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The film received two alternate endings, a happy one in 1917 and a grim one in the 1919 re-release. The latter one was faithful to the original novel.
Theda Bara (1885 - 1955) was originally a minor stage actress. She gained a minor role as a gang moll in the film "the Stain" in 1914. It would be the first of 44 film appearances between 1914 and 1926. Her breakaway role was as "The Vampire" in the film "A Fool There Was" (1915). The film cast her not as a supernatural vampire, but rather a predatory female who first seduces men then ruins them. It proved a major hit of the year, unusual in the female lead being a 30-year old woman. During the early 1910s leading ladies tended to be considerably younger.
Theda was often cast on roles as a "Vamp" (termed coined for her) and femme fatale. However she wanted to avoid typecasting and also played more "innocent" women. Her film credits were Juliet (in "Romeo and Juliet - 1916), Cleopatra (in the titular film of 1917) and Esmeralda (in the Darling of Paris). In each case being among the earliest actresses to portray the often-filmed character. Cleopatra was also a major box-office hit and among the most erotic films of its time. "No known prints of Cleopatra exist today, but numerous photographs of Bara in costume as the Queen of the Nile have survived."
While her hit films helped finance the fledgling Fox Film Corporation (later known as 20th Century Fox), she allowed her contract to expire and effectively retired in 1919. She married director Charles Brabin in 1921. She briefly resumed her career with "The Unchastened Woman" (1925), a drama casting her a single mother, and "Madame Mystery". The later a comedy casting her as a lady spy. She then retired permanently.
While well-remembered as a "Hollywood Legend", few of her films survived to the 21st century. In 1937, a fire destroyed the nitrate film storage vaults of the Fox Film Corporation. Lost in the fire were the studio's archives of almost all of their silent films and other early productions. "The Stain" (1914), "A Fool There Was" (1915), "East Lynn" (1916),, "The Unchastened Woman" (1925) and "Madame Mystery" (1926) have survived more or less intact.