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Paul Bern: The Life and Famous Death of the MGM Director and Husband of Harlow 1St Edition Edition

23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786439638
ISBN-10: 0786439637
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About the Author

E.J. Fleming is the author of numerous books about the performing arts and Hollywood pop culture, including most recently a biography of Wallace Reid. He lives in Barrington, Illinois.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland; 1St Edition edition (January 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786439637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786439638
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I am a huge Jean Harlow fan and have read E.J. Fleming's other books (and have enjoyed them). Honestly, I didn't really care all that much about Paul Bern. After all, he was supposedly a thoughtful intellectual with a fragile ego and might well be regarded as a murky footnote in Jean Harlow's all too short life. I wasn't really expecting to learn much about Bern and his death, but I was certain there would be tidbits about Harlow and at the very least some good vintage pictures of the platinum one.
For this reader, PAUL BERN was a complete revelation. After the first few pages, I pretty much forgot about Harlow and was totally into Paul's story. It turns out that Paul Bern was pretty much the antithesis of the pathetic suicide he has been portrayed as since 1932. Through intensive research, Fleming has uncovered a very different portrait of the man. Ironically, by the time Harlow arrived on the scene I wasn't wondering what she saw in Paul Bern though I probably was wondering what specifically attracted him to her.
The temptation to give away some of the more interesting issues covered in this book is fairly great, but I am going to stay away from being a spoiler.While the author has done a magnificent job fleshing out the real Bern, he has also managed to include a couple of hot topics. Fleming discusses the paternity of silent screen siren Barbara LaMarr's so-called adopted son. I am not 100% convinced on the so-called father, but I am certain LaMarr was the birth mother. I suspect DNA testing might help clarify this point. I am also waiting on that long promised book from the son (Don Gallery) that might provide more substantial information. Fleming also discusses Bern's suicide and has made an excellent case for a cover-up/murder which I buy into.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MrsSchmidlapp on February 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing biography about a complicated man whose life ended in tragedy and mystery. You probably just think of Paul Bern as the man who married Jean Harlow but he was a very powerful figure in Hollywood during the 1920's and 1930's. He also played a big part in lives of MANY beautiful starlets - Joan Crawford, Barbara La Marr, Mabel Normand, Greta Garbo, and the lovely Olive Borden. What I like best about E.J.'s biographies is the amount of research he does. Seventy years after Paul's "suicide" we are finally told the true story and it's actually more interesting than the MGM created version. I loved all the rare Harlow photos too. Get this book if you are a Jean Harlow fan or if you love a great story about classic Hollywood.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Blight on January 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Being a long time Harlow fan, I was intrigued by this book when I first heard about it. I have read every biography about Harlow ever written, and although different authors have different takes on the events of her life, most of them have agreed that Paul Bern was probably impotent, had a very dark side to him, and committed suicide. This book, however, was quite a revelation. Exhaustively researched and full of meticulous details regarding every aspect of Bern's life, I have come away with a very different view of this remarkable man. What I found most interesting of all was that the author was able to construct a relatively clear picture of Dorothy Millette's life and personality more than any other author has ever done. The book also gives a vivid picture of Hollywood during the era of silent films, a period that few people other than film historians know much about. Every part of this book is fascinating, and his conclusions regarding Bern's death are backed up by sound arguments.

Although I loved every part of this book from cover to cover, I should point out that it has more than its share of typos, which does get a bit distracting after a while. No big deal, but I just though I'd mention it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. B CLEMMER on August 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I, like other reviewers, have been fascinated about early Hollywood for many years; not just an interest in its movies, but in the people and studios. There were many aspects of the author's coverage of Paul Bern's story that I found interesting or informative, but he is definitely a man on a mission. This mission is to establish Bern as both a vital, erudite part of MGM's writing and production team and as a definite ladies' man/social mover/saint. The author seems to list every mention of Bern in social columns along with others who attended various functions. This can be interesting information, but is given without context, more as just a listing of his social calendar. The same is done regarding various movies/scenarios with which Bern was involved - at times, the author becomes very bogged down in synopses of these movies without any context or indication of the relevance to his premise. Tangential information for the sake of information can be covered in a footnote (although in this case the footnotes might be longer than the body of the book.), allowing readers who want these synopses to read them, but not halting the flow of the main focus of the book.

It is a minor flaw, but very irritating to me, that an author so focused on minutiae regarding Bern was so sloppy in referring to a party attended by "William" (instead of Winston) Churchill, the British Prime Minister (not yet, "future" prime minister, yes). There were also some grammar and misused word issues, but not as major a flaw as many I've read. I don't think copy editors really exist anymore.

The kindle edition of the book was fine with the exception of the photographs.
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Paul Bern: The Life and Famous Death of the MGM Director and Husband of Harlow
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