Home of Jean Harlow in Brentwood, CA Paul Bern's Home in Los Angeles, CA
The term classic Hollywood occupies a period of time from 1917 to 1960. From 1930 to 1937 the “Blonde Bombshell” reigned supreme during this period. The gifted comedic actress was originally labeled a sex kitten, as with most females then and now.
Harlean Harlow Carpenter
“The Bombshell” Harlean Harlow Carpenter was born March 3, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri. A sickly child she moved to Los Angeles, California with her mother met and eloped with a young man at the tender age of sixteen. The union did not last long after Harlean decided to pursue an acting career.
A Star is Born
Donning her mother's maiden name Harlow and changing her first from Harlean to Jean the infamous "Jean Harlow" was born. Her legs were what grabbed audiences attention first when she appeared in the 1929 film Double Whoopee alongside megastars of the era, Stan Laurel, and Oliver Hardy.
In 1930 the film Hell’s Angels, produced by Howard Hughes, catapulted Harlow into stardom. Jean swore up and down that her platinum locks were natural, but only her hairdresser knew for sure. Howard’s public relations department were given the job of creating a moniker for his new starlet, a popular Hollywood practice in that era. The gentlemen threw out "Platinum Blonde," and it stuck. It was rumored that Hughes offered $10,000.00 to any stylist who could duplicate the extraordinary color and none were successful. Little did he know that even though peroxide was on the market, Jean’s original tow-headed hair color was tweaked by the use of peroxide, ammonia, Clorox, and Lux flakes! Needless to say, no one won the reward, but the chemicals used on young Harlow’s hair have been touted as a possible cause of her early demise.
By the time Harlow met Paul Bern he was an executive with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios (MGM). The year was 1931 on the set of Charlie Chaplin’s film City Lights. She was an uncredited extra whose appearance in the film made it as far as the cutting room floor. Call it love or smitten at first sight whatever, Bern was taken with Ms. Harlow. He borrowed the starlet from Howard Hughes, for two movies and a series of promotional appearances. Eventually, he manipulated her out of her contract and she became the property of MGM amid their reluctance. Studio head Mayer felt Jean’s screen reputation as a “floozy” was not what the MGM brand stood for. Despite his objections on April 20, 1932, she officially became part of the studio stable. The union was a win-win for both the studio and Harlow.
Paul and Jean
Paul and Jean were, by now, romantically involved. Their engagement was announced in June 1932 and they married on July 2, 1932. Two days into the honeymoon Harlow was savagely beaten by her new husband. Two months later Paul Bern was found shot to death in the home they shared.
Found near the body was a cryptic note that read;
Unfortuately [sic] this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and to wipe out my abject humiliation, I Love you.
You understand that last night was only a comedy"
Rumors, Speculation and Theories
1. Bern was a closet homosexual
2. The murder may have been committed by Jean Harlow in retaliation for the beating or in self-defense.
3. Paul Bern may have been murdered by an ex-common-in-law wife, who suffered from mental issues and visited Bern the night of his murder. She later committed suicide by drowning, jumping overboard from a ship headed for San Francisco, CA.
4. Suicide because of impotence
Many have voiced that the entire incident was swept under the rug by law enforcement at the behest of MGM executives and was subsequently, labeled a suicide white wash. Jean Harlow never publicly spoke of the incident. Media, back then, were not ruthless as they are now when it smells a celebrity's blood in the water. Her only statement was that she "knew nothing"
Life after Death
Bern was cremated. Jean’s career flourished. Studio hierarchy decided to re-write Harlow's personal background to provide her with a more appealing screen persona. In her upcoming projects she was coupled with leading men of the Hollywood elite; Clark Gable, Gary Grant, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Franchot Tone, Spencer Tracy and William Powell (with whom she became engaged prior to her untimely death).
Harlean Harlow Carpenter aka Jean Harlow passed away on June 7, 1937, at the age of 26.
The rumor mills churned out the following speculations for her death:
2. Botched abortion
5. Toxic poisoning due to chemicals used to manipulate hair color.
6. Various venereal diseases.
The final prognosis was cerebral edema, a complication of kidney failure. In the 1930s there was no cure for the disease.
Jean Harlow with her Mother Jean Poe Carpenter Bello and Stepfather Marino Bello
Harlow owned and occupied both homes sharing ownership of the Los Angeles property with her husband Paul Bern. Jean also occupied the Westwood property with her parents before and after Bern's death. Some of the manifestations recorded were:
The Westwood Property Manifestations / Incidents:
1. Occupant's animals were troubled and uneasy in the property sometimes appearing to growl at unseen entities.
2. The same occupant heard whispering pleas for help in her ear.
3. Kitchen lights would turn on and off by themselves.
4. Shapeless apparitions could be seen hovering above occupants in the living room area.
5. A woman sobs could be heard.
6. The smell of a woman's perfume.
7. The sudden appearance of a bathtub full of water and bubble bath in the bathroom.
8. Light knocks on the front door. When answered no one was there.
Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate
The Los Angeles Property Manifestations / Incidents:
1. Two occupants died by drowning in the pool.
2. In 1963 Jay Sebring, hairstylist to the stars purchased the home. He and his girlfriend, Sharon Tate occupied the home. Ms. Tate and Sebring were to part ways in 1966. Prior to her leaving the residence, she spent the night alone in the master bedroom. During a fitful night sleep, she became overwhelmed by an uneasy feeling of a presence in the room. After switching on the lamp next to the bed she saw the manifestation of a "creepy little man" who she recognized as Paul Bern. It did not come near her or molest her but seemed to be fixated on finding something in the room. Panicked she grabbed her robe fleeing down the stairs. Mid-flight she saw another apparition. This one more ominous. A ghostly figure tied to the posts with its throat cut. After the incident, Jay and Sharon remained close friends even after her marriage to Roman Polansky. Both Jay Sebring, Sharon Tate and her unborn child were murdered in 1969 victims of the Manson massacre at the Tate / Polansky home. Were one or both of the apparitions omens?