Happy Birthday Clara Bow-Hollywood’s First ‘It’ Girl

Clara Bow

Clara Bow 7/29/1905 – 9/27/1965

Today is one of my favorite silent film stars birthdays. She had that rare superstar quality: sexy, sweet and sassy all at the same time. Clara Bow was named the “It” girl of the 1920s. Her most famous movie is centered around that mysterious quality – and appropriately named It. All the women wanted to be her and all the men wanted to be with her!  Plus she was a redhead – and I’ve got a soft spot for fellow gingers :)

“You think of Greta Garbo, Lillian Gish, all those great names, great actresses. Clara Bow was more popular in terms of box-office dollars, in terms of consistently bringing audiences into the theaters, she was right on top, ” said film historian Leonard Maltin. She worked with the cream of the crop in the industry, including famous costume designer Travis Banton.

Clara Bow in a stunning silver evening gown.

Clara Bow in a stunning silver evening gown.

In a 1936 interview with reporter Julie Lang Hunt  for Photoplay magazine, Banton described what it was like working with Clara.  He claimed her taste in clothes was noxious, she thwarted every move he made to improve it, and she “jazzed up” his most beautiful creations. And yet he continued to indulge her.

Clara Bow in a costume designed by Travis Banton for the 1929 film The Wild Party.

Clara Bow in a costume designed by Travis Banton for the 1929 film The Wild Party.

Clara Bow was apparently not a fan of the straightlaced, boring military costumes she wore in much of the film Wings. And neither was one of the designer’s apprentices.   “Putting Clara in a drab uniform was like bridling an untamed horse . She loved wild colors, the wilder the better. They reflected her personality.” That apprentice was none other than Edith Head, who went on to become one of the most famous Hollywood costumers in history.

Clara Bow in the 1927 film Wings. Costume designed by Travis Banton and Edith Head.

Clara Bow in the Academy Award winning 1927 film Wings. Costume designed by Travis Banton and Edith Head.

Clara Bow’s makeup also inspired huge trends in the 1920s and  have become a popular look once again with the resurgence of 1920s themed parties and events. Her famous lips – the red cupid’s bow lips defined the look of her era, along with her kohl lined eyes and pencil thin eyebrows. When her fans found out she was redhead,  not readily apparent in a world of black and white film, the sales of henna tripled!

Clara Bow 7/29/1905 - 9/27/1965 Color by DreamPinups.

Clara Bow’s signature make-up look.
Color by DreamPinups.

Clara Bow’s career in Hollywood was relatively short and often plagued with scandal – but no one can deny that whatever ‘It’ was, this gal definitely had it!

Have a glamorous day :-)

alison

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2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Clara Bow-Hollywood’s First ‘It’ Girl

  1. She really, really did! From her iconic make-up to her demure yet brash demur on screen, Clara was such a captivating person. It’s so easy to see, decades on, how she skyrocketed to such heights of popularity.

    ♥ Jessica

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