This article was last modified on July 10, 2014.

Marino Bello, Jean Harlow’s Stepfather

born illegitimately November 11, 1883 in Trieste, a seaport in northeastern Italy on the border with Slovenia

married American Mildred Maas on August 15, 1914 in Italy

immigrated with Mildred on October 5, 1919 and went to work at the College Inn [SS Presidente Wilson passenger list]

1920, lived at 3290 West Grand Boulevard in the 6th Ward of Chicago with wife Mildred and her uncle, Ernest Lessing Byfield. [US Federal Census, 1920] Byfield operated the Hotel Sherman Company, including the Ambassador East and West, the Sherman, the Fort Dearborn and the Drake Hotels and The Pump Room and College Inn restaurants.

departed from Southampton on the SS New York on March 18 and arrived in New York on March 23, 1920. The ship was primarily full of Dutch immigrants moving to Minnesota. [SS New York passenger list]

by mid-1920, moved to 4752 South Ellis Avenue on the South Side of Chicago

departed from Trieste on the SS Presidente Wilson on November 27 and arrived December 13, 1920 in New York. With him was civil engineer Alexander Baifeld of Budapest who was to meet up with uncle Joseph Byfield at the Hotel Sherman. [SS Presidente Wilson passenger list]

December 1924, under the auspices of the Bello Byfield Corporation of Waukegan, filed a patent for a process of making vulcanizing battery containers at a cost more affordable to manufacturers. The patent was published in May 1926 and was still being referenced by other inventors as recently as 2011. [Patent #US1585642 A]

1925, lived at 280 Central Avenue in Highland Park

was naturalized December 14, 1925 in Chicago with witnesses Frank W. Bering and Ernest N. Roul, both residents of the Hotel Sherman. [Naturalization card]

allegedly met Jean Carpentier when she dined at the College Inn [Daid Stenn, Bombshell, Doubleday, 1993: 20]

December 16, 1926, divorced Mildred, who said he had “repeatedly struck and beaten her”. [Mildred Bello v. Marino Bello, Lake County Circuit Court]

stepdaughter Jean was enrolled at Ferry Hall, an all-girl academy in Lake Forest

January 18, 1927, married Jean Poe Carpentier in Waukegan, Illinois

took an interest in stepdaughter Jean Harlow’s career, acting as her chauffeur and once (in December 1931) carrying her on stage in Pittsburgh when she was too ill to walk.

allegedly, around 1928, Bello pushed Harlow into having an abortion so the pregnancy would not interefere with her acting career [Stenn: 32]

There are some bizarre and outrageous claims about Bello’s relationship with Harlow, and the involvement of Abner “Longy” Zwillman. E. J. Fleming has written about a “locket around Zwillman’s neck that held strands of Jean’s pubic hair” and that Zwillman “showered her” with jewelry and Cadillacs. [Fleming, The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine. McFarland, 2004. p114] Gus Russo claimed that Bello “earned dirty money by pimping her to many studio executives.” [Russo, The Outfit, 2004 p155] Russo again called Zwillman Harlow’s “lover” in his follow-up book, “Supermob”. These allegations appear to be unfounded.

Harlow and director-producer Paul Bern announced their engagement in June 1932 and married on July 2, 1932.

September 5, 1932, Bello spent the early morning fishing for marlin off Catalina Island with Clark Gable and wardrobe man Ted Tetrick. Around 4pm, Tetrick went to get more supplies and learned that while they were away, Bern committed suicide by gunshot after being married only two months. When Tetrick informed Bello, “He wasn’t upset at all.” [Stenn: 105, 109]

After Bern’s death, rumors began circulating that he was supporting his former common-law wife Dorothy Millette on the side and at one point paid for her stay in a Connecticut sanitarium following her “derangement”. Bello said had he known of this, “Over my dead body would Jean have married him.” He called Bern a “man of many moods”, saying “he would be drawn and haggard and the next day he would be bright and happy.” [“Stepfather in Rage” St. Joseph News-Press. September 7, 1932] At the inquest on September 8, Bello said his occupation was “mining” and distanced himself from the death, saying, “All I know is what I heard.” Allegedly, Henry Bern would later believe Paul was killed by “a paid assassin acting on Bello’s orders”, but the more realistic solution is the one giving by the coroner: suicide. [Stenn: 125]

Bern’s final film, “Grand Hotel”, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

in the summer of 1933, George Raft brought Benjamin Siegel to the set of “Bombshell”, and Bello introduced them to Harlow. This started the affiliation of Bello with Siegel. [Los Angeles Examiner, August 16, 1933]

September 25, 1933, Harlow deeded the Beverly Glen estate to Jean Bello

November 1933, Bello got in a spat with MGM about how much Harlow was paid, and she ended up going on strike during the production of “Age of Larceny”. [Stenn: 169] The issue resolved itself, and after going through some title changes, Harlow starred alongside Lionel Barrymore in the film, now titled “The Girl from Missouri”.

September 27, 1935 divorced by Jean Bello for extreme cruelty, including the claim that he hated her backseat driving. Jean further said he once purchased 23 pairs of spats and objected to her spending money on herself. “The man truly acted as though he were a maniac… He said he operated some mines, but I never saw any of his money, ” she testified. Bello did not appear at the hearing, and the divorce was granted with Bello receiving a $22,000 settlement. [Jean Bello v. Marino Bello, Los Angeles County Superior Court]

1935-1936, lived at 1429 North El Centro Avenue, Los Angeles (Hollywood)

SS Sonora sailed from Mazatlan, Sinaloa (western Mexico) October 18, 1935 and landing at Los Angeles on October 24. Also on board were Carmen Walker and Albert R. Wilfert. [SS Sonora passenger list]

MN Feltre sailed from Genoa July 26, 1936 to Los Angeles August 31. Bello was apparently alone. [MN Feltre passenger list]

June 1937, attended the funeral of his former stepdaughter Jean Harlow and comforted her father, Dr. Montclair Carpentier


September 19, 1938, the Metha Nelson left San Pedro, California with 27 people aboard. Passenger Richard Gulley (a cousin to future British prime minister Anthony Eden) later explained the treasure hunt idea came from Captain William Bowber, a Canadian with a map that lead to $300 million in buried gold. Allegedly, a group of nuns and priests fled Lima, Peru around 1820 and brought the gold to Cocos Island aboard a Spanish galleon. They were overtaken by pirates and the gold, including a ruby-studded four-foot Madonna, were buried. [“Sailors Freed in ‘Ship Mutiny'” Pittsburgh Press. January 19, 1939]

All did not go as planned, and the Metha Nelson was picked up by the Italian motorship Cellina on November 24 with the masts and propeller missing.

When asked by reporters if the voyage could be called a “hell ship”, Captain Robert B. Hoffman said they were “goddamn right” to call it that. “The crew ran around with pistols and knives,” he said, “and most of ’em ought to be tossed into the brig for mutiny… Bello, who chartered the ship for this cruise in search of buried treasure on Cocos Island, was dominated by the gangster element on board. DiFrasso was scared to death… It was trouble, trouble. A Hollywood treasure hunt — fooey! The whole thing was nuts from the very beginning.” [“Captain Gives Account of ‘Hell Ship’ Voyage” Deseret News. January 12, 1939]

Charles Segal and Abraham Kapellner were taken into custody for mutiny on the word of Captain Hoffman. The men claimed they were being persecuted for being Jews, but Hoffman vigorously denied that he knew or cared their background. At the federal grand jury in January 1939, only Hoffman said a mutiny occurred and claimed that Benjamin Siegel was planning to kidnap the countess. Bello called it a “pack a lies” and said, “The countess and Siegel are respectable people.” DiFrasso submitted an affidavit supporting Bello. Gulley called it a “ripping cruise” and other than “a few bickerings” found the mutiny story to be “balderdash”. The accused men were not indicted. [“Sailors Freed in ‘Ship Mutiny'” Pittsburgh Press. January 19, 1939]

married nurse Evelyn Lucille Husby aboard the ship on September 23, who was born in Conway, Skagit County, Washington in April 1914 to parents of Norwegian descent, lived in Seattle and was half his age

MS Fella left Genoa on August 1, 1939 and arrived in Los Angeles on September 1. With him was Evelyn. [MS Fella passenger list]

1939-1940, lived at 2684 North Beachwood Drive in Los Angeles (Hollywood Hills) with wife Evelyn and claimed to be a self-employed engineer. In the same building was real estate salesman John H. Evans, [US Federal Census 1940]

December 6, 1940 Social Security application claimed he was “never employed”

August 15, 1941, Eveleyn was granted a divorce by Judge Thurmond Clarke on the grounds of cruelty [Evelyn Bello v. Marino Bello, Los Angeles County Superior Court]

1942, lived at 133 North Crescent Heights Boulevard, Los Angeles (West Hollywood). Living with him was Violette Hartman, his future wife. He claimed to work for the “I Am An American Foundation” at 413 in the Taft Building. [World War II Registration Card] The foundation was co-founded by actor Edward Arnold and Benjamin Edwards Neal in 1938. The organization celebrated American citizenship for those born in foreign lands. Bello’s role is unclear.

1953, lived 4448 Ambrose

died August 15, 1953 in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times characterized him as a “public relations counselor”

Widow Violette brought a claim of $1,000,000 in damages for libel against Random House for publishing “Harlow, an Intimate Biography”, which allegedly defamed the memory of her husband. Both the circuit court and appellate court rejected her claim, as the law does not accept the concept of libel against the dead and Violette, who was living, was never mentioned in the book. [Bello v. Random House, Inc., 422 SW 2d 339 – Mo: Supreme Court, 1st Div. 1967]

Also try another article under Organized Crime
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

Leave a Reply