Theda Bara in Silent Film Sin (1915)

Theda Bara made over 40 films for the Fox Film Corporation, with titles like The Eternal Sin, The Blue Flame, The Soul of Buddha, Purgatory’s Ivory Angel & Carmen.

In 1915 Fox produced silent drama Sin with Theda Bara starring  as Rose.

In order to play up Theda Bara’s image as a vamp, Fox Film Corporation publicized the film with the tagline “Sin With Theda Bara!”. Upon its release, Sin was an enormous hit with audiences and Bara earned generally good reviews for her performance.

In spite of its success, the film was banned in Ohio and Georgia due to its themes of suicide, lust, Roman Catholic sacrilege and love triangles. The Pittsburgh Board of Welfare condemned the film as did the Kansas Board of Censorship (which apparently still allowed the film to run in Kansas theaters).

The film is now considered to be lost.

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Theda Bara in The She-Devil (1918)

The She-Devil is a 1918 American silent romantic drama film directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Theda Bara as Lolette. This film is now considered to be a lost film.

This was the last film in which Alan Roscoe starred with Theda Bara; they appeared in six films together starting with Camille in 1917.

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Theda Bara defends in a scene still for “The She-Devil” (1918)

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Theda Bara defends herself in a scene still for “The She-Devil” (1918)

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Theda Bara photographed for “The She-Devil” (1918)

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Female Portrait Photographs by Carl Van Vechten

Carl Van Vechten (1880 – 1964) was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein.

In the 1930s, Van Vechten began taking portrait photographs.

Among the many individuals he photographed were Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Theda Bara, Harry Belafonte, Leonard Bernstein,  Karen Blixen, Jane Bowles, Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Ella Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Martha Graham, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Horst P. Horst, Mahalia Jackson, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Henri Matisse, W. Somerset Maugham, Elsa Maxwell, Henry Miller, Joan Miró, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Diego Rivera, Gertrude Stein, James Stewart, Alfred Stieglitz, Gloria Vanderbilt, Gore Vidal, Evelyn Waugh, Orson Welles and Anna May Wong.

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Frida wearing a Tchuantepee gourd by Carl Van Vechten (1932)

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Tallulah Bankhead by Carl Van Vechten (1934)

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 Anna May Wong by Carl Van Vechten (1935)

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Josephine Baker by Carl Van Vechten

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Gertrude Stein by Carl Van Vechten (1935)

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Lillian Gish by Carl Van Vechten (1937)

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Theda Bara by Carl Van Vechten (1939)

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Karen Blixen by Carl Van Vechten (1959)

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Theda Bara in Madame Du Barry (1917)

Madame Du Barry is a 1917 American silent historical drama film directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Theda Bara as Jeanne Vaubernier. The film is based on the French novel Memoirs d’un médecin by Alexandre Dumas.

The film is now considered a lost film. Many of Theda Bara’s films were destroyed in a 1937 Fox Studios vault fire.

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Theda Bara as Jeanne Vaubernier (1917)

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Theda Bara as Jeanne Vaubernier (1917)

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Theda Bara as Jeanne Vaubernier (1917)

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Theda Bara as Jeanne Vaubernier (1917)

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Theda Bara in Lost Film Salomé 1918

Salomé is a 1918 American silent drama film produced by William Fox and starring actress Theda Bara. This film is now considered to be a lost film.

– Salome uses her wiles in pursuit of King Herod, whose power she desires. She has disposed of Herod’s chief rival, and causes his wife to be killed through her own treachery. John the Baptist, who has secured a hold on the people, denounces Herod and his court. Herod has John thrown in jail for fomenting sedition. There Salome meets him, and becomes crazed with passion, but when John rejects her she seeks revenge. With a sensuous dance she gains the approval of Herod, and demands John’s head as her reward. This act brings her own punishment when she is crushed to death beneath the sharp spokes on the shields of the Roman legionnaires.

Although the film proved to be popular with some theaters charging extra for tickets to see it, Salomé also proved to be controversial. For example, St. Louis, Missouri churches of varying denominations organized to protest the showing of the film. They objected not only to Bara’s attire, but also to the divergence of the plot from Biblical text, such as scenes where John the Baptist was preaching in Jerusalem and where Salome declares her love to John, and to the youthful appearance of John. Objections were also made that children were attending showings of the film.

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Theda Bara, Salomé 1918

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Theda Bara, Salomé 1918

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Theda Bara, Salomé 1918

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Theda Bara, Salomé 1918

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Theda Bara, Salomé 1918

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Theda Bara, Salomé 1918

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Theda Bara, Salomé 1918

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Theda Bara in Lavish Silent Picture “Cleopatra” (1917)

Cleopatra was a 1917 American silent historical drama film which is considered lost, as no known complete negatives or prints of it survive. It starred Theda Bara, the screen’s first sex symbol, as Cleopatra. Only Brief fragments of footage from the film are known to exist today. After the Hays Code was implemented in Hollywood, Cleopatra was judged too obscene to be shown. The last two prints known to exist were destroyed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and unfortunately in the fires at the Fox studios in 1937 along with the majority of Theda Bara’s other films for Fox (Bara made over 40 films, sadly only 2 complete features are known to exist).

Cleopatra was one of the most elaborate Hollywood films ever produced up to that time, with particularly lavish sets and costumes. According to the studio, the film cost $500,000 (approximately $8.3 million in 2009) to make and employed 2,000 people behind the scenes. The film was based on H. Rider Haggard’s 1889 novel Cleopatra and the plays Cleopatre by Émile Moreau and Victorien Sardou and William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. The story told was about the epic romances between Cleopatra and the greatest men of Rome, Julius Caesar and Antony.

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Between 1915 and 1919, Bara was Fox studio’s biggest star and Cleopatra became one of Bara’s biggest hits. In promoting the film Fox Studio publicists noted that the name Theda Bara was an anagram of Arab death, and her press agents claimed inaccurately that she was “the daughter of an Arab sheik and a French woman, born in the Sahara. It was popular at that time to promote an actress as mysterious, with an exotic background. The studio even called her the Serpent of the Nile and encouraged Bara to discuss mysticism and the occult in interviews. This is perhaps why Bara claimed to have the same astrological sign as the real Cleopatra as a marketing ploy for the film. In reality Cleopatra was a Capricorn and Bara was a Leo. Even though no known prints of Cleopatra exist today, numerous photographs of Bara in costume have survived.

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Surviving Fragments of Cleopatra