Barbara La Marr and Adoption

circa 1920


La Marr was born Reatha Watson in central Washington state, but her parents moved to California when she was very young. She left home at the age of 14 and never returned, making a living as a burlesque dancer until she was arrested for underage dancing. During her court appearance she was spotted by a journalist, Adela Rogers St. John, who took her under her wing and introduced her to other reporters and other, more respectable, aspects of show business.

She wanted to be a screenwriter but her great beauty made others push her in front of the camera. She began acting in 1920 and made 30 films by 1925. Her frenetic lifestyle (five husbands and numerous lovers) ruined her health (including drug addiction, alcoholism and tuberculosis) and she died young. She left a young son by her last husband, who was adopted by her friends, actress ZaSu Pitts and Tom Gallery.


Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia. New edition, edited by Ephraim Katz. (London: Macmillan, 1994) MacIntyre, Diane. "Barbara La Marr." Available at: "Silent Ladies Photos of ..." [Includes portraits]. Available at: