Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow (born Harlean Harlow Carpenter; 3rd March 1911 – 7th June 1937) was an American actress. Renowned for her portrayal of “bad girl” characters, she emerged as the leading sex symbol of the early 1930s and stood as one of the defining figures of the pre-Code era of American cinema. Often referred to as the “Blonde Bombshell” and the “Platinum Blonde”, Harlow garnered popularity for her “Laughing Vamp” screen persona. Although her time in the film industry spanned merely nine years, she ascended as one of Hollywood’s most prominent movie stars, her image enduring in the public eye. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Harlow 22nd on its list of the greatest female screen legends of classical Hollywood cinema.

Initially signed by business magnate Howard Hughes, who directed her inaugural major role in Hell’s Angels (1930), Harlow faced a series of critically unsuccessful films and experienced a waning of Hughes’ interest in her career. Subsequently, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired Harlow’s contract in 1932, casting her in leading roles in a succession of hits that showcased her comedic talent: Red-Headed Woman (1932), Red Dust (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Reckless (1935), and Suzy (1936). Harlow’s popularity soon rivaled and then surpassed that of MGM’s top leading ladies Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, and Norma Shearer. She passed away at the age of 26 due to kidney failure while filming Saratoga. MGM completed the film employing body doubles and released it less than two months after her demise; it emerged as MGM’s most successful film of 1937 and the highest-grossing film of her career.

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