American silent-screen actress Virginia Pearson is best remembered for a role she didn't play, that of the voracious man-eater in the 1914 Fox hit A Fool There Was. Pearson had starred in the original 1909 Broadway play, but when the screen rights were acquired by William Fox, the producer was persuaded to cast an unknown, Theda Bara. The rest, as they say, is history. Ironically, Bara made her screen debut as an extra in The Stain (1914), a vehicle starring Virginia Pearson. Bara's international success naturally caused every studio to cast about for femme fatales, including Fox, who hired Pearson in the time-honored tradition of keeping the new star, Bara, in line. The studio launched Pearson as "The Statuesque William Fox Star" and cast her in a series of erotic melodramas -- Blazing Love (1916), Wrath of Love (1917), and The Love Auction (1919) -- that appeared suspiciously similar to Bara rejects. Never really a threat to Bara's femme fatale supremacy, Pearson also never allowed herself to be as closely identified with one characterization. Consequently, whereas Bara chose retirement once the "vamp" craze finally came to a close, Virginia Pearson and her husband, character actor Sheldon Lewis, founded the Virginia Pearson Photoplay Company. On shaky ground financially, the company folded after only two releases, and Pearson gave up stardom in favor of supporting roles, most notably the ill-fated prima donna in The Phantom of the Opera. She retired from films in 1932 and returned to the stage.