American actress and sex symbol who came to personify the Roaring Twenties, Clara Gordon Bow died on this date, September 27, 1965. Coming to world fame as the plucky shop girl in the film It a 1927 silent romantic comedy film which tells the story of a shop girl who sets her sights on the handsome and wealthy boss of the department store where she works, Bow came to be known as The It Girl.
Bow appeared in 46 silent films, 11 of which were talkies, including hits such as Mantrap (1926), It (1927) and Wings (1927). She was such the rage she was named first box-office draw in 1928 and 1929 and second box-office draw in 1927 and 1930. Investors were ensured a safe return,by odds of almost 2-to-1 if she appeared in a motion picture.
At the apex of her career, she received 45,000 fan mail letters during the single month of January 1929.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 29, 1905 and raised in such abject poverty girls shunned her because she was so poorly dressed, by the conclusion of a five year contract with Paramount Pictures she was making $4,000 a week, an amount equal to approximately $55,000 today. This made her the highest paid actor in Hollywood.
In 1999 film historian Leonard Maltin said, “You think of Greta Garbo, Lillian Gish, all these great names, great actresses, Clara Bow was more popular in terms of box-office dollars, in terms of consistently bringing audiences into the theaters, she was right on top.”
Bow died of a heart attack on September 27, 1965 at the age of 60. An autopsy revealed that she suffered from atherosclerosis, a disease of the heart that can begin in early adolescence She was interred in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
She was 60 years old.
1920 – William Conrad (Cann) (actor: Cannon, Jake and the Fatman, Sorry, Wrong Number, Killers, Naked Jungle; TV narrator: The Bullwinkle Show; radio: Marshall Dillon in Gunsmoke; died Feb 11, 1994)
1920 – Jayne Meadows (Cotter) (actress: City Slickers, Murder by Numbers, Lady in the Lake, The Steve Allen Comedy Hour, Medical Center; panelist: I’ve Got a Secret; wife of Steve Allen; sister of Audrey Meadows)
1922 – Arthur Penn (director: Bonnie and Clyde, Alice’s Restaurant, The Miracle Worker, Little Big Man, Night Moves; died Sep 28, 2010)
1925 – Kathleen Maguire (actress: Edge of the City, The Chadwick Family, One Life to Live, The Concorde: Airport ’79; died Aug 9, 1989)
1933 – Kathleen Nolan (actress: The Real McCoys, Jamie, Broadside; Screen Actor’s Guild president)
1934 – Wilford Brimley (actor: Cocoon, The Natural, Tender Mercies, The Firm, Absence of Malice, The China Syndrome, The Electric Horseman, Our House)
1934 – Claude Jarman Jr. (actor: Hangman’s Knot, Rio Grande, The Sun Comes Up, Intruder in the Dust, The Yearling)
1939 – Delores Taylor (actress, writer, producer: The Trial of Billy Jack, Billy Jack)
1969 – Patrick Muldoon (actor: Days of Our Lives, Melrose Place, Starship Troopers, The Second Arrival)