Platinum Girl: The Life and Legends of Jean Harlow

Eve Golden, Author Abbeville Press $35 (248p) ISBN 978-1-55859-214-8
The movie star whose hair inspired the phrase ``platinum blonde,'' Jean Harlow had a sexy, comic reputation on screen but was, as Golden emphasizes, more comfortable in casual clothes, relaxing with family and friends. Harlow packed a lot of living into a short time: after her career took off in 1930 with the release of Hell's Angels , she was Hollywood's blonde bombshell (the title of one of her movies) until her sudden death of kidney failure in 1937 at age 26. She also married three times and was involved with William Powell when she died. New York City freelance journalist Golden presents an appealing portrait of Harlow and sets a few inaccuracies straight. (For example, it was rumored that she died because her second husband, Paul Bern, beat her in the kidneys, but, according to medical authorities, the effects of such a beating would be instantaneous--and Bern committed suicide five years before her death.) Unfortunately, the text occasionally slips into fanzine style. (Concerning MGM's decision to shave Harlow's eyebrows, Golden writes, ``She and Marlene Dietrich led the eyebrow brigade, which left fashionable women all over the world looking like startled drag queens.'') This elegantly designed book includes many representative movie stills and publicity shots. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991
Release date: 12/01/1991
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