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Famous Flappers

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Famous Flappers: The names of the famous, free-spirited flappers of the 1920's who flouted convention.

Definition and Summary of the Famous Flappers
Summary and definition:
The Flappers were the unconventional women who embraced he new ideas, freedom and modernism of the Roaring Twenties, also referred to as the Jazz Age. Following the horrors of WW1, the youth of the era wanted to enjoy themselves and have some fun. For many it was a time of prosperity and Flappers enjoyed the new fashions and clothing of the era.

They wore make-up, enjoyed Jazz music and danced  the crazy, flamboyant dance moves of the Charleston and the Black Bottom which involved flapping their arms around - hence the name "Flappers".

What Characterized the Famous Flappers?
The Famous Flappers of the Roaring Twenties era were constantly in the newspapers. Photographs showed the latest trends and fashions of the Flappers and movie stars such as Joan Crawford and Clara Bow were admired by young American women who went to the movies on a weekly basis. The Flappers of the 1920s asserted their right to drink, smoke, dance and date. Free-spirited Flappers flouted Victorian-era conventions, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz and scandalizing the older generation.

Famous Flappers Facts: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the Famous Flappers.

What were the names of Famous Flappers?
Famous Flappers included movie stars, actresses and other celebrities. The names of Famous Flappers included Clara Bow, Coco Chanel, Joan Crawford, Colleen Moore, Barbara Stanwyck, Bebe Daniels, Norma Talmadge, Theda Bara, Norma Shearer, Louise Brooks, Anita Loos and Gilda Gray "the Shimmy Queen".

Who were the names of African American Flappers? Famous African American flappers included Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith, Adelaide Hall, Ma Rainey and Lil Hardin Armstrong

Who were the names of African American Flappers? Famous African American flappers included Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith, Adelaide Hall, Ma Rainey and Lil Hardin Armstrong

Who was the most Famous Flapper?
The most famous flapper was Clara Bow. Clara Bow, "The It Girl", achieved world wide fame personified the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. She wore short bobbed hair, bright-colored sweaters & scarves that were typical clothes of the flappers.

Why did Flappers become famous? Flappers attracted unprecedented publicity by their fame as movies stars and celebrities together with their exuberant, unconventional that challenged the traditional ideas by wearing short skirts, make-up, drinking and smoking in public and acting in an unladylike fashion.

How Famous Flappers typified the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age
Flappers typified the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. Colleen Moore, a movie star, and one of the famous flappers of the 1920's, articulated the barriers that flappers were breaking down. She was quoted as saying "We were coming out of the Victorian era and in my pictures I danced the Charleston, I smoked in public and I drank cocktails. Nice girls didn't do that before." Colleen Moore went on to describe flappers as smart and sophisticated with an air of independence who were so casual about their looks, clothes and manners to be almost slapdash. Flappers represented modernism and the women of the future who were determined to free themselves of the Victorian shackles of the pre-World War I era.

Famous Flappers Facts for kids
Flappers typified the clash of values in the 1920s and the changing status of women. World War One left many young people disillusioned and led them to question traditional morality and values which resulted in their outrageous behavior. The 'New Women' of the 1920's had been given the right to vote, were able to obtain college degrees, learned to drive and went to work. She was independent and had money to spend on new fashions and make-up. Flappers abandoned traditional women's clothes such as long dresses and corsets, and wore skimpier clothes that were, by Victorian standards, scandalously provocative. Some Flappers wore men's clothes, favoring the flat-chested 'garconne' look. Refer to 1920's Fashion for Women.

 

Facts about Famous Flappers
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Famous Flappers.

Colleen Moore: Wore the famous 'Dutch-boy' bobbed haircut, copied by many flappers, that Colleen Moore made famous. Colleen Moore was the top box-office draw in America, drawing a salary of $12,500 a week. Unlike many other movie stars of the era she wisely invested her money and retired to a life of comfort in the early 1930's. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of her: "I was the spark that lit up FLAMING YOUTH, Colleen Moore was the torch."

Norma Shearer: Norma Shearer was determined and ambitious who became a famous movie star of the 1920's and married the powerful film producer, Irving Thalberg. She wore the casual, slapdash fashion of the Roaring Twenties. A mixture of brightly colored clothes, scarves and stockings with bold, striking Art Deco designs. Her bell-shaped cloche hat was a defining fashion statement in the 1920's.

Marie Provost: Marie Provost, a 1920's movie star, was one of the famous flappers whose outrageous behavior, clothing and fashion attracted vast amounts of publicity in the Jazz Age 1920's. Marie Provost participated in numerous publicity events - her photo shows a mixture of flapper fashion: bobbed hair, feather headband, revealing bathing suit, rolled down stockings and galoshes. Marie Provost constantly changed her hair color from blonde to brunette and then blond again which was perceived as a flappers sexual self- expression.

Joan Crawford: Joan Crawford was one of the most famous movie stars and flappers of the 1920's. Unlike many movie stars of the era Joan Crawford made a successful transition to talkies in the late 1920s and her career survived into the 1960's. To gain publicity the highly ambitious and flamboyant Crawford often entered and won dance competitions with her performances of the famous dances loved by flappers - Charleston and the Black Bottom. She often wore the cloche hat favored by all the famous flappers and millions of women in the 1920's.

Barbara Stanwyck: Barbara Stanwyck started her career working in 1920's speakeasies of the Prohibition era. Her career took off as she became a Ziegfeld girl singing and dancing in the world famous the Ziegfeld Follies. She then worked in the theaters and shows on Broadway. In 1927 made the move to Hollywood, took a screen test and made her first movie appearance as a fan dancer. She led a glamorous life as a flapper in the Jazz Age, became noticed and became a famous movie star.

Bebe Daniels: Bebe Daniels started her a career as a child actress in the early silent movies. By 1924 she had made the transition to and adult movie star playing opposite Rudolph Valentino in 'Monsieur Beaucaire'. Bebe Daniels was one of the earliest famous 1920's flappers and her outrageous exploits, such as being arrested for speeding, attracted considerable publicity. Bebe Daniels married Ben Lyons in 1930 and they made a successful career as a radio and movie double act.

Norma Talmadge: Norma Talmadge, a "brunette of glowing beauty,” was the eldest of three daughters who all achieved fame as the Talmadge sisters. Norma Talmadge was a confident, independent 'New Woman' who achieved fame as both a movie star and film producer. In 1923 she was named the number one box office star, had a legion of fans and was earning $10,000 a week. It was Norma Talmadge who started a famous Hollywood tradition in 1927 when she accidentally stepped into wet concrete in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Clara Bow: Clara Bow, "The It Girl", personified the famous flappers of the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. Clara Bow one of the first silver screen sex sirens and was surrounded by controversy.

Clara Bow retired in 1931 amid a tangle of scandals surrounding affairs, money and her addiction to alcohol. The scandals earned her the nickname of "Crisis-a-Day-Clara", she was all of 28 years old.

Louise Brooks: Louise Brooks was a silent movie legend and an independent spirit. She starred in 17 silent movies and in eight "talkies". She starred on Broadway in George White's Scandals and then went on to the Ziegfeld Follies before making it as a movie star in Hollywood. Hollywood blacklisted her for her defiance and in a final act of independence she decided to end her own acting career in 1938.

Gilda Gray: Gilda Gray, "the Shimmy Queen", was a voluptuous blonde actress and dancer who popularized a 1920's dance called the "shimmy". An anecdote says that When she was asked about her shimmy dancing style, she answered "I'm shaking my chemise". (The chemise was a loose-fitting undergarment, that came to be known as a camisole, which replaced the tight fitting corsets of the Victorian era.) Gilda Gray was a famous 'Ziegfeld Girl'.

Josephine Baker: Josephine Baker, aka the "Black Pearl" and the "Bronze Venus", was a dancer and singer who became immensely popular in France during the 1920s - receiving more than 1,000 marriage proposals. She started her career in America and worked in New York City performing in Chocolate Dandies and in the floor show of the Plantation Club. Josephine Baker caused a sensation when she moved to France. She performed at the Folies Bergère music hall in 'La Folie du Jour'in which she danced wearing little more than a skirt made of 16 bananas..

Bessie Smith: Bessie Smith, the 'Empress of the Blues', made her first record Downhearted Blues in 1923 which became an instant success. She became the highest-paid African-American entertainer of the era. She was a great friend of Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (the “Mother of the Blues") recorded “St. Louis Blues” with Louis Armstrong. Bessie Smith died tragically in a car accident in 1937.

Theda Bara: Theda Bara was a popular American silent movie star who became one of Hollywood's first and most notorious Vamps. The name Theda Bara became synonymous with exoticism and she was famous for playing roles such as Salome, Cleopatra, and Madame DuBarry. Theda Bara, the Vamp, represented the sexually free goddess who ushered in the era of the Flapper and of new freedom for women. Her movies led to the Egyptian style fashion.

Zelda Fitzgerald: Zelda Fitzgerald was the flamboyant wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote the Great Gatsby. They were the golden couple of a golden age. Zelda Fitzgerald was the embodiment of all things modern, unconventional and new and dubbed by her famous husband "the first American Flapper."  Zelda Fitzgerald lived a life of wild abandon and excess in the Roaring Twenties and was famous for riding on top of taxi cabs and splashing about in the Plaza Hotel fountain.

Coco Chanel: Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand and credited with liberating women from the constraints of the "corseted silhouette" during the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. Coco Chanel had a major impact on the fashions worn by the famous flappers introducing sporty, casual chic to the modern women of the era

US American History
1913-1928: WW1 & Prohibition

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