Joan Craig grew up living across the street from silent film star Theda Bara, and the two pretty much instantly connected when they met, introduced by Bara’s husband who had cut a rose for Joan as she walked past on her way to school. Bara had no children of her own, and Joan’s mother seems to have been a bit absent minded about her child, so Joan ended up spending a lot of time with Bara and her husband, director Charles Brabin. Although Bara’s acting days were over by the time they met, she had kept a lot of costumes and props from her movies and lived among them in her house. She kept a crystal ball and scryed with it regularly. She was far from being the vamp she frequently portrayed on the screen.
I’m of two minds about this book. On the one hand, it’s filled with great pictures and in the back is a listing of the plots of all of Bara’s films, most of which were lost in a fire. On the other hand, it’s only the bare bones of a biography or memoir. Barely a hundred pages are devoted to Joan and Bara’s relationship, touching on the high points, and part of it is a short bio of Bara before Joan met her. I would have loved to have known what Bara was like- what did they talk about? How did Bara spend her days? What were her interests? How did she mentor her- what things did she teach her (a few examples are given in the book)? I can only give the book three of out five stars- it’s a great addition to the information available about Bara, but certainly not the first book one would want to go to.
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