The original vamps of Hollywood began as being dark haired
vixens, ready to attack for whatever they wanted, be it
a man, money or respect. Good girls were always blonde.
Until Jean Harlow entered the scene. She was sexy, funny
and ultimately one of the brightest shining stars on the
She was born Harlean Carpenter in 1911 in Kansas City,
Missouri. She ran away from her middle class digs in 1927
to marry Charles McGrew. They moved to Los Angeles where
Jean received her first part in a movie entitled "Moran
of the Marines." Many bit and uncredited roles
followed until eccentric multimillionaire Howard Hughes
saw Jean. Recognizing her beauty and her inward charm, he
slated her as the lead in his film Hell's Angels.
Jean was a success and on her way to becoming the blonde
bombshell of Hollywood legend!
With Jean's sex symbol status firmly in place, she became
ill during the filming of Saratoga (1937) On June
7, 1937, she died of uremic poisoning at the age of twenty-six.
Saratoga was unfinished at that time and was completed
with a double and long angle shots. Clark Gable (her leading
man) is reported to have said it felt like he "was
in the arms of a ghost" during the final touches of
the film. The film ultimately became a huge success, due
in part to the public's curiosity and her untimely death.
Jean Harlow is, and will always be, the first of the Blonde
Bombshells and the stuff that legends are made of.