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Take a bow, Clara Bow!

(In the interest of honesty, I don’t know how Clara Bow pronounced her last name, whether with the hard O sound, as in bow-and-arrow, or as in “taking a bow.” Anybody know?)

Clara Bow, in her mid-twenties, was one of the biggest stars in the world during the 1920s. (I’m going to say “one of” because I’m not sure she was a bigger draw than Lon Chaney.) She was the first “It” girl—literally. She appeared in the 1927 film IT; the expression “It girl” comes from this. She also starred in that same year in WINGS, the first-ever Academy Award winner for Best Picture at the first-ever Academy Awards. The template and stereotype of the “flapper”, Bow inspired fashion and set young hetero male hearts aflutter.

Oh, and she may have been engaged to Bela Lugosi.

In 1929, Bela Lugosi’s third wife, Beatrice Weeks, filed for divorce (after a few weeks of marriage) and publicly accused Bela of cheating on her with Bow, whom he’d met a year prior after she sought him out after a performance of the play version of DRACULA. She was instantly enamored, if not obsessed, with Bela, and he with her. Ms. Weeks claimed that Bela had confessed to her that he and Clara had become engaged. Whether this is true or not cannot be verified; the two never married, but Bela Lugosi kept a painting of a nude Clara Bow in his residence up until his death, and Bow likewise kept an autographed photograph of Bela for the rest of her life, so they must have made some intense impression one upon the other.

Bela had two more marriages; none but the last of them (which lasted only a year or so) could be described as successful. Maybe Bow was really the love of his life?

TheCheezman • January 20, 2019

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  1. Sylvi Sterling January 23, 2019 - 2:48 pm Reply

    It was Bow, as in bow and arrow. My grandmother, who raised me, was born in 1906, and so she was a contemporary, and heard it pronounced by other people. since she worked for an attorney in entertainment law, she heard it from people who would have heard it from Clara herself.

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