Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dangerous Desire and Evelyn Nesbit

BY THE time she was 16, Evelyn Nesbit was the face of her age, a stunning beauty with a "heart-stopping scarlet stare," a famous artist's and photographer's model whose image, in the earliest years of the 20th century, was used to sell everything from soap to chocolate, sewing machines to powdered toothpaste. "Women wanted to be her; men wanted to own her. She became a maddening object of desire, and tragically, a victim of her own beguiling beauty during the 'gaudy spree,' which she would help bring to a stunningly shameful end," writes Paula Uruburu in "American Eve." The author identifies a pattern that has shaped the lives of many female stars: Clara Bow, Marilyn Monroe and, more recently, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, who await their own endgames.

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