Jean Harlow


“Underwear makes me uncomfortable and besides my parts have to breathe.” ~ Jean

Jean Harlow was born Harlean Harlow Carpenter on March 3, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri. When she was a child her parents divorced and her mother took her to California. At the age of sixteen Jean married Charles McGrew, a young millionaire, but the marriage only lasted two years. Jean's mother, a failed actress, encouraged her to go into show business. She appeared as an extra in movies like Double Whoopee and worked as a nude model. Her big break came in 1930 when Howard Hughes cast her as a femme fatale in Hell's Angels. Overnight Jean became one of Hollywood's most sought after actresses and women all over the country began to copy her platinum blonde hairstyle. In July 1932 Jean married MGM executive Paul Bern who was twice her age. Two months after their wedding Paul committed suicide by shooting himself. There were rumors that Paul had been impotent but Jean would always say that they had a happy marriage. Although she was devastated by her husband's death she returned to work immediately to start shooting her next film.


Her success continued with starring roles in Dinner At Eight, Bombshell, and Red-Headed Woman. She shocked people at the studio by not wearing underwear and putting ice on her breasts before shooting a scene. Despite Jean's sexy image she continued to live with her mother and everyone called her "The Baby". In 1933 she married Harold Rosson, a cameraman. They divorced seven months later and Jean fell in love with actor William Powell, the ex-husband of Carole Lombard. She became pregnant but she had an abortion because William would not marry her. When her hair became too damaged from the coloring she became a "brownette". Meanwhile MGM tried to soften her image by casting her as a good girl in Wife Vs. Secretary. In the spring of 1937 she was working on the film Saratoga when she became very ill. Although her mother claimed to be a Christian Scientist Jean saw doctors and was taken to a hospital. Tragically she died on June 7, 1937 from kidney failure. Jean was just twenty-six years old. She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.