Clara Bow Biography

(American Actress Who was a Big Star During Silent Era of the 1920s)

Birthday: July 29, 1905 (Leo)

Born In: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Clara Bow was popular American actress and was predominantly known for her oozing sexuality, long before the likes of Marilyn Monroe. She dominated American cinema for nearly a decade since her entrance in the film industry. However, years of exploitation, mental unsteadiness and weight loss caused her to retire at the tender age of 26, an age that would have otherwise been considered a ‘peak’ for any other actress. She initially rose to stardom with silent films and then went on to give a human face to what was popularly known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’. Throughout her career, she appeared in over 46 silent films and 11 talkies, most of which went on to become box-office sleeper hits. Movies like ‘Mantrap’ and ‘Wings’ are considered some of her best-known works even today. At the height of her fame, she became victim to numerous scandals and was accused for ‘stealing’ other women’s husbands. As her betting debts rose, so did her unpopularity with the masses and she quickly fell from her position of a superstar to minion. With the advent of sounds in films, her career met a dead-end and she was no longer the twinkle-toed star that she once used to be in her heydays.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Clara Gordon Bow

Died At Age: 60


Spouse/Ex-: Rex Bell

father: Robert Bow

mother: Sarah Bow

children: George Beldam Jr., Rex Bell Jr.

Actresses American Women

Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Females

Died on: September 27, 1965

place of death: Culver City, California, United States

City: Brooklyn, New York City

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

U.S. State: New Yorkers

Diseases & Disabilities: Schizophrenia

Childhood & Early Life
Clara Gordon Bow was born to Sarah and Robert Bow, after the death of her two older sisters in infancy, in Brooklyn, New York.
She studied at P.S. 111, P.S. 9 and P.S. 98 and then enrolled at Bay Ridge High School in 1919. She was an extremely athletic girl and preferred the company of boys to girls. At one point in her life, she wished to be an athletics instructor.
When Clara was 16 years old, her mother fell from a 2-storeyed building and suffered a serious head injury. She was later diagnosed with psychosis due to epilepsy.. She began to care for her mother from very young but she suffered from a very distressing and sad childhood.
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In 1921, against her mother’s desires but with her father’s backing, she participated in Brewster publications’ magazine’s annual nationwide acting contest and eventually ended up earning a silver trophy and an evening gown for her talent.
After several hardships, she was finally offered a role of a tomboy in the movie, ‘Down to the Sea in Ships’. Right after the release and the success of this movie, she was seen dancing half-naked in ‘Enemies of Women’ the following year.
In 1923, she also got a role in ‘The Daring Years’, where she became close friends with actress, Mary Carr. The same year, she also starred in the films, ‘Maytime’ and ‘Black Oxen’.
From 1924 to 1926, she starred in a series of films including ‘Poisoned Paradise’, ‘Daughters of Pleasure’, ‘Helen’s Babies’, ‘Kiss Me Again’, ‘The Primrose Path’, ‘Dancing Mothers’, ‘Fascinating Youth’, ‘Mantrap’ and ‘Kid Boots’. It was during this period, she was looked upon as one of the greatest ‘sex symbols’ of the silver screen and as an actress who was bold enough to defy ‘gender conventions’.
In 1926, she signed her first contract with Paramount Pictures at a salary of $750 per week. The same year, her contract with Paramount was renewed into a five-year deal.
In 1927, she appeared in six films released under Paramount including, ‘It’, ‘Children of Divorce’, ‘Rough House Rosie’, ‘Wings’, ‘Hula’ and ‘Get Your Man’. The following year, she starred in ‘Red Hair’, ‘Ladies of the Mob’, ‘The Fleet’s In’ and ‘Three Weekends’, all of which are lost in the archives in modern times.
In the beginning of 1929, she began appearing in talkies films with ‘The Wild Party’. The same year, she also appeared in ‘Dangerous Curves’ opposite Richard Arlen and ‘The Saturday Night Kid’.
In 1930, she was seen half-singing, half-talking and dancing in movies like ‘Paramount on Parade’, ‘True to the Navy’, ‘Love Among the Millionaires’ and ‘Her Wedding Night’. The next year, she was seen in box-office hits, ‘No Limit’ and ‘Kick In’.
In 1932, she signed a two-picture deal with ‘Fox Film Corporation’ and appeared in the movie ‘Call Her Savage’ and ‘Hoop-La’, the latter which was released the subsequent year. After the release of these two movies, her career ended.
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The last she was seen in was ‘Screen Snapshots 1860: Howdy, Podner’, in 1949, where she played the role of a resort guest.
Major Works
Her role as ‘Betty Lou Spence’ in the silent rom-com film, ‘It’ earned her considerable fame and recognition as an actress. This was the film that catapulted her to super-stardom and she soon earned the moniker, the ‘It’ girl. The movie became extremely popular and it was selected for preservation in the US ‘National Film Registry’ by the Library of Congress.
Awards & Achievements
She was conferred a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Personal Life & Legacy
She had a number of relationships with men but she finally eloped with Rex Bell, a cowboy and the couple went on to have two sons, Tony Beldam and George Beldam, Jr.
After retiring from acting, she opened ‘The ‘It’ Caf�’ with her husband, Rex Bell. It was closed after a brief run.
During her lifetime, she became the subject of a number of scandals related to lesbianism, drug addiction, alcoholism and incest. However, many of these reports were later proved fallacious.
Towards the end of her life, she became a social recluse and started to show symptoms of psychiatric illness after she attempted suicide.
In 1949, she was checked into ‘The Institute of Living’ to be treated for insomnia and she was then diagnosed with schizophrenia.
She spent her last few years alone with a nurse and passed away of a heart attack at the age of 60. During her autopsy, it was also revealed that she suffered from a heart disease.

She was honored with a US postage stamp, posthumously, in 1994.
In 1999, much after her death, the American Film Institute made Bow a nominee in the ‘100 Years… 100 Stars’ list.
She has been depicted in popular culture time and again in ‘Of Thee I Sing’, ‘The Artist’ and the song, ‘Clara Bow’.
This famous American actress inspired the creation of the popular cartoon character, ‘Betty Boop’.

Clara Bow Movies

1. Ladies of the Mob (1928)

  (Drama, Romance, Crime)

2. The Fleet's In (1928)


3. Her Wedding Night (1930)

  (Romance, Comedy)

4. Wings (1927)

  (Romance, Drama, War, Action)

5. It (1927)

  (Romance, Comedy)

6. Kick In (1931)


7. Call Her Savage (1932)


8. Mantrap (1926)


9. Kid Boots (1926)

  (Comedy, Romance)

10. True to the Navy (1930)

  (Comedy, Action, Romance)

See the events in life of Clara Bow in Chronological Order

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