Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Original Blonde Bombshell

Before there was Madonna
Before there was Anna Nicole Smith
Before there was Jayne Mansfield
Before there was Marilyn Monroe
There was Jean Harlow. To me, she's the original blonde. She was the first American screen actress to appear on the cover of LIFE magazine. Jean only lived for 26 years before dying of kidney failure. Jean also had quite a stage mother herself, who was overly possessive and used Jean as the breadwinner of the family. Jean (or Harlean, as that was her real name) was called The Baby and actually thought that that was her name until she went to school and learned that Harlean was her actual name! Jean's parents divorced and her mother kept Jean away from her father- who she loved and tried to reach out to him but her mother tried to keep them separately. Jean married young (at 16) to her first husband, possibly trying to escape from her overbearing mother and to gain independence but that didn't last long. I truly believe that Jean wanted to settle down to be a wife and mother but her mother and Hollywood came knocking and took her away for a ride. Plus, I've heard her first husband was quite a drinker, so that didn't help at all. From my understanding, Jean did get pregnant but was forced to have an abortion. After her divorce, Jean's career took off. Jean remarried again to Paul Bern but the marriage was short after he committed suicide. I've heard the rumors that he may have been gay, impotent, sex problems, his first marriage coming to haunt him, what have you. Paul was also old enough to be her father but I honestly don't think that was the BIG problem. His suicide was questionable and was believed that he could've been murdered but I don't think that will ever be solved. Jean was devastated by his death, hysterical enough to be sedated. Jean remarried for a third time but that marriage lasted less than a year. She then moved on to William Powell, it's been said that they were each other's love of their lives. From what I know of the couple, William was good friends with his ex-wife Carole Lombard (who I love) who was then dating/married to Clark Gable- who Jean worked with before...then again who hadn't worked with Clark Gable in those days? Or had an affair with Clark? They used to have some double dates and gatherings. Sadly, after two years together, Jean fell ill and died. She came down with uremic poisoning (resulted from the scarlet fever she had in her childhood) and kidney failure while filming a movie and died at the hospital. These were the days before dialysis and treatments, transplants. I bet if she had been alive together, Jean would've been saved and would've lived a lot longer than her 26 years. However, the poor girl seemed to have one illness after another without any lucky break that her immune system was weakened. The film (Saratoga) was not completed by the time she died so they made due with long shots of using her double and different kinds of angle shots. Her mother had William pay for everything of the funeral.

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