Paul Bern

The Life and Famous Death of the MGM Director and Husband of Harlow

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About the Book

Paul Bern, known throughout the movie business as “Hollywood’s Father Confessor,” earned a reputation for being a loyal and supportive friend and for becoming one of MGM’s most respected and creative directors. After his death, though, he was said to have grown so depressed and despondent over his own apparent sexual inadequacies that he committed suicide, and he would be denounced for attempting to rape his new bride Jean Harlow.
In this biography, the author uncovers startling new facts and argues that MGM knew the real story of Bern’s death—that an estranged, mentally ill common-law wife murdered him. MGM understood that the earlier spouse rendered Bern’s marriage to Harlow, its fastest-rising star, ambiguous if not bigamous, so the studio staged a suicide and embarked on a very public tarnishing of his memory. Included are 93 rare photos, many lost for decades, along with three appendices examining the handwriting on an alleged suicide note and Bern’s will and estate.

About the Author(s)

E.J. Fleming has been researching Hollywood for decades and has penned biographies of Carole Landis and Wallace Reid, among other books. He lives in the country in Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

E.J. Fleming
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 396
Bibliographic Info: 93 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, filmography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3963-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5274-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Preface      1

1. Paul and Dorothy      3
2. The Movies      28
3. Hollywood      49
4. Director and Father      75
5. Paul and Irving      97
6. Sound      124
7. Garbo      146
8. Platinum Blonde      173
9. Red-Headed Women      202
10. Death and Disgrace      241
11. Who Killed Paul Bern?      284

Epilogue—Shadows      298

Appendix I: Handwriting Comparison      305
Appendix II: Paul Bern’s Will      306
Appendix III: Paul Bern’s Estate      309
Filmography      311
Chapter Notes      327
Bibliography      355
Index      365

Book Reviews & Awards

“this book…needs to be picked up and read by everyone who has ever had a love of Hollywood history…wonderful…. Fleming continues to surprise and entertain his readers, while giving us a healthy dose of honesty, true journalism”—Canyon News; “a very detailed biography…Fleming is a skilled biographer…the material his book is based on is rich and diverse…rewarding”—H-Net Reviews.