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Theda Bara

Theda Bara

D.O.B.: July 29, 1885 (Cincinnati, OH)

D.O.D.: April 7, 1955 (Los Angeles, CA)

Cause of Death: Cancer

Location: Forest Lawn Glendale; Great Mausoleum

Biographical Notes:

Theodosia Goodman became Theda Bara. She was the daughter of a local tailor and his wife. As a young teenager, Theda was interested in the theatrical arts and once she finished high school, she dyed her blond hair, black and went in pursuit of her dream. 

By 1908, Theda was in New York in search of roles. That year she appeared in "The Devil", a stage play. In 1911, Theda had joined a touring company. After returning to New York in 1914, Theda began making the rounds to various casting offices in search of film roles. Her first film was "The Stain", in 1915, as an extra but was placed so far back in the background, she was not noticed on the screen. But it was Theda's ability to take direction which helped her gain the lead role as the Vampire in "A Fool There Was", later that year. The Vamp was born. 

It was a well deserved break, because Theda was almost 30 years old, a time when younger women were always considered for lead roles. She became the screen's first fabricated star. Publicists sent out press releases that Theda was the daughter of an artist and an Arabian princess, a far cry from her humble upbringing in Cincinnati. The public became fascinated with her. How could one resist an actress who allowed herself to be photographed with snakes and skulls? 

Theda's second film, later that year for the newly formed Fox Studios was in "The Kreutzer Sonata". She was to make six more films in 1915, finishing up with "Carmen." 1916 would prove to be another busy year with theater patrons being treated to eight Theda Bara films. The films, themselves, were making a great deal of money for the Fox Studios. 

By now, 1917, Fox Studios had headed west and with it, Theda. That year, Theda starred in the super successful, "Cleopatra", which was a smash at the box-office. After seven films in 1919, ending with "The Lure of Ambition", Theda's contract was dropped by Fox. Her career would never be the same again. 

In 1921, Theda married Charles Brabin and retired. In 1926, she made her last film entitled "Madame Mystery" and promptly went back in retirement, permanently, at the age of 41. She tried the stage briefly in the 1930's but nothing to really set the fires burning. A movie based on her life was planned in the 1950's, but nothing ever came of it. On April 7, 1955, Theda died of abdominal cancer at the age of 69 in Los Angeles, California.

Appeared in:

"Madame Mystery" (1926) Movie

"Cleopatra" (1917) Movie

 "Carmen" (1915) Movie

Additional Resources:

Search the Internet Movie Database for Theda Bara

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