The life of Jean Harlow: the 1930s sex icon who died of religious fanaticism

Jean Harlow, in the tape “Dinner at night” (Photo: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images) (donaldson/)

Jean Harlow was known as the first sex symbols from Hollywood, years before the glory he had Marilyn Monroe.

Despite her popularity, the actress was only in force for nine years, dying in a tragic way between sickness and religious fanaticism. Harlow’s career was marred by scandals, beginning at an early age and lasting until his 26 years old, when he passed away.

The actress was born in Kansas on March 3, 1911, under the name of Harlean Harlow Carpenter. She was raised in a middle class family. His father was a renowned dentist, while his mother was engaged in domestic work. From her early years, Jean Harlow embarked on her fast-paced life.

Jean, his mother, had tried to break into Hollywood, but was rejected. The main reason given was that I was already old for the artistic medium. That closed door caused her a trauma that she soon deposited on her daughter.

Jean Harlow
Portrait of actress Jean Harlow (Photo: Berttmann) (Bettmann/)

Scarlet fever, the disease that followed her until her death

Harlow was never in good health.. During her adolescence she contracted the disease that haunted her until her last breath, scarlet fever. The infectious-contagious disease is characterized by being contracted by infants. This is transmitted, not generated, so someone close to the actress had it previously.

The disease manifests with high fever, vomiting, headaches and sore throat, as well as skin rashes. Currently, this discomfort can be treated and overcome with proper treatment, driven by the use of pain relievers and antibiotics, but Jean Harlow suffered from it at the beginning of the 20th century, so several advances in medical knowledge had not arrived.

Jean Harlow - Bombshell
Harlow started acting in commercials (Photo: Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) (Donaldson Collection/)

Charles McGrew, her first husband and the start of her career

The celebrity was admitted to a medical school in illinois. While his health was in analysis, he fell in love and met his first marriage, charles mcgrew. The young man was a potential heir, wealthy and well valued in American society. At just 16 years old, Jean got married.

The marriage union with McGrew only lasted a couple of years. According Juan Tejero, a renowned author and Hollywood researcher, found that the reason for the divorce was that Charles mistreated the actress, as well as a powerful drinking addiction.

As her love life took a nosedive, Jean Harlow, almost by chance, entered the world of screens. It was also around this time that he adopted his stage name, created in tribute to his mother. The actress, who already had impeccable beauty, registered with an extras agency.

Despite her mother’s insistence, Harlow never expressed her desire to be a movie star., nor television. Your registration to Central Casting, According to various media, it was a simple bet with a friend. With just a couple of commercials under her belt, Jean powerfully caught the attention of a movie producer.

Hell’s Angels it was Harlow’s first Hollywood success. This film, in theaters in 1930, marked a milestone, not only for Jean’s debut on the big screen, but for the entire controversial life of its producer, eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes.

Hughes was so lucky that at some point he decided to venture into film. He liked the seventh art so much that he invested more than 3 million dollars in a single movie. With reference to the previous American economy, and the technological capacity of the time, Howard’s project was the most expensive in history, until then.

Time Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer photograph by Harvey White - Time Magazine cover, 19 August 1935, Time magazine archive
Harlow is recognized as the first great “sex symbol” of Hollywood (Photo: Time magazine)

Hell’s Angels, his first success in cinema

The tape was a war adventure. The producer’s taste for aviation was visible due to the impressive scenes in small planes. The final cut of the tape left behind that during the recording three pilots died during a plane crash. As for Harlow, the press did not praise her performance, but the public supported her.

The film starring Jean Harlow It was a box office success. Although she had a contract with Hughes, several Hollywood studios took an interest in the rising star. During the 1930s, he starred in such films as Goldie, The Public Enemy and the controversy the redhead, in 1932.

In the last mentioned, he played a woman with an insatiable thirst for sexual appetite. Fiction was not far from reality, as Harlow undertook a sexual liberation revolution, but ran into the conservatism of American society. Jean liked to express her sexuality with actions such as going without underwear or speaking openly.

Jean Harlow
Jean Harlow and Clark Gable in the film “Saratoga” (Photo: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images) (Donaldson Collection/)

Paul Bern, her second husband who committed suicide

After a couple of years of enjoying fame and spotlight, Jean Harlow found love again. His second marriage was even shorter than the first. However, this would be more tragic, because there was not a dramatic divorce, but a suicide which was never ruled out as a murder.

Harlow married Paul Bern and officially lasted two months after getting married. Bern was older than his partner by nearly twice as many years. Unfortunately for the actress, he he had a reputation for being a violent personIt was even rumored that on some occasion Paul hit Jean in such a way that he woke up the discomforts of his worn health.

In September 1932At the two-month mark of their marriage, Bern and Harlow got into a heated argument. It fatally ended with producer’s suicide. East he had shot himself in the temple, was found by his butler, totally naked.

Jean Harlow
The 1930s actress had an incomparable figure (Photo: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images) (Donaldson Collection/)

“Dear, sadly this is the only way I can correct huge mistake what have I done with you and erase my humiliation”, was read in the letter of suicide of Paul Bern. After his death, there was talk of the role of Harlow, about his clash with Dorothy Millette, who was his wife before Jean with whom he supposedly never separated in a timely manner, but everything remained as speculation.

The theory of guilt millet had more believers, when the latter was found dead in the Sacramento River, without being able to have declared even once. The truth is that Bern’s mental health was in question. The executive had a severe complex due to his sexual impotence, which unleashed a major depression.

Harlow’s career was not stumbled by scandals, it continued its hasty rise. During his lifetime, recorded more than 30 films, becoming an emblem of acting. His passion for dramatic acting lasted until the end of his life.

About his personal life, after Paul Bern, he had some sporadic and brief romances. had a relationship with boxer max baer, who was married during that period. He was married once more, this time to Harold Rosson, dedicated to the cameras and with a questionable resemblance to her first husband. The marriage lasted only seven months..

studio - Celebrities Stars
Jean Harlow, American movie star of the 30s (Photo: Celebrities Stars)

His death was marked by religion

Your last partner William Powell, arrived at the same time as his final film, Saratoga 1937. During filming, Harlow became seriously ill. From her childhood, the actress did not enjoy good health and to this was added that throughout a stage had alcohol addiction. Scarlet fever also took its toll, along with other illnesses he contracted during his short life, such as polio and meningitis.

Although his medical history did not help, Jean Harlow may have recovered of his final suffering. The impediment that finally shortened his life was his own mother and his religious fanaticism.

Jean, his mother, was a faithful member of the Christian Science Church, whose ideals led her not to trust doctors. When her daughter was brought to her home, hoping to receive her untiring motherly love, what she received were negatives. He refused specialized care long enough.

Actress Jean Harlow Posing in Seductive Pose
Harlow passed away at the age of 26, with a record of more than 30 films (Photo: Bettmann) (Bettmann/)

It was Louis Mayer, film executive and close to Harlow, who managed to convince Jean mother to go to a specialist, but time ran out. The actress was diagnosed with uremia, a kidney ailment resulting from scarlet fever that he had during his adolescence. Although it was finally reported that the cause of his death was kidney failure.

who was nicknamed the blonde bombshell passed away on June 7, 1937, at the very young age of 26. Jean Harlow was unable to complete her scenes in Saratoga, his last appearance on the big screen. The missing sequences were brought to life thanks to doubles with similar bodies. Due to the impact of his death, as well as his life itself, the film was the biggest success of his career.

Jean Harlow
The pair Jean Harlow and Clark Gable had several box office successes (Photo: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images) (Donaldson Collection/)

Powell He was the one who was in charge of buying the coffin of his eternal rest. The tribute is in the cemetery Forest Lawn Memorial Park, located in California. “Our baby”, reads in her crypt in relation to another of her most popular nicknames.

Jean Harlow starred in a life of controversy, but he also had an unreal commitment to his artistic career. At 26, he starred in a significant number of films. As he progressed as an actor, he proved to be beyond a sex symbols and earned its importance thanks to its skills and tools.

Harlow, without a doubt, was one of the greatest american movie stars of the 30s. He was a victim of his own context, of religious fervor and its excesses. Like other Hollywood stars, he left the eternal question of how far he would have gone if he had not lost his life.


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