13 Parallels Between Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow
On March 3, 1911, Jean Harlow was born in Kansas city as Harleen Carpenter, known as “the baby,” to her maternal grandparents. Harlow often played the parts of the dangerous, sexually charged woman with flaws that mirrored her nature and history.
Harlow was a successful actress during the first years of the talkie films. Her short career lasted from 1928 and ended tragically in 1938. Her brief presence in the industry was probably the noisiest of the time. Her lifestyle was considered scandalous and immoral by the conservative society of the time. She was always under that spotlight of the press. In addition, she had three failed marriages which were supposed to be a terrible sin at the time. The first one was when she was only 16 years old.
Harlow was considered a natural trendsetter, and her glamorous style was copied by everyone, including her platinum blonde hair. According to Harlow’s former stylist, the sessions needed to achieve her platinum hair were very painful and uncomfortable, but she endured it most of her life. Harlow used her blonde hairstyle to rebel against social norms imposed on women. Harlow was constantly criticized for never wearing underwear which was a massive scandal in the 1930s.
Harlow’s bid break acting break happened in 1928 when she began to work as an extra. Then in the 1930s, she was cast in the Howard Hughes film Hell’s Angels. Harlow stole the show with her sly and assured sexuality. History was made with the 1931 film Platinum blonde, where Frank Capra had lingering shots of Harlow’s Body. Harlow’s final movie was opposite Clark Gable in the film Saratoga from 1937. Harlow passed away on June 7, 1937, at the age of 26, from complications of uremic poisoning.
There are many overwhelming parallels between Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow.
- They were both brought up by strict Christian Scientists
- They were both married three times
- They both left school at the age of 16 to marry their first husbands. (Harlow eloped with a millionaire)
- They both spent their lives seeking out their father
- They both died in tragic and suspicious circumstances.
- They both Acted opposite Clark gable in the last film they ever made.
Gable once said of Jean Harlow, “She didn’t want to be famous, she wanted to be happy,” a quote that can be equally applied to Marilyn.
7.Both Jean and Marilyn were lovers of animals and willing to provide a haven for strays
8. Posted of them tested the morals of the days by posing nude., flaunting their bodies and avoided wearing underwear.
9.Both Acted under their mother’s maiden names.
10. Each lived on North Palm Drive at one point in their lives.
11. Both Marilyn and Harlow had to go on a one-woman strike to improve their unfavourable contract terms and payment rates at the height of their popularity.
The parallels continue even at the end of their lives.
12.Both actresses were regularly prescribed sedatives by their doctors just months before they passed away.
13.They both went to a presidential birthday celebration (Harlow went to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s birthday ball, Marilyn to President John Kennedy’s), for which their studios reprimanded them.
Marilyn Monroe played her part in setting herself up on a parallel path to her hero Jean Harlow.
In 1950 she told influential Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky that Jean Harlow had been her entire life role model.
Skolsky, who had also known Harlow, agreed to help Marilyn to achieve her fame. Over the next few years, he placed tidbits in his column and used his influence with studio contracts.
The two of them plotted together to make a Harlow biopic movie.
After Marilyn became famous, she was very aware of the striking similarities between their lives. In 1957 Marilyn told Milton Greene, “I kept thinking of her, rolling over the facts of her life in my mind. It was kind of spooky, and sometimes I thought, am I making this happen? But I don’t think so. We just seemed to have the same spirit or something; I don’t know. I kept wondering if I would die young like her, too.”
Marilyn never managed to fulfill her lifelong dream of playing Harlow on-screen. However, she did pose as her hero for photographer Richard Avedon in 1958 as part of the screen goddesses series.
In Aurthor Millers’ commentary on Marilyn, portraits are that he expressed his personal preference for Marilyn’s hommage to Harlow, “not so much by wit, as by her deep sympathy for that actress’s tragic life.”
Clark Gable acted opposite Jean Harlow in five films compared the two actresses after working with Marilyn on the Misfits (1961): “Harlow was always very relaxed, but his girl is high-strung, and she worries more – about her lines, her appearance, her performance. She is constantly trying to improve as an actress.”
A month or so before she dies, Marilyn went with Sidney Skolsky to visit Jean Harlow’s mother, “Mama Jean” Bello, to ask her permission to press ahead with their planned film of Harlow’s life. “Mama Jean” looked at Marilyn and exclaimed that her baby had come back to life.
The next meeting for this project was supposed to be scheduled for August 5, when Skolsky was due to go to Marilyn’s house and work on the treatment for The Jean Harlow Story.
Even with her passing, Marilyn emulated her heroine. The flowers delivered every week to her grave by Joe DiMaggio were the fulfillment of a promise he had made to Marilyn that he would be as devoted to her as William Powell had been to Harlow. Powell regularly sent flowers to his love’s resting place in Forrest Lawn.
After Marilyn’s death, The role of Jean Harlow went to Carroll Baker, and it became one of Baker’s most important films.