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“We had individuality. We did as we pleased. We stayed up late. We dressed the way we wanted. I used to whiz down Sunset Boulevard in my open Kissel, with several red chow dogs to match my hair. Today, they’re sensible and end up with better health. But we had more fun.”
– Clara Bow

Whilst visiting Los Angeles last year, I made a point of visiting as many Clara Bow related locations as I could. Because there’s only so much you can fit in a two week trip, I couldn’t see every single Bow related sight. Therefore, consider this is an incomplete pictorial tour of the places where Clara Bow lived, worked and played. I’m already itching a second visit to the City of Angels so hopefully it won’t be too long before I can do a follow-up post!

Unless otherwise noted, the vintage Bow images are from the incomparable Clara Bow Archive.

Homes: 512 N Bedford Drive, Beverly Hills

“Up one of the winding roads of Beverly Hills, tucked close to a yucca-covered hillside, sprawls a country home of Spanish type. You can see it a mile away, its tile roof of a red blotch, as daring as Clara’s own auburn curls. It is Clara’s place, you know. Exactly the place you would expect a flapper to live. The dazzle of it almost hurt my eyes.”
Brighter Homes magazine, 1928

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow in Hollywood

This is the residence where Clara Bow lived at the very height of her fame and the location of her infamous parties. The seven-room Spanish style bungalow was built in 1925 and bought by Clara a year later. Once described by Louise Brooks as “Disneyland”, Bow furnished the house by herself and was especially proud of her “Chinese room”. Besides lounging in her boudoir, Clara’s favourite hobby was roller-skating up and down the driveway outside her home.

Clara Bow in Hollywood

512 N Bedford Drive today

Clara Bow in Hollywood

I had read comments online that said Clara’s old home has recently been demolished and I’m sad to report that the rumours are true. A whole new house now stands where Clara’s one story home once was. It is heartbreaking to see historical buildings demolished – and especially devastating when a piece of Hollywood history is forever gone. It felt bittersweet to walk the street and imagine Clara Bow roller-skating here to a curious audience some 85 years ago.

Clara Bow in Hollywood

 

Final resting place
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow’s final resting place is in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. She was buried beside husband Rex Bell, who died in 1962. Clara followed three years later, on September 27, 1965.

On our first day in Los Angeles, my friend Meg kindly drove Dan and I to Forest Lawn to pay respects to my favourite Hollywood stars, Clara and Jean Harlow. Unlike Harlow’s, Clara’s crypt is easily accessible by the public. There is a chain at the entrance to the Sanctuary of Heritage, where Clara’s crypt resides, but I sort of… broke and entered (respectfully, mind you!) to leave a rose for our It girl.

Paramount Studios
5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood

Paramount Studios

Paramount Studios

Today, most of the major motion picture studios have left Hollywood for places like Burbank and Culver City. Only one big name movie studio still stands and continually operates in Hollywood: Paramount Studios. Paramount is also one of the few studios that admit the public on regular guided tours of the studio’s huge backlot.

In 1925, Clara Bow’s success in Preferred Pictures’ The Plastic Age led Paramount to snap up the actress, who signed her first contract with the studio in 1926. Clara, “the hottest jazz baby in films”, scored in hit after hit for Paramount in 1926: Dancing Mothers, Mantrap, Kid Boots… In 1927 she became Paramount’s biggest draw when she starred in Wings and It. Several of Clara’s films were shot at the Paramount Studios.

Paramount Studios

The one studio tour that I knew I absolutely had to do was Paramount. Upon arrival, I immediately expressed my love of Hollywood history to our very friendly tour guide and name-dropped Clara Bow and Billy Wilder’s 1950 film Sunset Boulevard. All of my Norma Desmond-ian fantasies came true as I got to pose by the Bronson Gate and Stage 18, seen in the film during Gloria Swanson’s visit to the studio to meet Cecil B. DeMille. However, apart from a photograph hanging in the lobby of the Paramount Theatre and a building named Bow, there wasn’t anything related to Clara Bow that our tour guide could point out. Nevertheless, a visit to the legendary Paramount Studios is certainly a one of a kind event for all fans of classic Hollywood.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame
1500 Vine Street, Hollywood

Clara Bow's star on Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame began as part of a 1956 city improvement plan aimed as means to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust.

Clara Bow’s star is located on the East side of the 1500 block of Vine Street. It is on an awkward spot right on the exit of a parking lot so beware when trying to snap your photos.

 

“It” Café
1637 Vine Street, Hollywood

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow and Rex Bell getting ready to open the “It” Café in 1937

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Near the corner of Hollywood and Vine resides the late 1930s location of the “It” Café. Opened by Clara Bow and husband Rex Bell on September 3, 1937, the “It” Café was located in the lobby of the Hollywood Plaza Hotel. Clara told the press that she would be a constant presence at the restaurant, supervising the chef and greeting customers. However, Clara became pregnant shortly after the opening so the “It” Café turned out to be a short lived venture for the actress. After Bow sold out, it became Phil Selznick’s “It” Café; Selznick was David O. Selznick’s uncle.

Although the Bells’ restaurant is long gone, the exterior of the building itself remains virtually unhinged. A sign marks the spot as a Hollywood historic site.

Clara Bow in Hollywood

Clara Bow serving a roast to Rex Bell at the “It” Café
Photo credit

Have you visited any Clara Bow sights in Los Angeles or perhaps in New York? Do let me know in the comments!

 
March 10, 2014 Film
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10  Comments Posted On This Article
Lindsay Lane Comment posted on Mon - Mar 10, 2014

What a lovely post. I have made a favorite recipe of Clara today (Vanilla Marlow) which I’ll be posting on my nostalgic/Hollywood foodblog later this day!

A couple of days ago, I have read an interview with Clara in a Photoplay of 1928 about the tragic ordeals she had to endure in her young life. It’s heartbreaking.

I really hope to visit Hollywood someday. It’s a big dream of me.

xoxo

 

Jessica Cangiano Comment posted on Mon - Mar 10, 2014

What an engaging, immensely enjoyable post. I especially love that you included a photo of yourself standing in front of one of her actual homes. I think I would have gotten goosebumps on my arms there from the excitement and thrill of it.

♥ Jessica

 

Vincent Comment posted on Mon - Mar 10, 2014

A splendid entry on a fascinating actress. I too am a fan of ’20s and ’30s Hollywood (and am also of Finnish descent — my paternal grandmother was a Finland native), and cordially invite you to check out the site I’ve run since June 2007 dedicated to someone who briefly was a Paramount studio stablemate of Clara’s: http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/

 

retro rover Comment posted on Mon - Mar 10, 2014

I absolutely adore Clara Bow she is by far my favorite of the silent stars. Thanks for sharing this

retro rover

 

Snowma Comment posted on Tue - Mar 11, 2014

Next time I head down to LA/Hollywood I will certainly reference this post and check out some of these spots! I find Clara Bow the most relate-able of all the early cinema starlets. She seems like someone you could have hung out with.

 

Porcelina Comment posted on Tue - Mar 11, 2014

This is such a great post, I enjoyed finding out a bit more about Clara Bow, and you looked lovely in the photos! P x

 

Whitney Comment posted on Wed - Mar 12, 2014

Great post! I may get the chance to spend a day or two in L.A., and I will *definitely* be looking to your archive for some sight-seeing inspiration.

 

Riikka Comment posted on Thu - Mar 27, 2014

Thank you, Whitney! The LA trip was definitely a dream come true for me and I hope you’ll get to do your own Clara Bow sightseeing tour soon.

 

dave nelson Comment posted on Wed - Aug 19, 2015

Fantastic post , i hope to emulate what you did one day

 

Stuart McKinney Comment posted on Sat - Jan 28, 2017

One Bow home that is still existing is her final house in the Los Angeles area, 12214 Aneta Street in Culver City. Clara was known to live frugally in her later years, but one splurge worthy of a star was a swimming pool. The home is easy to spot on a satellite image, as it is one of only a few in the neighborhood with a pool. Zillow lists that it was sold twice since 1965, one in July 1966 (about a year after she passed) and just recently in 2014. According to David Stenn’s biography, Clara was known to the neighborhood kids as the “nice old lady who let them use her pool.”

 


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  • Welcome to 21st Century Flapper!
    My name is Riikka and I hail from Helsinki, Finland. I'm a film researcher and a freelance journalist, a sartorial devotee of vintage fashion and endlessly fascinated by early 20th century visual culture. I write about film, fashion, design, architecture - and all things old and pretty.

    Olen helsinkiläinen elokuvatutkija ja toimittaja, jonka intohimo on 1900-luvun alkupuolen visuaalinen kulttuuri. Blogi sivuaa kiinnostuksenkohteitani 1920- ja 1930-luvun elokuvista aina ajan muotiin ja designiin asti.



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