This is part of a series of posts on the historical figures that are the inspiration for Immortal Perfumes. For more historical figures, check out the rest of the series.
“TO BE GOOD IS TO BE FORGOTTEN. I’M GOING TO BE SO BAD I’LL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED.”
History’s first goth and Hollywood’s first sex symbol, Theda Bara was a massive star in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In the early days of film, you couldn’t speak and you couldn’t use color to set yourself apart. You needed to have a look that translated well to the black and white moving pictures, and looks Bara had in spades.
Theodosia Burr Goodman was born on July 29, 1885 in Cincinnati, Ohio to a Jewish tailor from Poland and a Swiss mother. If you’re wondering why the name Theodosia Burr, it’s because she was named after Aaron Burr’s beloved daughter.
After a stint at the University of Cincinnati, Bara became a fixture in local theater. When she was offered a role in a Fox Studio film, she was skeptical and didn’t believe films would amount to much. She took a chance and took a part as a seductive man-eater.
Theda was a non-traditional star in every sense of the term. She didn’t meet her destiny until she was almost 30, an age when most actresses were already finished. In fact, Theda was one of the first in Hollywood to lie about her age. But that’s not where her half-truths ended. In an effort to drum up her mysterious allure, Fox Studios sensationalized her bio claiming she was the daughter of a tryst between an artist and an Arabian princess and that she was a practitioner of the occult.
Her first role, “The Vampire,” solidified her dark and alluring public image and started the vamp trend of dark makeup and seductive clothing. Bara appeared in more than 40 films over a brief five year period. She was a massive star, who was only later eclipsed by fresh-faced Mary Pickford.
After her initial run of films she tried unsuccessfully to make it on both Broadway and in radio. Nothing much materialized and by 1927 she had largely retired from acting. She married the director Charles Brabin and the two stayed together until her death at the age of 69 in 1955.
During her heyday, the term “Baby Vamp” was used to describe trendy, popular young ladies who wore dark clothing and makeup. This perfume homage to “Madame Mystery” has notes of orchid, labdanum, fire, tonka bean and dragon’s blood. Unleash your inner vamp.