Happy 106th Birthday, Jean Harlow!

Jean Harlow, the original Blonde Bombshell, was born Harlean Harlow Carpenter 106 years ago today in Kansas City, Missouri. Here are 10 JH Did-You-Knows:

  • Harlow, the daughter of a dentist and his wife, left home at 16 to marry Charles McGrew, a businessman seven years her senior. The pair moved to Los Angeles, where Harlow was soon garnering assignments as an extra in pictures.
  • Her marriage to McGrew ended after just two years, allowing Harlow to focus on her career. She soon graduated from extra work to bit parts in features and shorts.
  • Harlow’s big break came in 1930 when she was cast in Howard Hughes‘ World War I epic, Hell’s Angels. The picture’s premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was reported to have drawn a crowd of 50,000 people.
  • Hughes sold Harlow’s contract to MGM, where her star continued to ascend. Her work in Frank Capra‘s Platinum Blonde (1931) was very well received, and the following year she was paired with Clark Gable in John Ford‘s Red Dust, the second of six pictures she and Gable would appear in together during her short career.
  • Harlow is said to have turned down lead role in Freaks (1932) and King Kong (1933).
  • Harlow served as godmother to Millicent Siegel, the daughter of gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. She also dated mobster Abner “Longie” Zwillman, who advanced her career by loaning Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures, $500,000.
  • In 1935, Harlow demanded more money from MGM, refusing to work until they assented, and while she was on strike, she wrote a novel, Today Is Tonight. It wasn’t published until 1965, early thirty years after her death.
  • Both Harlow and Marilyn Monroe starred opposite Gable in their final pictures—Harlow in Saratoga (1937) and Monroe in The Misfits (1961). Monroe idolized Harlow and refused the chance to play her in a biopic because she felt the script was not respectful to Harlow.
  • At the time of her death, Harlow was engaged to actor William Powell (and had been for two years). Had the pair married, Powell would have been Harlow’s fourth husband.
  • Though rumors long persisted that her mother, a Christian Scientist, refused medical care for her daughter, or that Harlow died of alcohol abuse, sunstroke, poisoning due to her platinum hair dye or any of a number of other causes, Harlow’s passing, at the young age of 26, came as a result of kidney failure.

Happy birthday, Jean Harlow, wherever you may be!

Jean Harlow

The Oscars, 1945 Style

We enjoy the occasional award show, but Oscar night is our favorite because of the history and tradition associated with it. The Academy Awards debuted way back in 1927; 2015 marks the 87th presentation of these storied statuettes.

As we post this, the chances are pretty good that you are prepping your home prior to the arrival of guests for your Oscar party or perhaps making a batch of guacamole (hopefully, you’re using Boris Karloff’s recipe) to take to a friend’s Academy Awards gathering. If so, we’ve got the perfect hour’s worth of listening to accompany those chores.

Oscar winners Barry Fitzgerald, Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby

The 17th Academy Awards ceremony, held on March 15, 1945, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, was the first to be broadcast nationally on the radio (on the Blue Network, the precursor to ABC) and also the first to feature clips from the various nominated pictures. And what pictures they were! Double Indemnity, Going My Way, Lifeboat, Gaslight and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek are just a few of the classic pictures that were nominated for the top awards that year.

Host Bob Hope was in top form that night, and the proceedings came off in a mere 66 minutes. And you, dear reader, can experience that magical evening anew by clicking the link below.

The 17th Academy Awards ceremony; Bob Hope, host (1:06:29)

Cladrite Classics: Jack Benny Slept Here

We were mulling over the other day some of the posts we thought particularly fun that went live in the weeks and months before Cladrite Radio had accumulated much of a readership. Would it be problematic, we wondered, to revisit some of those posts, under the heading of Cladrite Classics?

No, we decided, it would not. Hence the following revisited offering, which first saw the light of day on May 13, 2010:

Though we’re committed New Yorkers, we wouldn’t mind a bit spending a few weeks—perhaps even a few months—a year in Los Angeles. We even find ourselves daydreaming about the City of Angels quite often.

And yet, we came around slowly on L.A. Our first couple of visits were enjoyable enough, but we didn’t find the city particularly engaging. After a trio of week-long sojourns there over the past decade or so, though, we’ve been won over.

We view the city through a movie buff’s eye, primarily, and so spend our time motoring about checking out movie stars’ homes, vintage movie palaces, and locations that were used in the filming of some of our favorite classic pictures (though we’re also happy just puttering through the various old neighborhoods south of the Hollywood hills—we love the residential architecture in old L.A.).

We didn’t snap the photos shared below; we bought them at a flea market some years back. They’re snapshots taken around Hollywood and its environs back in the day. How old they are, exactly, we’re not sure—we’re inclined to think they’re from the late 1930s, but we’re open to guesses from you, gentle readers. (For larger views, just click the images.)


Fred Astaire’s home

Jack Benny’s home

Claudette Colbert’s home

Sam Goldwyn’s home

Norma Shearer’s home

Robert Taylor’s home

Mary Pickford and Douglas
Fairbanks’ Pickfair

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Jack Benny slept here

Though we’re committed New Yorkers, we woulnd’t mind a bit spending a few weeks — perhaps even a few months — a year in Los Angeles. We even find ourselves daydreaming about the City of Angels from time to time.

And yet, we came around slowly on L.A. Our first couple of visits were enjoyable enough, but we didn’t find the city particularly engaging. After three week-long sojourns there over the past six or seven years, though, we’ve been won over.

We view the city through a movie buff’s eye, primarily, and spend our time motoring about checking out movie stars’ homes, vintage movie palaces, and locations for favorite classic pictures (though we’re also happy just puttering through the various old neighborhoods south of the Hollywood hills — we love the residential architecture in old L.A.).

We didn’t snap the photos shared below; we bought them at a flea market some years back. They’re snapshots taken around Hollywood and its environs back in the day How old they are, exactly, we’re not sure — we’re inclined to think they’re from the late 1930s, but we’re open to guesses from you, gentle readers. (For larger views, just click the images.)


Fred Astaire’s home

Jack Benny’s home

Claudette Colbert’s home

Sam Goldwyn’s home

Norma Shearer’s home

Robert Taylor’s home

Mary Pickford and Douglas
Fairbanks’ Pickfair

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre