Pin-up models seemed to have it all: the beauty, the fame, the success and admiration of thousands of fans. Women wanted to be them, men wanted to be with them.
But not all that glitters is gold. These famous beauties might have seemed happy and glamorous on the big screen, but after the final credits rolled, real life began. And theirs was far from perfect. From mental and physical abuse, childhood trauma, exploitation to failed relationships, alcoholism, and unfortunate deaths, these are the extremely tragic stories of some of the most beautiful Pin-up girls of Hollywood.
HOLLYWOOD’S ECSTASY GIRL
Born in 1914 under the name Hedwig Eva Kiesler, the famous Hedy Lamarr was among the most beautiful stars of Hollywood’s “Golden Era.” Before becoming one of Hollywood’s stars, she appeared in the 1933 film Ecstasy by Czech director Gustav Machatý, becoming the first woman to portray an orgasm on screen. Not everyone appreciated her nude appearances, and at some point, the controversial film was even banned by Hitler and Pope Pius XII. It succeeded, however, in capturing the attention of Lamar’s first husband: Austrian arms manufacturer (and fascist sympathizer) Fritz Mandl.
Unfortunately, her marriage to Mandl was not the happiest one. She managed to escape from the castle where she was more or less confined and took a train from Vienna to Paris. From there she went to the United States where she met Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film producer and Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer.
Her cinematic career took on from there, but she was not happy with being just another Golden Era beauty. “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid,” she once said. This way of thinking prompted her to get involved in other things except film and use her technical mind to come up with various inventions among which a guidance system for torpedoes and a precursor to the secure now widely used WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth technologies.
Unfortunately, she did not get recognition for her inventions while alive. Hedy Lamar died in 2000, at 85 years of age.
THE BLONDE BEAUTY, THE DEAD HUSBAND, AND THE OTHER WIFE
Jean Harlow achieved worldwide recognition when she was only 22 years old. The original blonde bombshell of Hollywood was well-known for her striking beauty and forthright sexuality but after meeting MGM executive Paul Bern, she also became appreciated for her acting. Harlow and Bern tied the knot in 1932 but their marriage didn’t last long. In fact, two months into their marriage, Bern was found dead by gunshot in the couple’s home.
Needless to say, many pointed the finger at Harlow for shooting her husband, although the investigators ruled it as suicide. MGM tried to put an end to the rumors, but the story was far from being over. As it was later discovered, The MGM exec had also been married to Dorothy Millette, an actress who had been committed to an East Coast sanitarium. This meant Harlow was Paul Bern’s “other” wife. Upon hearing about his death, Millette also committed suicide by jumping off a riverboat in San Francisco and drowning.
As for Harlow, she remarried cinematographer Harold Rosson but divorced after only eight months. Sadly, her failed marriage was not the worse that could happen to her. During the filming of Saratoga (1937), she was hospitalized for flu symptoms including blindness, and soon after diagnosed with uremic poisoning. Jean Harlow died on June 7, 1937 at the age of 26.