Jean Harlow was an actress from Hollywood’s Golden Age that rose to superstardom before her tragic death at the age of only 26. Many consider Jean to be the original “blonde bombshell”, with her life and career oddly mirroring the later Marilyn Monroe’s. Jean’s short life may have seen the young woman rocket to fame. But it seems that she was never truly happy. The actress drunk for the majority of her adult life. And a shell of her former self by the time of her early death. At the peak of her success, Jean wasn’t afraid to use her body to get ahead. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Jean Harlow used her breasts like men would use a gun.
Jean Harlow Was the Original Blonde Bombshell
Before Marilyn Monroe made her entrance into Hollywood and became a Golden Age legend, Jean Harlow was the first “blonde bombshell”. Jean was born on March 3, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri. Jean’s father was a dentist, while her mother was a failed actress. Though Jean Harlow never had any aspirations of her own to become a star during her childhood years, she would end up becoming the movie star that her mother had always wanted to be later on.
At the age of only 16, Jean Harlow married a young man named Chuck McGrew. The two married in 1927. Chuck came from a wealthy family. And he set to inherit a modest fortune due to the fact that he had recently orphaned. Not long after Jean and Chuck married, Chuck turned 21 years old. Which entitled him to reason the first big chunk of his inheritance. This chunk was big enough that it gave him and his new wife the opportunity to move out to Beverly Hills and start living the high life.
Given the fact that neither needed to work, Jean and Chuck lived a life of leisure upon arriving in Beverly Hills. The two said to have taken up drinking socially, and could found drinking all day and night. The two became a hit amongst their neighbors. As they were always putting on parties and get-togethers with plenty of alcohol and food. At a daytime get-together, Jean befriended a woman by the name of Rosalie Roy. Rosalie was an aspiring actress, and Jean may have related to her because she reminded her of her mother. When the evening came around, Rosalie excused herself, saying hat she had to go to a meeting at 20th Century Fox. Not wanting to let her time with her new friend come to an end. Jean offered to give her a ride.
Stardom Came Looking for Jean Harlow
Jean Harlow took her new friend to 20th Century Fox and waited by her car when Rosie went into her meeting. As young Jean stood out by her car, she started drawing the attention of some of the men that were hanging around the 20th Century Fox lots. These men understandably attracted to Jean, and assumed that the young woman there to try and get an acting gig. Jean played coy with the men, though ended up giving one of them her number.
Jean Harlow had never though about becoming an actress previously, but ended up deciding o give it a go. Around the time that she turned 18, Jean signed a contract with big-name producer Hal Roach. Around this same period, Jean started appearing in Laurel and Hardy shorts. When Jean’s mother caught wind of the fact that her daughter was starting to make some waves in the entertainment industry. She flew out to California and decided that she was going to start acting as her daughter’s manager. Many think that Jean’s mother did this in an effort to live her dreams of Hollywood stardom vicariously through her daughter.
Not long into Jean’s Hollywood career, the young woman expressed a desire to let out of her contract with Hal Roach. It seems that Jean’s husband wasn’t all that happy about his wife becoming an actress. And Jean wanted to quit her new job to please him. However, Jean’s mother ended up encouraging Jean to press ahead with her burgeoning Hollywood career, which caused the future star’s first husband to leave. Jean and Charles’ marriage was over by 1929, and Jean seemed poised to become a big star.
Jean Harlow Used Her Breasts Like a Weapon
Charles McGrew leaving hurt Jean Harlow financially, but these dire straits only made the burgeoning actress more set on becoming a Hollywood star. In 1929, Jean appeared alongside sex symbol Clara Bow in the 1929 film The Saturday Night Kid. Clara Bow had been the reigning sex symbol of the 1920s, but the introduction of sound in film was hurting her appeal. Many silent film stars didn’t have the voices to carry their careers into the realm of “talkies”, and Clara Bow was one of them. Soon after 1929’s The Saturday Night Kid, Jean Harlow would go on to eclipse Clara Bow as the reigning sex symbol in the entertainment industry.
Jean Harlow usurped Clara Bow as Hollywood’s reigning sex symbol not only because she had a better voice for talkies. But because she had a more progressive view towards sexuality. From her earliest days in the industry, Jean Harlow wasn’t afraid to sleep around and use her body to get ahead. According to legend, Jean Harlow always slept in the mood. And she applied ice to her nipples before every film she shot in order to make her nipples stand out more. According to famous writer Graham Greene, Jean Harlow used her breasts the same way that most men would use a gun… as a weapon!
Jean’s weapon of choice certainly helped her dominate the entertainment industry. But things would tragically come crashing down for the actress due to her poor health. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Jean Harlow Got Her Big Break in 1930
Soon after Jean Harlow’s appearance alongside 1920s sex symbol Clara Bow in 1929’s The Saturday Night Kid, Jean became the reigning sex symbol of the 1930s thanks to her appearance is Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels. The movie was a huge success, and proved the actress’s big break. Overnight, she became a superstar. Jean Harlow went on to appear in a number of notable pictures over the next few years. In 1931, she appeared alongside James Cagney in The Public Enemy. The next year, she appeared alongside Clark Gable in 1932’s Red Dust. Red Dust would be the first of a handful of pictures starring Jean and Clark together.
Jean Harlow became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood over the course of the 1930s. But it all came crashing down for the actress in 1937. That year, the actress tragically passed away as a result of kidney failure. At the time of her death, the actress was only 26 years old. Most people blamed Jean’s hard-partying habits for the actress’s tragically young death. Given that Jean a huge movie star by the time of her death. She’s given a gigantic Hollywood funeral. Jean had become romantically involved with actor William Powell before the event of her death. And many had predicted that the two were going to get married.
Jean Harlow’s final film ended up being 1937’s Saratoga. The film’s the most successful film of the year that it released. And Jean’s sixth film starring the actress alongside Clark Gable. Clark has recalled how Jean’s health was deteriorating significantly over the course of the movie’s filming. There were points where Jean became bedridden over the course of the film’s production. And Clark has recalled the kissing the actress around the time felt like kissing a rotting corpse. Apparently, Jean’s worsening kidney failure led to her breath smelling like urine.
The Studio Tried to Change Jean’s Image
Over the course of Jean Harlow’s short career, she caught some flack from censors as a result of her upfront sexuality. An organization by the name of the Catholic Legion of Decency was founded in the early 1930s. And they found Jean’s general screen presence to be so alarming that they threatened to boycott all of her films. At the time, a Catholic boycott of Jean’s films would’ve been a pretty big deal. Because of this, the studio went about trying to turn around Jean Harlow’s image in the years leading up to her death.
Jean Harlow had come on the scene as a stunning blonde bombshell that wasn’t afraid to use her sexuality to get ahead. Whether on the screen or in the bedroom. By the time of her death, the studio had done it’s best to make Jean Harlow appear to be a respectable woman. A big turning point in Jean’s career was 1934’s The Girl from Missouri. Initially, the film called One Hundred Percent Pure. Once censors balked at this title, the name of the project was changed to Never Been Kissed.
Finally, producers ended up settling on the title The Girl from Missouri. The script for the film was drastically rewritten over the course of it’s troubled production. Initially, Jean’s character in the movie was much more sexually promiscuous. While the studio was successful at making Jean Harlow appear more innocent to the audience. The actress was only becoming increasingly debaucherous behind closed doors.
Although Jean Harlow was only alive for 26 years, she was married three times over the course of her life. Besides Charles McGrew, Jean was also married to filmmakers Paul Bern and Harold Rosson. Both of these marriages were incredibly short-lived, and Jean likely would’ve married William Powell if she hadn’t tragically passed away.
Before Marilyn Monroe came on the scene, Jean Harlow was Hollywood’s original “blonde bombshell”. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Clark Gable claimed that kissing Jean Harlow during her final days was like kissing a rotting corpse. And that the Hollywood sex symbol got married for the first time at the age of 16? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!