You may have heard women and girls like Kendall Jenner, Blake Lively, or Jennifer Lawrence described as “It” girls, but did you know the original “It” girl, Clara Bow, starred in the movie that started it all? We can’t wait to screen the 1927 silent romantic comedy “It” this Saturday. Read on to learn five things you’ll need to know before you go!
1. “It” began its life as a novel written by British author Elinor Glyn, who explained, “To have ‘It,’ the fortunate possessor must have that strange magnetism that attracts both sexes…In the animal world, ‘It’ demonstrates in tigers and cats – both animals being fascinating and mysterious, and quite unbiddable. ‘It’ is self-confidence and indifference as to whether you are pleasing or not.” Elinor Glyn makes a cameo appearance as herself in the film.
2. Clara Bow appeared in six films in 1927 for Paramount, the year she made “It.” One of those films was “Wings,” a World One epic rewritten to include her since she was Paramount’s biggest star. “Wings” would go on to win the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture.
3. Clara Bow would appear in another adaptation of an Elinor Glyn book in 1928. That film, called “Red Hair,” is considered lost, which means no known prints of the film exist. However, we do know that “Red Hair” was screened here at the Tivoli – it appears prominently in a 1928 program in our collection, which you can see in one of the memorabilia cases in the inner lobby.
4. Victor Fleming, director of “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone With the Wind,” and other cinema classics, dated Clara Bow during the 1920s. He used this experience to create one of his best comedies – a 1933 film called “Bombshell” starring Jean Harlow (arguably the “It Girl” of the 1930s) as a beleaguered actress named Lola Burns based on Bow. In “Bombshell,” Lola Burns is known to fans as the “If Girl.”
5. Clara Bow retired from acting in 1933. Although she had made very successful talking films that received critical acclaim beginning in 1929, she was very insecure about her Brooklyn-accented voice and suffered nervous attacks and breakdowns, becoming known as “Crisis-A-Day-Clara.” She later married Rex Bell (a future lieutenant governor of Nevada) and died of a heart attack in 1965 at the age of 60.
If you’re looking for further historical context before you see “It” on the big screen this weekend, you can read up on the history of our mighty Wurlitzer organ, which will accompany the film. See you at the theater!