Barbara La Marr
Barbara La Marr by Hoover
Barbara LaMarr cover of Photoplay magazine, April 1923
Barbara La Marr, known as “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” or “The Girl Who Is Too Beautiful,” packed a whole lot of living into her short 29 years. At 14, she was arrested for underage burlesque dancing. At 16, she testified against her half-sister who was charged with kidnapping her. At 17, she was married, and before her death she would be married five times. She gave birth to one child, a son named Marvin Carville La Marr, whom she “adopted” publicly. His named later became Don Gallery, and he was raised by actress ZaSu Pitts and her husband Tom Gallery after Barbara’s death.
Barbara La Marr began in Hollywood as a screenwriter, but her beauty was such that she soon began appearing in films as well. She became quite popular and appeared in over 25 films between 1920 and her death in 1926. During this time she also became enamored of Hollywood nightlife, and was rumored to only sleep two hours a night because there was too much life to live. She allegedly became addicted to morphine after an injury while filming a movie, and drugs and alcohol probably helped fuel her demise, but she officially died from tuberculosis and nephritis in 1926. Her funeral was attended by an estimated 40,000 mourners.
Happy birthday, Barbara.
(photo via Performing Arts / Artes Escénicas)
Barbara La Marr
“Barbara La Marr was too beautiful. She was so easy to look at that, by the time she was sixteen, she was beginning to turn heads. Her troubles of the heart led her, in time, to the police court where a kindly judge told her that she’d better leave Los Angeles. That a girl with her face wasn’t safe in the big city.
Adventure followed adventure. Abductions, elopements, marriages. Two of them, each one ending in tragedy. And then, again, a judge in the juvenile courts who sent her home, as a father might have done.
By the time she was eighteen her beauty was a legend. A legend that folk were afraid to read. Her loveliness kept her from getting work, which she needed. People were superstitious about her. She was hungry, shabbily clothed, discouraged.
But finally she found a cabaret that wasn’t fussy. She danced, and later went into vaudeville. And then began to write. First verses. And then scenarios. And after she had been writing scenarios for a while, picture people began to notice her. And she got a job that led to — but you know the rest!”
~Photoplay magazine, May, 1923, in an article called (I am not kidding) “Hard Luck Tales of the Stars”
This particular hard luck tale throws off so many exclamation points and question marks and alarm bells in my mind that I’m not even going to begin to get into it. The magazine also contains a separate article called “WHY I ADOPTED A BABY —BY BARBARA LA MARR”