Clara Gordon Bow (July 29, 1905 – September 27, 1965) was an American actress born and raised in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, who rose to stardom in the silent film era of the 1920s. Her high spirits and acting artistry made her the quintessential flapper and the film It brought her global fame and the nickname "The It Girl.
" Bow came to personify the roaring twenties and is described as its leading sex symbol. She appeared in 46 silent films and 11 talkies, including hits such as Mantrap (1926), It (1927) and Wings (1927). She was first box-office draw in 1928 and 1929 and second in 1927 and 1930.
Her presence in a motion picture has been described to have ensured investors, by odds of almost 2-to-1, a "safe return" with only two exceptions. At the apex of her stardom, in January 1929, she received more than 45,000 fan letters.
Bow ended her career with Hoop-La (1933), and became a rancher in Nevada. In 1931 she married actor Rex Bell, later politician and Lieutenant Governor, with whom she had two sons.
Clara Bow was born 1905 in a tenement in Brooklyn slums. Bow was the third child; the first two, also daughters, born in 1903 and 1904, died in infancy.
Her mother, Sarah Bow (1880–1923), was told by a doctor not to become pregnant again for fear the next baby might die as well. Despite this, Bow was conceived in the fall of 1904. According to Bow, her mother became "almost mad with apprehension and fear". The delivery proved to be as difficult as feared: "At first, they thought I was dead ... I don't suppose two people ever looked death in the face more clearly than my mother and I the morning I was born. We were both given up, but somehow we struggled back to life".
At sixteen, Sarah fell from a second-story window and suffered a severe head injury. Later she was diagnosed with "psychosis due to epilepsy", which apart from the seizures can cause disordered thoughts, delusional ideas, paranoia and aggressive behavior.
From her earliest years, Bow learned how to care for her mother during seizures and how to deal with psychotic and hostile episodes. She said her mother could be "mean" to her, but "didn't mean to ... she couldn't help it". Still, Bow felt deprived of her childhood; "As a kid I took care of my mother, she didn't take care of me".
Sarah worsened gradually, and when she realized her daughter was set for a movie career, she told her she "would be much better off dead". One night in February 1922, Bow awoke with a butcher knife against her throat; when her mother hesitated, Bow fended her off and locked her up. In the morning, Sarah had no recollection of the episode and was later committed to a charity hospital
Posted by sella at 7/11/2011