Mini Tribute: Theda Bara and Fort Lee NJ, Classic Movie Travels

Born July 29, 1885 Theda Bara

“I have the face of a vampire, but the heart of a feminist.”

Silent Screen Siren, Theda Bara, made over 40 films from 1914 through 1926 (all but three from 1914-1919), becoming one of cinema’s earliest sex symbols. With her exotic looks and femme fatale roles, she quickly became known as ‘The Vamp” (the vampire) and was on her way to becoming one of Fox Studio’s biggest stars.

theda bara

Theda Bara

Although promoted as “the daughter of an Arab sheik and a French woman, born in the Sahara,” Theda was actually born to a Cincinnati taylor and his wife, and was schooled in Cincinnati before making her way to New York City where she debuted The Devil on Broadway in 1908. She made her film debut in 1914 as an extra in The Stain, but it was her ‘big break’ role as ‘The Vampire’ in 1915’s A Fool There Was that set the course for her stardom. When Fox Studios moved from the East Coast to Hollywood, they took Theda with them, and it was in Hollywood where Theda would star in one of her biggest hits 1917’s Cleopatra.

theda bara cleopatra 1917Theda Bara, Cleopatra 1917

Unfortunately most of Bara’s films were lost in a 1937 fire at Fox’s storage facilities in New Jersey, so it is difficult for us to fully grasp Bara’s stardom and persona. But, we are very lucky that the Fort Lee Museum in NJ pays tribute to her at their museum and via their jitney tour.

That said, I would like to share some photos from a ‘Classic Movies and More‘ excursion (with colleagues Aurora Bugallo @Citizen Screen and Rob Medaska) to Fort Lee and the Fort Lee Museum — and, extend a big thank you to Tom Meyers, Executive Director of the Fort Lee Film Commission, for hosting us and providing great insight to us…

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theda bara display fort lee museum, photo (c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub

Theda Bara display (Fort Lee Museum)

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Theda Bara head dress scarf and costume jewelry, fort lee museum, nj photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub

Theda Bara head dress scarf and costume jewelry (Fort Lee Museum)

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theda bara head dress scarf, fort lee new jersey, fort lee museum; photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie HubA closer look at the head dress scarf

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theda bara costume jewelry, fort lee museum, nj; photo: ( c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub

And costume jewelry

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fort lee jitney tourThe Fort Lee Historic Jitney Tour includes many sites from the early days of cinema, including those pictured below

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theda bara way street sign fort lee nj; photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie HubTheda Bara Way

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theda bara photo at rock, comparison with theda bara rocks today in fort lee nj; photo of rocks: (c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub; photo of Theda Bara PD

The famous ‘Theda Bara rocks’ still sit in Fort Lee NJ on the lawn of an apartment complex

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fort lee museum in fort lee new jersey; photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie HubThe Fort Lee Museum includes exhibits on Early Cinema as well as The Battle of Fort Lee , and Palisades Amusement Park (which also happens to have an Early Cinema connection)

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Last but not least, I’d like to share this short video with you from an interview we did with Tom Meyers, in which he talks about the Birth of Motion Pictures in Fort Lee, NJ:

For more ‘Classic Movies and More’ videos, please visit our YouTube Channel here.

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

This entry was posted in Classic Movie Travels, Mini Tributes, Posts by Annmarie Gatti and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Mini Tribute: Theda Bara and Fort Lee NJ, Classic Movie Travels

  1. Frances Ryl says:

    We are not too far from Ft. Lee. This would be a great day trip!

    • Annmarie Gatti says:

      It was really FUN! And not too far away from the Palisades cliffs where they shot all those Cliff Hangers, but that’s another story 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to read the post. It’s much appreciated!

  2. Ellen says:

    Fascinating stuff, Annmarie! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Between 1915 and 1919, Bara was Fox studio’s biggest star, but tired of being typecast as a vamp, she allowed her five-year contract with Fox to expire. Her final Fox film was At the height of her fame, Bara earned $4,000 per week. She was one of the most popular movie stars, ranking behind only Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford .

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