Jean Harlow captured movie audiences’ hearts from her first major film. Her acting, a combination of sensuousness, vulnerability, and even naiveté made her a star. Although she died in 1937, she remains a legend and a film icon.
Born Harlean Carpenter in Kansas City, she attended the Barstow School, located on Westport Road. Her mother’s ambition to be a movie actress led her to divorce Harlean’s father and move to Hollywood, where Harlean was enrolled in the Hollywood School for Girls. Harlean’s mother remarried and they moved to Chicago, where Harlean attended high school. At age 16 Harlean eloped with the son of a millionaire, but the marriage ended a year and a half later. While Harlean was visiting a friend in Hollywood, she met film director Hal Roach, who put her in his silent comedies. It was at this time that she changed her name to Jean Harlow.