Considered America’s first ‘Sex Symbol’ and the definitive “Flapper” of the era. She was ‘discovered’ while working at a Coney Island Hot Dog stand run by Nathan Handwerker (who would later find fame as the founder of Nathan’s hot dogs). The silent movie, ‘It’ made her a household name. ‘It’ refers to ‘sex appeal’ and she had ‘It’; forever after known as the ‘It Girl’ even having it inscribed on her grave marker. She made 58 films between 1922 and 1933. Unlike many Hollywood stars, she did not flaunt her wealth, but lived on par with the middle class, living in a small seven room house in Beverly Hills. Her sexual liaisons and extremely public private life were legendary, and in 1928 she had a torrid affair with director Victor Fleming that made headlines continuously.
Credible rumor had it that she was involved in an orgy with the entire UCLA football team. In 1927, she had the female lead role in ‘Wings,’ the first Oscar winning ‘Best Picture.’ With the coming of sound movies in 1929, her thick Brooklyn accent lost her many fans, and her career waned. Adding to her problems were gambling debts, unpaid IRS taxes, embezzlement by her secretary, and several sensational public court battles involving divorce and alienation of affection between several husbands and wives. In 1931, she married film cowboy Rex Bell (who later became Lt. Governor of Nevada), and retired from making films in 1934. She became a doting mother of two boys, settling down and never making another movie. She died at age 60 of a heart attack, but conscious of her age the marker on her crypt gives her birth year as 1907, but she was really born in 1905. Entombed with her husband in the Great Mausoleum at Forrest Lawn in Glendale.