Harlow’s Hollywood.

The Kitty Packard Pictorial has posted a great interview with Darrell Rooney and Mark A. Vieira, the authors of the new Jean Harlow biography Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937. The book is set for release on March 1st, and is currently available for pre-order.

Cover image courtesy of Angel City Press

The book is set to be released two days before Harlow’s 100th birthday and is just one part of a series of releases and events that will be going on in upcoming weeks to celebrate the actress’ centenary. Among those events: a first-ever exhibition of Harlow memorabilia at the Hollywood Museum, which will run from March until September!

Here’s an excerpt from Kitty’s fascinating discussion with the authors:

KP:  In order to tell a story with images you have to make tough decisions. For someone with a collection like yours, it must have been murder.

Rooney: It was absolutely that. Once we got the book deal we spent six weeks going through the distillation of photographs to tell Harlow’s story visually. I’d come out with 60 photographs for one chapter and Mark, who’s done this a million times, would say ‘Okay. Now we’re going to choose only 12 from those 60.’ So you pull the superfluous ones first. Then you pull the ones you like and absolutely want to keep. Then you start to really edit. Like Mark says, you have to have a reason for every photograph you keep, and you can’t repeat. If you repeat something you bore the audience. We would cull it down to about 20 or so and I’d begin to see the narrative thread. It was quite a learning process. Painful but necessary.

Vieira: The art of telling a story is so much in the editing, distilling down process.

Rooney: For me, it was like Christmas every day– but you had to give half the presents back. That’s how it felt: exciting but crushing at the same time.

KP: How many photos in the book are previously unpublished?

Rooney: I would say 80 to 90 percent.

KP: Amazing.

Rooney: I think the glamour portraits might have printed other places before– like in fan magazines during the 30s, but that George Hurrell image on the cover has never been published in a book before.


KP: So tell us: why this book? Why now?

Rooney: It’s a case of awareness. We want to see Harlow embraced by a new generation. We were looking for ‘the angle’ years ago, and I have to hand this to Mark: he’d say, ‘What landmark is coming, you know, some kind of a milestone event?’ Eventually, we realized 2011 was going to be Harlow’s hundredth birthday. Her centenary. That was very significant and we felt this was the milestone that needed to be commemorated; there had to be a book. And with Mark’s experience he knew it couldn’t just be a book, there had to be a series of events tied into it, like a public Exhibition that the press could cover and people could go to.

One thing we wanted to do to make the book unique and different from other bios was to tell Harlow’s story in her own words as much as possible. We used never-before-seen private correspondence and interviews to achieve this. However, it got very tricky concerning the Paul Bern period of her life. There is so much written about it, and so much of it is conjecture. How do you sort it out? Mark kept saying: Whenever you’re confused, ask yourself ‘what is Harlow’s story from her own point of view? Don’t tell events from someone else’s point of view – what was her experience?’ And at times that meant a lot of rewriting. And that’s what’s makes the difference with our book, Harlow In Hollywood. That is one of the key things that sets this book apart: this is Harlow’s story told in her own words and from her own experiences.

For the full interview, and some seriously interesting reading, check out The Kitty Packard Pictorial! And keep checking in with Kitty for more information about the Jean Harlow blogathon coming up at the end of this month!

3 thoughts on “Harlow’s Hollywood.

  1. Thanks for the great info!
    I can’t wait to get this book. It’s hard to believe Jean would have been 100 soon. If only we could have been graced with her presence a bit longer. I think she was finding her niche and on her way to better roles during the last two years of her life. I can’t name one woman who could/can pull off platinum hair the way she did.

    • I know! I wanted to cringe when they cast Gwen Stefani as Harlow in The Aviator a few years ago. There’s simply no comparison. I can’t think of a single actress working today who could convincingly play her in a biopic.

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