by Robert J. Avrech
(who also blogged Hollywood is Burning)
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote:“I was the spark that lit up Flaming Youth, Colleen Moore was the torch. What little things we are to have caused all that trouble."In 1923, Colleen Moore’s starring vehicle, Flaming Youth, was an international box office hit that ushered in the era of the Flapper. The Jazz crazy kids wore their galoshes unbuckled causing the rubber tongue to flap. Thus: Flappers.
Colleen’s look, specifically her Bobbed haircut, was a global fashion rage.
From where did the idea for this cubist haircut originate, so markedly different than the opulent Victorian tresses in favor at the time? Moore explains that her mother copied the look from a favorite childhood Japanese doll.
The new hairstyle sent a fascinating and complex message: this young lady is independent, plucky, fiery yet down-to-earth, tom-boyish but completely feminine; she’s the decent and adorable girl next door who is a boy’s best friend and then KABOOM! the love of his life.
Never a great beauty or a smoldering presence, Moore presented a new female paradigm: cute, feisty and refreshingly devoid of a self conscious sexuality. The surprising Bob helped cement Moore’s image as the modern American woman, and it changed the trajectory of the young actress’ career from feature player to star. At the height of her stardom Moore earned $12,500.00 a week.
The haircut also gave birth to a new product that is still with us: The Bobby Pin.
Director Mervyn Leroy:
"Colleen Moore was a remarkable girl who grew into a remarkable woman… and became, next to Mary Pickford, the biggest silent film star of them all.
Later, she would retire from the screen at the height of her fame, marry well, and spend the rest of her life doing important civic works in Chicago, writing books, raising her stepchildren, and doting on her grandchildren. She was never anything but a lady, throughout her career and her postcareer life.
Her fame, however, never went to her head in any way. Perhaps because of her affluent background, she was never spoiled by her wealth., never seduced by her notoriety, never changed by her success. She was always sweet—in the best sense of the word—and kind and pleasant to everyone she met. I doubt that there was a man who worked on her pictures who was not platonically in love with her.”
Robert Avrech about Lillian Gish.