March 31st, 2017

Byron Caloz

Theda Bara in Moving Pictures!

Of course Theda Bara appeared in more than 40 movies, however most of them are not available and considered lost or forever destroyed.

Besides the complete feature films A Fool There Was, East Lynne, and The Unchastened Woman and the complete short Madame Mystery the only other film of Theda Bara thought to exist was a very short clip from Cleopatra.

Now there is a new clip of Theda Bara which is not from a film, but more of a film of the making of a movie. The movie, we think, is her last Fox feature The Lure of Ambition from 1919. This is not absolutely confirmed. There is some doubt this is true because of her hairstyle and clothing and might be something she did around 1923 or 1924. For now, though, we will still call this related to Lure

There are two separate clips put together for this silent newsreel type short, one possibly an actual scene from Lure and the other a film of the filming of a scene from Lure

Here is an animated gif pulled from the very end of the second clip where we get the best view of Theda Bara.


You can see the entire short film with the Theda Bara segment titled "Theda Bara The First Glamour Girl" at about 8 minutes into the film. Phillip Dye, the man responsible for the movie Lost Cleopatra describes the short as " a jumble of newsreel footage cut into compilation film by Pack of Fun Films, New York." The title of the short is Fads and Fashions of 1900 which is obviously not correct for all of the footage.

There are many theories about who originally compiled this short and when. According to Carlos Froggy May a consumer 8mm version was sold in the 1930s under the banner of "Reel Old-Time Movies" sold by Stark Films. Most likely this short came out in the 1920s so the producers of the short likely lumped anything more than 10 years old as 1900!

Mr. Dye had heard about this yet could not access the link to the footage. The New Zealand film archive apparently fixed it and let him know. The web page does work if your browser permits all scripts to run.

The first clip appears to be Theda Bara's character considering purchase of a lace shawl of some sort. Interestingly, there may be more footage of Theda Bara which depicts her wearing such a lace shawl. I have never seen this, but the person who has the footage or a copy of it sent me a still from it.


The still is not from any of this footage, so there is a possibility of even more film from The Lure of Ambition (or some other undocumented production) out there!