Jean Harlow had it all-but a bizarre marriage and mother who had become devoted to Scientology let her early death at 26.
Beautiful Jean Harlow's life was ruined by the two people who loved hr most, hr husband and hr mother.
It all began on her wedding night in 1932. Harlow's new hubby, MGM executive Paul Bern, tearfully admitted he was physically incapable of consummating their marriage.
Drunken Bern was begging for her understanding, and trying to both use her image as a sex goddess to keep people from thinking that he was not a real man, and hoping that because she was such a goddess that she may actually be able to help him.
Jean was heartbroken because she thought that Paul was someone who loved her for who she really was, not because she was a sex symbol. The broke into a terrible fight, hurling insults at each other, until it degenerated into a physical altercation. Jean emerged with some bruises, but was not seriously hurt.
2 months later Bern committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Bern mismanaged his money and in order to make a dent in his debt, Harlow worked practically non stop.
Several years later Jean's mother abandoned her husband and( many believed she was jealous of her daughter's stardom) had a complete emotional collapse, turning to Christian Science.
In 1935 while filming "Wife vs. Secretary", with Clark Gable. Jean collapsed from fatigue and overwork. Jean's mother nursed her daughter, but the condition was more serious than suspected.
Harlow's film crews were accustomed to her frequent breaks to go to the bathroom,, as a result of Bern's wedding night beating, which had damaged her kidneys, unaware herself of how serious her condition was, Jean put off seeing a doctor and after a few day's rest was back at work.
Harlow's year was 1936. She was a top box office draw and she became engaged to handsome William Powell.
It was in "libeled Lady," paired with Specner Tracy, that Harlow was at her peak. Powell winced during filming of Jean's love scenes with Tracy, who played them up to tease Powell. "Must you be so realistic, Spencer?"
"Of course Bill," Tracy would answer, "It's all for art, you know."
Jean giggled in the back ground. For insurance, Powell gave his fiancee a 150 carat $20,000 star sapphire for Christmas.
In May 1937 Harlow became seriously ill with an inflamed gallbladder, and on Saturday, may 29, 1937 ,and on Saturday 29, 1937 on the set of "Saratoga" she collapsed in Gable's arms.
She was exhausted and assumed she just need rest over the weekend. She went to Mamma Jean's despite protest from her co-workers.that she go to a hospital. Her already damaged kidneys severely weakened by the gallbladder attack, were beginning to fail, but no one, not even Jean, knew what was happening.
Mamma Jean, in her twisted state of mind, saw this as her big chance to put everyone in her debt. She would heal her baby Jean through simple prayer, while assuring Jean's friends that she was recovering quickly.
When Jean was not back on the set by Tuesday, her friends decided to see for themselves. Gable, Frank Morgan, Powell, director Jack Conway and producer Bernie Hyman forced their way into Mama Jean's home. She led the men to Jean's bedroom, triamphantly pointing toward her daughter. 'Dosen't she look beter now"?
They starred in horror at Jean, who lay semiconscious moaning and belching, nauseated, and burining with fever. Her back, chest and shoulders were racked with pain. Her pulse was dangeriously erratic.
Mamma Jean's idea of "better" was killing her daughter. Adhering devoutly to her Christian science principles and blinded by jealousy of her daughter, she refused to allow a doctor to see Jean, who was now too ill to speak for herself.
Jean's friends tried frantically to reach Jean's faher for permission for surgery, but he could not be located. With time running out, they searched for another way around the stubborn Mrs. Bello.
By Sunday, June 6, the situation was desperate.
Jean's closest pals stood by helplessly frustrated, watching her slip away. She needed massive sedation now for pain.
"She is not sick!" Mama Jean insisted. "She is just pretending to make a fool of me."
When Louis B. Mayer, the one man Mama Jean was afraid of, caught wind of it all, he sent an ambulance and within hours Jean Harlow was pronounced dead at age 26.
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