|Click to enlarge|
The phrases “platinum blonde” and "blonde bombshell" did not even exist before Jean Harlow. Harlean Carpentier, who later became the illustrious Jean Harlow, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 3, 1911. She was considered a major sexpot back in the day. In her own words, she bluntly explains her success: "Men like me because I don't wear a brassiere. Women like me because I don't look like a girl who would steal their husband. At least not for long."
In the beginning she was having trouble finding roles in feature movies, but eventually she landed her first big role in Howard Hughes' World War I epic “Hell's Angels” in 1930, which turned out to be a smash hit. Not long after the film's debut, Hughes sold her contract to MGM, where her career shot to extraordinary heights. Her appearance in “Platinum Blonde” (1931) cemented her role as America's new sex symbol.
But her life off-screen is even more intriguing. She reportedly never wore underwear and would use ice on her nipples right before shooting a scene in order to give that "perky" look and appear sexier. Surprising everyone, she married writer/director Paul Bern, a man known throughout Hollywood as being impotent and possibly even homosexual. Jean didn't seem to mind the rumors. But it was the end of their marriage that created the biggest scandal in Hollywood.
|Click to enlarge|
Dearest dear, Unfortunately this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and wipe out my abject humiliation. I love you. Paul .
P.S. You understand last night was only a comedy.It was revealed later that the P.S. may refer to Bern's sordid last night alive. Rumors circulated that the couple struggled with Bern's impotence and incorporated sex toys in their lovemaking, seriously damaging Harlow's career. Harlow never publicly commented on the matter, but she was interviewed by detectives and even appeared before a grand jury. Some believe he was murdered by a crazed former lover who was found floating in the Sacramento River the day following his death. Others believe Jean was somehow involved but was being protected by MGM's head Louis B. Mayer – a man who was consistent in covering up for his stars.
Jean made several films after Bern's death, but she was struck down by kidney failure and died in 1937, at the staggeringly young age of 26. During her short life, she made over 40 films, creating an amazing legacy for herself in such a short time period.
Thanks to Doctor Macro's archive for the photos. Check out his website for more gorgeously high-definition classic photos.