Sincere thanks to Tammy Ayer of the Yakima Herald for interviewing me about silent screen siren and Yakima, Washington, native Barbara La Marr and my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood. The article may be viewed here.
The dead do tell tales—at least, Barbara La Marr does.
Join me, Sherri Snyder, at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 13 as I don my seamed stockings and paint on my bee-stung lips to once again portray silent screen vamp Barbara La Marr in the one-woman performance piece I wrote about her astounding life. My performance is the finale to the Los Angeles Art Deco Society’s 35th Hollywood Forever Cemetery Walking Tour.
Visit the gravesites of early Hollywood stars, movie moguls, and pioneers as performers and historians “dig up the dirt” on Hollywood’s history—and several of its scandals.
Also featured on the tour are the stories of those who mapped Hollywood—including Col. Griffith J. Griffith and Hollywood founder Harvey Wilcox—and others who put Hollywood on the map: silent film swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks, heartthrob Rudolph Valentino, actress and William Randolph Hearst mistress Marion Davies, filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, slain director William Desmond Taylor, and over twenty other legendary Los Angelenos.
Signed copies of my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood (University Press of Kentucky, 2017), will be on hand.
For additional details and to purchase tickets, click here. Tickets sold out last year!
Directed by Rex Ingram, The Prisoner of Zenda, a gripping tale of deceptions and ill-fated love affairs, was deemed a “sensational and instant triumph” and “Ingram’s best” by Moving Picture World, and near perfection by the Philadelphia Inquirer after its release. Barbara, appearing in the film in the supporting role of a cast-off woman who helps defeat a coup by betraying her deceitful lover, likewise garnered praise. Period trades commended her heartfelt performance, proclaiming her one of the screen’s most beautiful women and an actress of exceptional ability, and declaring that she alone was worth the admission price. Also featured in the film are the acclaimed performances of Lewis Stone, Alice Terry, and Ramon Novarro.
The Prisoner of Zenda airs at 12:30 a.m. EST. (To view the TCM schedule, click here.)
I will be at the Cinecon Classic Film Festival on Saturday, September 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., signing copies of my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood. Book signings will be held alongside the Memorabilia Show in the Hollywood Ballroom (Mezzanine Level [2nd floor]) at Loews Hollywood Hotel (1755 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles 90028). Admittance to the Memorabilia Show is free to festival ticket holders; Memorabilia Show Dealers Room Only passes will be available for $10 per day for those who don’t plan to attend the festival’s film screenings. Information on the festival’s film screenings and other events may be found here. I hope to see you there!
“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.”
(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.)
“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.
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 Wednesday, July 18 at the Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Blvd., Rancho Palos Verdes, California 90275, 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 10:30 a.m. and roughly an hour and a half long, is being held in the park’s McTaggart Hall and is FREE to attend.
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.