Signed Vintage Photo Inscribed to William Wyler - c1930s
Signed Photograph to William Wyler. Extremely scarce, uncommon 10.5″ x 13″ large format image of the seductive screen legend, personally inscribed to renowned director William Wyler and signed by Harlow herself:
“Willie” darling – Loads of love to you, From Jean
One of the rarest and most sought-after Hollywood autographs in an exceptional large format and with a remarkable association.
Known as the “Blonde Bombshell” due to her famous platinum blonde hair, Jean Harlow (1911-1937) ranks as one of the greatest movie stars of all time by the American Film Institute. She starred in 32 feature films and numerous short subjects, mainly designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal and strong screen presence, before transitioning to more developed roles and achieving massive fame under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Harlow’s enormous popularity and “laughing vamp” image were in distinct contrast to her personal life, which was marred by disappointment, tragedy, and ultimately, her sudden death from renal failure at age 26. Consequently, authentic autographs by the young Jean Harlow are extremely scarce and highly collectible. Her mother, known as Mama Jean (and also named Jean Harlow) signed the vast majority of her daughter’s letters and photographs, and genuine autographs are hard to come by.
William “Willie” Wyler (1902 -1981) was a three-time Academy Award-winning motion picture director. In the early 1930s he became one of Universal’s greatest assets, directing such solid films as The Love Trap, Hell’s Heroes, and The Good Fairy. He became well-known for his merciless (some would say sadistic) insistence on multiple retakes, resulting in often award-winning and critically acclaimed performances from his actors. After leaving Universal he began a long collaboration with Samuel Goldwyn where he directed such classics as The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), The Little Foxes (1941), The Westerner (1940), and Wuthering Heights (1939). Laurence Olivier, whom Wyler directed to two Oscar nominations in two films, credited Wyler with teaching him how to act for the screen. Bette Davis not only received three Oscar nominations for her screen work under Wyler, but won her second Oscar for her performance in Wyler’s 1938 film Jezebel. Charlton Heston won his only nomination and Best Actor Oscar for his work in Wyler’s 1959 blockbuster Ben-Hur.
MGM was where Harlow became a superstar. She was given superior movie roles to show off not only her beauty, but what turned out to be a genuine talent for comedy. In 1931, she had the starring roles in Red-Headed Woman, for which she received a salary of $1,250 per week, and Red Dust, her second film with Clark Gable. These films showed her to be much more at ease in front of the camera and highlighted her skill as a comedienne. Harlow and Gable worked well together and co-starred in a total of six films; she was also paired multiple times with Spencer Tracy and William Powell, whom she almost married.
As her star ascended, sometimes the power of Harlow’s name was used to boost up-and-coming male co-stars, such as Robert Taylor and Franchot Tone. Evolving tastes, plus the grooming MGM was noted for, changed Harlow from a brassy, exotic platinum blonde to the more mainstream, all-American type preferred by studio boss Louis B. Mayer; the screen Harlow at the end of her life was quite different from that of 1930, when audiences first took notice of her.