Barbara La Marr
Barbara La Marr was an American stage and film actress, cabaret artist and screenwriter.
She was born Reatha Dale Watson to William Wallace and Rosana “Rose” Watson in Yakima, Washington. Her father was an editor for a newspaper, and her mother had a son, Henry, born in 1878, and a daughter, Violet, born in February 1881, from a previous marriage. The couple wed some time during 1884, and they had William Watson, Jr., born in June 1886 in Washington. He would later, in the 1920s, become a vaudeville comedian under the stage name of “Billy Devore”. The Watsons lived in various locations during La Marr’s formative years. By 1900, she was living with her parents in Portland, Oregon, with her brother William, her half-sister Violet Ross, and Violet’s husband Arvel Ross. As a child, La Marr also performed in a few stage productions in Tacoma, Washington.
By 1910, La Marr was living in Fresno, California, with her parents. Some time after 1911, the family moved to Los Angeles, and later settled at 220 San Jose Street in Burbank, California. In January 1913, La Marr’s half-sister, now going by the name of Violet Ake, took her then 16-year-old sister on a three-day automobile excursion with a man named C.C. Boxley. They drove up to Santa Barbara, but after a few days La Marr felt that they were not going to let her return home. Ake and Boxley finally let La Marr return to Los Angeles after they realized that there were warrants issued for their arrests accusing them of kidnapping. This episode was published in several newspapers, and La Marr even testified against her sister, but the case was eventually dropped.
La Marr’s name appeared frequently in newspaper headlines during the next few years. In November 1913, she came back from Arizona and announced that she was the newly-widowed wife of a rancher named Jack Lytell, and that they were supposedly married in Mexico. As legend goes, Lytell became enamored of La Marr as he saw her one day riding in an automobile while he was out on horseback. He rode up to her car and swept her on his horse and rode off with her. They were married the next day. She also stated that she loathed the name Reatha and preferred to be called by the childhood nickname “Beth”.