One of the most legendary — if least revived — of silent screen stars, Barbara La Marr is remembered with a certain amount of romantic hindsight as the “Girl Too Beautiful.” Today, however, her much-vaunted, but far too fleshy appeal is hard to accept and her lasting imprint is that of a tragic, over-exposed figure; the kind of silent star who, had she lived, would most likely have turned into another Norma Desmond.
Born Reatha Watson, she had earned the “too beautiful” tag at the age of 14 when, as a young runaway, she became the ward of the Los Angeles court system. She escaped by marrying the first of five husbands, a young bounder who basically did his unhappy bride a favor by quickly dying of pneumonia. The too-beautiful widow hightailed it back to Los Angeles and married into the Converse shoe dynasty but, like a character in a vamp melodrama, her second husband also died prematurely, and a third, musician Phil Ainsworth, was sent to San Quentin on a fraud conviction. Changing… read more