“The Blonde Bombshell,” Miss Barstow’s School for Girls, MGM Studios, silver screen, Clara Bow
Born and raised in Kansas City, young Missourian Harlean Harlow Carter certainly didn’t foresee her reign over Hollywood as the “The Platinum Blonde” or “The Blonde Bombshell.” During the 1930s, Jean “Baby” Harlow was the American sex symbol. Peroxide sales soared throughout the country as the It Girl’s trademark platinum blonde hair turned iconic. By the age of five, Harlow had begun attending Miss Barstow’s Finishing School for Girls in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Later she moved to Chicago, and then eloped at 16 and moved to Hollywood. Her diligent casting call auditions, raw beauty and brief relationship with Abner Zwillman, the “Al Capone of New Jersey,” garnered Harlow stardom – and a plethora of nicknames. She worked alongside fellow screen legends Clara Bow, Laurel and Hardy and Clark Gable. Harlow joined the remarkable team at MGM Studios, making 36 movies in just 10 years. That famous line about slipping into something more comfortable? Kansas Citians can boast that it originated from one of their own (Hell’s Angels, 1930). Harlow died in 1937 from kidney failure at just 26 years old, still arguably one of the greatest to ever grace the silver screen. Before her death, she completed the manuscript, Today is Tonight, which didn’t see publication until 1965 when a friend of the family received the publishing rights.