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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spine Tingling Tuesdays : Jean Harlow

March 3, 1911-June 7,1937
Harlean Harlow Carpenter, a budding starlet of the 1920's and one of the most famous starlet's in the 1930's.You say you do not recognize the name? Well read on. Harlene was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a white collar family, the father a dentist, her mother, "Mother Jean" had aspirations of becoming an actress, which later led to divorce and a move to Hollywood... where eventually the young woman and daughter of "Mother Jean" would be come no other than Jean Harlow. I am not doing a post on the life of Harlene...not even doing a post about when or how she became Jean Harlow and her career. For October I am sharing something a bit more macabre...death and even supposed haunting's. *If you wish to read more about the LIFE of Jean Harlow click HERE. 

Jean Harlow age 17 1928

Jean with Anita Loos
Jean's life was filled with heartache, from her parents divorce, her mother keeping her from seeing her father, thought she did manage to secretively see him from time to time, to her own divorce, the death of her second husband to reported suicide and then to her own death before being able to wed the love of her life William Powell. 
Paul Bern and Jean Harlow married only two months before he committed suicide in their honeymoon house.
When it was known that Paul Bern, a gentle of nature, soft of voice, beloved producer and the "best loved man in Hollywood" was to marry Jean, who the public knew as  the home-wrecking harlot of Red-Headed Woman and the half-nude seductress of Hell's Angels, there was an instant dark cloud over the couple and anyone who supported the union. So when he his naked body was found in the couples master bathroom, a single gun shot through the head and a note of apology found near by, all eyes turned to Jean, and all blame was aimed at her. The note left seemed to add more fuel to the fire...instead of laying blame on Paul for taking his life.

Oddly enough, Harlow actually attempted suicide in the bedroom after Bern's death.

  There was more questions than answers that came from the death and the note left behind. Mysteries that would never be solved, including that of a woman that surfaced after his death who claimed to be his wife. Dorthy Millette. "The unknown woman who had crept out of Paul Bern's past when he was dead. The woman he had introduced as "my wife Dorothy" and in whose favor he had once made a will and to whom he had sent large checks regularly for ten years. Everything about her was vague and inscrutable to me. The Algonquin Hotel in New York. A sanitarium for mental cases. Red hair — red hair going gray. Gray dresses. San Francisco — a trunk — a suitcase — a night boat to Sacramento.
She had borne the man's name — legally or illegally — and she had gone to join him in death. Silent to the end as Jean Harlow herself. Two women joined in silence above the grave of the man who had called them wife. Dorothy Millette would never speak now. The cold waters of the(Sacramento)river had silenced her forever." *via (interesting note, Jean Harlow paid for Dorthy's burial and grave marker)

Jean at Paul Bern's funeral.

 There is many more mysterious happenings that are linked to Paul's death, spine tingling haunting's to read about can do so HERE.

Jean Harlow's house and car.

However tragic Paul's death was, it did inadvertently, after another brief marriage, lead to Jean meeting the love of her life William Powell..............

Jean and William would never be married, he had been married before and was reluctant to do so again. Tragedy would strike and make it too late for the couple, when in In 1937, at the age of 26, Jean Harlow died suddenly of uremic poisoning. The death of Jean left William devastated and unable to work for some time. 

Powell at Harlow's funeral

MGM closed down on the day of Harlow’s funeral on June 9. She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California in the Great Mausoleum in a private room of multicolored marble which William Powell bought for $25,000. She was buried in the gown she wore in Libeled Lady, and in her hands she held a white gardenia and a note in which Powell had written: ”Goodnight, my dearest darling.” Drawers in the same room were reserved for Harlow’s mother and William Powell. Harlow’s mother was buried there in 1958, but Powell remarried in 1940 and was buried elsewhere when he died in 1984. There is a simple inscription on Harlow’s grave, "Our Baby" . more info!

When Jean died there was once again controversy, whisperings and touches of scandal that surrounded her death, here is the story of her illness and resulting death... "On May 30, Powell checked on Harlow, and when she did not feel any better, her mother was recalled from a holiday trip and Dr. Fishbaugh visited Harlow at her home. Harlow's illnesses had delayed three previous films (Wife vs. Secretary, Suzy and Libeled Lady), so at first there was no great concern. On June 2, it was announced that Harlow was suffering from the flu. Harlow even felt better on June 3. Co-workers expected her back on the set by Monday, June 7.Press reports were contradictory, with headlines like "Jean Harlow seriously ill" and "Harlow past illness crisis". When Harlow said on June 6 that she could no longer see Powell properly, he called a doctor. As she slipped into a deep slumber and experienced difficulty breathing, the doctor finally realized that she was suffering from something other than gall bladder infection or flu.
That same evening, Harlow was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where she slipped into a coma. 26-year-old Jean Harlow died in the hospital on Monday June 7, 1937 at 11:37 am. In the doctor’s press releases, the reason of death was given as cerebral edema, which is a side effect of renal or kidney failure.Hospital records mention uremia.
For years, rumors circulated about Harlow’s death. It was claimed that her mother had refused to call in a doctor because she was a Christian Scientist, or that Harlow herself had declined hospital treatment or surgery. It was also rumored that Harlow had died because of alcoholism, a botched abortion, over-dieting, sunstroke, poisoning due to platinum hair dye, or various venereal diseases. However, based on medical bulletins, hospital records and testimony of her relatives and friends, it was proven to be a case of kidney disease. From the start, despite resting at home, Harlow was attended by a doctor, two nurses visited her house and various equipment was brought in from a nearby hospital. However, Harlow’s mother prevented some people from seeing her, such as the MGM doctor who later stated that it was because they were Christian Scientists. It has been suggested that she still wanted to control her daughter, but it is untrue that she refused Harlow medical care.
Harlow's kidney failure could not have been cured in the 1930s. Death rate from acute kidney failure has decreased to 25% only after antibiotics, dialysis and kidney transplantation, and Harlow’s grey complexion, recurring illnesses and severe sunburn were signs of the disease. Her kidneys had been slowly failing and toxins started to build up in her body, exposing her to other illnesses and causing symptoms included swelling, fatigue and lack of appetite. Toxins also adversely impacted her brain and central nervous system.It was suggested that Harlow had suffered a post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, following scarlet fever when she was young, which may have caused high blood pressure and ultimately kidney failure." via

Perhaps it is the life long heartache that was an undercurrent to Jean's life or perhaps it was her untimely death, but rumor has it that Ms.Harlow is still very much with us and has even been sighted...but not in flesh and blood, but rather as a specter who seems unwilling or perhaps unable to pass on. It is said that Jean haunts not only her home that she shared with Paul Bern, at 9829 Easten Drive Estate, in the Hollywood Hills, but also that of her mother's home where there are moans heard coming from the bedroom she was staying in. She was visiting her mother when she received news of Paul's death. 

Links to learn more about Jean Harlow ....
HERE....this one is a You Tube video telling the stories in further detail and many more added about other haunting's at the mansion.


  1. Thank you for such a complete posting.

  2. What a fantastic piece you've written here. Jean's life was so complex and out of it she often appeared to the public as a light hearted & innocent child woman. She was such a light bulb (glowing within) ~ I hope she has moved on in spirit. She deserves to be resting in peace

  3. Really enjoyed reading this post sweets...great job...such a hard life for one sooo fabulous.

  4. What an interesting story you have written on Jean Harlow. I new there was some controversy surrounding her life, but learned a lot more through this piece. Truly sad......but so interesting. Great job.!

    Dee :)

  5. Great piece of journalism, thank you for this excellent tribute to Jean Harlow!


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