Bookish Daughter of a Tailor Turned Into One of Filmdom’s First Sex Vamps
If you’ve ever wondered how a nice Jewish girl from Cincinnati who was named after Aaron Burr’s daughter became what one newspaper described as “the most fascinating though revolting female character ever created,” have I got a story for you about Theda Bara.
Crusading Journalist Targeted by FBI during Joe McCarthy Era
Anyone remember riffling through the Sunday papers to get to the comics section? The Sunday funnies, a.k.a. the funny papers, were a family tradition for kids of all ages. They were so popular that, during a 1945 newspaper delivery strike, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia took to the radio to read the comics so readers wouldn’t miss a week.
As an Athlete, Actress, and Designer, She Swam Her Way to Fame
Ever since Disney’s aquatic Princess Ariel debuted in 1989, mermaids have become a thing. Before Ariel, there was actress Glynis Johns as a mermaid named Miranda in 1948. And who can forget Daryl Hannah striding ashore in all that strategically-placed hair in the 1980s’ movie Splash? But long before any of those film mermaids, there was Australia’s Annette Kellerman.
Think of jazz trumpeters from the 1940s, and names like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie come to mind. But one name you may not know belongs to a woman who could hold her own with all three of them. A product of the West Coast jazz scene, her name was Clora Bryant, who called herself a “trumpetiste.”
Marguerite “Maggie” Higgins wasn’t America’s first female war correspondent. Legendary journalist and novelist Martha Gellhorn (who was also Ernest Hemingway’s third wife) had covered conflicts all over the world in her 60-year career. But Higgins was the first to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1951 with her front-line coverage of the Korean War.
You might not know her name, but Charlotta Spears Bass was a major badass. She fought the Ku Klux Klan and won. Was the first black woman to run for vice president. And, at the ripe old age of 91, was under surveillance by the FBI.