In the beginning, there was the good guy, the good girl, the bad guy and, of course, the bad girl. Cinema’s first bad girl was also it’s first sex symbol. Her name was Theodosia Goodman but probably you would know her as Theda Bara. She was molten sex when the Model T ruled the roadways. While Mary Pickford was America’s sweetheart, dainty, demure and virginal, Theda Bara was dark, mysterious, and a little bit stout. The polar opposite of Mary Pickford, she flaunted her sexuality and her figure.
Even though she usually portrayed a vixen or a loose woman on screen, Bara was the first femaleto be in total control. One could rightly argue that Bara’s career was most noteworthy for the fact that she played a woman and not a gamine, as was the case of most of the early silent film actresses.
William Fox, who founded Fox Studios (This was before they merged with 20th Century) knew a money maker when he saw one. Consequently, he made sure Bara was under contract. According to Wikipedia –
Theda Bara’s biggest role would come in the film Cleopatra, probably history’s first Femme Fatale. It became her defining role. Sadly, unless a miracle happens, it might fade from memory. After a fire at the Fox studio in 1927, all that remains of Bara’s legacy are two films. The lavish Cleopatra film was one of the victims. As a result, all that remains of it is an extensive series of costume tests.
In conclusion, though we lament the loss of her films, it seems fitting for the mysterious Theda Bara. She remains as the studio would want us to remember her, mysterious.
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