• Fri, Feb 22 2013

Hair Dye Killed Jean Harlow

Jean harlow

Remember Jean Harlow, the blond bombshell? She once said that if not for the color of her hair, Hollywood wouldn’t know she was alive. Well, you do if you’re a vampire. She was one of the most famous movie stars of the 20′ and 30′s, and when she died at 26 the cause of her death was much speculated about – some said it was alcoholism, some said a botched abortion, lots of people said lots of things. Many people claimed it was caused by kidney failure. Turns out it was her hair dye.

Or, maybe it was! Probably. The Atlantic has a great article explaining how Harlow’s hair dye was made by mixing Ammonia and Clorox. Combined, the two form a noxious chemical which can cause kidney failure. Which, if you were wondering, is maybe the worst way to die. According to the Atlantic:

When she was bedridden, Clark Gable went to visit her and noticed when he bent over to greet her, “It was like kissing a dead person, a rotting person.” This was because she was no longer able to urinate and was now excreting waste through her breath. By then water weight had caused her body to double in size.

On June 3,1937, Harlow reportedly felt better and was expected to return to set. On June 6, she fell into a coma and the next day was pronounced dead. The doctors had shaved her head of the hair that once defined her as an icon, possibly in preparation for surgery that never came.

That’s awful. That is the worst death. Never use hair dye, ever. Just let it go grey and live a long life.

Picture via Wikipedia

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  • Glory

    I remember an interview in one Jean Harlow documentary or other, with a man who was supposedly her stylist. He claimed that because there essentially weren’t any commercial dyes at the time that would produce platinum colored hair, he came up with his own personal concoction of Lux Flakes (a detergent) and peroxide, whipped up with a kitchen mixer until made a foam.

  • Michele Boyle

    I dont believe that her hair dye killed her. how many other people used this same mixture and never died?