Friday, August 14, 2009
Starlets of the 1930's~Jean Harlow
Harlean Carpenter was born on March 3, 1911 in Kansas City Missouri. Her father was a successful dentist but her mother was an aspiring actress and eventually, she left the security of that marriage to pursue a career in Hollywood, taking her daughter along. Fearing his influence over the child, Mother Jean forbade Harlean to see her father. However, the girl continued to sneak in visits with him throughout her life and thus maintained a good relationship with her father. While Harlean was still a child, Mother Jean remarried and the newly formed family moved to Chicago where the girl attended high school.
Harlean married a 23 year old Chicago man when she was just 16. Her true aspiration was to be a wife and mother but to please Mother Jean, she sought out extra work in the movies and eventually changed her name to Jean Harlow. The marriage between she and Charles Mcgrew lasted only two years but the couple had since moved to Beverly Hills and Jean was therefore in prime condition to pounce on an opportunity to take her acting career more seriously. Howard Hughes cast her as an infamous sex symbol in the film 'Hell's Angels', which catapulted her to the ranks of super-star.
Over her 10 year acting career, she made 36 films. She was labeled a screen siren due to her sensational costumes and racey dialogue and she found a formidable leading man in Clark Gable, with whom she made 6 films.
To be such a vixen onscreen, her love life was surprisingly stable for an actress of that day. After she split with Charles in 1930, she married cinematographer Harold Rossson in 1933, a union that only lasted a few months. However, she seemed to find the love of her life in actor William Powell, to whom she was engaged at the time of her death.
In 1937, while filming the film 'Saratoga', she suffered uremic poisioning which could have been related to a childhood bout of Scarlet Fever. She died on June 7th. The world was shocked at the news since she was at the height of her popularity and was only 26 years old. Clark Gable was reported to have said that in completing the film,'Saratoga', by using long shots and an acting double in Jean's place, he felt as if he were 'in the arms of a ghost'.
Though she died young, there is no doubt that her career was heading for legendary status anyway. She would undoubtedly have had a long and fruitful career on the screen and considering the love she and Powell had for each other, her personal life could have been fulfilling as well. As it stands, we will never forget her and she continues to make her mark on Hollywood actresses today.