In Hollywood films of the 1920s, and in the short stories and novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the flapper is a cigarette-smoking, dance-mad young female in her teens to early twenties. Her hair is ‘bobbed’ or ‘shingled’ and neatly tucked under a cloche hat; a sort of helmet that clasped the head like a bathing hat. She wears knee-length skirts and make-up. She is the most iconic figure of the American ‘Roaring’ Twenties; and the symbol of teenage emancipation.1 The classic Hollywood flappers were Clara Bow, Colleen Moore and Louise Brooks; all very young actresses in their late teens to early twenties at their peak, who made era-defining films such as It (Clara Bow, 1927), Flaming Youth (Colleen Moore, 1923) and Pandora’s Box (Louise Brooks, 1927).2 The movie flapper outlasted these iconic silent film actresses and survived into the new era of Hollywood musicals. In 1929, for example, a Super Cinema in Manchester screened the film ‘Movietone Follies of 1929’. It was advertised as a Hollywood musical about ‘Youth with a capital Y’ and featured a ‘Jazz-mad Flapper’ (played by Sue Carroll). It drew huge audiences and was screened at Manchester Hippodrome, a large city-centre cinema, for an unprecedented three-week period.3
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- The Flapper Cult in Interwar Britain: Media Invention or the Spark that Ignited Girl Power?
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