Books: Better Left Unsaid

HARLOW by Irving Shulman. 408 pages. Bernard Geis. $5.95.

Jean Harlow, first sex goddess of the talkies, had a life that epitomized Thomas Hobbes's phrase for the life of the "natural" man: poor, nasty, brutish and short. Her mother was domineering and obsessed with sex; her stepfather was a sponging promoter of fake gold mines. Jean's second husband, Producer Paul Bern, shot himself two months after the wedding. She could not act, but her platinum hair, husky voice, and refusal to wear a brassiere were enough to gross millions at the box office...

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