What Became of Silent Film’s “It” Girl Clara Bow?

Morning sun shines past a row of French doors casting a spotlight on an imposing locally quarried stone fireplace. A vast and wondrously soft tan leather sofa fronts the fireplace. Graceful aged Southwestern style armoire pieces are on display throughout the home. Comfortable-looking leather chairs, Navaho rugs and a richly darkened wood western style bar adorn the den. A short corridor leading off the den enters a modest office. Here, displayed on the walls are the only photographs hinting of the celebrity status of the former occupants.

Through the French doors, a U-shaped porch and patio creates an outdoor family room which over looks a swimming pool and informal guest cottages. Seldom open for public viewing, the two story white stucco and red tile roofed western ranch house is a jewel in the desert. The home and many of its furnishings once belonged to silver screen legends’ Clara Bow and Rex Bell.

Walking around the house and its grounds you can just imagine what it once must have been like here. The former owners, popular movie stars in the 1920’s and ’30’s entertained many Hollywood celebrities and Nevada politicians at the ranch. Their gatherings brought together a remarkable mixture of people. Rex and Clara enjoyed welcoming their guests by holding large barbecues with musicians, often creating a mood that was both loud and festive.

In the living room, an accent table in front of the sofa holds a photo album, filled with more recently taken color snapshots of the beautiful desert scenery that surrounds the ranch for anyone whoever wondered where on earth Hollywood’s famed “It” girl of silent films disappeared to, these snapshots tell the story. Examining the pictorial beauty depicting the surrounding sun swept desert, one can understand how a consumed movie queen could flee to one of the most remote places in the west. In time Clara Bow became almost a hermit in its solitude.

Even today, more than 80 years since Clara Bow first arrived here as a young movie star, little traffic passes through the area. The road stretches out ahead with a monochrome desert the only sight. Perhaps, there may not be another living thing for miles. The air has a fresh new smell.

Clara Bow first saw the 350,000-acre Walking Box Ranch after she met Rex Bell and the couple fell in love during the filming True to the Navy in 1930. The ranch was Rex’s retreat from Hollywood celebrity life. Shortly he was sharing his ranch home with Clara. Something very tranquil seems to have happened inside Clara’s soul when she came here. Rex had introduced her to a rare place, a place quiet and stress free.

In 1922, Clara Bow burst out on the big screen in movie theaters across the country. She exuded warmth and humor. Nearly a century later, Miss Bow’s on screen enchantment continues to be exceptional. Clara had an incredible charisma that became her signature. She was a liberated woman of the era, becoming the flapper to end all flappers in the Roaring 20’s. Believing that this sexy, vivacious, natural actress career was over before she reached her thirtieth birthday is difficult.

Clara Bow lifted the spirits of Depression-era moviegoers in her romps across the screen. The titan-haired actress with the bobbed hair was identified for having a distinctive bow mouth, sparkling eyes and for her sassiness on the screen.

At the height of her career she was known the world over as the “It” girl, a woman with that “something extra.” In early films like The Plastic Age in 1925, Mantrap in 1926, and It in 1927 she could produce a spontaneous succession of emotions. Clara Bow could be tart and tough. She could also go from suspicious resistance to surprised delight.

As with many driven workers, a secret dark side usually is motivating them. Born in 1905, Clara Bow’s unhappy childhood propelled her to become the very embodiment of lightheartedness. She quickly soared to one of the best-known Hollywood stars. In 1931, she and tall, handsome Western Star Rex Bell made headlines by eloping. Clara Bow was content to let her fame fade out here on this spacious remote ranch.

Born in1903, Rex had been a University of Iowa football idol before becoming a matinee idol. Except for the 1961 cameo in The Misfits, which was partially filmed in Reno, Rex Bell ended his movie career in 1952 after appearing in Lone Star. His most prominent movie popularity had been in the 1930’s.

Many have described Rex Bell as good looking, warm and charismatic, when he retired from film making Bell entered politics. keluaran hk   As he continued to make politics his realm, Clara began further to withdraw. The couple separated in 1949, Rex remained in Nevada and Clara returned to Southern California. In 1954 Rex Bell was elected lieutenant governor of Nevada serving until his death in 1962.

While campaigning for governor, on July 4, 1962, Rex Bell died of a heart attack in Las Vegas. He was just 57 years old. Three years later, on September 27, 1965 Clara Bow died in California. Both are buried Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Glendale, California.

The couple never divorced. At the time of their separation, they were parents to two teenage boys. The boys stayed with their father. Their eldest son, Rex A. Bell is Notre Dame alumni and a former Las Vegas District Attorney and practicing lawyer.

Situated in the East Mojave National Preserve, the Walking Box Ranch is about 60 miles south of Las Vegas. Halfway between Searchlight, Nevada and Nipon, California, the Mountain ranges embracing this immense desert area are striped with layers of minerals. Thirteen miles south of the ranch, is the Viceroy Gold Mine. The mining company bought the Walking Box Ranch in the late 1980’s to gain an alternative access to its quarry at the base of California’s Castle Mountain.

 

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