Harlow, Jean (1911-1937)

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Harlow, Jean (1911-1937)

Known for her platinum blonde hair, low-cut gowns, and buxom figure, Jean Harlow was Hollywood's original "blonde bombshell." Harlow's bold sexuality—she refused to wear undergarments, for example—made her both a box-office hit and an icon of modern sexual freedom. But it was not only Harlow's starring roles—in such films as Platinum Blonde (1931), Red Dust (1932), and China Seas (1936)—that made news. The unexplained suicide of her husband, MGM executive Paul Bern, and her own mysterious death from uremia at age 26, made Harlow a tragic symbol of the fleeting pleasures of Hollywood stardom.

—Samantha Barbas

Further Reading:

Shulman, Irving. Harlow: An Intimate Biography. New York, Dell, 1964.

Stenn, David. Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow. New York, Doubleday, 1993.