Theda Bara ( /ˈθiːdə ˈbærə/ thee-də bar-ə; July 29, 1885 – April 13, 1955), born Theodosia Burr Goodman, was an American silent film actress - one of the most popular of her era, and one of cinema's earliest sex symbols. Her femme fatale roles earned her the nickname "The Vamp" (short for vampire). The term "vamp" soon became a popular slang term for a sexually predatory woman. Bara, Valeska Suratt, and Musidora popularized the vamp persona in the early years of silent film and spawned imitators like Virginia Pearson, Rosemary Theby, Louise Glaum, Nita Naldi and Pola Negri.
Theodosia Burr Goodman was born in the Avondale section of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father was Bernard Goodman (1853–1936), a prosperous Jewish tailor born in Poland. Her mother, Pauline Louise de Coppett (1861–1957), was born in Switzerland. Bernard and Pauline married in 1882.
Theda's siblings were a boy, Marque (1888–1954) and a girl, Esther (1897–1965), who also became a film actress as Lori Bara and married Francis W. Getty of London in 1920.