Friday, January 2, 2015

Backgound* (for Background*)

Clara Bow was so ineffably, unutterably sexy, she was permanently dubbed "The It Girl" after starring in a 1927 silent movie entitled (wait for it...) It. It's own charms had long proved elusive as well until this "forgotten" film was eventually rediscovered in Prague during the 1960s. Bow's almost frighteningly carnal appeal culminated in a "sex scandal" of football-team-sized proportions; the fact that it wasn't actually true scarcely seemed to matter. As a result, writes Wikipedia, a "tabloid called The Coast Reporter published lurid allegations about her in 1931, accusing her of exhibitionism, incest, lesbianism, bestiality, drug addiction, and having contracted venereal disease." (Well, I guess that pretty much covers It!) The publisher then attempted to blackmail Bow, promising to cut it out for a mere $25,000, which happily led to his arrest and an eight-year prison sentence. Adding to this sort of sexual harassment, Clara Bow had also had a difficult and painful background and struggled with mental health issues all of her life. In any event, she knew how to rock a backless gown, a flaming red bob, and a boatload of talent. Clearly her fans loved her, even if they didn't always know quite how to take her. Having blogged about Backround*once here already, we decided to go with the correspondingly off-by-one Backgound* today instead. This typo turned up 31 times in OhioLINK, and 725 times in WorldCat.

(Clara Bow, half-length portrait, standing, facing right, in backless costume, ca. 1922-1935, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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