Jean Harlow (born Harlean Harlow Carpenter; March 3, 1911 – June 7, 1937) was an American film actress and sex symbol of the 1930s.
After being signed by director Howard Hughes, Harlow’s first major appearance was in Hell’s Angels (1930), followed by a series of critically unsuccessful films, before signing with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1932. Harlow became a leading lady for MGM, starring in a string of hit films including Red Dust (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Reckless (1935) and Suzy (1936). Among her frequent co-stars were William Powell, Spencer Tracy and, in six films, Clark Gable.
Harlow’s popularity rivaled and soon surpassed that of her MGM colleagues Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer. She had become one of the biggest movie stars in the world by the late 1930s, often nicknamed the “Blond Bombshell” and the “Platinum Blonde”, and popular for her “Laughing Vamp” movie persona.
She died during the filming of Saratoga in 1937 at the age of 26. The film was completed using doubles and released a little over a month after Harlow’s death. The American Film Institute ranked her as the 22nd greatest female star in Hollywood history.
From The Guardian:
In Victor Fleming’s 1932 jungle melodrama, Red Dust, Harlow’s stranded hooker sidles up to rubber plantation bigwig Clark Gable and asks, “Mind if I get drunk with you?” Something of a party girl off-screen, the Blonde Bombshell was supposedly fond of this martini created in her honour. Best served chilled, with a lemon peel garnish.