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A Tribute to Theda Bara

Theda Bara





Those intense glaring eyes!

This site is dedicated to the first great actress of silent film, Theda Bara. Along with other ladies of the silent era such as Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Alla Nazimova, Pola Negri, the Gish sisters, Geraldine Farrar, Norma Talmadge and others, Theda Bara was a pioneer in a new industry that took the population by storm. (Apologies to Ms Bara for putting her in the same sentence with Pola Negri!) Thanks to these fine actresses, the movie industry was born, and anyone in the business today would be remiss not to pay homage to these brave pioneers.
My acquaintance with Theda Bara began as I was flipping through the May 1996 issue of Popular Photography magazine.  I noticed a small photo of Theda Bara with those famous eyes glaring, then continued flipping through the pages. I had no idea who this woman was.  Then, it was as if I was being summoned back to that odd page. So I flipped back. I had never witnessed such an intense look, almost demanding, as if there was something I was supposed to do. Who was this woman who could demand such attention forty one years (now 58 years) after her death? I was repeatedly drawn back to the photo. Little did I know what I was getting into. Before it was over, I would produce two screenplays and develop a depth of respect for this woman that would change my life. I took the time over the next year to get to know Theda Bara and to try to understand what those eyes were saying. I discovered much about her life, and by the time I ran across the notice of her death in Time Magazine, a great sadness overwhelmed me.
There is much that can be learned about Theda’s life on other websites, and in books, notably Vamp: The Rise and fall of Theda Bara by Eve Golden, and Theda Bara: A Biography by Ronald Genini. This site is dedicated to the real Theda Bara, not the concocted vamp of silent film. Theda herself wanted to be remembered as the serious actress she was in such movies as Under Two Flags, The Two Orphans, and Kathleen Mavourneen, and not the outlandish vampire (the evil thief of men’s souls) by which, ironically, she is largely known. It is devastating that most of Theda’s films were destroyed in vault fires (including these three), because if they had survived, Theda would not have been boxed in to that image. Even had the films survived, she never uttered a single word in any of them. All we are left with today are those magnificent eyes and remarkably, one Lux Radio recording of her voice. If you have not heard that Lux Radio recording, I can tell you that Theda's voice was high pitched and lilting, with somewhat of a British accent. It was nothing like what one would expect from an onscreen vamp or a native born midwesterner from Cinncinati.
If you take the time to research this unusual woman of the silent era, you may find that there is a message in those wonderful telling eyes. I would like to invite those who knew her to tell us about her kind nature, her life, and her love for her art. 

"You remain,
My power, my pleasure, my pain, baby
To me you're like a growing addiction that I can't deny."

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