bosses and Elinor Glynn who also wrote an article on the "it Factor" and was paid to declare Clara as the Queen of "It". Clara was the first to be sexual and un-apologetic on screen and laid the ground work for all to follow. When she was asked what "It" was, replying in her perfect Brooklyn accent .. "I ain't real sure."
IMDB reports that on her poverty-stricken childhood in Brooklyn. Clara says "No one wanted me in the first place. Often I was lonesome, frightened and miserable. I never had a doll in my life. I never had any clothes, and lots of times didn't have anything to eat. We just lived, and that'a about all. Girls shunned me because I was so poorly dressed - the worst looking kid on the street. I decided that girls weren't any good, and being lonely and needing child friends, cast my lot with the neighborhood boys. I became a regular tomboy - played baseball, football and learned to box."
Her film career spanned from 1922 to 1933 and by 1926 was making a measly $750 per week with the studios making 4 times as much off her by renting her out to other studios, she was one of the most overworked and underpaid stars of her time but by 1928 was making over $35k per week. Her popularity was so great that at the height of her popularity she received over 45,000 fan letters a month and many women even took her to court for "stealing otherwomen's husbands." Clara was the most loved of all the silent stars by the public, but most of her contemporaries hated her. Clara did all this with her adorable personality alone and not with nudity, freakishness or perversion. She was the first real, now immortal movie star!
During her film career, Bow made a total of 56 films during her movie career. The silent film "Mantrap" was to become her breakthrough film and tripled her salary from then on and the later film "It!" was to define it. Clara's "It" also changed society's view of themselves for many years that followed, especially with women, fashion and sexuality. She was outspoken at times, especially about family matters and spoke like a truck driver, ( Cursing was not unknown to Clara and she did it frequently.) However Clara never acted like the typical movie star and got along with everyone she met very well. She had a very trusting, but somewhat Naive and caring about others persona, however in love she did not have the best reputation.
She was a actress and not a dancer, however because of her age and the rebelliousness of the times, some of the dances like the Black Bottom, Shimmie and Charleston became a part of her personality which she brought a sex appeal to as well. She did these dances well, many times on and off stage and screen. She was to be known as the quintessential flapper and the major role model of that generation. Many styles of dress and fashion was tailored after her. Even Betty Boop was designed after the style and personality of Clara Bow, not before as some state, Helen Kane's voice stylings were used for Betty Boop.
The Films were now available with sound, now called Talkies. The studios did not prepare Bow for the transition. However, the soundies ... The Wild Party, Dangerous Curves, and The Saturday Night Kid remained hits for her and the studios where she remained as the top box-office draw and queen of Hollywood. Unlike many others, she was given no time to convert or prepare from the almost overnight transition from silent to talkies and suffered because of it, namely due to a lack of confidence on her part that the studios did not forsee. After her movie career started to decline due to her voice having a very heavy Brooklyn accent when the "Talkies" came out which didn't match the public's view of her in the silents and her insecurity about it when she found talking became part of acting very quickly. Her voice was actually fine by todays standards however. In this clip on the right from "True to the Navy" Clara sings said song ... You decide.
She finally retired in 1931 and moved to Arizona with Rex. She made two final films after her retirement due to a huge sum of money offered to her. One was "Call Her Savage" (1932). It was somewhat of a failure at the box office but was a very good success for Clara and her last was a film called "Hoop-La" (1933) which she dreaded to make but she was very moving in the film. Haunted by a weight problem all her life, and a mental imbalance, various Court battles, Tax issues, Gambling Debts, Microphone fear and such, plus the Great Depression would make her past seem wasteful and reckless to the public eye. Tabloid news would have a field day making stories up and profiting off them. She would never regain huge public appeal, but still remained very loved by most but sadly her confidence would not let her see it, thus she would never enter he show business world again. Bow would now permanently and happily retire by moving to a huge Nevada Ranch (Rancho Clarita) with Rex at the young age of 28 and become a full time loving wife and mother. In September 1937, she and Bell opened The 'It' Cafe on Vine Street near Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. It was closed shortly thereafter. The clip below is the talkie film titled "Call Me Savage" from 1932 showing her normal voice, it wasn't bad at all.
During her lifetime, Bow was the subject of wild rumors regarding her sex life; most of them were untrue. Many were cast from her lawsuit with house keeper / thief DeVoe who made up many things about Bow to the newspapers to try to get even by ruining her reputation. Also a tabloid called The Coast Reporter published lurid allegations about her in 1931, accusing her of exhibitionism, incest, lesbianism, bestiality, drug addiction, alcoholism, and having contracted venereal disease. The publisher of the tabloid then tried to blackmail Bow, offering to cease printing the stories for $25,000, which led to his arrest by federal agents and, later, a meager eight-year prison sentence.
Her star shown brightly for many years but as time walked on, she became burnt out on fame and the public eye, which her Husband, understandably kept pursuing, eventually getting into politics which she now dreaded being poked and prodded by the public again. Clara was happy for a while but as her Husband career often took him away, she was left alone on the Ranch, suffering bouts of depression, loneliness and anxiety, she was eventually confined to a sanitarium and was not allowed access to her loving sons she loved and adored very much.
Upon release, she moved to Los Angeles, alone and became a recluse. Clara died of a heart attack at age 60 in West Hollywood, California. "The Hottest Jazz Baby in Films" was and is still loved by all who are aware of her. God bless you Clara! ... She is interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage, next to George Burns and Gracie Allen.