Platinum Doll

Written by Anne Girard
Review by Tamela McCann

What a gem of a book this is! Anne Girard has taken the story of Jean Harlow, glamorous bombshell of the early days of motion pictures, and given us insight and even sympathy into the private life that built one of the biggest legends in Hollywood.

Jean was born Harlean Carpenter, dominated by her mother (the original Jean Harlow). At sixteen, she marries Chuck McGrew, a wealthy young man who promptly moves the couple to Hollywood. Chuck’s drinking soon becomes a problem and Harlean begins looking into acting to find some fulfillment. As she gets bit parts with some success (working with Laurel and Hardy, for example), her mother and stepfather show up and begin to exercise control of her life. They would like nothing better than for Harlean to leave Chuck, something she refuses to do. As time goes on, Harlean literally falls into a major role, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My emotions ran the gamut of disbelief to excitement to sorrow for the beautiful starlet; intelligent and loyal, she allowed certain people way more control than she should, with disastrous results. The author gives us possible reasons for what happened and fills in the blanks with credible stories. It is an ultimately tragic tale of a talented young woman who died much too early but whose legend lives on. Highly recommended.