Dear Reader #169

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

By 1924 film producer B.P. Schulberg was guiding Clara Bow’s career. Under his guidance, she made her eighth movie,Poisoned Paradise: The Forbidden Story of Monte Carlo, a silent romantic drama.

Clara played Margot Le Blanc. Left a small fortune by her foster mother, Margot goes to Monte Carlo and loses the fortune gambling. She finds support, and love, from an artist, Hugh Kildair.

Throughout her life, Clara needed sound people around her to guide her. At this time, she had Schulberg along with her agent, Maxine Alton. However, an affair between Alton and Schulberg shattered Clara’s confidence in them. Clara was trusting and naïve, and it’s fair to say that Alton and Schulberg exploited her trust and naivety.

🖼Lobby card forPoisoned Paradise

Highest Grossing Movie of 1928 (joint)The Singing Fool.

A part-talkie musical melodrama,The Singing Foolstarred Al Jolson. Following hot on…

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Dear Reader #168

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s seventh movie wasBlack Oxena silent fantasy/romantic drama produced during October 1923 and released on December 29, 1923 in San Francisco.

Black Oxen starred Corrine Griffith and Conway Tearle. Corinne Griffith was one of the big names of the day. As well as a successful acting career, she also excelled as a producer, author and businesswoman. Dubbed ‘The Orchid Lady of the Screen’, she was widely regarded as one of the most beautiful actresses of the silent era.

Clara excelled in this movie to the extent that she gained more parts immediately, and the studio quadrupled her salary to $200 a week, the equivalent of $2,900 today.

📸Clara Bow as Janet Oglethorpe, the flapper inBlack Oxen, holding a copy ofFlaming Youth. Also pictured, Kate Lester and Tom Ricketts.

Highest Grossing Movie of 1927,Wings.

A silent war movie…

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Dear Reader #167

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s sixth movie was Maytime, a silent romantic drama produced during August and September 1923 and released on December 11, 1923. The movie starred Ethel Shannon, Harrison Ford and William Norris, with Clara fourth on the bill playing Alice Tremaine. 

After a stunning screen test, producer B.P. Schulberg gave Clara the part of Alice inMaytime. Within a week, the film’s crew were urging Schulberg to ditch Ethel Shannon and give Clara the lead role. He didn’t. Nevertheless, Clara had made her point and established her breakthrough.

📸Clara Bow and Ethel Shannon inMaytime.

Highest Grossing Movie of 1926,For Heaven’s Sake.

A silent comedy,For Heaven’s Sakestarred Harold Lloyd and was directed by Sam Taylor. The movie was a great success for Lloyd and earned $2,600,000 at the box office, which made it the twelfth highest grossing film of the silent…

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Dear Reader #166

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s fifth movie was Grit, a silent drama produced in the summer of 1923 in New York, and released on January 7, 1924. Adapted from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Grit featured Clara as a sexy street urchin, Orchid McGonigle.

Clara impressed director Frank Tuttle, especially with her ability to produce emotion at will. He said, “This dynamic and erratic whirlwind was a joy to her director.”

Gritwas a tale of cowardice and revenge set on New York’s Lower East Side. Fitzgerald said of the film, “The whole picture is sordid, showing disgusting scenes of immorality and crime.” The censors demanded cuts, and they were duly made. Despite those cuts,Gritwas still banned by the British Board of Film Censors.

Clara saw Orchid as the embodiment of herself. “A little roughneck and a tomboy like I was.” The critics panned the film. However,Varietyadded…

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Dear Reader #165

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Coming soon, our new magazine, The Golden Age of Hollywood, available from all leading Internet outlets. Here’s a preview of the cover.

Clara Bow’s fourth movie wasThe Daring YearsakaThe Folly of Youth. The movie was produced in New York during the first half of 1923 and released on September 15, 1923.

The Daring Yearswas adapted from a photoplay by Richard Ellison. Clara was listed fourth on the bill, as ‘John’s Sweetheart, Mary’. Unfortunately, this movie is regarded as lost.

A silent melodrama,The Daring Yearsfeatures a love triangle and a man wrongly accused of murder. The man, John Browning, is strapped into an electric chair when a lightning bolt (!) and Clara Bow save the day.

The premise forThe Daring Years,an accidental shooting,is sound, but maybe the movie could have done without the lightning bolt.

After the completion of

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Dear Reader #164

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s third movie wasEnemies of Women, produced in December 1922 through to January 1923. The movie was premiered in New York on March 31, 1923 and went on general release from September 2, 1923.

Enemies of Womenwas produced by William Randolph Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Pictures. A silent romantic drama, the movie starred Lionel Barrymore and Alma Rubens. Clara featured as an uncredited dancing girl.

This movie was made during a significant period in Clara’s life. Her mother, Sarah, had just been released from an asylum, although she was far from physically and mentally well. At home, Sarah lapsed into a catatonic state. On New Year’s Eve, she was readmitted to the asylum. She died there on January 5, 1923.

Later, Clara recalled that period of her life. “In the picture, I danced on a table. All the time I hadda be laughin’, rompin’, displayin’ joy…

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Dear Reader #163

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s second movie wasDown to the Sea in Ships,asilent romantic drama about a whaling family living in a Quaker community. The movie, made during the summer of 1922 when Clara was seventeen, was premiered on September 25, 1922 and went on general release from March 4, 1923.

Clara plays Dot Morgan who, as a baby, is found floating near the shore on a raft made of branches. Dot is a mischievous, rebellious child who wants to be a whaler when she grows up, an ambition frowned upon by her community. So, we have Clara as a tomboy rebel: perfect casting.

Clara Bow as Dot Morgan

Dressed as a boy, Dot stows-away on a ship. She is attacked by a crew member, and rescued by her friend, Jimmie, a cabin boy. The ship returns to port and the main romantic thread of the story, which…

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Dear Reader #161

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Some exciting news about Tula. The eBook version is now available to pre-order for the special price of £/$ 0.99. We’ll be doing a major promotional blitz on publication, and after that the price will go up. So, don’t delay, pre-order today 🙂

Chapters 16 – 19 of Tula. To enter an acting competition, Tula needs photographs of herself, but she can’t afford a professional photographer. Her father arranges a card game, and a con, to raise funds for the photographs.

📸“I’ve Got Him Hooked!”, Colleen Moore, fishing, 1921. Taken by Frank B. Howe (no relation).

From the Lima News, Ohio, October 1928, Clara Bow in The Fleet’s In, a silent comedy. Clara played Trixie Deane, a ‘taxi dancer’. The movie was shot in San Pedro and San Francisco, June 18 – July 16, 1928, and released on September 15, 1928. Most 1920s movies were shot in a…

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Dear Reader #160

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Fonts can suggest an atmosphere and sense of time. With Tula, my novel about an actress, I’m looking to invoke the 1920s, so I’m experimenting with Snell Roundhand and American Typewriter.

Brooklyn Bridge is a location in chapter two of Tula. She goes there to deliver a parcel for her father and notices a cameraman filming. While she’s engrossed in the filming, someone steals the parcel.

At the time of its opening, on May 24, 1883, Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world with a span of 1,595.5 feet.

🖼Chromolithography of the “Great East River Suspension Bridge” by Currier and Ives, 1883.

Was Clara Bow a good actress? On a human level, this question is irrelevant – Clara dragged herself out of abject poverty and pursued her dream; that’s all that matters. On an artistic level, it would be nice to answer the question, so…

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Dear Reader #159

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

I’ve completed the basic outline for Tula, my novel about an actress finding fame in the 1920s, and losing her mind in the process. Sixty-eight chapters. I’ve written the prologue and chapter one. The prologue is Tula’s asylum admission form, with her doctor’s notes.

The form and notes are based on 1920s asylum records, and a record from my family archive – a Victorian aunt spent a number of years in an asylum. My youngest son, who hopes to become a psychologist, helped with my research. He also named the doctor, Dr Brooks.

Continuing my research into Eva Marie Saint’s ancestry using public records. I’m looking to answer two questions: was Eva’s talent the result of nurture, or nature? And why am I drawn to her as an actress? Can I find the answers to these questions in her roots?

I’ve traced the Saint family back to the…

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