Hairpins and Dead Ends — Barbara La Marr’s Early Years

I featured Barbara La Marr’s life and career in Dangerous Curves.  I came away convinced that her teen years were more interesting than any film she made in Hollywood in the 1920s. At least, those troubled years set Barbara on a course of self-destruction that would end her life in 1926.

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A teenage Barbara La Marr

When I began working on  Hairpins and Dead Ends, I knew the beautiful Barbara would make a reappearance. Unlike many sirens of the silent screen, Barbara was raised by two  seemingly stable parents and her siblings play an important part in her story. I spend a lot of time in her chapter piecing together her family tree and identifying those wild branches that seemed to have delved into blackmailing and extorting wealthy paramours.

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Reatha Watson (Barbara La Marr), left, and her wild and unruly half sister, Violet June (right)

Much of the chapter is constructed using Barbara’s diary from 1916 and Robert Carville’s unpublished account of his romance with the budding dancer.

You will come away feeling as though you were looking over La Marr’s shoulder as she fought with her family, abandoned sleep for the nightlife, battled tooth disease, took money from men in exchange for her company, and drank her way from one nightclub to another. I would recommend that you take a break — and a nap —  after you’ve finished this chapter.

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The first page of Barbara La Marr’s diary in her own handwriting

If you thought you knew everything about the “girl who was too beautiful,” get a copy of Hairpins and Dead Ends and find out the rest of the story.

 

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