Dueling Harlows

The Race to Bring the Actress’s Life to the Silver Screen

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About the Book

This work documents the story of producers Joseph E. Levine and Bill Sargent, and the 1965 race to get their problem-laden biopics of Jean Harlow (both titled Harlow) into theaters first. Levine’s film starred Carroll Baker in a big-budget, color production. Sargent’s movie starred Carol Lynley in a quickie, black & white production shot in a new process called Electronovision. Although each film had casting and script issues, the producers were undeterred from battling it out in the press. It was one of the nastiest, dirtiest feuds Hollywood had ever witnessed, and almost culminated in fisticuffs at the 1965 Academy Awards ceremony.
The book (expanded from the original self-published edition) touches on Jean Harlow’s life; the failed attempts to get a Harlow biopic produced in the 1950s; the reviled, best-selling 1964 biography; and the making of the two Harlow films. It then delves into the aftermath of each movie’s release, from scathing reviews to disappointing box office returns to the several lawsuits that were filed. Interviewees include actors Carol Lynley, Michael Dante, Julie Parrish, and Maureen Gaffney; makeup artist Michael Westmore; assistant directors Richard Bennett and Tim Zinnemann; casting director Marvin Paige; and film historians Robert Osborne and Darrell Rooney. Newly discussed are the portrayals of Jean Harlow on stage shortly after the Levine and Sargent films, and the making of the 1977 film Hughes and Harlow: Angels in Hell, including interviews with its leading lady Lindsay Bloom and cinematographer Nicholas von Sternberg.

About the Author(s)

Tom Lisanti is the award-winning author of multiple books about 1960s and 1970s film and television history. He has appeared as a cohost on Turner Classic Movies and has written for Cinema Retro, Films of the Golden Age, Cinema of the ’70s, and Scary Monsters.

Bibliographic Details

Tom Lisanti
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 50 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9259-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5166-8
Imprint: McFarland