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Tragic Hollywood Blondes. From Harlow to Smith

Updated on October 25, 2015

Jean Harlow

Harlow

Harlow began appearing in movies in the late 1920s as a extra. She was naturally beautiful. at 5' 3" and 105 pounds, she was perfectly proportioned and photographed beautifully. She married charles McGrew when she was only sixteen and just two months after their marriage McGrew received part of his inheritence which the couple wasted no time in moving to Beverly Hills.

The couple was independetly wealthy and neither one of them worked. The marriage was short lived and ened in 1929.

As a young single Jean was kind enough to drive one of her friends to Fox Studios and while waiting for her friend she was approached by some of the Fox executives. It was not long before Jean was appearing in shorts and making enough money to make her mother happy. Jean was so busy making movies that features the biggest stars of the time such as Clara Bow, and James Cagney, that she became nationally known after just one year of being discovered. By 1932 she was an internationally known and top billed actress appearing in sexy movies such as Red Headed Woman, and Platinum Blond.

Paul Bern was a respected producer, writer, and director of MGM in the studious heyday and he had become intimate with Jean sometime in 1930. They announced wedding plans and married in in July of 1932. In September Paul was discovered lying in his bedroom of their home on Easton Drive with a gunshot wound to the head. He had left a strange suicide note that has never been completely disiphered. In the note he left of his wife it says, this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you". For decades it has been speculated that Paul may have been gay, impotent or sexually inadequate. He was 42 years old at the time.

After all the negative and humiliating publicity Harlow threw herself into her work and a quiet affair with heavy weight champion boxer, Max Bear. Max was not yet divorced from his wife and the affair was discovered so that Harlow as named in the divorce for "alienation of affection. Her popularity continued to rise and her true talent as an actress and comedianne was gaining more recognition.

She was in the process of filming Saratoga with Clark Gable. Prodution was delayed due to Harlow contracting septicemia after a dental visit. After she recovered shooting resumed but Harlow was clearly not well and began having sympoms of fatigue and abdominal pain.Doctors believed she wuffered from cholecysitis compblined with influenza, however, Harlow had been sufferening from a variety of illnesses for one year. Harlow was taken home where her condition worsened before she was rushed to the hospoital and died at the age of 26 of cerebral edema, complication of kidney faliure


Carole Landis

Carole Landis Suicide

Born January 1, 1919, Carole Landis was eager to escape a miserable teenaged existence by fleeing her home in Wisconsin. She did so by marrying at the age of 15 her neighbor who was only 19 at the time. The marriage took place in 1934 and ended in 1938 after the couple moved to hollywood and Landis began an affair with Busby Berkely. Carole Landis was head over heels for the exciting choreographer/director and she hoped that they would marry and her career would skyrocket. In 1939 Busby did propose but broke the engagement due to a feeling that Landis would sleep around too easily. Indeed Landis wasted no time hooking up with and quickly marrying a yacht broker, Willis Hunt. The marriage lasted two months.

Landis did get parts as an extra in A Star is Born and numerous modeling jobs. By the 1940s she was one of the top pin up girls in the country. In 1942 Landis married again, this time it was an Army Air Corps captain. The marriage lasted a few years but ended due to their inability to have children. Landis was diagnosed with endometriosis.

She married a Broadway producer, Horae Schmidlapp in 1945 but the marriage was crumbling by 1948. Carol's career was on the decline and her inability to conceive was becoming even more of a source of depression for her when suddenly she fell into an affair with Rex Harrison who was married to Lilli Palmer. Carole was uplifted by the affair and claimed that Rex was the first man she had ever truly loved. But when Rex refused to leave his wife for her she was crushed. She committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills in her home after having spent one final night with Harrison.

The next day Harrison discovered her body and waited a few hours before calling a doctor and then the police.

The suicide left fans to speculate for years if Rex had killed her and others to boycott his films because of his cold attitude towards Carole.

Barbara Payton

Barbara Payton and Franchot Tone

Barbara Payton. I'm Not Ashamed

Barbara Payton. Hollywood Party Girl

She was born Barbara Lee Redford on November 16, 1927 in Minnesota Barbara Payton was the product of Norwegian immigrants. Her father had the entrepreneur spirit that many possessed in the 1930s, and the couple arrived in the United States with big dreams and little else. Unfortunately, the couple were heavy drinkers who were seldom sober and were closed off emotionally towards their children. The family moved to Texas where they began to run hotels as young Barbara gained more and more favorable attention from handsome young men. Her parents were pleased that their lively and attractive daughter was quickly becoming the center of attention in school but when at the age of 16 she suddenly eloped with her high school boyfriend, William Hodge, they were devastated.

They insisted that the marriage be annulled and Barbara put up little fight. It seems that she was just out for some fun and excitement. In 1943 she married a decorated combat pilot named Tom Payton. The couple married in February of 1945 and quickly moved to Los Angeles where with financial assistance for his country service Tom attended USC.Barbara was attempting to be a housewife and it was not long before she was looking for modeling work in effort to create a career for herself. She proved to have inherited her father's ambitious and entrepreneurial spirit when she had photos taken of her in elegant clothes and delivered copies of them to local department stores, designers, and modeling studios. She caught the eye of Saba of California, a well known high fashion designer of the time and was quickly signed to a modeling contract. In 1947 she moved on to the Hollywood Rita La Roy Agency where she was in high demand for print modeling in Bazaar and popular fashion magazines of the 1940s, it was also during this time that she became a familiar spokes model for Studebaker cars. She gave birth to a son, John Lee in 1947 without damaging her modeling career in the slightest. Barbara's ambitions eventually caused strain on the couple and they separated in 1948.

Without missing a beat the 21 year old Barbara went to all the Hollywood hot spots to be seen and she soon hooked up with William Goetz, a Universal Studios executive who singed her to a contract in which she was paid top dollar on a weekly basis. She made every attempt to be seen and was soon known around Hollywood as a beautiful party girl. Her big break came when James Cagney spotted her and asked that she star with him in Kiss Tomorrow Goodby 1950.

Barbara had numerous affairs but the one that she became notorious for was her relationship with Franchot Tone who was twice her age but well respected as a top star from previous decades. Unfortunately for Tone Barbara was also carrying on an affair with ex-boxer turned actor, Tom Neal. One day when Franchot was visiting Barbara in her apartment Tom showed up unannounced and beat the older man, shattering his cheekbone and nose. Franchot slipped into a coma for 18 hours. During his recovery Barbara married him but the marriage lasted less than one year because she continued seeing Tom Neal. The public of the 1950s was different than it is today. It did not reward people for being selfish, egotistical and ruthlessly heartless. The fact that Barbara had caused so much trouble for others and seemed to be interested only in herself and her career put the public off of her. Then she lost custody of her son due to her ex husbands plea that she was not trying to instill morality in her son.

Barbara's heavy drinking was catching up with her by the mid 1950s. She had been in trouble with the law several times. Mostly for drunken behavior. She was now so out of control that no studio would hire her because she flatly refused to undergo detox treatment and she was soon arrested on Sunset boulevard for prostitution at the age of 34. Her once flawless face displayed red veins, her slender figure sported a potbelly, and her overall appearance was one of a bloated and much older woman.

In the early 1960s the ever publicity seeking Barbara was willing to write an unflattering autobiography called, I'm Not Ashamed. It was Barbara's last attempt to earn a living by her own publicity. This time instead of showcasing her beauty she was allowing unflattering photos of herself as a used up has been turned prostitute to gain notoriety. In 1967 at the age of 39 Barbara died of liver failure.

Inger Stevens in The Twilight Zone

Inger Stevens Suicide

Inger was born in Stockholm, Sweden under the name, Ingrid Stensland on October 18, 1934. She was a sickly child but during her early teens she began working in shows. By her late teens she was a chorus girl in New York and enrolled in acting lessons.

During the mid 50s Inger moved to Hollywood and began dating her agent, Anthony Soglio, they were married in 1955, but they divorced in 1957. It is unclear what led the couple to divorce, but it is known that she had affairs with Mario Lanza, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Anthony Quinn, Clint Eastwood, Harry Belafonte, and others. It could be that these affairs led to Inger's quick rise to popularity on television shows. Inger was known to be passionate and extremely motivated to reach the top of her profession and everything she did, even her marriage and her dates, seemed to be a move that would enhance her Hollywood career.

Inger made Hollywood her permanent residence and began getting parts on television shows. She is best remembered today for her appearance in The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, however, she did make movies and was a familiar face on television during the 1960s.

Early in the morning on April 30, 1970 a friend of Inger's, Lola McNally, discovered her body sprawled across the kitchen floor. McNally told police that Inger looked at her, lifted her head and tried to speak but was unable to. Lola had been with Inger the night before and believed Inger to be in good spirits. Inger died in the ambulance. Her death was ruled a suicide by drug overdose.

Anna Nicole "Guess"

Anna Nicole Gaining Weight

Anna Nicole Smith on Amazon

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole dropped out of school at the age of 15 and married at 18. Her marriage quickly dissolved but she had one son to show for it, Daniel Smith. She became a stripper to make ends meet and it was during this time that she met a Texas millionaire oilman, J. Howard Marshall II who was in his 80s at the time. Anna Nicole wasted no time in marrying the millionaire and he promptly helped her career, getting her modeling jobs and giving her anything she wanted. Anna Nicole posed for Playboy and became the Guess jeans model in which classic photos of Smith were taken that made her resemble a goddess from the 1950s. Her career took off. She was getting movie offers and making personal appearances regularly.

Although Anna Nicole was getting publicity and attention things were not happening the way that she had envisioned. She was not getting movie parts that gave her the persona of a modern day Marilyn Monroe or even a Jayne Mansfield. She was just playing in cheesy and often unimportant parts.
Feeling as though her career was being mismanaged Anna began using drugs and drinking heavily. Her husband died at the age of ninety in 1995 and Anna began to receive a heap of negative publicity calling her a cheap gold digger. Marshall's family were outraged by the marriage of their father to Anna and dismissed the union as their father being senile while Anna Nicole took advantage of him. The family and Anna would battle for years in court over how much of the estate should go to Anna.

Anna became a caricature in Hollywood. She had gained substantial weight, was addicted to prescription drugs and often made a spectacle of herself in public. She never seemed to have a normal relationship with any man. There seemed to be no boyfriends except for a Howard Stearn, a shifty character who knew how to cash in on Anna Nicole and her peculiar behavior. In 2002 The Anna Nicole Show hit E entertainment television. It was a reality show that featured Anna's daily routine and her new endeavours. It was obvious to viewers that Anna was on drugs and Anna was the but of many jokes.

Anna Nicole made an attempt to straighten herself out. She had lost considerable weight and was looking like her old self again. Then she shocked everyone by announcing that she was pregnant. In September 10, 2006 Anna went to the hospital to give birth to her daughter and her son, Daniel Smith, visited and suddenly died of a drug overdose, he was 20 years old.

February 8, 2007 Smith was found dead in her room of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood Florida. She was 39 years old. It was ruled a drug overdose.



Anna Nicole, Dannielynn and Daniel Just Hours Before His Death

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