Actress Mae Murray’s famous epithet, “The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips” describes far more than her cupid-bowed mouth; it evokes something unusual, distracting, and for some of her fans perhaps even overwhelming. Also known as “The Gardenia of the Screen,” Murray’s presence can be considered excessive and baroque, pleasurably perfuming and intensifying audience experience beyond whatever movie happens to encircle her. Critics of Murray’s abilities consider her actions (vamping villains at midnight) silly and her presentation (bee-stung lips on an 1840s girl from Utah) incongruous (Slide 2002, 259). But a force of nature is not necessarily natural, and Murray’s fans reveled in her colorful performances.
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