Friday, May 17, 2013

The Death of Paul Bern as told by Kenneth Anger

Patty has a new bookcase and so she's been going to a lot of book sales to find cool stuff to fill it with. A recent acquisition is Hollywood Babylon, by Kenneth Anger.
In case you don't know who he is, he is an "avant garde" filmmaker who was friends with Bobby Beausoleil. Bobby was actually in one of Anger's early works and they were to collaborate on Lucifer Rising. Anger says Bobby stole footage from him after an argument, which kind of killed the relationship. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Anger also hung out with Anton LaVey back in the day.

Anywho, you have probably heard before that Jay Sebring's house was formerly occupied by Paul Bern and Jean Harlow, and that Sharon had some weird kind of premonition of her death while in that house.

All of these pieces come together in Anger's (in)famous 1975 book. He briefly mentions the Tate affair:
"The '69 Tate massacre was not Old Hollywood. What befell the red house on Cielo Drive resembled the devastation caused by a jet plane crash: the Bad Ship Lollipop piloted by Uncle Sugar."
OMFG! Uncle Sugar who drives the twinkie truck, or Uncle Sugar, brother to Mr. Brownstone and Dr. Feelgood's? Patty is not sure, but she digresses.

Anger's description and photos of the death of Paul Bern are more detailed, including the text of his supposed suicide note:
"Dearest Dear, Unfortunately this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you, and to wipe out my abject humiliation. I Love you. Paul"

There are some interesting photos, too: the Bern/Harlow wedding, Bern as he was found, and Bern's body being removed from the scene. Click to enlarge. Morbid? Uh, yeah. But even grizzled, war weary Patty got sick when she saw the photo of Jayne Mansfield's dead chihuahua. That was a bit too much for her admittedly off kilter tastes. So, definitely check this one out if you can find it, but don't flip to the end. You've been warned.






16 comments:

orwhut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
orwhut said...

My wife brought me a copy of Hollywood Babylon years ago, when she returned from a trip. It was certainly different from what I was used to reading.

orwhut said...

It was kind of like reading an historical tabloid.

Farflung said...

Look back at Anger…

Page 405 refers to Uncle Sugar being Charles Manson, as interpreted by David Toop’s interpretation, of what Kenneth Anger interpreted Manson as, in relation to Old School Hollywood. There, that should clear things up.

Surfin Death Valley

Although I had only known Anger’s work as an author of Hollywood’s sanguine gossip, he is constantly credited as being an ‘experimental filmmaker’ in most Manson related books. This is one of his earliest (1947) works titled ‘Fireworks’:

Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks

What did it all mean? Why did Kenneth light his cigarette with such a large, flaming source of heat; the sort of heat which haunts one’s every thought, and motion throughout the day? Then he goes into a magical room filled with sailors, and able bodied seamans, oh my goodness, but there are so many of them. See how they exercise with handstands? Uh oh, the seamans have chains, fists, and hard rods in their hands and are menacing Kenneth. They beat him mercilessly and savagely while tearing at his very being, will it ever stop? Hold on, there’s some sort of white fluid covering his body and making him feel better after taking such a pounding. Then another sailor shows up and sets off some fireworks in his pants! It’s all so festive with veterans in uniform celebrating the 4th of July, very patriotic.

Here’s an interview from a few months ago:

Kenneth Anger on Bobby

(2:58-4:54)They ‘broke up’? Hmmm……

william marshall said...

Always heard they thought Jane Harlows daughter killed Paul Bern ?

william marshall said...

Oh miss Patty thank you for the wonderful write up on The Brotherhood of Eternal Love really enjoyed that book I was amazed that Laguna Beach was once such a cheap place to live must of been one Hell of a trip "Orange Sunshine" days "Daze"

CarolMR said...

I read this book years ago and enjoyed it, but I would still take it with a grain of salt. Anger got some things wrong, especially his take on the Fatty Arbuckle story. He really did Fatty an injustice.

orwhut said...

william marshall said... Always heard they thought Jane Harlows daughter killed Paul Bern ?

William,
Please educate me on this.

Minh Minimum said...

Lana Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane ( 14 at the time) killed her Mom's boyfriend (mobster) Johnny Stompanato. She stabbed him in 1958 in what was ruled as a case of self defense.
Jean Harlow didn't have any children.

Panamint Patty said...

Thank u.william, Patty is happy to have been of assistance. :)

Panamint Patty said...

Carol, can you say more about the piece on Fatty?

Stacey L. said...

CarolMR said:
I read this book years ago and enjoyed it, but I would still take it with a grain of salt. Anger got some things wrong, especially his take on the Fatty Arbuckle story. He really did Fatty an injustice.

I fell the same way. I got this book a couple Mother's Days ago(yes, my husband is that awesome!)and read it pretty quickly. It does feel like you're reading a tabloid for the most part.

CarolMR said...

Patty, I'll try to get the story right as best as I can. In 1921 Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle threw a party with two of his friends at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Several women were invited, including an aspiring actress named Virginia Rappe. He was accused by a Ms. Delmont of raping Virginia with a Coke bottle, causing her bladder to erupt. She died several days later. The doctor who examined her said he found no evidence of rape and that Virginia suffered from acute cystitis which was made worse by her heavy drinking. It was said that several days before the party she had had a botched abortion. She had many abortions in her short life. Yet Ms. Delmont stuck to her story and Fatty went on trial for rape and murder three times. The first two trials ended in a hung jury and the third trial acquitted him. The defense produced a letter in which Ms. Delmont planned to blackmail Fatty. If he paid her she would withdraw her story. The judge, I believe, said Fatty was not only "not guilty" he was completely innocent. Despite this, Fatty Arbuckle was punished by Hollywood and the public. Buster Keaton tried to help him get back into movies, but the studios wouldn't budge, because of the "scandal." He tried to direct under the name William Goodrich, but that didn't go very far. He died an alcoholic. But Anger kept to the false story because, after all, it's much more interesting and horrifying than the truth.

Panamint Patty said...

TY Carol. Some things never change, huh?

CarolMR said...

No, Patty, some things never change!

Joao Palma said...

Hello everyone

First of all, i'm sorry for my bad english..

Now, i am portuguese guy really interested in the Familly stories. And of course, that nights.

I wish i could read everything i can about it, but i don't know where download the ebooks for free.

Please help me, and send me (if possible) the links with the susan, squeaky, hendrickson books. I have some books by now, but i want more.

Thanks in advance.

João