Theodosia Goodman grew up in Cincinnati, the child of middle-class Jewish immigrants. Her father was a tailor; her mother kept house. She went to high school, she went to two years of college. She was a middling actress with middling looks, age 30, stuck in the Yiddish theater circuit, with a bit role in the occasional film. She was wholly unremarkable — one of hundreds of women working toward the same end.
And then, in 1915, totally out of nowhere, she became THE BIGGEST SEX SYMBOL IN THE WORLD. As the star of A Fool There Was, she embodied the cinematic “vamp” — the evil, predatory woman who seduces [...]