Jun 8, 2011

Prototype: How Theda Bara Became Silent Film’s Supernatural Siren

(Wired) Theodosia Goodman was a tailor’s daughter from Cincinnati. People who knew her growing up said she was a “nice Jewish girl.” Then she changed her name to Theda Bara and started making movies.
In 1915 she starred in A Fool There Was. Listed in the credits as simply the Vampire, occasionally shortened to the Vamp, she was a temptress who lured men to ruin, mouthing lines like “Kiss me, my fool!” The movie itself was unremarkable, but the way it was marketed was revolutionary. The fledgling Fox Film Corporation tasked its new publicity department, staffed by two former New York World reporters, with fabricating a backstory for the Polish-American starlet.
At a press conference for A Fool, the assembled journalists were told that Bara was the Serpent of the Nile, born in the Sahara to a French actress mother and an Italian sculptor father, and raised “in the shadow of the Sphinx.” Continued