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Be Our Guest Fridays {33}: Why I Chose to Write About Jean Harlow by Anne Girard

I know very well to “never judge a book by it’s cover”, but when a cover as gorgeous as Platinum Doll by Anne Girard comes along, I truly can’t help but want to know more about it. In Platinum Doll, Jean Harlow’s story unfolds in this historical fiction showing her journey from a 17 year-old Midwestern girl to the star that graced the screen during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

I am happy to bring you Anne Girard as my guest today, the author of Platinum Doll. Anne spills the beans on why she chose to write about Jean Harlow. I’m fascinated by Jean’s story and I think Platinum Doll would be a great read for those who love historical fiction, old movies and stories about women breaking glass ceilings.

Without further ado, I give you Anne Girard. Welcome Anne to Mom’s Small Victories! 

Note: This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog should you decide to purchase.

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Why I Chose to Write About Jean Harlow by Guest Author Anne Girard. Historical fiction about Jean Harlow: "She hadn't come to Hollywood to find fame, but rather to start her married life with the boy she loved. Yet when fame came, she answered the call."

Why I Chose to Write About Jean Harlow

by Anne Girard

Before Madonna, Lady Gaga or Marilyn, there was Jean Harlow. She was the original blonde bombshell, the girl who set the trend for decades to come. But who was she really?That question intrigued me when I began looking for a subject for my next novel, and I realized how little I—or much of the world, in fact, 79 years after her premature death—knew about the beautiful girl behind that snowy hair and the alluring smile.

Since my passion is to write about true characters from history, I was definitely drawn in from the point of that question on. As I threw myself into biographies, her old movies, and the volumes of magazines and newspaper articles about her, my fascination only grew more intense. Jean Harlow, whose real name was Harlean Carpenter, was far more than a one-dimensional “doll”, or a cliché star-struck girl facing the bright lights and the lure of Hollywood. She was a complicated, funny and a smart young woman.

Beneath that distinctive pillowy hair (which was a painful and laborious process to achieve back in the late 1920’s), Harlow was a well-educated, well-read, married teenager from the Midwest. She hadn’t come to Hollywood to find fame, but rather to start her married life with the boy she loved. Yet when fame came, she answered the call.

As I wrote, three distinctive aspects to the story began to take hold in me that I knew I needed to convey. First, there was the look at what it took to become a celebrity in early Hollywood, and showing all of the famous people with whom she crossed paths: Howard Hughes, Laurel & Hardy, and Clark Gable, just to name a few. It was glitz and glamour all the way in those days.

On a second, deeper level, I was intrigued by the poignant story, which lay beneath the glamourous surface. It was the portrait of a new and fragile marriage tested as much by the demands of fame as by what may be the world’s most overbearing stage mother.  Harlow’s young, insecure and hot-headed husband was no match against a whirlwind like Mother Jean Bello who believed that a husband would only be in her daughter’s way. I could not help but feel immense compassion for Chuck, and for the heavy pull of fate.

Finally, the world stage onto which Jean Harlow burst was far less accepting of smart, beautiful women than today. Harlow had serious hills to climb, particularly unequal pay for equal work. While she did begin her career playing ‘gun molls’ and ‘femme fatales’, she still found a way to let her fierce side shine through. There was smart dialogue, and clever glances, that foretold who would win out eventually. By the age of 26, Harlow was an international dramatic star, as well as of comedy, one who became the idol—and role model—for another icon years later, Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe valued her predecessor to such a degree that she intended to play Harlow in a film. Although it never happened, I can’t help thinking what an amazing film that would have been!

I came away from the writing of PLATINUM DOLL believing strongly that Jean Harlow richly deserves the crown of a trail-blazing icon that she has worn for all these decades.

About Platinum Doll

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, Platinum Doll tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends, except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition to be an actress on the silver screen.

With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it.

Featuring a glittering cast of ingénues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.
Buy Platinum Doll: Amazon* | Your Favorite Indie Bookstore*

Find Platinum Doll on Goodreads

About Anne

Diane Haeger - Anne Girard, author of 15 novels including Madame Picasso and Platinum Doll.

Diane Haeger, who currently writes under the pen name Anne Girard (Madame Picasso), holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA. A chance meeting with the famed author Irving Stone 25 years ago sharply focused her ambition to tell great stories from history, and write them only after detailed research and extensive travel to the place her character lived. That determination has provided a fascinating journey that has taken her from the halls of Chenonceaux, to a private interview with one of Pablo Picasso’s last surviving friends, and most recently an invitation inside Jean Harlow’s home.

Since the publication of her acclaimed first novel, Courtesan, in 1993, a novel that remains in print today, her work has been translated into 18 different languages, bringing her international success and award-winning status. 

Platinum Doll*, a novel about Jean Harlow, is her 15th book. She lives in Southern California with her husband and family.

Follow Anne on her website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

About Be Our Guest Fridays!

Be Our Guest Fridays is a weekly feature where I feature guest posts by my favorite bloggers and authors. I started this feature as a fun way to give back to the blogging community. I am excited to share with you these creative, inspiring and knowledgeable bloggers and authors. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, leave me a comment on this post and I’ll be in touch.

pink bannerAren’t you dying to read Platinum Doll* like I am? I absolutely loved Mademoiselle Chanel* by C.W. Goertner, another historical fiction about the rise of Coco Chanel and Platinum Doll sounds like it will be just as fabulous! 

This post linked up with Share the Wealth Blog Hop.

What Roaring 20’s books or books about Hollywood do you like or want to read? Tell me! What would you like to ask Anne? Leave her a question to answer! 

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11 Comments

  1. I’m intrigued by this beautiful cover too and even more so by the authors comment about the challenges women in this time period faced. I love reading about women in history and learning more about both their accomplishments and challenges.

      1. I recently read and really loved The Stargazer’s Sister. I also have enjoyed both of Jennifer Robson’s books that I’ve read, Moonlight Over Paris and Somewhere in France, and I also thought Cleopatra’s Shadow was pretty good. Those are the only ones I can think of that I’ve read lately 🙂

    1. Did I already ask you if you wanted to guest post? I’d love to feature you one week! Frugal living tips are always a hit!
      I can’t remember if I actually wrote asking you to guest post or imagined it. The cover is what I actually miss in e-books. If I love an e-book, I’ll go back and buy the paper version for my bookshelf. Collecting my favorites makes me happy. 🙂

  2. I’m planning to read and write about Swedish-born Greta Garbo (Greta Garbo: A Life Apart by Karen Swenson) for my Northern Lights blog. I also have a biography of Austrian Hedy Lamarr, Beautiful by Stephen Michael Shearer. Unlike these glamorous, mysterious women of the Thirties in Hollywood, Jean Harlow was born in the U.S. heartland, Kansas City, Missouri. She had that legendary beauty, of course, but it was her brash, frank manner that set her apart and made her a match for her male co-stars, who couldn’t believe there was anyone quite like her. There wasn’t!

    I’m glad to learn about Anne’s book!

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