Theda Bara in a publicity shot for A Fool There Was (1915, dir. Frank Powell)

 theda Bara(via)

“I was held up as one who delighted in the lure of destruction and evil-doing…hardly a day passes that the postman does not bring me letters written along similar lines. Many of them attack me most unmercifully. Some intimate that no woman could portray [femme fatales] without having had the actual experience.

Here is a letter I received during the past few months:

You are a menace to the human race. Man is a mere toy in your hands or those of women like you. Your type inevitably leads to ruin and destruction. Those glittering eyes are like those of the serpent, except they are more dangerous.

Such letters hurt. It is impossible to accustom myself to them. Why do people hate me so? I try to show the world how attractive sin can be, how very beautiful, so that one must be always on the lookout and know evil even in disguise. I am a moral teacher then. But what is my reward? I am detested.

People seem to forget that I am only an actress; that an actress should never show her real self to an audience, else she ceases to be an actress.”

Bara, quoted in The Pittsburgh Press (April 1916)