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Great blog. Some stunning photos and interesting candid shots that I have never seen before.

Elizabeth Bridges

Dear Lisa:

I received my copy of "Tarnished Angel" in the mail around May 20th (I was away on vacation so I had a neighbor keep an eye out for my expected delivery from Amazon so I could read it upon my return--lest someone should swipe it from my doorstep beforehand!)

Now, I tell you, I never criticize or praise a book until I have read it. Well, I read "Tarnished Angel" and my only comment is this: Why was this book written?

It seems to be a re-hash of Irving Shulman's "Harlow," and repeats incidents in the book just the same as reported in "Harlow." For example, Jean Harlow never visited the White House with Robert Taylor in 1934! It was 1937 that they made that visit to Roosevelt's Inaugural Ball and, yet, in Bret's book, just as in Shulman's, that glaring historical mistake is repeated. And if Bret is regurgitating that inaccuracy, what other inaccuracies are repeated throughout the remainder of his book? This is a question for Mr. Bret to answer.

The book really offers nothing new in the way of enlightenment on the essence and history of Jean Harlow. But what is clear to me is that Bret is able to use words and language that Shulman was unable to put in print in 1964 and that Bret believes everything that Shulman wrote (since he takes a generous swipe at David Stenn at one point in the book).

While I am a long-time fan of Jean Harlow, I also can accept the fact that as a human being Jean Harlow had her faults, weaknesses and made terrible choices during her short lifetime. Just the same, she was no angel and neither was she a saint. But she was also a woman of tremendous strength and courage and deserves way better treatment than she received in "Tarnished Angel" because all the book appears to be is "Harlow" Redux!


It now appears the well-written review from May 4th (linked from here) has now been suspiciously removed by AmazonUK. The buyer provided the proof that he actually bought the book so why did Amazon remove it? I certainly have my theories. There is now a hard to believe five star review in it's place praising Bret's "excellent research."


Jean Harlow herself said it best in one of her films: "...and I'm Aimee Semple McPherson with a raft."

David Bret

Now I have even more alarming news--it seems that the papers have done this to my publisher again, bought a serialisation and instead of reading the book, offered their own theory which is completely different from that of the author. I'm not looking for excuses for myself--parts of the book you will probably criticise, such as my including the Shulman stuff--which is in quotes, and not what I believe acually happened--I have to include all angles otherwise I get accused of whitewash. But I NEVER called her a slut, and I NEVER said her films were forgettable--one or two, yes, such as the silents, but if anything I have praised her films as amongst the best ever made. Who in their right mind could possibly dismiss Red Dust and Bombshell as forgettable--or Girl From Missouri? These in my opinion remain works of pure genius, solely because of Harlow's quite phenomenal talent. Now another little wager. In the middle of next month I publish Trailblazers, the stories of Jeff Buckley, Gram Parsons and Nick Drake. The date on amazon says 25 June, I wouldn't mind betting that I get lousy reviews for this book, from the same people using different nicknames, before the book comes out. It's a regular pattern now which we are having investigated.

Lisa Burks

Thank you for responding, David. I'd still love to get a review copy and do a Q&A with you. Can you nudge your publisher to respond to my request? Thanks, Lisa

David Bret

I have to admit that I am thoroughly ashamed of myself for my outbursts, and would hereby like to apologise. It all started last year when I published my biography of Doris Day and a rival author published his in the USA with exactly the same cover. I had not even finished editing the book before the most horrible reviews appeared. Then I was absolutely hammered by Clark Gable's daughter, who never even knew who he was until many years after his death. Some of the Harlow reviews WERE published before publication. There was an embargo because of the serialisation. Then again I cannot swear that copies of the book did not slip through the net. All that I know is that amazon's investigations revealed that on several occasions, the same people "reviewed" the Harlow book that reviewed the Gable and Day ones, effectively a smear campaign. I was further disappointed by the Mail "review". Usually with a serialisation they take my own words from the book--not this time. I don't think I ever called Harlow a slut--a loveable trollop in her films, yes, and everyone knows about her fondness not to wear undies. I never use words like "knickers". There are so many other things in the Mail piece that are not in the book--indeed, the whole tone of the piece is wrong. I cannot however complain to the paper for two reasons. One, it wouldn't make any difference now. Two, it might affect them taking other books from my publisher. Like I say I can only apologise again. I adored Jean Harlow: of all the movie stars I have written about, she comes out of it with a good reputation, I hope. This was the reason behind the book, the same reason that I wrote Crawford--with that one I was hammered for being on Joan's side when I defended her against her daughter's false accusations of neglect. Read the Harlow book and make up your own minds, of course. It's silly of me to shout off at the mouth like I did--but given all the fake reviews I think I was not exactly out of line. Many thanks, David Bret.

Harry Martin

Sounds like a reasonable request to me, especially because your site has been around for so many years, is highly regarded, etc. I'd like to rtead the Q&A and see what you think of the book.

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By Lisa Burks

  • Welcome to the companion blog for The Platinum Page, a non-profit fansite dedicated to keeping my favorite classic film actress Jean Harlow's memory alive.

    Here you will find news items, posts based on my own research, plus links to Jean-related products and fan-networking opportunities.