Yes, she was the most talked about star of the 1920s. Yes, her scandalous private life was the stuff of legends. And yes, she was a tragic figure.
But how much did you really know about her? Well, let’s see how you did with our Monday Quiz devoted to Clara Bow.
She certainly “epitomized flaming youth — the girl who lived by her heart, not her head,” according to coauthors Edward Epstein and our own Joe Morella whose 1976 biography, The “It” Girl: The Incredible Story of Clara Bow, is the inspiration for yesterday’s quiz.
To review our questions, just scroll down to Monday’s blog. Herewith the answers:
1) Answer: Clara Bow is indeed the “It” girl, the title of her 1927 romantic comedy based on Elinor Glyn’s story about a saucy salesgirl with designs on the department store owner. So (c) is the answer. But as time went on the “It” became a general euphemism for the Bow’s onscreen sex appeal, so (d) is also acceptable here as well.
2) Answer: c) Douglas Fairbanks. All the rest including members of the college football team — notably, according to Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, teammate John Wayne — were said to be Bow lovers.
3) Answer: Bow was a lifelong insomniac. Fortunately, she was also a high-energy type who could get by on little sleep. Not to get all Freudian, but her ailment supposedly stemmed from a childhood incident in which her mother tried to seriously injure her while sleeping.
4) Answer: d) 1927’s Hula starring Clara as a plantation owner’s daughter who seduces a married British engineer (Clive Brook). The movie was directed by Bow’s lover, Victor Fleming, who carefully managed a nude swimming sequence that became world famous.
5) Answer: a) Gary Cooper. Although the very young Coop was probably eclipsed in the star department back then by (c) Harry Richman, an all-purpose entertainer who was a big name at the time. Richman was one of Clara’s most persistent and devoted suitors.
6) Answer: b) Rex Bell, a good looking actor/screen cowpoke who married Bow in 1931. The marriage stuck, ending with his death in 1962. After departing Hollywood Bell moved with Clara to Nevada where he served for a time as the state’s Lieutenant Governor.
7) Answer: a) Bow did indeed have a Brooklyn accent, but that wasn’t the problem. Clara felt restrained by all the new-fangled mikes and sound equipment. She had more fun and freedom making silents movies.
8) Answer: a) True. Bow really was sexy. She would seduce the camera, and exuded her devotion to the opposite sex. Remember, her films were largely made before the Production Code clamped down on what could and could not be shown onscreen.
9) Answer: a) True.
10) Answer: a) True. She was making at Paramount $5,000 a week by 1930.