The fascinating backstory of the competition to get two rival film biographies both titled Harlow into theaters first that quickly turned into one of the nastiest, dirtiest feuds that Hollywood ever witnessed.

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In 1965, in a rare occurrence not seen before or since, two motion pictures with the same title about the same subject opened within weeks of each other.

Carol Lynley was Jean Harlow in Bill Sargent’s Harlow a quickie B&W independent production filmed in Electronovision. Carroll Baker was Jean Harlow in Joseph E. Levine’s Harlow a big budget color extravaganza from Paramount Pictures. Both endeavored to tell the story of the legendary thirties blonde bombshell’s passionate love life and her meteoric rise from bit player to super star before her death at the young age of twenty-six. 

Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen recounts the struggle it took to get these rival movie biographies into theaters first considering the almost daily war-of-words between the movies’ showman producers, which almost escalated into fisticuffs at the 1965 Academy Awards ceremony; the casting problems each faced; the poor screenplays, which hampered the productions; the hurried pace to complete filming causing on-set frustration; and the law suits that followed in the aftermath. Both movies were failures at the time but have camp appeal today.

Dueling Harlows (with 18 photos) contains new interviews from people who worked on the movies including actors Carol Lynley, Michael Dante, and Aron Kincaid; assistant directors Richard C. Bennett and Tim Zinnemann; casting director Marvin Paige; plus film historian Robert Osborne and producer David Permut. Also included are vintage comments from Joseph Levine, Bill Sargent, Carroll Baker, Ginger Rogers, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Michael Connors, and many more.


Comments: 5

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  • Can’t wait for this one!

  • John Black

    I’ll put it on my To Buy list for November. I may not start reading it that soon, but I’ll acquire it.

    • Thanks, John. Hope you like it. Should be available soon.

  • peter nunziato

    On the edge of my seat with credit card in hand, aiming to be the first to purchase this book. I’ve shown my fifth-grade students my collection of Lisanti-penned books, always using Tom as an exemplar that authors are real people (and, of course, boasting that I know him personally.) I’ve also used passages from the starlets books in lessons on writing nonfiction, and Harlow will undoubtedly be featured, as well. BTW, they equate the sixties to the sixteenth century, and, as landlocked Texans, they are fascinated by beach culture…such a foreign concept to them.

    • Wow, Peter. I didn’t know this. Thanks! Book should be out within a week or two.

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