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ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Jean Harlow

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     Jean Harlow was a Hollywood star who seems to be as interesting today as she was during her life. 
     Maven loves this exchange with marie Dressler as Carlotta in Dinner at Eight (1933): 
 

KITTY:  I was reading a book the other day.

CARLOTTA:  Reading a book?

KITTY:  Yes. It’s all about civilization or something.  A nutty kind of a book.  Do you know that the guy says that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?

CARLOTTA (looking Kitty up and down and taking her arm):  Oh, my dear, that’s something you need never worry about.

Here is background for those who may not be familiar with Jean Harlow . . . although using familiar in the same line with Harlow may be somewhat titilating to some!
 

JEAN HARLOW

Jean Harlow[1] was in a class by herself, according to Edith Head's Hollywood (with Paddy Calistro; E.P. Dutton, Inc.; 1983).

 

On page 16:

 

She was Jean Harlow, a second-stringer in those days, but once Howard Hughes convinced her to bleach her hair she became a star within a year. Of course, when I worked with her I just thought of her as another actress, but I was impressed with her sensuous body and I made the most of it with white satin cut on the bias. I was afraid of how Clara [Bow] would react, since Jean really upstaged her in that slinky white gown. Most stars would have resented sharing a big scene with such a sizzling, voluptuous creature as Harlow. Not Clara. She was simply fascinated by her. I won't take credit for Harlow's screen image, but I think I'm entitled to say that what she wore in those scenes inspired others to take a second look and realize her knockout potential.

 

Yes, but you have to know what to do with that slinky white knockout dress on that knockout body or people might as well be looking at Olive Oyl!  Do you really think that Howard Hughes was interested in just her mind?!

Not to mention Hughes himself: He was just as good-looking in his day as Leonard DiCaprio is considered to be today . . . plus Howard Hughes had a genius IQ, a family fortune AND the cachet of being a Texan to boot!

 

On page 142:

 

Those beautiful clinging clothes that Jean Harlow wore in her day--that was sex. People don't understand that it is far more exciting to see a woman dressed in clothes that suggest gorgeous breasts and alluring hips than to see her bare bosom or buttocks. Naked bodies have very little personality. Clothes are symbols that provide identification--especially in a film. If everyone walked around without clothes, it would be very difficult for people to remember each other, or even to notice each other.

 

True but Maven knows some people who’d prefer to find out for themselves!

Jean Harlow in Saratoga (1937)
 

Saratoga[1] (1937) was the movie Jean Harlow was making when she died at the age of 27.

Her death was attributed to uremic poison brought on by acute nephritis but "Mama Jean" Harlow contributed by refusing to get her daughter proper medical care, claiming that it went against her Christian Scientist beliefs.

What we are left with is a mixed bag of a film.

Saratoga manages to pretty much overcome the problem with a great cast, story, scenery and plenty of excitement of clips of horseracing.

Walter Pidgeon becomes more foil than actor in "Saratoga" arund the likes of Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore, Una Merkel and Hattie McDaniel!

If Miss Maven knew how they do it, she'd have opened the newest--and hottest!--acting school in New York since Broadway became the Great White Way.

The basic premise of the story is that Grandpa Clayton (Barrymore) is trying to save his horse-breeding farm while his son (Jonathan Hale) and, later, his granddaughter (Harlow) try to sell their last stud [stallion].

This quickly goes by the wayside as Duke Bradley (Gable) tries to help Grandpa Clayton keep the horse AND the farm.

It's predictable what will happen as you watch the movie. . . . Gable and Harlow range from scrapping with each other to being just this side of affectionate and back again throughout the movie.

That they do it with such flair that you may not mind Harlow's irritating attempt to sound "upper class."

Miss Maven puts it in quotation marks because nobody sounds like that except when they are trying to sound that way in the movies! Miss Maven frequently wants to stuff marshmallows in their mouths just to shut them up until they get past the urge!

Saratoga only falters when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided to follow Harlow's fans by finishing the movie.

They employed a body double and possibly two different voice doubles for the few scenes that Harlow hadn't done.

Miss Maven has heard that there were those people who watched it just to see if they could figure out which scenes had Jean Harlow in them and which ones didn't.

Trust Maven. . . . It's obvious since M-G-M wouldn't pay so much to such a high-profile actress and then NOT show her face.

Miss Maven recommends Saratoga because it still holds up today with such moments of Clark Gable hiding under Harlow's sofa while she's forced to smoke his cigar . . . not to mention Gable, Harlow and Hattie McDaniel taking a turn at singing "The Horse with the Dreamy Eyes!"

Not to mention all the horses throughout the movie for equine fanciers!


     Her marriage to Paul Bern, an M-G-M executive some twenty years older than she was, also remains in the public consciousness about La Belle Harlow.

      The house he built for her is still a private residence but . . . is there more to the story then just meets the eye?

     Reportedly, Jean didn't like the house because it was too far from Hollywood's social life but Bern still put the deed in her name as a wedding present.  That may have been what they argued about the night before he died . . . or not.

      But check out these links for more:

 

Jean Harlow and Paul Bern House

Jean Harlow's Homes

Jean Harlow Club View Drive House

More of Jean Harlow's Club View Drive House

This is the excerpt of a longer documentary - Hollywood Ghost Story - that deals with both Jean Harlow and Sharon Tate . . . who both died tragically way too young.
 

ON A RELATED NOTE: Vincent Bugliosi Inteview 40 Years After the Tate-Sebring Murders

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE DRIVE[1]


The idea for a new movie can come from a myriad of sources – newspaper articles, best selling novels, comic books, even old television series. Rarely do they come from experiences that occur at the foot of your own bed. But that’s exactly what inspired Producer, David Oman, who helped his father build a home a few doors down from the former Sharon Tate mansion and the site of the infamous murder spree that took place in Beverly Hills in 1969.

Oman was living in the house in July 2004 when, a little before 2:00 a.m. in the morning, he was awoken out of a sound sleep by a full body apparition, what appeared to be the ghost of late hairstylist, Jay Sebring. "He was dressed in a powder blue leisure suit and his left hand was extending and pointing towards the driveway which leads to the murder site," says Oman. "There was no sound, he gestured three times and then he just disappeared. "

This wasn’t the first time Oman became aware of paranormal phenomenon in his own home. "I felt like I wasn’t alone," he explains. "Late at night, there always seemed to be a presence in the house, an unsettled presence."

Oman decided to investigate a little further. He was obviously aware of what happened at the "house at the end of the drive," but it was never a big deal for either him or his father, a prominent Beverly Hills real estate entrepreneur. After all, the horrible murders of 1969 took place over 35 years ago. The wheel of time was marching on. The Sharon Tate mansion itself had been torn down in the late 1990s and a new house was being built on the scenic property in Beverly Hills.

During construction, Oman learned that one of his own laborers had experienced a bizarre event (an event that was recreated for the movie). He related hearing voices and footsteps from the top floor when he was down on the third level. He thought it was David or his father and so he went to see who it was. When he went upstairs there was no one there. Oman also spoke to one of his neighbors who claimed that a previous owner had seen the ghosts of other victims, including Tate herself.

It was at this time that Oman considered putting together a documentary on the property. Ironically, it was an article he read in the Los Angeles Times about a botched promotional stunt for M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 horror/thriller "The Village," that encouraged him to proceed with his own project. Cashing in on the reality craze, the Sci Fi channel had produced a four-hour faux mockumentary for "The Village" that was later exposed by CBS (the network had just purchased Universal and the Sci Fi Channel and they were nervous about the whole concept of the mockumentary, which hinted that Shyamalan had supernatural powers).

Meanwhile, Oman invited a group of psychics and paranormal investigators into the house. On a number of occasions, including the anniversary of the August 8, 1969 massacre, video footage was gathered and photographs were taken that featured strange, inexplicable phenomena – unusual orbs, shadowy images, streaking light patterns, the type of photos ghost hunters and paranormal specialists salivate over.

What were these images and just how haunted was David’s home? Oman determined to do additional research, becoming an expert on the infamous events of summer 1969. He received some cooperation from archivists at the LAPD, but further research was hampered by red tape, problems that could easily sink a documentary.

It was then that Oman remembered some thoughts he had back in 2003, images that he originally dismissed as just errant dreams, but now seemed to be guiding him towards telling a terrific story. The story wouldn’t be about Tate at all – it would be a fictional story – a film about of four people from our present day who travel back in time and eventually become the victims of a horrible massacre at a "house at the end of the drive."

Oman had no feature film producing experience, but his dying mother was very encouraging. She saw a great opportunity for her son, and being the terrific businesswoman she was, she made it possible for him to secure the loan that would finance "The House at the End of the Drive."

Oman’s first move was to develop a screenplay based on his experiences living on the private driveway where the infamous murders took place combined with his own creative fictional storyline. He contacted Jim Vines, his old high school friend, who had carved a niche as a screenwriter, with a film already to his credit ("The Perfect Tenant"). Vines took Oman’s basic storyline and wrote out a shooting draft. Incidents that happened to Oman in the house now became incidents in the life of new home owner David King (James Oliver). Director David Worth ("Kickboxer") was brought on board, along with veteran producer and former Viacom production chief, Paul Mason ("The Amityville Horror" - 2005).

Stealing a page out of the Roger Corman playbook, the entire film was shot in twelve days on real locations in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

Dr. Barry Taff, one of the world’s leading para-psychologists, visited David’s house during shooting and reviewed some of the photographic evidence from 2004. He was riveted. "I’ve investigated over 4000 cases of paranormal activity," says Taff, whose true life story became the 1981 film, The Entity, "and I can tell you for certain that these photographic images are real. I don’t know what’s going on at that house, but I’m eager to set up a formal investigation, with all the right equipment." At press time, that investigation was set for the 36th Anniversary of the murders.

Oman is convinced that the story presented as fiction in "House at the End of the Drive" is anchored in bloody historical fact. Says Oman,"This whole neighborhood has a dark history. At the end of the 19th Century, there were some celebrated battles between natives of the Tongva tribe and U.S. Cavalry troops stationed near downtown Los Angeles. And long before Sharon Tate leased her property, the home was owned by Cary Grant, who was known for legendary parties at that time. And Grant was a great experimenter – so some strange things were always going on at that house."

As "House at the End of the Drive" heads into post-production, one thing is certain, the factual underpinnings of the story are going to be fully-investigated by qualified scientists who will be able to tell us whether David Oman’s house is truly haunted by the restless spirits of 1969. If they are, this could be the beginning of a modern folk legend.

     This is another interesting link but . . .
WARNING!
There is a picture of Paul Bern after he allegedly killed himself.  There isn't anything gruesome about it . . . you can hardly tell that what you do see is Bern but some people might choose not to check the link out.