Yes, I know, this is technically one holiday early, but its because of my reading material on the journey over to Manchester this afternoon. Yes, those famous Kansas ladies, Louise Brooks, and Jean Harlow, both of whom cause their fair share of controversy, for one reason or another.
I am currently reading (when computer isnt available) Barry Paris’s excellent biography of Louise Brooks, and loving it. But it has to be said, however much you adore her work, the woman must have been a complete nightmare to deal with! Arrogant and awkward are just 2 words beginning with A that come to mind, and with Louise, you could probably run the whole alphabet! Yes, E might be for entertaining, as long as you werent doing personal business with her! And I havent even reached the point where she started making films yet!
Yes, I knew she had never been likely to win any diplomacy awards, but even so…! Still, might have been nice to meet her, just once in her old age, though I gather she was still quite hard to deal with, even then!
Funnily enough, the Harlow matter that has raised itself again on the internet isnt one where the flak is thrown at her, but at her mother. Last weekend, was Mothers Day in the US (we celebrated 2 months ago!), and someone posted a picture of Jean, and her mother together on Facebook, to celebrate the day. From there, the explosion started. Its fair to say in this matter, that there are 2 camps. Those, including myself, who realise that back in the 1930’s, Uremia (Kidney Failure) was fatal, there was no dialysis, no transplants back then for her to have. Jean suffered from Scarlet Fever in her teens, it damaged her kidneys, and eventually caught up with her, causing her death. Thats a fact, but this is where the 2 camps split violently. There seem to be a group who believe she only died because of her mothers religious beliefs, and she stopped Jean getting treatment. Wrong!
She had nurses looking after Jean, once she got seriously ill, but there was nothing that could be done to save her. In fact, she got the best she could find to look after her, but…
At the time, Louis B Mayer, the head of MGM, tried to take Jean off her hands, and get someone else to look after her, not realising just how serious things were. Mama Jean, suspecting he was more concerned about his film star, than her as a person, said no.
Of course, when Jean died (which was going to happen anyway), Mayer started a string of stories blaming her mother for her death, all totally factually inaccurate. But some, even now, want to believe them!
Jean Harlow as a person, I find hard to read. She was known as ‘Baby’ for a reason, not just her height. Many things suggest that maybe she was a bit innocent, prone to peer pressure, and other things besides. Then you get the rumours that she was secretly a wildcat, wrote a raunchy novel that MGM dumped, as far too sexy, and other things. I do wonder if these again were just stories created by MGM to boost business (given they tried to suggest her original surname was Carpentier, to sound more sexy, among other things), who knows?
I guess all in all, 80 years or so on, its all going to stay as conjecture and rumours now. Unless her ghost (assuming that story is true) wants to do a full reveal lol!
The video, given the neuroses surrounding both, and the fact that Art thought this pretty neurotic, seems apt
Next blog, from Jersey, hopefully something more current holiday based lol!