Today I submitted my completed index, the final installment of my biography, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, to my publisher.
On this same day ten years ago, I received a much hoped-for phone call from Brad Macneil, coproducer of Channeling Hollywood, a production involving five notables from Hollywood’s Golden Age and produced by the Pasadena Playhouse and Pasadena Museum of History. I still recall how my fingers trembled as I dialed my voicemail, my heart fluttering as I listened to Brad’s message: I had been chosen to play silent screen legend Barbara La Marr. The sheer joy of that moment remains with me to this day—as does Brad’s voicemail message.
I had first heard the name Barbara La Marr only days earlier. Karie Bible, a film historian and friend of mine, had informed me she had given Brad my name when he asked her if she knew an actress who could both portray Barbara and write an account of her life in monologue form (the five actors’ parts would then be interwoven to create the play). I immediately began researching Barbara, culling all I could from readily obtainable, meager resources. Greatly inspired by her inherent strength, unshakeable will, and laudable achievements, I hurriedly wrote my audition piece and anxiously performed it for Brad and the show’s other producers a day and a half later, little imagining the journey that awaited me.
Donald Gallery, Barbara’s only child, flew to Los Angeles from his home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to see my performance. Merely three years old when Barbara passed away at age twenty-nine in 1926, he harbored a lifelong dream that his mother’s story would be written. After the play’s conclusion, he rushed to the reception area to meet me, engulfing me in a hug when I appeared with the other actors. He returned to Puerto Vallarta days later, declaring, his wife, Patricia, later told me, “I finally met the person who is supposed to write Barbara’s book!”
Shortly before his passing at age ninety-two in 2014, Don told Patricia repeatedly to continue thanking me for undertaking to author Barbara’s biography. Yet it is I who am grateful for the honor of sharing the extraordinary life story of such a fascinating, incredibly talented woman.
Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood, to be released December 6, 2017, by the University Press of Kentucky, is now available for preorder on Amazon and the University Press of Kentucky website.
“The ‘Girl Who Was Too Beautiful’ moniker is both a blessing and a curse for Barbara La Marr’s legacy. It ensures her place in the pantheon of Hollywood’s most intriguing figures, but at the same time discourages modern audiences from viewing her as anything more than Roaring Twenties eye candy. Therefore, the task that Sherri Snyder has undertaken is invaluable; Snyder manages to humanize an actress who is all too often defined merely by her physical appearance and freewheeling lifestyle. Expertly researched and captivatingly written, Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood manages to paint the most complete picture of La Marr’s life to date. A scholarly work on Barbara La Marr was long overdue; the silent film community as a whole should be thankful that Snyder was not only up to the task, but has created a work that will serve to define La Marr’s life and career for decades to come.” ―Charles Epting, editor, Silent Film Quarterly
“Snyder’s work is fresh and enthralling. Her dedication and compassion for her subject shines through. And we are richly rewarded with a truly well-written biography of a long-forgotten star.” ― Stephen Michael Shearer, author of Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life, Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr, and Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star
“Sherri Snyder peels away the gossip to reveal the truth of the life of Barbara La Marr. Snyder illuminates La Marr’s artistic struggles and personal demons with depth and sensitivity. Scandal seekers take note! The truth is far more compelling than any fictional account on record.” —Karie Bible, co-author of Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, film historian, and Hollywood Forever tour guide
“Sherri Snyder digs deep into the life of Barbara La Marr, giving an in-depth look at the intelligence and talents of the ‘Girl Who Was Too Beautiful.’ We see the real three-dimensional La Marr for the very first time, a thoughtful, generous, and creative woman who died much too young.” —-Mary Mallory, film historian and author (Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found, and Hollywood at Play: Celebrating Celebrity and Simpler Times)
“Snyder beautifully steps up to the task of providing film scholars a thoughtful and well-researched depiction of La Marr’s life, career, and legacy. Snyder’s work offers an honest and incredibly personal perspective of La Marr’s life. Snyder’s prose justly portrays both the rewarding and challenging moments throughout La Marr’s life and career.” —- Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood
“Snyder’s completed manuscript is impressive in both its scope and detail . . . . A fluid and captivating narrative.” —- Christina Rice, author of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel