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clara bow

Written By sitemp3 on Kamis, 08 September 2011 | 22.20

Clara Bow scene from the ''IT'' 1927

Clara Gordon Bow (July 29, 1905 – September 27, 1965) was an American actress who rose to stardom in the silent film era of the 1920s. It was her appearance as a quintessential flapper in the film It that brought her global fame and the nickname "The It Girl." Bow came to personify the roaring twenties and is described as its leading sex symbol. She appeared in 46 silent films and 11 talkies, including hits such as Mantrap (1926), It (1927) and Wings (1927). She was named first box-office draw in 1928 and 1929 and second box-office draw in 1927 and 1930.Her presence in a motion picture was said to have ensured investors, by odds of almost 2-to-1, a "safe return".In January 1929, at the apex of her stardom, she received more than 45,000 fan letters. After marrying actor Rex Bell in 1931, Bow ended her career in 1933 with the film with Hoop-La, becoming a rancher in Nevada.
Clara Bow was born in 1905 in a slum tenement in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York, where she was also raised. Bow was the third child; the first two, also daughters, born in 1903 and 1904, died in infancy. Her mother, Sarah Bow (1880–1923), was told by a doctor not to become pregnant again for fear the next baby might die as well. Despite the her doctor's warning, Sarah Bow became pregnant with Clara in the fall of 1904. In addition to the risky pregnancy, a Heat Wave besieged New York In July 1905 and temperatures peaked around 100F; the infant mortality rate rose to 80%. "I don't suppose two people ever looked death in the face more clearly than my mother and I the morning I was born. We were both given up, but somehow we struggled back to life".
At sixteen, Sarah fell from a second-story window and suffered a severe head injury. She was later diagnosed with "psychosis due to epilepsy", a condition apart from the seizures that is known to cause disordered thinking, delusional ideation, paranoia, and aggressive behavior.

From her earliest years, Bow learned how to care for her mother during the seizures as well as how to deal with the psychotic and hostile episodes. She said her mother could be "mean" to her, but "didn't mean to ... she couldn't help it".Still, Bow felt deprived of her childhood; "As a kid I took care of my mother, she didn't take care of me".Sarah worsened gradually, and when she realized her daughter was set for a movie career, Bow's mother told her she "would be much better off dead". One night in February 1922, Bow awoke to a butcher knife held against her throat by her mother. Bow was able to fend off the attack and locked her mother up. In the morning, Sarah had no recollection of the episode and was later committed to a charity hospital.

Bow said that her father, Robert (1874–1959), "had a quick, keen mind ... all the natural qualifications to make something of himself, but didn't".Robert seldom managed to hold on to a job and the family income varied drastically as a result. Between 1905 and 1923, the family lived at 14 different addresses. Robert was often absent, leaving his family without means to survive. "I do not think my mother ever loved my father. He knew it. And it made him very unhappy, for he worshiped her, always".

It was snowing. My mother and I were cold and hungry. We had been cold and hungry for days. We lay in each others arms and cried and tried to keep warm. It grew worse and worse. So that night my mother – but I can't tell you about it. Only when I remember it, it seems to me I can't live

Sarah Bow died on January 5, 1923. When relatives gathered for the funeral, Bow accused them of not being supportive in the past. Reportedly, her anger led her to attempt jumping into her mother's open grave.

As Bow grew up she felt shy among other girls, who teased her for her worn-out clothes and "carrot-top" hair. From first grade, Bow preferred the company of boys her age, stating, "I could lick any boy my size. My right arm was quite famous. My right arm was developed from pitching so much ... Once I hopped a ride on behind a big fire engine. I got a lot of credit from the gang for that". Bow's athletic ability led her to becoming a track champion in high-school. Of her proposed arm strength, Louella Parsons noted, "... curiously enough, she has muscles on her arms that stand out like whip-cord".
In the early 1920s, roughly 50 million Americans--half the population at that time--attended the movies every week.Bow discovered that as she grew into womanhood, her stature as a "boy" in her old gang would be "impossible". As well, she didn't have any girlfriends, school was a "heartache" and home "miserable". On the silver screen, however, she found consolation; "For the first time in my life I knew there was beauty in the world. For the first time I saw distant lands, serene, lovely homes, romance, nobility, glamor". And further; "I always had a queer feeling about actors and actresses on the screen ... I knew I would have done it differently. I couldn't analyze it, but I could always feel it"."I'd go home and be a one girl circus, taking the parts of everyone I'd seen, living them before the glass." At sixteen Bow "knew" she wanted to be a motion pictures actress, even if she was a "square, awkward, funny-faced kid".
Against her mother's wishes but with her father's support, Bow competed in Brewster publications' magazine's annual nationwide acting contest, Fame and Fortune in 1921. In previous years, several of the contest's winners had found work in movies after winning. In the contest's final screen test Bow was up against an already scene-experienced woman who did "a beautiful piece of acting". A set member later stated that when Bow did the scene she actually became her character and "lived it". In the January issues 1922 of Motion Picture Classics the contest jury, Howard Chandler Christy, Neysa Mcmein, and Harrison Fisher, concluded:

She is very young, only 16. But she is full of confidence, determination and ambition. She is endowed with a mentality far beyond her years. She has a genuine spark of divine fire. The five different screen tests she had, showed this very plainly, her emotional range of expression provoking a fine enthusiasm from every contest judge who saw the tests. She screens perfectly. Her personal appearance is almost enough to carry her to success without the aid of the brains she indubitably possesses.

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