1911–37, American movie star, b. Kansas City, Mo., as Harlean Carpentier. Harlow brought charm and a sexual knowingness to a series of comedies during the 1930s, becoming the model of feminine sexuality in films for the next decade. The original platinum blond, she played the tough working girl whatever her characters' actual social standing, frequently upsetting the decorum of the well-to-do. Her films include Platinum Blonde (1931), Red Dust (1932), Bombshell (1933), Dinner at Eight (1933), Libelled Lady (1936), and Saratoga (1937). She died of uremic poisoning at 26.
Harlow, Jean (b. Harlean Carpenter)
(1911–37) actress; born in Kansas City, Mo. Married at age 16 to a wealthy young businessman, she moved to Beverly Hills with him and began appearing in minor roles in movies in 1928. Millionaire playboy and movie producer Howard Hughes discovered her and propelled her into overnight stardom in Hell's Angels (1930). With her platinum-blonde hair, her slim but sexy body, her casual, slightly vulgar manner, she quickly dominated the movies and the headlines. She showed a flair for comedy in such films as Dinner at Eight (1934) and was able to spoof her own sex-driven image in Bombshell (1933). Her private life, however, was not as lighthearted; she divorced her first husband in 1932, and her second husband committed suicide only months after their marriage; a third marriage was unhappy; and while engaged to William Powell and filming Saratoga, she died of a cerebral edema. Her life would provide a number of eerie parallels to Marilyn Monroe's.