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Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild Paperback – March 13, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clara Bow, star of numerous silent films and early talkies, personified sex as fun, earning the sobriquet "The It Girl." Notoriety ended her career before she was 30. "In this sensitive biography, readers will find a vibrant woman to empathize with, as well as an engrossing history of early picture-making," praised PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Stenn has found out as much to know about Clara Bow as it is given to mortals to know; he takes an intelligent approach, neither too solemn nor too flip, and the story he has to tell is almost always engrossing. (The New York Times)

Illuminating and unforgettable. (Los Angeles Times)

She was Marilym Monroe decades before Marilyn. How movingly David Stenn has written the story of this hilarious and heartbreaking star. (Dominick Dunne)


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Cooper Square Press (March 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815410255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815410256
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Anyechka on October 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent thorough look at one of the most fascinating moviestars of early cinema, Clara Bow. Instead of writing a highly sensationalised account, Mr. Stenn uses a lot of solid research and facts, not rehashing and keeping alive the same old trashy rumors and character assassinations. He even disproves the most infamous urban legend of them all, the one about Clara and the USC football team. What does emerge is the portrait of a very sad vulnerable tragic person. Clara came from dirt-poor Brooklyn roots, with mental illness running in her family, moving often in childhood, picked on by her peers and terribly abused at home. And like many abused children, she made excuses for it, believing they did it for her own good, that it was in her own best interest that her mother tried to kill her, that her father often beat her and once raped her. Her luck really began changing when she went west and broke into movies, after winning a local talent contest at the age of sixteen, and for a time enjoyed a semblance of happiness. However, her career began to decline in the early Thirties after a number of scandals (contrary to another urban legend, it wasn't really because of the coming of sound, although she did have a terrible case of microphone-phobia), and she finally left Paramount, feeling it in her own best interest. During this time, she married Rex Bell, who for a time provided her with a very happy secure life, as well as the two sons she adored and tried to be the ideal mother to. However, her past caught up with her and she eventually had to go to a number of doctors and psychiatrists, falling victim to the same schizophrenia that her mother and other female relatives had suffered from, and died at the relatively young age of sixty.Read more ›
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on September 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had seen several of Clara Bow's films and the TCM documentary before reading David Stenn's book, so I knew something about Clara and had forgotten some things as well. Mr. Stenn's book is well-written and researched. It does not turn Clara Bow's life into the tawdry tale, filled with just sex and scandal, which a lesser writer would use to sell the book. Instead, Mr. Stenn has written a well considered biography of a very unhappy and insecure life. The information he provides on her upbringing in the slums of Brooklyn, her winning the "Fame and Fortune Contest" and life in 1920's Hollywood is as complete as one would want.

Her films are nicely profiled with detail given for the most important of them: It, Mantrap and Dancing Mothers. He also deals with her later mental problems with great sensitivity and clarity so one come away with knowing exactly made Clara the woman that she was. Ultimately, Clara's was an unhappy life punctuated with moments of happiness. I came away from the book feeling that I had a new perspective about Clara Bow and a renewed interest in seeing films of hers that I had missed. The book has an excellent filmography and contains a good set of photographs of Clara and the people in her life.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Clara Bow's incredible journey through life --- the child abuse, boundless energy, ambition, heartbreak and ostracism ---- is enough for any five soap operas. But it all happened to her, and David Stenn's flawless writing brings it all to life. Even hardcore film mavens who THINK they know Bow's story need to read this book. Bow was a highly complex, yet simple, person used by Hollywood's machine then cast aside when she seemed ill suited for talkies. Stenn iss particularly good at covering Bow's many valleys and how the tinsel town users almost zeroed-in on her. Unlike any bio I've ever read, RUNNING WILD truly blends outstanding research, often minute facts (there are many additions in this updated version), and a deep feeling for the Bow the public never saw. I HIGHLY recommend this book to teenagers! My 16 year old was fascinated with Bow's story, one which could have happened yesterday. Congratulations to David Stenn for a magnificent bio that no film buff --- or teenager --- should miss.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mavis on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the only really researched biography ever written of Clara Bow, a poignant and evocative look at an unforgettable woman who conquered a magical period in our history and blasted apart the Victorian prudishness of western society which was one of the catalysts for birthing modern culture.

The Brooklyn Bonfire, The "It" Girl, the Royal Canadian Mounted Policewoman of sex (she always got her man!), the twenties version of Marilyn and Madonna, Clara was the very first modern, studio-packaged sex symbol. The image the studios fashioned for her, that of a carefree, man-hungry flapper, became an icon for the Jazz Age. But Bow is criminally underappreciated today---this young girl had more influence on modern Hollywood than anyone gives her credit for---and this book will show you exactly why. Here is the original tragic Hollywood sex symbol, the one all others are modeled on. Softly beautiful, powerfully sensual, and an incredibly expressive actress, she had a shocking amount of raw talent, which was exploited, and then ignored, and then sacrificed by the studio system that had grown wealthy off of her.

Stenn lays bare the reasons for her unrelenting self-destruction, revealing an unloved and bewildered young girl who fought desperately to escape from her childhood prison but was wholly unprepared for life on the outside. An authoritative biography of a complex and fascinating woman, highly recommended.
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