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LAistory: The Platinum Blonde

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Just like there was an original "It" Girl, there was also an original "platinum blonde." Jean Harlow was born Harlean Harlow Carpenter on March 3, 1911 in Kansas City Missouri. Her father was a dentist from a blue collar background, while her mother was from a rich family. These were only the beginnings of their differences and her mother grew very unhappy in the marriage, eventually turning most of her attention to her daughter. Harlean was the only member of her generation in her family. They called her "the baby," a moniker that persisted her entire short life.

She grew up coddled by her mother, who took her to Hollywood to try to make her an actress, but with few prospects, they soon returned to Kansas. While in a summer camp, she got scarlet fever. A couple of years later, she eloped with a young man with an inheritance named Charles McGrew. The young couple moved away from Harlean's family, to Hollywood, where she became a socialite.

While taking a friend to an audition, Harlean was noticed by executives on the Fox Lot. They insisted on giving her letters of recommendation to other studios. First on a dare from friends, Harlean and went back to the lot, signing in under her mother's maiden name, Jean Harlow. Then her mother insisted that she return to try out. She began to be cast in films, like The Love Parade and Hell's Angels, which, with its color footage launched Harlow into into the sex symbol stratosphere.