29¢ Theda Bara
Silent Screen Stars
Issue Date: April 27, 1994
City: San Francisco, CA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Color: Red, black and bright violet
To millions of moviegoers, Theda Bara was evil incarnate. Fatally alluring with her death-white face, snaky black hair, and heavy-lidded eyes, she seemed born to trap unwary males and lure them to their destruction.
Moving to Hollywood as an extra, she began her film career in 1915 with the movie A Fool There Was, an adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Vampire.” Released with an intense publicity campaign, the film made her an overnight success and established her as “The Vamp.” Within three years she had made more than 40 films.
Rumored to be the daughter of a French painter and his Egyptian mistress, her name was said to be an anagram for Arab Death. In reality though, Theda Bara was a young lady named Theodosia Goodman from Cincinnati, Ohio, whose main ambition was to be a conventional romantic heroine. However, Kathleen Mavourneen (1919), her one attempt at a role other than the irresistible, heartless woman living only for sensual pleasure, was a resounding flop.