September 21, 2022
The most beautiful girl in your local town rarely raises an eyebrow in Hollywood. Hollywood beauty transcends reality, and Barbara La Marr (1896-1926) was declared “too beautiful” for Hollywood. Looking back, some may say she was destined for a life of ruin, but in Sherri Snyder’s skillfully written biography about the “too beautiful” silent screen vamp of the1920s, Barbara La Marr’s story becomes a compelling look into a young, beautiful woman’s brief journey to fulfill her destiny.
Barbara La Marr died at the age of twenty-nine in 1926 after appearing in over two dozen films during the height of the Roaring 20s, including The Three Musketeers (with Douglas Fairbanks Sr.), The Prisoner of Zenda, Trifling Women, The Eternal City, The Shooting of Dan McGrew, and Thy Name is Woman.
Prior to World War I, Barbara La Marr gained acclaim dancing in cabarets and on Broadway. She next moved on to vaudeville acts, and found her comedic talents garnered great reception. At the age of 23, Barbara was hired to write screenplays for Fox Film Corporation, completing six that appeared on screens in 1920 and 1924. Her acting career also began in 1920, lasting until her untimely death and the completion of her last film, The Girl from Montmartre, in 1926.
Barbara La Marr, the actress, has long received insufficient recognition from film historians. Sherri Snyder’s scholarly research and skillful, compelling biography renders a portrait rich in detail as the story moves through the torrent of Barbara La Marr’s life. Film buffs will appreciate the attention given to Barbara’s film work, both throughout the manuscript and in the complete filmography of Barbara’s writing and acting credits. Those wanting more detail will love the author’s notes, citations, and bibliography, all of which provide authentication and offer threads of new information. Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood is a must read for the silent film community in particular.
Also an accomplished actress and model, Author Sherri Snyder will portray Barbara La Marr in a self-authored performance, October 2, 2022, as part of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles‘, 39th Annual Hollywood Forever Cemetery Walking Tour. Click here for information and to get tickets. She also maintains https://barbaralamarr.net, a tribute website dedicated to Barbara. Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, was published by the University Press of Kentucky and selected by film historian Thomas Gladysz as one of the Huffington Post’s “Best Film Books of 2017.” The book may be found online on Amazon, the University Press of Kentucky website, and elsewhere.
For other interesting biographies, take a look at K. C. Motsinger’s Gail Russell: A biography of an actress and Vivien Leigh by Hugo Vickers. Another of my favorite biographies is Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson.
Philip Ritchie is a renowned Fine Art Photography Artist specializing in creating bold and unique Black and White Photography Concepts. He is based in Costa Mesa, California, USA.
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*Photos provided by Sherri Snyder, used with permission.