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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vintage Style Icon Olive Thomas -The First Flapper

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While other cinematic flappers, primarily Louise Brooks and Clara Bow, remain well known decades after their deaths, the first actress to carry the flapper moniker has been largely forgotten.   Olive Thomas who began her career as a model and Ziegfeld girl was widely considered the most beautiful women of her time.  Her career begain in 1914 when she won the "The Most Beautiful girl in New York city contest."  Modeling jobs

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and a spot in the Ziegfield follies followed.  Olive would perform clad in balloons which the wealthy spectators could pop. 

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Soon Olive was appearing in films

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and in 1916 she married Mary Pickford's younger brother Jack.

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In 1920 Olive made one of her final films, The Flapper, which fortunately survives to this day.  

 In The Flapper Olive plays Ginger Thomas a high spirited 16 year old girl in a small town with a conservative father. 

Concerned over her adventurous spirit Ginger's father decides to send her to a boarding school in chilly Lake placid New York.  Where Ginger and her class where charmingly nautical uniforms and plenty of lovely early 1920s winter gear.

I was kind of excited that Olive's hat rather resembles one of my own vintage hats, a tam from the early 1900s that I got from Adeline's Attic on Etsy.

And yes I know the gloves look quite goofy with this outfit but I forgot to take them off when I removed the coat to photograph the sweater.

 Of course in the film Ginger is not thrilled with the uniforms and winter coats and hats.  She is bored with the isolated school and when she meets an handsome older man, she decides to lie about her age in order to get a date.  With the help of her boarding school companions Ginger sheds her modest school girl clothes and undergoes the transformation into a "flapper."

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Of course complications ensue and the film is a typical charming 1920s comedy with a fantastic performance from Olive.  
  Sadly Olive made only one other film after The Flapper, 1920s Everybody's Sweet Heart. On September 10, 1920 she died after accidently drinking mercury bichloride.  Olive's death was one of the first real Hollywood scandals, but a decade later she was largely forgotten.  Thanks to efforts of film preservations and historians she is now enjoying something of a revival.If you would like to see more of the charming Olive you can rent The Flapper from Netflix or watch the entire film on you tube.


  1. Ohhh I know of Olive bc I am a huge Mary Pickford fan. I even have her photo on my wall! I am going to see about watching this film soon. Thank you for the review!! xox

  2. We didn't know about Olive and her demise didn't sound too good. How sad for a great beauty indeed. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. I just love Olive! I'm glad you did this post on her. It was a treat to read!



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