Cast yourself back through the decades of film history; past Farrah Fawcett, Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe; past Hedy LaMarr, Rita Hayworth, and Betty Grable; all the way to the beginning. There you will find Hollywood and cinema first sex symbol. She was dark, exotic and mysterious or so the Hollywood studio hype machine would have us believe. She was actually a nice, somewhat dowdy Jewish girl by the name of Theodosia Goodman. To cinema fans, she was Theda Bara.
Movies and its very purpose and how it could be used was still being discovered when Theda Bara came along. Films weren’t in color nor they even have sound. Most of showings featured just a piano player, who tickled the ivory while customers watched their favorite star’s newest adventure.
By the time that Theda got into the business, the technology became available for longer run times. Thus the feature was born and the cinema world was finally ready for The Vamp, the seducer of men and the wrecker of souls.
She shocked and titillated virgin audiences at the same time. Most Americans never saw such brazen sexuality before, much less in public view for even the children to see. Despite this audience members were hooked. The men fell under Theda’s seductive spell. Women wanted to be as seductive and glamorous as her.
She was the first Femme Fatale and William Fox, founder of Fox Studios, milked Theda for all she was worth in box office revenue. Other studios began to follow suit and sought out their own version of Theda.
After a while, the theatrically trained Bara grew tired of the vamp character and retired from acting altogether.