Jean Harlow, originally named Harlean Carpenter, was born on March 3, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri. Often dubbed as the original “Blonde Bombshell”, Harlow rose to fame in the 1930s and paved the way for later Hollywood stars, notably Marilyn Monroe. With her platinum blonde hair and vivacious presence on screen, she captivated audiences and remains a legend in the film industry.
How Did Jean Harlow Become Famous?
The story of Harlow’s rise to stardom is one of opportunity meeting destiny. Although she relocated to Hollywood with her mother, who aspired to be an actress, it was Harlean who caught the eye of Fox executives. Despite her reluctance towards the entertainment industry, she was cast in small roles initially, and it wasn’t long before her natural charisma outshined leading actors of her time. Her significant breakthrough came with Howard Hughes’s Hell’s Angels (1930), where she showcased her acting prowess and became the talk of the town.
What Was Jean Harlow’s Signature Look?
Harlow’s defining feature was her platinum blonde hair, a look that wasn’t natural but a result of a hazardous mixture of chemicals including peroxide, ammonia, Clorox, and Lux flakes. Her bold hair color became so iconic that thousands of women, including the future superstar Marilyn Monroe, attempted to replicate it. Monroe went as far as hiring Harlow’s hairstylist to achieve the signature look.
Why Was Jean Harlow’s Personal Life Controversial?
While her professional life soared, Harlow’s personal life was marred with tragedy and scandal. She married MGM executive Paul Bern in 1932, but only two months later, he was found dead in their home, leading to widespread speculation and rumors about the cause of his death. Subsequent relationships were also rife with complications, including one with boxer Max Baer which led to a scandalous divorce proceeding that named Harlow as a co-respondent.
What Led to Jean Harlow’s Tragic Death?
Harlow’s untimely demise at the age of 26 shocked everyone. Initially misdiagnosed ailments, which might have stemmed from her scarlet fever as a child, eventually culminated in a kidney disease diagnosis. At that time, the medical field lacked the advancements we have today, and just two days after her diagnosis, Harlow passed away. However, her death, much like Marilyn Monroe’s, was surrounded by various conspiracy theories. From rumors of a botched abortion to accusations of physical harm leading to her death, the truth was obscured by speculation.
How Did Jean Harlow Influence Marilyn Monroe?
The legacy of Jean Harlow is evident in Marilyn Monroe’s career. As a child, Monroe admired Harlow and, as she ventured into Hollywood, she emulated her idol’s style and persona. Monroe even aimed to star in a biopic about Harlow in her last days, a testament to the lasting impact Harlow had on her. The two shared not only a professional trajectory but also the tragic fate of untimely deaths surrounded by controversy.
In conclusion, the life and legacy of Jean Harlow continue to fascinate and inspire. Her story, intertwined with Marilyn Monroe’s, serves as a poignant reminder of the highs and lows of stardom.