Another beautiful casualty of Hollywood’s Silent Era. Barbara La Marr
Born Reatha Dale Watson on 28th July 1896 in Yakima, Washington. Her family moved repeatedly while she was growing up, eventually settling in Portland. Reatha performed vaudeville as a child. In 1913, La Marr had her first brush with fame. When her half sister Violet and a male companion took 16 year old La Marr on an excursion around Santa Barbara. Resulting in Violet and her ‘friend’ being arrested for kidnapping La Marr though the charges were eventually dropped.
She was dubbed ‘The Girl Who Is Too Beautiful’ by Hearst newspaper reporter Adela Rogers St. John saw that a judge had sent her home during a police beat in Los Angeles since she was too young and beautiful to be out on her own in a big city.
Initially La Marr began her show biz career as a script writer for Fox Studio. No doubt her legendary beauty helped propel La Marr in front of the camera. After signing an acting contract with MGM La Marr appeared in ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’, ‘Three Musketeers’, Trifling Women’. Her writing continued (she wrote for both United Artists and Fox). Despite her beauty, love was a far from easy journey for her. Five husbands; two died, two divorces and final husband, Jack Dougherty outlived La Marr.
As La Marr’s career rocketed, so did her partying. In an interview she claimed that she never slept more than 2 hours a night. Heroin and Cocaine addiction were rumoured to have taken hold of her. Weaken by Nephritis and Tuberculosis, La Marr died on 30th January 1926. She was only 29 years old.
Hedy Lamarr was given her stage surname by Louis B Mayer in honour of this once loved actress.