Neptune and the Sex Symbolsharlowimage

Part Two: Jean Harlow (Moon Square Neptune)

Jean Harlow was Hollywood’s first blond bombshell. Driven by her ambitious mother (the avatar of all overbearing stage moms) Harlow worked her way up from an extra to a major star by sleeping with the right people and flaunting her gorgeous body. But what really established Harlow as a pop culture icon was the way in which she projected the power of feminine sexuality onto the screen. Men loved her but it was the women who wanted to like her that made up the bulk of her fan base. (Click here to see Jean Harlow's horoscope.)

In Jean Harlow’s horoscope the Moon is in Aries where it forms a T-square with Neptune and Mars. Mars adds an edge to Neptune’s glamorous appeal. Here Neptune expresses itself aggressively. The joint afflictions to the Moon by Mars and Neptune also describe Harlow’s complex and often adversarial her mother (symbolize by the Moon.)    

Harlow’s mother had been a great beauty in her youth and had once tried to break into movies herself. After this the mother focused her dreams of stardom on her daughter. The younger Harlow apparently had no such aspirations but “mother Jean” had enough ambition for both of them. So it is not surprising that Harlow, whose legal name at the time was Harlean Carpenter, signed her first movie contract with her mother’s maiden name, Jean Harlow.

A Pisces by Sun sign, Harlow constantly alternated between defying her mother and acquiescing to her demands. At sixteen she eloped with a young man wealthy enough to take care of her but, for some reason, the couple decided to settle in Los Angeles rather than stay at home in Kansas City. Soon after this the lovely young Harlow caught the eye of executives of Fox studios and that was all Harlow's mother needed. The new husband was quickly pushed out of the way..

When Harlow became pregnant, during her first marriage and later with William Powell (who was probably the love of her life) her mother persuaded her to have abortions. Even though Harlow frequently stated that what she really wanted was marriage and children, “mother Jean” felt her career had to come first.

The closest Harlow came from escaping the grip of her mother was when she married a studio executive name Paul Bern. Bern was older and had the experience and the Hollywood clout to compete with “mother Jean.” He encouraged Harlow to be independent of her mother, to read and develop her mind. Even though he was domineering in his own way, for a brief time it seemed that, through Bern, Harlow would get free of her mother’s influence.

Then, just a few months into the marriage, Bern committed suicide. The circumstances of his death are still considered a tantalizing Hollywood mystery but the impact it had on Harlow’s life was definite. After Bern’s death, there was no effective counter to “mother Jean.”

With both the Moon and Venus in Aries, there was of fight in Jean Harlow’s personality and even though she could not confront her mother directly, the young actress found ways of expressing her inner rage. People who got to know Harlow personally were charmed by her affable nature and utter lack of pretension. These people were often perplexed by the contrast between this side of Harlow and the things that she did, like flashing the crew on movie sets, answering the door in the nude and her calculated aversion to underwear. Harlow knew the effect her body had on men and it was through these little acts of sexual aggression that she lashed out at the world.

Of course, it was how fighting spirit was displayed on movies screens that made Harlow a pop culture icon. She was typically cast as the temptress, the vamp, the woman who blatantly used her sexuality to bend men to her will. No one ever accused Harlow of being a great actress but, in these roles, she needed no acting skill. With Mars squaring her Aries Moon this aggressiveness, this use of sex as a weapon came naturally. With Neptune also square her Moon, Harlow able to project this "bad girl" persona via the movie screen in a way that stirred the hearts of millions.

Nothing cements a person’s place in the pop culture pantheon better and an early death and, just as she had orchestrated Harlow’s rise to fame, “mother Jean inadvertently arranged for this as well.  Not long after she turned 26, Harlow began feeling ill. In fact, her kidneys were shutting down but “mother Jean” refused to believe it. She was convinced that her daughter was faking an illness to avoid work and, invoked her Christian Science affiliation (something she hadn’t done when Harlow needed an abortion,) the elder Jean refused to take Harlow to a hospital until it was too late to save her.

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