Theda Bara

Theodosia Goodman, Theodosia de Coppet
1885 - 04/7/1955

Theda Bara was born Theodosia Goodman in Cincinnati, Ohio around 1885. During her high school years, Bara showed promise as an actress, but she did not pursue an acting career right away instead attending the University of Cincinnati. She ultimately dropped out of the university in pursuit of an acting career; by 1908 she had landed her first acting role in Franz Molnar's "The Devil." Bara did not, however, join the touring troupe for the show. Her next known role was in "The Quaker Girl" in 1912. She was cast in the supporting role of Diane, a French model. This time Bara did join the traveling company and performed in Seattle from December 29, 1912 - January 4, 1913. The performance received lukewarm reviews from the Seattle newspapers. Overall, Theda Bara's stage career was very lackluster. Her real acting break came in 1915 when she was recruited as a silent film star.

Theda Bara found fame on screen playing the siren or vamp character tempting men to their demise. Two of her most well known film roles were in "Cleopatra" and "Salome." Her film persona led to churches denouncing her from the pulpit. She was forever the victim of a press corps that could not tell the difference between her film persona and her private persona. Her obituary retold some of the press's more outlandish stories about her, "Press agents told the nation she was born in the Sahara Desert and that her first name was an anagram of death and her second name was Arab spelled backward". Bara died at the age of 65 of cancer.

Gender: 
Female
Cultural Identity: 
Sources: 
Flom, Eric L. Silent Film on the Stages of Seattle: A History of Performances by Hollywood Notables. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009. Print. Special to The New,York Times. "Theda Bara Dies; SCREEN STAR, 65." New York Times (1923-Current file): 21. Apr 08 1955. ProQuest. Web. 3 Mar. 2015 . Golden, Eve. Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara. Vestal Press, 1998.