Who’s Clara Bow, The Polemic ‘It Girl’ That Inspired Taylor Swift’s Album

The singer dedicates a song to her

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On April 19, Taylor Swift will release the surprise album she announced while accepting one of the Grammy Awards. Surprise for everyone due to its unexpected nature, as she has kept the secret very well. The next step has been to share the album’s tracklist.

We have discovered that there are two collaborations: Post Malone and Florence and the Machine, and a song with its own name: Clara Bow. Many may wonder who she is; others may nostalgically recall her as what many consider the first it girl in history.

Some Swifties have delved into this woman’s life, and we’ve selected a thread from one of them, a friend of Juani Carusso, Uruguayan actor from «La sociedad de la nieve,» to refresh the complicated story of this actress who went through a lot. She was born in 1905 and died in 1965, and her life is a true novel that @marlboroswiftie has summarized in 17 chapters.

Taylor Swift accepts the Best Pop Vocal Album award for «Midnights» on stage during the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024. Valerie Macon / AFP

Chapter 1: Familial struggles

Bow grew up in extreme poverty, with her mother Sarah, a drug addict and schizophrenic, attempting to murder her daughter twice years later. Her father Robert, an alcoholic and violent, abused them, and he even raped Clara when she was fifteen. Yet, she never abandoned them.

Chapter 2: Tough childhood

Her childhood was devastating: «No one loved me. I was always alone and scared. I never had clothes, and often had nothing to eat. We just survived, and that’s it. Girls avoided me because I was poorly dressed.»

Chapter 3: Chasing a dream

She had aspirations, knowing there was a better life outside of Brooklyn. With nothing to lose, she sent photos to the Fame and Fortune Contest, won the prize, appeared in a film, but her role was cut for looking «too androgynous.»

Chapter 4: Explotation

The powerful producer B.P. Schulberg set his eyes on her, and within a couple of years, Clara was one of the most prolific actresses in the industry. She provided him with the biggest hits of his career, and he exploited her sexually and professionally.

Chapter 5: Admiration and magnetism

Clara had a magnetism that melted the screen, achieving success after success. Girls imitated her heart-shaped lip paint and called it «doing a Clara Bow,» men were enamored with her, and she received 45,000 fan letters a day.

Chapter 6: The projection

Bow’s face covered the country from coast to coast. The best American chronicler of her time, Dorothy Parker, said of her: «That, that strange magnetism that attracts both sexes… Shamelessly, with self-confidence, indifferent to the effect it produces. That, damn it. She had it.»

Chapter 7: Loneliness

But Bow was not «magnificently sure of herself.» Deep down, she was still the girl no one wanted to play with. Off-screen, she didn’t mingle with other stars; she preferred spending nights playing poker with the staff.

Chapter 8: Celebrity

By 1927, she had become the biggest star Hollywood had known, and one of her most famous quotes is the often-cited: «The more I know men, the more I love my dog.» Although she generally enjoyed the company of men.

Chapter 9: Freedom

She didn’t feel the need to hide her adventures, those that producers and press agents tried to conceal. She was offered a half-million-dollar bonus if she «acted like a lady in public and tried not to appear in the tabloids.» She didn’t even try.

Chapter 10: Facing trial

She went through two tough trials, the second against her secretary and friend Daisy DeVoe, accused by Bow’s circle of theft and embezzlement. This trial brought to light all the star’s intimacies, some real (love affairs) and others invented.

Chapter 11: Scandal

The sensationalist newspaper Coast Reporter published (false) reports claiming that Bow was fond of engaging in public sex, participating in threesomes with Mexican prostitutes, having affairs with women, and practicing bestiality with her pets, a Great Dane and a koala.

Chapter 12: Rumors

The public believed it all. Each story was more excessive than the last, and the rumor that she had slept with the entire University of Southern California football team during one night haunted her throughout her life.

Chapter 13: Collapse

Unable to overcome the press harassment and worn down by DeVoe’s betrayal and a horde of relatives who had emerged out of nowhere to try to scrape some of her fortune through small blackmails, Bow suffered a nervous breakdown in 1931.

Chapter 14: Decline

Sidelined from major productions, the public quickly turned its back on her. Her colleagues weren’t going to mourn her; they had never liked her. Even when she was the highest-grossing actress, they repudiated her.

Chapter 15: Mental Health

At the age of 28, she retired after starring in 57 films. Away from the spotlight, she married actor Rex Bell, famous for his cowboy roles, and had two children. However, mental problems intensified.

Chapter 16: Treatment

She attempted suicide in 1949 and, victim of severe depression, was admitted to a mental institution where she underwent electroshock therapy and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, the same illness that had taken her mother when Clara was still a teenager.

Chapter 17: The End

Her husband died in 1962, and she passed away three years later at the age of 60. One of her last statements was about Marilyn Monroe’s suicide: «Being a sex symbol is a heavy burden to bear when you are tired, hurt, and confused.» She knew it better than anyone. RIP CLARA BOW🤍

Original article by Cristina Zavala on LOS40 USA