Jean Harlow fell into the movies by chance. She was spotted by a Fox Film Corporation executive while sitting in a parking lot waiting for an aspiring actress friend. She was invited for an audition and the rest is history. She became the leading blonde good-bad girl of the early talkies, constantly surrounded by scandal regarding her failed marriages and the numerous men in her life. Cast out of character as a proper English "Miss" Howard Hughes in the huge it Hell's Angels (1930), Harlow swiftly became a sex symbol.
The following year she was cast as the love interest, opposite James Cagney, in the gangster epic The Public Enemy (1931). Harlow really came into her own in partnership with virile Clark Gable in the MGM movies Red Dust (1932), Hold Your Man (1933), and China Seas (1935), typically portraying a loose-living tramp whose honest sexiness is refreshingly appealing to both costar and audience. Amusing in the ensemble Dinner at Eight (1933), she began playing showbiz roles that flirted with autobiography, such as Bombshell (1933), The Girl from Missouri (1934), and Reckless (1935). She showed flair for the just-invented screwball comedy genre in Wife vs. Secretary (1936) and Libeled Lady (1936), in which she strikes sparks off rival Myrna Loy. The Hays Code toned down her image, leading to less clingy gowns and cutting out risque dialogue and situations. Her last film was a stuffy reunion with Gable in Saratoga (1937). It was during the filming of Saratoga that Harlow fell ill with uremic poisoning, and was hospitalized, dying only a few days later. She was just twenty-six years old. The film had to be finished with long angle shots using a double. Gable said he felt like he was in the arms of a ghost during the final parts of the movie.
"I was not a born actress. No one knows it better than I. If I had any latent talent, I have had to work hard, listen carefully, do things over and over and then over again in order to bring it out."
"Men like me because I don't wear a brassiere. Women like me because I don't look like a girl who would steal a husband. At least not for long."
Refused the lead in King Kong (1933), as well as the lead in the Tod Browning classic Freaks (1932).
She was the very first film actress to grace the cover of Life magazine in May 1937.
Had two famous superstitions: She always wore a lucky ankle chain on her left leg, which is visible in some films if you look closely, and had a lucky mirror in her dressing room. She wouldn't leave the room without first looking in it.
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California in the Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Benediction, at the end of the corridor, on the left side, in the second to the last private room, marked "Harlow".
Favorite brand of cigarette: Fatima.
Never wore any underwear and always slept in the nude.
On the day Hollywood canine superstar Rin Tin Tin died at age of 16 (112 in dog years), Harlow, who lived across the street from his master, Lee Duncan, went over to cradle the dog's head in her lap as the famous canine died.
When she died in 1937, her estate was valued at over $1 million and left entirely to her mother.