Paramount first dubbed her "The Brooklyn Bonfire" but that never really took off. Later she skyrocketed to fame as the "It" girl and one of the stars of the first best picture Oscar-Winner, William Wellman's 1927 WWI masterpiece, "Wings". She isnt in it very much but she is dazzlingly gorgeous and brings a huge amount of sex-appeal and youthful energy to the film when she's onscreen!At the height of her fame Clara was making $5,000 a week at Paramount and was a bigger box office draw than either Lilian Gish or Greta Garbo. She was about 22 years old then and her filming schedule was relentless. When the talkies rolled into town Clara hated making them! She had incredibly bad "Mike Fright" and was self-conscious about her Brooklyn accent. So the geniuses at Paramount gave her about 2 weeks to get ready for her first talking film whereas Garbo, at MGM, was given over a year!
Clara could do "Bedroom Eyes" like nobody's business! She made her last film at Paramount in 1931 and then left Hollywood for a while, a frazzled, emotional mess, broke and washed-up at age 26! She was then offered a huge deal at Fox studios to make 2 films. Those were the last 2 films she ever appeared in and Clara permanently retired from Hollywood in 1933 at age 28!Clara had a really unhappy childhood. Her mother was mentally unstable and her father was a boozing lowlife who at one point sexually abused her. She said when she needed to cry on camera all she had to do was think of back home. Bud Schulberg, son of Paramounts' B.P. Schulberg, recalled watching Clara when he was very young, filming a scene where she needed to cry. In the silent days they usually had a little orchestra on hand to play mood music for the actors and she always had them play "Rock-a-bye-baby" when she had to cry. Something in that song resonated deeply in her because he said anyone who saw her cry while that song played could never forget it.