Thursday, January 7, 2016


Paraphrased from this interesting book (and some of this information is also available through web site searches and other sources):

Clara Bow was the first celebrity to be called an "It Girl" ; the phrase was from her 1927 film "It Girl."  She captivated audiences in silent films with her natural performances which seemed as though she was natural, not acting. 

But Clara had a bad reputation in Hollywood, even among other actors who were hardly prudish. Perhaps her reputation was undeserved but they basically thought of her as a "tramp from the slums of Brooklyn."  "She did in fact grow up in poverty."  When she came to Hollywood in 1923 she was thought to be vulgar and talentless but her "sincere and uninhibited performances struck a chord with movie goers."  (Page 12)

"She was always incredibly sweet, professional, and beloved by the film crews she worked with."  But she was not to be invited to parties.  At least not the parties of anyone who wished to remain among the respectable Hollywood elite. (Page 15)

This saucy teenager was from (gasp!) Brooklyn, her mother was insane, and her father a lecherous hanger-on who was bleeding her dry through a series of failed business ventures. Bow herself was so licentious that she could shock even jaded old Hollywood types. As Budd Schulberg, son of Paramount president B.P. Schulberg and later a gifted screenwriter (On the Waterfront) recalled, "They all thought she was a low-life and disgrace to the community."  (Pages 12-13)

"But the truth about Bow was simpler. She was a scared 20 year old tomboy with little formal education. Her childhood friends were boys, and as a result, the things she enjoyed doing were almost exclusively reserved for men; drinking, gambling, swearing, and screwing.  She was also completely sincere.

A fun-loving innocent, at first Bow behaved no worse that a typical 20 year old. Sure she had parties with USC undergraduates, but they only ended in front yard wrestling matches, like an 11 year old on the streets of Brooklyn. Sure, she kept the back door open so cops could stop by and grab a beer. Who wouldn't?

But Clara Bow had so few friends that she usually played cards with her maid and cook. She ended her multiple affairs with powerful men before they got bored and told her what they really thought. One such powerful men was the elder B.P Schulberg himself - who - in addition to keeping Bow as a mistress had her under contract at Paramount.

(Note; According to the BBC documentary she met and signed with B.P at age 17.)


This book covers the Silent Era, the Studio Era, the Postwar era, the 1960's to the "new Hollywood" of the 1970's and includes places the stars went to drink and dine, like the Ambassador Hotel and the Coconut Grove, recipes for the fancy drinks featuring hard liquor (the authors had a bar tender consultant), and profiles of some of the legendary hard users of drink who were famous in Hollywood, mostly actors, names you know. A small and fun book, you may be tempted to spend some time sight-seeing and bar hoping even if you're a local.

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