Who Is Clara Bow? All About the Woman Who Inspired Taylor Swift Song – Hollywood Life


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When Taylor Swift revealed the track list for her upcoming album, The Tortured Poets Department, her fans noticed that one of the songs is named after Clara Bow. The 16th and final track on the album is seemingly inspired by the late actress, who rose to fame during the silent film era in the 1920s. Like Taylor, Clara lived a highly publicized life in the spotlight. Their similarities may very well be the basis of the “Clara Bow” song, which will be released with the rest of the album on April 19.

So, who was Clara Bow? Find out all about the woman who now shares a name with a Taylor Swift song!

Who Was Clara Bow?

Clara Bow was an actress who was born in 1905 in Brooklyn. Clara’s mother dealt with severe mental health issues while Clara was growing up. The actress was nearly killed by her mother during one frightening incident, which led to her mom being institutionalized. Bow was also reportedly raped by her father when she was 16.

As a teenager, Clara started getting into acting (which her mother warned her not to do) when she competed in Brewster publications’ magazine’s annual nationwide acting contest in 1921. She landed a role in the 1922 film Beyond the Rainbow, but all of her scenes were cut. However, Clara still proved to be talented enough to star in many more silent films for the next decade.

Thanks to her role in the 1972 film It, where she played a charismatic young woman who goes after an older man, Clara became known as the first “It Girl.” That led to Clara experiencing major fame, which became overwhelming for her. She ultimately retired from acting in 1933. She later received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

Clara Bow
Clara Bow (Photo: Nextrecord Archives / Getty Images)

Elaine Shepherd, who produced a documentary on Clara in 2012, told the BBC how Clara struggled with life in the spotlight. “The studios were working her to death,” Elaine said. ““She was on heaps of primitive pills to get her out of bed in the morning and to get her to sleep at night. Executives were trying to exploit her as much as possible, gossip magazines were writing the most awful lies about her, and she was dealing with all that on her own, as a woman in her twenties.”

“She just found it way too stressful. But it’s not true that she was thrown out of Hollywood,” Elaine added about Clara. “When sound came in, she was paid massive amounts of money to make a couple of talkies, and if she’d had more support early on, she could have carried on having a substantial career.”

Clara was married to actor Rex Bell from 1931 until his death in 1962. They had two sons together, Tony Beldam and George Beldam, Jr. Rex later became the 21st lieutenant governor of Nevada from 1955 until his death.

 What Movies Was Clara Bow In?

Some of the silent movies from the 1920s that Clara starred in included This WomanGritHelen’s BabiesMy Lady’s LipsThe Primrose PathMantrap, and Kid Boots. The movie that really skyrocketed her to fame was It. Her 1927 film Wings was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

How Did Clara Bow Die?

Clara died of a heart attack on September 27, 1965 at the age of 60. Clara showed forms of psychiatric illness before her death. She even tried committing suicide with a note she left behind in 1944. Five years later, she checked into a psychiatric facility in Connecticut where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Clara lived the final years of her life under the constant care of a nurse before she passed away. She was buried at the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

What Is The Connection Between Clara Bow & Taylor Swift?

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift at the 2024 Golden Globes (Photo: Christopher Polk)

Taylor and Clara are both familiar with being scrutinized in the public eye. Clara was one of the biggest stars in the 1920s, and Taylor is arguably the most famous woman in the world right now. There’s obvious parallels between both of their lives, which is surely the reason Taylor named a song after Clara.

And “Clara Bow” isn’t the first time Taylor has made references to Old Hollywood in her music. The story of the music video for “Wildest Dreams” drew comparisons to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton‘s relationship. Taylor also sings about 1900s American socialite Rebekah Harkness in “The Last Great American Dynasty.”


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