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Jean Harlow, Paul Bern Mural: Hollywood Celebrities in Elizabethan Garb

Jean Harlow Paul Bern muralJean Harlow in Elizabethan garb: Paul Bern's gift to his MGM-star wife

Jean Harlow is seen among various celebrities found on an oil-on-canvas mural created by Russian artist Alexander Ignatiev aka V. Ignatieff in the early 1930s. Lisa Burks, currently working on a biography of Best Actor Academy Award nominee Franchot Tone (Mutiny on the Bounty; also, Phantom Lady, Advise and Consent), has posted on her site a magazine copy of the mural.

The mural was reportedly a gift from MGM producer Paul Bern to his wife Jean Harlow. (If Bern and Harlow were indeed husband and wife at that time, then the gift was made between July and September 1932.) In Elizabethan garb, the blonde MGM star is seen at the center of the table, surrounded by the likes of fellow MGM players John Gilbert, Norma Shearer, and Joan Crawford; MGM honcho Louis B. Mayer; Shearer's husband and MGM's second-in-command Irving G. Thalberg; and director Edmund Goulding (Dark Victory, The Razor's Edge)

Also: Crawford's husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; screenwriter Willis Goldbeck (Scaramouche, Freaks); future Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick; Mayer's daughter and Selznick's wife Irene Mayer Selznick; married actors Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels; MGM screenwriter Carey Wilson (the 1925 Ben-Hur); writer-producer Gene Markey (among whose wives were Joan Bennett, Gene Tierney, and Hedy Lamarr); and baritone-turned-actor Lawrence Tibbett (Academy Award-nominated for The Rogue Song).

Paul Bern, Jean Harlow

A former screenwriter and director, among Paul Bern's movies as a producer were The Divorcee (1930), which earned Norma Shearer the 1929-30 Best Actress Academy Award; the Greta Garbo star vehicles Romance (1930) and Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (1931); Paid (1930), starring Joan Crawford; In Gay Madrid (1930), starring Ramon Novarro; West of Broadway (1931), starring John Gilbert; and the all-star Best Picture Academy Award winner Grand Hotel (1932), directed by Edmund Goulding, and starring Crawford, Garbo, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore.

Paul Bern killed himself in September 1932.

Among Jean Harlow's best-known movies are Hell's Angels (1929), Platinum Blonde (1931), The Public Enemy, Red Dust (1932), Red-Headed Woman (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Bombshell (1933), Wife vs. Secretary (1936), and Libeled Lady (1936).

At age 26, Jean Harlow died of uremic poisoning in 1937. Harlow's last movie, released posthumously, was Jack Conway's comedy Saratoga (1937), co-starring Clark Gable.

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