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.