Today is the 109th birthday of the original blonde bombshell: Jean Harlow. It is amazing to think that someone can die at 26 over 70 years ago and the world can still adore her. Watch a few of her films and the biopic Harlow with Caroll Baker, you will become a lifelong fan. Some people just have IT, although IT never gets any better defined than that. Just something that draws us moths to their flame, something that we see, admire, perhaps even aspire to, but IT is something that attracts us on a biological level. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she left.
NAME: Jean Harlow
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: March 03, 1911
DEATH DATE: June 07, 1937
PLACE OF BIRTH: Kansas City, Missouri
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
ORIGINALLY: Harlean Carpenter
HEIGHT: 5′ 1″
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME 6910 Hollywood Blvd (motion pictures)
REMAINS: Buried, Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, CA
BEST KNOWN FOR: Jean Harlow was an American actress who proved herself a platinum-blonde sex-symbol and able comedian in 1930s Hollywood.
Harlean Harlow Carpenter was born on March 3, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri. She moved with her mother, Jean Harlow, to Los Angeles after her parents separated, and was educated at Ferry Hall School in Highland Park, Illinois and the Hollywood School for Girls.
Harlow endured bouts with polio, meningitis and scarlet fever as a child. She eloped with a young bond broker named Charles McGrew at age 16, though their marriage ended when she decided to pursue an acting career.
Adopting her mother’s maiden name for her films, Harlow captured the public’s attention when she flashed her legs in the 1929 Laurel and Hardy comedy Double Whoopee. She also made her sound debut that year in The Saturday Night Kid, but her breakout performance came the following year in Howard Hughes’s update of Hell’s Angels, where she delivered her famously suggestive line, “Would you be shocked if I put on something more comfortable?”
Harlow appeared in six films in 1931, including The Public Enemy and Platinum Blonde. Hollywood’s original blonde bombshell, her rise was fueled by her sexual allure, but she soon proved an actress of substance. Harlow’s role in the 1932 film Red-Headed Woman put her comedic abilities on display and established her as a bona fide star. She was also featured that year in Red Dust, one of several acclaimed pairings with Clark Gable, and in the following year’s hits Dinner at Eight, Hold Your Man, and Bombshell.
Men like me because I don’t wear a brassiere. Women like me because I don’t look like a girl who would steal a husband. At least not for long.
Despite her perceived charmed life as a leading lady, Harlow’s personal life was anything but glamorous. Her second husband, an MGM executive named Paul Bern, died in an apparent suicide at their home in 1932, and a third marriage, to cinematographer Harold Rosson, lasted less than a year.
Harlow got engaged to fellow MGM actor William Powell, her co-star in Reckless (1935) and Libeled Lady (1936), but her still-ascendant career was complicated by declining health. After years of undergoing weekly treatment with toxic chemicals to maintain her famous platinum-blonde locks, she wore a wig to mask her hair loss in the 1935 film China Seas. The following year, she was stricken with a throat infection and influenza.
While on the set of Saratoga in 1937, Harlow was bedridden with fatigue, nausea and abdominal pain. Believed to be on the path to recovery, she instead lapsed into a coma and died in a Hollywood hospital on June 7, 1937, from kidney failure. The film was completed with other actresses standing in as doubles for the recently deceased starlet.
Despite her brief career, Harlow is remembered as one of the biggest stars of the early sound era in Hollywood. A biopic on her life, Harlow, was released in 1965, starring Carroll Baker. Decades later, singer Gwen Stefani briefly portrayed Harlow in the 2004 Martin Scorsese film The Aviator, and a few years later Mischa Barton was tapped to play the sex symbol for the production of another biopic, By Love Reclaimed, slated for a 2016 release.
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Saratoga (23-Jun-1937) · Carol Clayton
Personal Property (19-Mar-1937) · Crystal Wetherby
Libeled Lady (9-Oct-1936) · Gladys
Suzy (26-Jun-1936) · Suzy
Wife vs. Secretary (28-Feb-1936) · Whitey
Riffraff (3-Jan-1936) · Hattie
China Seas (9-Aug-1935) · China Doll
Reckless (17-Apr-1935) · Mona
The Girl from Missouri (3-Aug-1934) · Eadie
Bombshell (11-Oct-1933) · Lola
Dinner at Eight (29-Aug-1933) · Kitty Packard
Hold Your Man (30-Jun-1933) · Ruby
Red Dust (22-Oct-1932) · Vantine
Red-Headed Woman (25-Jun-1932) · Lil Andrews
The Beast of the City (13-Feb-1932)
Three Wise Girls (11-Jan-1932)
Platinum Blonde (31-Oct-1931) · Ann Schuyler
Iron Man (30-Apr-1931)
The Public Enemy (23-Apr-1931) · Gwen Allen
The Secret Six (18-Apr-1931) · Anne
Hell’s Angels (27-May-1930)
Double Whoopee (18-May-1929) · Blonde