Πέμπτη, 17 Νοεμβρίου 2011

Theda Bara, the first "Vamp" (femme fatale) in cinema history

Theda Bara (1885 – 1955), was an American silent film actress – one of the most popular of her era, and one of cinema’s earliest sex symbols. Her femme fatale roles earned her the nickname “The Vamp” (short for vampire). The term “vamp” soon became a popular slang term for a sexually predatory woman. Bara, Valeska Suratt, and Musidora popularized the vamp persona in the early years of silent film . Theda Bara made more than 40 films between 1914 and 1926, but complete prints of only six still exist. At the height of her fame, Bara was making $4,000 per week. She was one of the most popular movie stars, ranking behind only Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford.

Bara’s best-known roles were as the “vamp”, although she attempted to avoid typecasting by playing wholesome heroines. Cleopatra (1917), became one of Bara’s biggest hits. No known prints of Cleopatra exist today, but numerous photographs of Bara in costume as the Queen of the Nile have survived, some of them considered unfit for familly viewing!

Bara is often cited as the first sex symbol of the movies. She was well known for wearing very revealing costumes in her films, which could still be considered risqué by today’s standards, more than 90 years later. Such outfits were banned from Hollywood films after the Production Code started in 1930, and then was more strongly enforced in 1934.

Theda Bara can be considered as a prime example of the earliest Gothic styles. Many Gothic trends such as the dark eyeshadow and clothes are inspired from her styles. She also pozed with a skeleton for some "Death and the Maiden" erotic photos:

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