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Independent from Long Beach, California • Page 174

Long Beach, California
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Jean Harlow has been dead nearly 30 years, but suddenly Hollywood is alive again, with interest in the platinum blond bombshell. Behind the legend was the real Jean Harlow, a shy girl who achieved fame at 19 and died tragically at 26. Harlow Returns WEAN HARLOW, the blonde bombshell of the movies' golden en, is exploding all over Hollywood--and soon, the world. Four movies based on her life are In the works. The new spring fashion lines already are showing the "Harlow Look," featuring satiny, clinging fabrics with slinky full sleeves and low cut bodices.

Beauty shops are promoting Harlow platinum blonde hairdos. And, at the moment, she Is the most talked-about star In town. All of which is most unusual for a star who has been dead nearly 30 years. Joseph Levine's production of "Harlow" Is scheduled to hit the screen first. It will star Carroll Baker, Hollywood's newest sex symbol, who bears a striking resemblance to Jean.

Peter Lawford will play Paul Bern, the husband who committed suicide 65 days after their marriage in what Is still one of Hollywood's biggest mysteries. IRVING SHULMAN, an Engish professor at California State College at Los Angeles, reopened the Harlow era with a best-selling biography of the star, based in great part on reminiscences of Jean's first agent, Arthur Landau. Some of Jonn's friends have claimed the book was unfair to her and rallied to her defense. What kind of a girl was this Jean Harlow? What did she have to inspire such interest so long after her death? To the younger generation, it might over-simplify things to say she was the Marilyn Monroe of her time. But the movie careers of Monroe and Harlow were strikingly similar.

Each was the sex symbol of her generation and each suffered from the pressures of such status. Both were well liked by people who worked with them. And each had the same co-star in her last movie--Clark Gable. Both were superb comediennes and each was lack- Ing in superficial sophistication offscreen. JEAN WAS 28 when she died and starred only seven years on the screen.

She once said: "Sex is fine on the screen--but a nuisance off it." Her first marriage at 16, an elopement from a swank girl's school, lasted technically three years but was ended long before that. By James Bacon AP Movie Television Writer Last man in star's life, William Powell, Is still a star and a staunch Harlow defender. Sunday, Jan. 24, 1965 Blonde star's last film was with Clark Gable, a parallel with Marilyn Monroe's last movie. Her marriage to Bern--like Monroe's marriage to playwright Arthur Miller--was an experience in education.

Bern, an intellectual, introduced her to fine books and art. But he committed suicide. leaving a note which has puzzled Hollywood to this day. It read: "DEAREST DEAR: Unfortunately, this Is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and to wipe out my abject humiliation. I love you.

P. S. You understand that last night was only a comedy." The following year she eloped to Yuma, with Hal Rosson, a cameraman. She divorced him on March II, 1934, with this comment: "He was cruel--and he read in bed." It was a shocker to millions of males. Like Monroe, Jean was quick on the quips with Hollywood reporters.

Yet, also like Monroe, she was basically shy. Once a reporter asked Jean If she thought sex activity outside of marriage was increasing among women. "It would be sort of difficult for It to increase among women alone--wouldn't it?" answered Jean. Jean got In the movies on a dare from a friend. She AP NewslMturei P1M1II Blonde bombshell in her brief movie life, Jean Harlow is flashing to notice again, i did bits in comedies with Laurel and Hardy and other top comics of the silent era.

About the same time, Howard Hughes started filming "Hell's Angels," still one of the great aviation films of all time. The perfectionist millionaire spent three years making a silent movie--and then came the sound revolution. Hughes scrapped the whole picture at a cost of a then-record $1 million. Ben Lyon and James Hall, the mala stars, could talk but Greta Nissen, a sexy Norwegian, had too much accent for the talkies. Landau was Jean's agent--and also Miss Nissen's.

So Kansas City-born Jean got the part. IT WAS NOT a bii; part but the audience saw plenty of Harlow and the picture made her an international celebrity. By 1930, this once was 17th on a list of the 100 best known people in the world. And she was only 19. In the depths of the depression, she really exploded on the screen.

She was the extrovert, fun-loving sex bomb who made her greatest hits opposite the screen's all-time star, Clark Gable. She starred, too, with other Hollywood greats--tlm Barrymori'S, Spencer Tracy. Robert Taylor, Wallace Beery, Lee Tracy, Franchot Tone, James Stewart, William Powell and a dozen more. She wore skin-tight dresses of white satin, whita ostrich feathers and while mink, and drove a white Cadillac. On screen she always played a good-bad fiirl the ona with a heart of gold.

Her pictures exploited iiei i i i lilies a3 "Platinum Blonde," "Bombshell." "Red Dust." "Suzy," "Hold Your Man," "Wife Versus Secretary. 1'he Man in Possession," and "Red Headed Woman," in which she dyed her famed platinum tresses. JEAN'S BEST picture--one in which she was pitted against some of the screen's biggest scene stealers, Wallace Beery and Marie Dressier to name two--was "Dinner at Eight." Her performance is one (if the screen's classic comedy portrayals. At her peak, Jean made $5.000 a week, at a tima when taxes were low. But she left only Oldtimcrs say of all the stars--save Gable--she was the easiest to know.

And she stopped acting after she left the sound stage. Studio workers loved her. One laborer sums it up: "In 40 years, I have worked with every big name in Hollywood. Jean was the only ona who ever remembered my name." In 1934, while making "Reckless," she started going out with Powell. It was, according to friends, the great love of her life.

But Jean, never strong, soon was plagued with a series of illnesses--throat infections, kidney trouble, gall bladder infections and chronic colds. Then came the illness a killed her. When urcmlc poisoning set in, Powell rode in the ambulance with Jean to Good Samaritan Hospital. "But it was too late then," recalls Powell. "She was too far gone.

She died in my arms. It was the saddest day of my life." The date was June 7, 1937. Jean Harlow was only 26. Mint.

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