1994 Clara Bow
- Honors the popular movie actress known as the “It Girl” of the Roaring Twenties
- Designed by famed artist Al Hirschfeld
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: Silent Screen stars
First Day of Issue: April 27, 1994
First Day City: San Francisco, California
Quantity Issued: 1,860,000
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Format: Vertical stamps issued se-tenant with nine other silent film stars
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Why the stamp was issued: Issued as part of the Silent Screen Stars set of 10, honoring the great names of the early days of Hollywood movie making.
About the stamp design: The stamp was designed by renowned artist Al Hirschfeld. Art direction and typographer was Howard Paine. The artist’s caricature style was the same as his earlier work on the Comedians se-tenant booklet pane of five. The 29c denomination was printed in drop-out type on a stylized torn ticket stub. Clara Bow’s stamp features her name in a torn ticket motif as well.
First Day Ceremonies: Castro Theater in San Francisco was the site of the First Day Ceremony, with actor Karl Malden as the main speaker.
Unusual fact about this stamp: The artist was asked to work his daughter Nina’s name into his caricatures, as he had often done in previous drawings. In Clara Bow’s case, her Nina is found in the folds of her scarf.
About the Set: Besides Clara Bow, the Silent Screen Starsset includes nine other prominent stars of the Silent Screen era: “The Sheik” Rudolf Valentino, “Little Tramp” Charlie Chaplin, “Man of a Thousand Faces” Lon Chaney, “The Vamp” Theda Bara plus John Gilbert, Zasu Pitts, Harold Lloyd, Keystone Cops, and Buster Keaton. Several of the images include the artist’s familiar “Nina”.
History behind the stamp:
Billed as “The Hottest Jazz Baby in Films,” Clara Bow personified the vivacious, emancipated flapper of the 20s. Like the other stars of her day, she symbolized the romantic ideals of the nation. Young girls emulated her by copying her clothes, hairstyle, and seductive ways with men.
Born in a poor section of Brooklyn, New York, Bow entered a beauty contest at age 17 and won. Among the prizes was a Hollywood screen test and a bit part in the movie Beyond the Rainbow. Although her performance ended up on the cutting room floor, she persevered and within three years had become a successful actress.
In 1927, Clara Bow played the lead in the box-office sensation It. Dubbed the “It Girl,” Bow rocketed to stardom, turning the innocent little pronoun ‘it’ into one of the most suggestive words in the English language. A huge success, the film was followed by other hits, including Wings (1927) – the first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Voted America’s most popular female star in 1929, she retired just four years later.