An Update: My Barbara La Marr Biography

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I have now finalized the title of my Barbara La Marr biography with my publisher, the University Press of Kentucky. Look for Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood to be released sometime in the Fall/Winter of 2017. UPK's design team is currently working on the cover design and I should have a photo to share early in the new year. Meanwhile, I have been compiling a preliminary index in order to get a leg up for when things move into the proof stages. This has been a thrilling (albeit all-consuming) process these past many years, and I dare say the end is in sight!

Meticulously culled and compiled from myriad sources—including never-before-released information from Donald Gallery (Barbara’s son) and descendants of people close to Barbara, Barbara’s private diary, memoirs of those who knew and romanced her, and an extensive collection of Barbara’s poetry—Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood presents an intimate look at Barbara’s life story, told in its entirety for the first time. I thank everyone from around the globe who has expressed avid interest in the book and offered kind encouragement throughout the years! It was Donald Gallery’s lifelong dream that his mother’s complete, long overdue biography be written; I sincerely thank him for entrusting me with that dream. I am honored and excited to present this book to the world and will post publication details as soon as I have them. For now, I offer an overview of the book below.

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In 1914 at age seventeen, strong-willed, already infamous Reatha Watson was declared by juvenile authorities to be “too beautiful for the city” and banished from Los Angeles. She soon returned, only to become further mired in scandal and subsequently barred by the film studios from working as an actress.

Unwilling to stifle her burning ambition and manifold talents, she pressed forward, reborn as Barbara La Marr. An innately gifted dancer, she achieved renown in the foremost cabarets throughout the country and on Broadway at the height of the pre-WWI dance craze. Then she toured the vaudeville circuits, acting in headlining comedy skits to general acclaim. Still under the guise of her assumed name, she next became a storywriter for the Fox Film Corporation in the same town that cast her out, earning the modern equivalent of a six-figure salary. Her exotic beauty, curvaceous form, and potent presence, epitomizing an ascending breed of 1920s screen idol—a shameless, volatile woman who ensnared men with her femininity—, enticed film producers. She temporarily averted association with her increasingly turbulent past long enough to reign as a preeminent s ex goddess of the silent screen.

Through it all, her tumultuous private life striped the pages of newspapers and film magazines. After her death at age twenty-nine caused a furor in downtown Los Angeles in 1926, her publicist confessed, “There was no reason to lie about Barbara La Marr…Everything she said, everything she did was colored with news-value. A personality dangerous, vivid, attractive; a desire to live life at its maddest and fullest; a mixture of sentiment and hardness, a creature of weakness and strength—that was Barbara La Marr.”

Her extraordinary life story is one of tempestuous passions and unbending perseverance in the face of inconceivable odds. It is of a woman’s fierce determination to forge her own destiny amid the constant threat of losing it all to scandal and, ultimately, death.

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Some commentary on the book:

“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: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes)

“Snyder’s completed manuscript is impressive in both its scope and detail…a fluid and captivating narrative.” —Christina Rice, author (Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel)

Read more about Barbara's extraordinary life and career at my Barbara La Marr tribute site: