Author Archives: Sherri

Ode to Barbara La Marr: Songwriter Pens Tribute to the “Too Beautiful” Silent Film Siren

“I’ve always had a fascination with Old Hollywood,” admits veteran singer, musician, and songwriter Ronnie Joyner, “and…I have a soft spot for those vulnerable and troubled young starlets who simply couldn’t handle their fame.”  Deeply affected by two classic songs, “Candle in the Wind,” Elton John’s Marilyn Monroe homage, and “Celluloid Heroes,” The Kinks’ depiction of fame’s lure, luster, and perils, the Maryland-based recording artist—whose musical prowess encompasses rockabilly, country, blues, folk, and bluegrass—sought to produce his own rendition of such themes.

But Joyner’s song was a long time coming.  “I never hit on the right Golden Age actress to use as the inspiration,” he said.

Then he stumbled upon Barbara La Marr.  Her story—involving being ordered home to her parents by juvenile authorities at age seventeen for being “too beautiful” to be alone in Los Angeles; skyrocketing to superstardom as a leading silent screen actress; and dying tragically from tuberculosis and nephritis at age twenty-nine in 1926 following a frenzied period of overwork, strenuous dieting, and hard living—called to him.  “I knew she was the one!” he enthused.  “The girl I’ve been looking for…the girl who embodies those themes I’ve been wanting to write about.”

Using her star at 1621 Vine Street on Hollywood’s iconic Walk of Fame as the centerpiece, Joyner composed his hauntingly lovely song “Girl Too Beautiful” in honor of Barbara, a woman whom, despite her demons and frailties, he describes as “beautiful, talented, and charismatic.” 

Listen to “Girl Too Beautiful” here.  While you’re at it, check out some of Ronnie Joyner’s other wonderful songs. 

Barbara’s star at 1621 Vine Street, Hollywood

Just Drawn That Way: Comic Strip Characters Inspired by Barbara La Marr

Besides capturing the hearts and imagination of top silent filmmakers, film fans worldwide, and hordes of amorous males, silent screen siren Barbara La Marr has been muse to manifold artists, including two who rendered her in comic strip form. 

Celebrated American cartoonist Al Capp looked to Barbara’s curvaceous figure when creating Daisy Mae, the beautiful, busty feminine lead in Li’l Abner, a comic strip that achieved unparalleled global fame during its 1934–1977 run.  “When Barbara La Marr inhaled,” said Capp, “boys became men.”

Edgar S. “Ed” Wheelan, another American cartoonist, likewise drew inspiration from Barbara when crafting Minute Movies, a beloved comic strip parody of silent films, throughout the 1920s and early 1930s.  Endowing one of the strip’s star players with Barbara’s dark tresses, graceful profile, heavily lined eyes, “piquant expression,” and alluring elegance, Wheelan christened her “Lotta Talent.”

Photo collage: Daisy Mae (top), Lotta Talent (lower left), and Barbara (lower right)

Photo collage: Daisy Mae (top), Lotta Talent (lower left), and Barbara (lower right)

Barbara La Marr Virtual Event March 27

I am very excited to present a virtual event on the impassioned, tempestuous life and laudable career of silent film legend Barbara La Marr—the subject of my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, and my self-authored, one-woman show—on Saturday, March 27, 2021, as Hollywood historian and tour guide April Clemmer’s special guest. I will be telling Barbara’s story via photos and commentary. I hope to see you there!

Click here to learn more and purchase tickets. Unable to join the live broadcast? All ticket holders will receive a link to view a recording of the presentation.

Barbara La Marr

My Performance as Barbara La Marr and (Socially Distant) Hollywood Forever Tour on October 11

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 11 as I once again 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 in-person Los Angeles Art Deco Society’s 37th (Socially Distant) 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.

This event typically sells out. To comply with the current health and safety mandates, tour group sizes are limited this year. For ticket information and additional details, click here.

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

My Dametown Barbara La Marr Interview

I was very honored to be interviewed by the lovely and talented Dixie Laite, a wonderful writer and mayor at Dixie and I discuss the one-woman performance I do as Barbara La Marr, the biography I wrote on Barbara, and aspects of Barbara’s life and career. The interview may be read here.

A celebrator of dames past and present, Dixie has written many fantastic articles.  Be sure to peruse her site!

“A Last Graceful Gesture of Adieu” (My Barbara La Marr Palos Verdes Pulse Article)

I was recently asked by the Palos Verdes Pulse to write an article about Barbara La Marr and the making of her final film, The Girl from Montmartre.  Partly filmed on California’s beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1925, the film was Barbara’s attempt at a career comeback shortly before her untimely passing in 1926.  The article, “‘A Last Graceful Gesture of Adieu’: Barbara La Marr and The Girl from Montmartre,” may be read here.*

*(Slight spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t yet read my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood)

Lobby card featuring Barbara La Marr and Lewis Stone in The Girl from Montmartre (1926)

Remembering Barbara

Not long before her passing at age twenty-nine on January 30, 1926, Barbara La Marr, one of Hollywood’s most infamous, misunderstood screen sirens, asked writer Jim Tully, a friend of hers, “Some day, Jim, will you write about me—and tell them that I wasn’t everything I played on the screen?”  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, famed Latin lover of the silent screen and Barbara’s friend and costar in three of her films, found in her a sincerity, humility, and “kindness that made her lovable.”  Actress 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.”  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 La Marr