Many thanks to Dixie Laite, a wonderful writer and mayor at Dametown, for reading my book and spotlighting Barbara in Dametown’s Hall of Dame. Dixie writes, “Get ahold of Sherri Snyder’s definitive biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood. Sherri has the intelligence, insight and sensitivity to get Barbara’s complexity.” Dixie’s Barbara La Marr post may be read here. Be sure to check out Dixie’s many other fascinating posts as well!
Silent screen actress Barbara La Marr, known as the “too beautiful” girl, was a legend in her time, leading an astounding, oftentimes scandalous life described by newspapers of the day as “a wilder story than she ever helped to film.” Join me, Sherri Snyder, at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Sunday, October 13 as I once again don my seamed stockings and paint on my bee-stung lips to portray Barbara in a one-woman performance piece that I wrote about her. Barbara’s banishment from Los Angeles at age seventeen for being “too beautiful”; her notable careers as an actress, a dancer, a vaudevillian, and a screenwriter; her death at age twenty-nine in 1926; and more will be spotlighted.
My performance is part of the Los Angeles Art Deco Society’s 36th Hollywood Forever Cemetery tour. Also featured on the tour are the stories—told by performers and historians—of silent screen god Rudolph Valentino, action hero Douglas Fairbanks Sr., actress and William Randolph Hearst mistress Marion Davies, filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, slain director William Desmond Taylor, and over twenty other early Hollywood stars, movie moguls, and pioneers interred at Hollywood Forever. For ticket information and additional details, click here. This event typically sells out.
In addition to performing as Barbara on the tour for many years, this is my third year producing the tour since Frank Cooper, the man who created and ran it for thirty-three years, handed me the reins.
I will be at the Cinecon Classic Film Festival on Saturday, August 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., signing copies of my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood. Book signings, part of the festival’s Memorabilia Show, will be located in the third floor meeting area at Lowes Hollywood Hotel (1755 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles 90028). Information on the festival’s film screenings and other events may be found here. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone.
Happy Birthday Anniversary to the one and only Barbara La Marr (July 28, 1896 – January 30, 1926)! Though Barbara passed away at age twenty-nine from tuberculosis and nephritis, it was said that she lived many lives in one.
Thank you to David Heath, host of Cinema Chat, for having me on his podcast to discuss Barbara’s turbulent teenage years; her many matrimonial ventures; her accomplished careers as a stock theater actress, dancer, vaudevillian, and Fox Film Corporation story writer; her ascension to worldwide fame as one of the silent screen’s leading actresses; and more.
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.)
Written and directed by Rupert Hughes (uncle of business tycoon, film producer, and aviator Howard Hughes), Souls for Sale gave 1920s film fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the motion picture industry. Shots of stars’ hillside homes, aerial footage of Hollywood studios, and appearances by a few dozen of filmdom’s finest are interspersed throughout the story of a young newlywed, Remember (“Mem”) Steddon (Eleanor Boardman), on the run from her no-good husband, Owen Scudder (Lew Cody)—a man who marries, insures, and murders women. Determined to become an actress, Mem ventures to Hollywood.
Barbara La Marr appears in the supporting role of Leva Lemaire, a vampy actress who, though despised as the screen’s leading homewrecker, is actually kindhearted. Rupert Hughes admitted to casting Barbara in the role because he believed Leva’s benevolence to be a direct reflection of Barbara’s nature. His instincts proved accurate. “There isn’t a girl in the picture business who is kinder to all the extra girls than Barbara La Marr,” he noted while working with her on Souls for Sale. “She practically lets them help themselves from her wardrobe and she does other equally kind things all the time.”
Souls for Sale opened in April 1923 to widespread critical acclaim. Variety and Moving Picture World, summarizing the general sentiments, respectively declared: “Rupert Hughes as a director has topped everything he ever did, even as an author, in this picture” and “[the film] grips your attention and holds your interest intensely from the first scene until the final fade-out.”
Souls for Sale airs on Turner Classic Movies at 9:15 p.m. PST on March 31/12:15 a.m. EST on April 1. To view the TCM schedule, click here.
(Photo above: Barbara La Marr in Souls for Sale.)
Souls for Sale Cast: Eleanor Boardman, Richard Dix, Frank Mayo, Barbara La Marr, Lew Cody, Mae Busch, Arthur Hoyt, David Imboden, Roy Atwell, William Orlamond, Forrest Robinson, Edith Yorke, Dale Fuller, Snitz Edwards, Jack Richardson, Aileen Pringle, Eve Southern, May Milloy, Sylvia Ashton, Margaret Bourne, Fred Kelsey, Jed Prouty, Yale Boss, William Haines, George Morgan, Auld Thomas, Leo Willis, Walter Perry, Sam Damen, R. H. Johnson, Rush Hughes, L. J. O’Connor, and Charles Murphy. Celebrity appearances by Hugo Ballin, Mabel Ballin, T. Roy Barnes, Barbara Bedford, Hobart Bosworth, Charles Chaplin, Chester Conklin, William H. Crane, Elliott Dexter, Robert Edeson, Claude Gillingwater, Dagmar Godowsky, Raymond Griffith, Elaine Hammerstein, Jean Haskell, K. C. B. (a.k.a. Kenneth C. Beaton), Alice Lake, Bessie Love, June Mathis, Patsy Ruth Miller, Marshall Neilan, Fred Niblo, Anna Q. Nilsson, ZaSu Pitts, John Sainpolis, Milton Sills, Anita Stewart, Erich von Stroheim, Blanche Sweet, Florence Vidor, King Vidor, Johnny Walker, George Walsh, Kathlyn Williams, and Claire Windsor.
Silent screen actress Barbara La Marr was a legend in her time, leading an astounding life described by newspapers of the day as “a wilder story than she ever helped to film.” Join me, Sherri Snyder, on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at the Desert Foothills Library, 38443 North Schoolhouse Road, Cave Creek, Arizona 85331, as I portray Barbara in a self-authored performance piece, then lecture about her, detailing her oftentimes scandalous life from her humble beginnings to her tragic death at age twenty-nine in 1926. Barbara’s banishment from Los Angeles at age seventeen for being “too beautiful”; her notable careers as a dancer, a vaudevillian, a screenwriter, and an actress; her impact upon cinematic history; and her fierce determination to forge her own destiny amid the constant threat of losing it all to scandal and, ultimately, death will be spotlighted. I will also answer questions about Barbara and sign copies of my book, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood. The event, beginning at 11 a.m. and roughly an hour and a half long, is being held in the library’s Jones/Coates lecture hall and is FREE to attend. Attendees are advised to call 480-488-2286 or click here to reserve seats, as this is an encore presentation and seats may fill up again.
(Photo above: [L to R] Barbara La Marr; me [Sherri Snyder] as Barbara; my Barbara La Marr biography.)