Monday, December 25, 2006

The Death of Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow is considered Hollywood original blond bombshell, a generation before Marilyn Monroe and long before Madonna. Few can recall these days what films she was in but in her day, she was quite popular. In 1937, she became the first actress to appear on the cover of Life Magazine. Nowadays, she is more famous because of Gwen Stefani's portrayal of her in Scoresese's The Aviator.

It was in 1937 that while making her last film, Saratoga, she collapsed on the set. She had uremic poisoning and kidney failure which was result of scarlet fever that she had as a child. Nowadays, she would have been put on dialysis and could possibly had received a kidney transplant but not in 1937.

When someone this famous dies, the rumors fly. The most common rumor about her death is that she refused treatment for her illness because she was a Christian Scientist. This is not so, she was brought up as a Christian Scientist but no longer practiced. She received constantly treatment up to her death. This was verified in 1990 when the Harlow medical records were made public. Another was that the peroxide which she used to dye her hair had killed her and another was that her kidney was damaged after a beating by her husband Paul Bern. Five years earlier, Harlow was suspected of killing him after he was found dead due to gun shots to the head. In 1960, the Bern case was reopened and the suicide conclusion was upheld.

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