|"I've been looking so long at these pictures of you that I almost believe that they're real." -The Cure|
We're all so used to seeing Jean Harlow depicted in sparkling black and white in zesty pre-codes and sophisticated MGM dinner satires, so it comes as somewhat of a shock when we're presented with colourized images of the early screen bombshell.
Harlean Harlow Carpenter lived a short, but certainly not an uneventful life, and died at the tender age of twenty-six in 1937 of what doctors dubbed cerebral endema, a complication of kidney failure. Hospital records also mention the possibility of uremia playing a role in the star's untimely death. According to IMDb, Harlow made more than forty screen appearances in the relatively short time span of just nine years in Hollywood.
|Madonna has NOTHING on Jean Harlow. Just saying.|
Seeing her in colour like this is somewhat jarring at first because, again, I'm so used to seeing her only in black and white photographs or film sequences. This way, she definitely looks much more alive and human whereas in good old black and white, there is an unattainable, goddess-like quality about her.
Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to come face-to-face with your favourite classic film star? I do. All the time. And Harlow is usually at the top of my list of people I wish I could have met. To me, she's always seemed so genuine and carefree; very friendly and easy to get along with. She never seemed stiff, snooty, or pretentious and I suspect that's one of the reasons why she was so popular on the MGM lot. Plus, if I had met Harlow chances are I would have also met William Powell (her boyfriend from 1935 to her death in 1937). What a treat that would have been!
|Red-Headed Woman indeed!|
Jean Harlow will always remain an angelic figure in my mind - yes, even despite all those cheeky pre-codes she made back in the day. Maybe it's her cherub-like face. Maybe it's her platinum curls. Maybe it's her undeniable charm that endears her to me. Or, maybe it's because she died so young and really didn't have a chance to mature into a full-grown woman.
I know that when I was twenty-six years old I didn't have a clue as to what being a real woman entailed. All I really knew at that age was that I wasn't one yet. I still had a few years to go before I reached my full potential and finally understood what it meant to be all grown up. Maybe I haven't explained myself properly and maybe I've made a mess of things, but all I'm really trying to say is that Harlow remains "The Baby" in my mind too. She never had a chance to grow up and I think this is one of the reasons why so many people are still intrigued and fascinated by her.
If you're on the hunt for a couple of really great Harlow reads, check out Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow by David Stenn and Harlow In Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell In the Glamour Capital by Darrell Rooney and Mark A. Vieira.