Barbara La Marr - 1896-1926
Earlier this month, I met Barbara La Marr during my trip to Los Angeles. I happened upon her crypt in the Cathedral Mausoleum in Hollywood Forever (Los Angeles) while searching for Rudolf Valentino's location. What first caught my eye was the stunning stained glass window down one of the passageways. While taking a closer look, I noticed her crypt and recognized her name, though I couldn't recall her details.
The first tip-off that this was the grave of a star the lipstick kisses on the marble around her name plate. When looking for a celebrity's grave, keep an eye out for anything with kisses all over it. In Hollywood Forever, the graves of Valentino, LaMarr, Maila "Vampira" Nurmi, Douglas "Dee Dee Ramone" Colvin and others tend to have lipstick marks.
Ms. La Marr was born on July 28, 1896, as Reatha Dale Watson in Yakima, Wash. She was only 29 when she died Jan. 30, 1926. But in her short life, she lived her life to extremes. She loved fiercely and often.
According to Cecilia Rasmussen in the Los Angeles Times Hollywood Star Walk project (Sept. 30, 2007), "By age 19, she had been married three times, divorced and widowed. In her 20s, she married twice more." She was an actress, but she was also a writer, producer as well as a dancer. She was more than just the woman who was told by police that she was "too beautiful" to be out in Los Angeles on her own. Eventually she would work with the likes of Rudolf Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Ray Navarro.
In 1922, she secretly gave birth to a son she named Marvin Carville La Marr. This was at "the height of her career," according to SilentHollywood.com, so "a fake adoption was rigged so that Barbara could publicly be the mother for Marvin." After her death three years later, her friend ZaSu Pitts and husband Tom Gallery adopted Marvin and renamed him Donald Gallery.
The official cause of death was listed as tuberculosis and nephritis, which is an inflammation of the kidneys and can be associated with chronic drug use, such as cocaine and heroin. She is considered the first star with a drug-related death.
Sordid circumstances or not, the Los Angeles Times noted that "thousands of fans gather[ed] outside the funeral services for actress Barbara La Marr."
The LA Times article on Feb. 6, 1926, stated:
Barbara La Marr was in at 27 films (see the list on her IMDB page), including "The Three Musketeers" (1921), "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1922) and "Strangers of the Night" (1923).
I'm the author of a number of cemetery books and am now writing one about the graves of silent film stars, starting with the ladies. Who would you like to see included?
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