If it weren't for Madonna's song Vogue, I probably wouldn't even recognize the name Jean Harlow. However, name recognition counts for a lot, and when I saw that Platinum Doll was the fictionalized story of actress Jean Harlow I couldn't wait to learn more.
Harlean McGrew is just sixteen and married when she returns to Hollywood. She and her mother had tried their luck previously, but her mother didn't find the fame she sought.
Harlean has no intentions of finding fame, ready to be a wife, and eventually a mother. But when she is recognized by studio executives when she is waiting for her friend Rosalie in the parking lot, fame finds her.
Harlean becomes Jean Harlow, dies her hair a platinum blond and creates a name for herself. Her husband Chuck has his own demons to deal with and is not prepared or equipped to have a wife that other men see as a sex symbol. Harlean's mom quickly finds her way back to Hollywood with her second husband, where she does her best to help her daughter's rising star, even if it is at the cost of her daughter's marriage and happiness.
I was totally entranced by this story, which focuses on Jean Harlow's rise to fame, not covering the years after her divorce from Chuck McGrew, or her untimely death at the age of twenty six from kidney failure.
I loved the 1930s Hollywood that Girard created and the details she was able to bring to life at this time.
This is a fantastic novel for those who love fictionalized biographies like The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin or Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.