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July 5, 2021

Saratoga (1937): The Last Movie of Jean Harlow

Saratoga is a 1937 American romantic comedy film written by Anita Loos and directed by Jack Conway. The film stars Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in their sixth and final film collaboration and features Lionel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Hattie McDaniel and Margaret Hamilton.

When filming of Saratoga was 90% completed, Harlow collapsed on the set during a scene with Walter Pidgeon and died about a week later, of kidney failure. She had suffered from sun poisoning some months before, combined with the problems with her wisdom teeth, which contributed to her critical condition.

MGM wanted to reshoot the film with Virginia Bruce or Jean Arthur, but Harlow’s fans complained, so the remaining scenes were filmed with Mary Dees, shot from behind or with costumes that obscured her face, playing Harlow’s part for the camera, and Paula Winslowe supplying Harlow’s voice.

Saratoga was released on July 23, 1937, not quite seven weeks after Harlow’s death, and the crowds of her fans that turned out to see the film pushed it into being one of the year’s largest monetary successes. According to MGM records the film earned $2,432,000 in the US and Canada and $820,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $1,146,000 to make it became the most successful film of 1937 and the highest-grossing film of Harlow’s career.

These romantic photos captured portraits of Jean Harlow and Clark Gable together during the filming of Saratoga in 1937.


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