she would never marry again, Barbara declared, “Any woman who says she won’t marry again is just a plain fool—of course she will, when something like Jack’s adorable hair strikes her.”

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 All Dolled Up: Celebrating the Work of Gregg Nystrom

Known as “the girl who is too beautiful” since 1914—when law enforcement declared her, then seventeen, “too beautiful” to be on the loose in Los Angeles and subsequently banished her from the city—, silent screen legend Barbara La Marr has been the muse of many an artist.  Indeed, in her time, her exquisite beauty and smoldering allure captured the imagination of painters, photographers, poets, and filmmakers—and continues to inspire today.

Modern-day artist Gregg Nystrom discovered Barbara in his teens, while indulging his passion for fashion, film, drawing, and the renowned beauty icons of 1920s-1950s Hollywood.  Barbara’s “stunning,” exotic looks—specifically her dark hair and green eyes*—“really spoke to me as an artist,” recalled Nystrom.  Later, as a published paper doll artist who honors the timeless glamour of twentieth century film stars and models through his work, Nystrom recreated Barbara’s beauty and essence in paper doll form many times (his favorite renderings are pictured below; in the center photo, Barbara is depicted in her costume from The Prisoner of Zenda [1922]).  “Barbara has long been my favorite silent star!” Nystrom admits.

Considered works of art, Nystrom’s paper dolls feature hand-painted, textured garments immortalized by the wearer: designer gowns and movie costumes, often adorned with glitter, sequins, and, on occasion, feathers.  Nystrom anticipates that his latest Barbara La Marr doll (pictured above on the right) will one day be available to Barbara’s fans and “will have her gorgeous film wardrobe.”

Whether in her surviving films, in photos, or as one of Nystrom’s paper dolls, Barbara certainly lives up to her epithet.  “To me,” Nystrom says, “Barbara La Marr truly is ‘the girl who is too beautiful.'”

*Amazingly, Barbara’s eyes were said to change color, at times appearing green, blue-gray, deep blue, and hazel.

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View more of Gregg Nystrom’s dazzling work on his Facebook page and Amazon