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Clara Bow inspiration for Taylor Swift song

What do classic movie fans and Taylor Swift fans have in common? A love of Clara Bow. 

Pop superstar Swift announced during her Grammy Award win on Sunday that her 11th studio album would release April 19, 2024.  Called "The Tortured Poets Department," the album features a final track titled "Clara Bow," spotted by fans. 

Who is Clara Bow?

Clara Bow was an actress of the silent movie era and she epitomized the Roaring Twenties' flapper girl. Bow (born July 29, 1905, died September 27, 1965) starred in blockbuster after blockbuster, but her most famous is the classic 1927 silent comedy, “It” (no, not the horror movie).

In "It," Bow plays a plucky shop girl in the silent movie with such exclamations – via title cards – as “Hot socks!” and “Sweet Santa Claus, give me him!” The concept of someone having “it” (that certain something, charisma) was popularized in the movie and Bow would forever be known as the “It Girl.” (Watch for free on Youtube)

In-depth: The rise and fall of Clara Bow

At her peak

During the 1920s, Bow was the No. 1 box office money maker for several years (coming in second a few years as well). In her string of hits, she played spirited and independent modern women who personified the Jazz Age ideal. 

Critics also loved her. She starred in 1927's "Wings," a tale of World War I fighter pilots and winner of the very first Academy Award for Best Picture. 

Related: New book -- 50 movies to start your discovery of Old Hollywood

Famous as well for her signature red hair, she revealed she added henna to her hair, and fans rushed to buy the product, tripling sales, according to one report. 

Because of her immense fame, she was hounded by tabloid press and the subject of numerous unfounded rumors over the years. One publisher even tried to blackmail her, but he was arrested by federal agents instead. 

One reviewer described a character in one of her early movies as "skilled in the art of self-defense, preparedness and all the other devices with which the modern flapper is endowed" to defeat her enemy.

Her movies

At her peak, Bow would release dozens of movies in a single year. Once, she even released two movies on the same day.

A few highlights from Clara Bow's movie career:

  • "It" (1927)
  • "Wings" (1927)
  • "Mantrap" (1926)
  • "Dangerous Curves" (1929)
  • "Wine" (1924)
  • "Hula" (1927)
  • "Dancing Mothers" (1926)
  • "Red Hair" (1928)
  • "Children of Divorce" (1927)
  • "The Wild Party" (1929)
  • "The Saturday Night Kid" (1929)

Influence in modern times

Along with countless homages over the decades, Bow was also the basis for the actress character in the 2011 Oscar-winning "The Artist," as well as providing inspiration for Margot Robbie's character in 2022's "Babylon."

Now the title of a Taylor Swift song, Clara Bow continues to inspire fans, new and old, more than a hundred years later. 


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