The Life and Legends of Jean Harlow
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 Life of legendary Jean Harlow, rescued from an abyss of scandal by journalist Golden. (One hundred illustrations, including exclusive family candids, not seen here.) Golden's is a well-researched, straightforwardly written bio with some but not too much background filler about MGM and the Thirties and with no urge to be memorably stylish or sumptuously lighted by MGM--though the publisher will undoubtedly make a gorgeous art deco production out of this smartly priced book. Born Harlean Carpenter in 1911, Harlow died at 26 of irreversible kidney failure brought on by an infection--from that early death her later biographer Irving Shulman fashioned the sleaze-riot Harlow: An Intimate Biography that has hidden the real Harlow for the past quarter century. From Kansas City, Missouri, Jean married a wealthy orphan at 16, divorced him at 20, by which time she'd already gotten parts as a film extra, then been taken on by Howard Hughes for some breast-peepery in Hell's Angels and kept out on loan until MGM bought her from Hughes. At MGM, she struck gold as a platinum vamp, a limitation she overcame as a comedienne in the fast-talking satire Bombshell. Her second marriage to top MGM producer Paul Bern ended with Bern's suicide; her third to MGM cameraman Hal Rosson ended in disaffection. She was engaged to William Powell, 18 years her senior (all her men were father figures) when she died. Along the way, she and Gable had become the first great team of the talkies. Saratoga, their last picture together, was completed by a double. Going by her friends' comments, Harlow was a joyful, warmhearted, generous woman, perhaps slightly undersexed, who smoked but never drank or drugged, was not foulmouthd, and clearly was a gifted comedienne. A compelling story--but add in the production values on this book.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1991
ISBN: 1-55859-214-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Abbeville Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991