Tuesday, 15 January 2013


During the 1920's the was a vast celebrity culture, ranging from actors and actresses, to sports stars, to writers. The 20's however were the era of the woman celebrity, in a previously patriarchal society, this was the time when people started paying attention to women and they became public icons. Some examples of strong females to emerge at this time are the women below.

American Louise Brooks became popular when she started appearing in silent movies in 1925. She was also a dancer, model and showgirl but is most well known for her role in 1929 German film Pandora's Box in which she played the lead female character 'Lulu'. Although this is seen as a 'landmark of the silent movie era' now, at the time it was released it gain little recognition. She is also know for her 'flapper' style, being one of the first to brandish the bob, a style which became her trademark along with her sleek black hair colour and fair, freckled skin.

Josephine Baker was an American dancer, singer and actress. She found fame in Paris where she performed 'no holds barred' dance routines on stages across the city, in particular when she performed the Danse Sauvage with dance partner Joe Alex. This routine was seen as new exotic and exciting at the time, and turned Josephine, who was dressed in only a feather skirt, into an overnight sensation. When she starred in La Folie du Jou, her costume consisting of 16 bananas formed into a skirt combined with her jaw dropping performance firmly cemented her status as a celebrity. By 1927, she was earning more than any other entertainer in Europe. Although she was a big star in Europe, she failed at trying to break American on multiple occasions, with the audience there rejecting the idea of a black woman with so much power. She didn't become famous there until 1973, 2 years before her death.

images from http://lunionsuite.com/2012/02/10/video-josephine-baker-sings-haiti-in-the-film-1934/

Greta Garbo, was a Swedish film icon during Hollywoods's silent movie era. She was brought to Hollywood by Louis B. Mayer, CEO of MGM studios, in 1925 after appearing in Swedish movie The Saga of Gosta Berling. Her first silent movie, Torrent, was released a year later and immediately a buzz was created around her. Her performance, however, in Flesh and the Devil, 1927, cemented her position as an international film star.

Zelda Fitzgerald (Sayre) - wife of F.Scott Fitzgerald author of The Great Gatsby. Their partnership was seen to epitomise the jazz age as did her personal style. Her husband dubbed her 'the first American flapper' as she paved the way with her 'bobbed hair, shorts skirts and unapologetic drinking' working her way into the highest social circles of many cities. 

All of these figures, in some way, had an effect on the public at the time. They were iconic because they each did something that nobody had done before, they pushed boundaries for women, whether that be through their fashion and beauty choices or the career roles. I think the 1920's was a key era for women's freedom and rights, fashion choices were braver, and theses four figures were at the forefront as poster girls for the movements. 

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