Thursday, March 3, 2011
Celebrating Jean Harlow Centenary
March 3, 2011 marks the 100th birthday of my all time favorite original platinum blonde Jean Harlow. TCM is celebrating by making Harlow their Star of the Month for March featuring some of her best films. The film I am excited to rewatch would have to be Saratoga since it has probably been five years since I have seen it last. But it is also sad considering that was her last film. Like Carole Lombard and others Jean was gone way too soon.
On a happier note during her life Jean was a gorgeous, sweet, carefree spirit. On screen she was known for wearing lavish satin gowns designed by Adrian but off screen she preferred slacks and sweaters, saying her off screen style was 'far from elaborate'. Jean was known to her friends and co stars as Baby or The Baby from childhood. According to Carole Lombard her husband Clark Gable referred to Jean as 'one of the guys.' So she was very different from her on screen presence.
The great love of her short lived life was actor William Powell. William gave her a eighty five carat sapphire ring which Jean was hoping was an engagement ring. Powell said nothing to confirm this. She wore it on her right hand and rarely took it off. She can be seen wearing in in the film Personal Property(1937). Powell was disinclined to marry Harlow stating 'No man can cope being married to the world's sex sympbol...I don't want in my declining years to married to a girl men kill themselves over'
Powell's constant co-star Myrna Loy recalls a story in her book Being and Becoming about a weekend trip her, Jean, and Bill took: A San Francisco hotel manager, confusing fantasy with reality, registered William and Myrna Powell in one room when it was actually Harlow and Powell who were to stay together. In the 1930's, with the press looking over their shoulders, they couldn't be obvious with their affair. Powell had to move to a tiny downstairs room while Myrna and Jean shared the more luxurious upstairs room. "Bill complained bitterly, let me tell you., angling to get upstairs," remembered Loy. "The mix-up brought me one of my most cherished friendships. You would have thought Jean and I were in boarding school we had so much fun. We'd stay up half the night talking and sipping gin, sometimes laughing, sometimes discussing more serious things. Jean was always cheerful, full of fun, but she also happened to be a sensitive woman with a great deal of self-respect. All that other stuff --that was put on. She just happened to be a good actress who created a lively characterization that exuded sex appeal."
If you are a new Jean Harlow fan or perhaps would like to see more of her films, I would suggest tuning into TCM this month and catching the films Libeled Lady, Bombshell, Red-Headed Woman, Saratoga, heck see them all!
With that a very happy 100th birthday to my favorite witty, sassy, and smart platinum blonde. ♥