Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Ha

David Stenn, Author Doubleday Books $22.5 (370p) ISBN 978-0-385-42157-7
Jean Harlow (1911-1937) reigned as Hollywood's original platinum blonde sex symbol in the years before her death from kidney failure at age 26. With this crisply written, well-documented biography, Stenn ( Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild ) seeks to reveal the woman behind the screen goddess and to resolve the controversies surrounding both her death and that of her second husband, studio executive Paul Bern. Stenn's psychological portrait of Harlow focuses on her domineering mother and on the actress's unfulfilled desire for a stable family life. His account of Bern's 1932 death by gunshot wound is convincing: he agrees with the official verdict of suicide, while giving credence to reports of Bern's sexual dysfunction and bigamy. Stenn's narrative of Harlow's own death is level-headed; while he explores the impact of her alcoholism on her life, he refrains from speculating on the cause of her drinking. This skillful biography leaves one wishing only that Stenn had discussed more fully Harlow's place in film and cultural history. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1993
Release date: 09/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-9672822-2-0
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