Saturday, 24 May 2014

Clare Bow - The First "It Girl"

Today's goddess subject is Clara Bow, the famous IT GIRL.

Frank Martin - etching with hand colouring - edition of 40

Frank Martin - woodcut in edition of 10

Clara Bow (1905-1965) was an American motion-picture actress known as the original “It Girl” after she played in the popular 1927 silent-film version of Elinor Glyn's novel of the same name. She personified the vivacious, emancipated flapper of the 1920s. From 1927 to 1930 she was one of the top five Hollywood box-office attractions.

Paramount Picture - Poster Art.

Clara Bow was born into a poor family in a New York tenement; she was sexually abused by her father and neglected by her mentally unbalanced mother. She went to Hollywood by way of a beauty contest while still in high school.

A small part in Beyond the Rainbow (1922) brought her considerable attention and she was soon playing starring roles in such movies as The Plastic Age (1926) and Dancing Mothers (1926).

In 1927 Bow was chosen by Glyn to star in "It", which proved a tremendous box office success. Thereafter she was known universally as the “It Girl". Bow was the embodiment of beauty, abandon, and sex appeal for the movie goers of the Jazz Age.


She appeared in a total of 46 silent films and 11 talkies. Others movies in which she starred include Rough House Rosie (1927), Ladies of the Mob (1928), Three Weekend (1928), Dangerous Curves (1929), and The Saturday Night Kid. Unable to make the transition from silent movies to talkies, in part because of her strong Brooklyn accent, and further hampered by some highly publicized scandals, she retired in 1931.

After unsuccessful comeback attempts in Call Her Savage (1932) and HOOPLA (1933), she spent most of the rest of her life living quietly on a Nevada cattle ranch owned by her husband, former cowboy star Rex Bell, whom she had married in 1931. In her later years she suffered from psychiatric problems. For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Bow was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Her face is enduring and can found on or as; The famous Max Fleischer cartoon character Betty Boop was modelled after Bow and entertainer Helen Kane. But mainly and more correctly after Helen Kane, so I won't dwell on this point to avoid endless correction comments.

In 1994, she was honoured with an image on a United States postage stamp designed by caricaturist Hirschfeld (shown right). Bow's mass of tangled red hair was one of her most famous features. When fans of the new star found out she put henna in her hair, sales of the dye tripled.

I am struggling to find any more "art" by competent artists to illustrate this posting. There are plenty of graphic representations in the form of film posters, magazine covers and adverts that feature her. This collage and oil on card by the contemporary art Natasha Sasonova is the best I have seen.

 Many books have been written about her, including; Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild The It Girl : The Incredible Story of Clara Bow / Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein Silent Stars

Here are 2 more Frank Martin editions featuring Clara, both are woodcuts. The first is her as the Queen of Sheba and the second is smal but very strong image of which only 10 were printed.

............... and finally a gallery of other posters and photos.

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