Popular silent movie femme fatale, starred in 39 pictures from 1915 to 1919 and got occasional roles on into the twenties. Her real name was Theodosia Goodman. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 29, 1890 (or 1885, depending on who you ask). Fox Studios invented a bizarre and wonderful history for her, including birth in the Sahara desert within sight of "a Sphinx" (please enjoy the indefinite article!). She was described as "the serpent of the Nile". Wow. They made much of her stage name being an anagram of "Arab death". It's all such beautiful nonsense.

Theda Bara played vamps in movies with wonderful titles: Salome (naturally), Cleopatra, The Devil's Daughter, When Men Desire, When a Woman Sins, The Siren's Song, The Forbidden Path, The She Devil, The Tiger Woman, Her Double Life, and Sin. She played the hell out of them, by all accounts. This is all before the censors stepped in in the 1930s. Her role in A Fool There Was was immortalized in prose by S.J. Perelman, a great fan.

She died on April 7, 1955, in Los Angeles, of cancer.

I've never seen any of her movies, nor those of ZaSu Pitts either; most of them are lost and only fragments remain. She's just one of those weird little factoidal dust-bunnies that collect in the corners of one's mind, the wages of a secret addiction to old New Yorker writers.

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