Is Jean Harlow's Old Hollywood Home Haunted? You Decide...
Jean Harlow & Paul Bern's Ghosts
Jean Harlow was a beautiful, vibrant young actress in the glamorous Old Hollywood days in the 1930s. Jean was known for her bombshell shape and smooth, sexy attitude on film and off. When she was in her early twenties, she married a man named Paul Bern. Paul was actually an MGM executive and Jean obviously knew him through the film-making industry. He was much older than her, being twenty-two years her elder. Jean was a gorgeous, rising movie star at the tender age of twenty-one, and it was said that she was actually the pursuer of what was to be known as a very strange and debated relationship with her much older husband, Paul Bern.
There are many stories circulating the tumultuous marriage between Paul Bern and Jean Harlow, many of which are denounced as mere rumors and Hollywood fluff, but some of which seem to carry a true air of mystery and terror. The true stories surrounding Paul Bern and Jean Harlow's short marriage consist of three deaths. The first death was that of Paul Bern himself. Paul Bern was found shot and bleeding in he and Jean's Hollywood home on a quiet night on September 5th, 1932. He and Jean had only been married for about four months total. There was a suicide note nearby, and Paul was found bleeding all over Jean Harlow's white bedroom, doused in Jean's floral, pungent perfume. Jean apparently had been staying at her mother's this death-filled night and wasn't aware of her husband's demise.
The butler actually found Paul's dead body and notified his wife, who was a cook at the Bern/Harlow residence at the time. The suicide note that was left by Paul Bern said, "Dearest Dear, unfortunately this is the only thing to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and wipe out by abject humility. I love you, Paul. P.S. You understand that last night was only a comedy."
The police and investigators were initially baffled at what this suicide note even meant, but knew that Jean would understand the meaning behind Paul's last words. She apparently did know what they meant, but the actual documented meaning is still debated. Some say that Paul was abusive towards Jean, causing her kidney failure that only five years after Paul's death caused her untimely death at twenty-six years old, while others say that Paul was depressed as he did not have the ability to sexually please his beautiful, bombshell wife. Still others believe that Paul Bern's "suicide" was actually not a "suicide" at all, but most likely a murder. Possibly from someone in the industry, maybe from someone Jean had set up to kill him, or possibly even Paul Bern's recently estranged and mentally disturbed girlfriend.
Even weirder, the woman who was randomly accused of possibly killing Paul Bern years after his death had been ruled a suicide, she had also died an untimely and mysterious death by sea. She had gone fishing and disappeared, with her body to turn up on shore some days after her disappearance. Were the deaths related? Was Jean truly an abused woman who merely wanted to escape her abusive, impotent husband? We may never know, but there is one thing for sure - the old Paul Bern/Jean Harlow mansion still stands today and is most likely a very haunted Hollywood place indeed.
Ghostly Sightings at the Harlow Home
Many legends and stories about ghosts roaming the halls and bedrooms of the Jean Harlow Benedict home circulate the Haunted Hollywood Tours and many haunted Hollywood websites today. These legends may be steeped in true paranormal fact, however. The idea that ghosts are trapped spirits on earth and are usually trapped because they do not realize they are dead plays into the Paul Bern story. If Paul Bern was murdered or even if he truly did commit suicide, his death was a tragedy and probably came as a very large shock to his system, leaving his soul to be trapped in his then-new Hollywood home.
It has also been said that many sightings of Jean Harlow herself have been experienced, many times she is seen looking out the second-story window with a sad look on her ghostly face. Other ghosts are said to walk the lonely floors of the Harlow Bern house, including another resident who supposedly hung himself years after Paul Bern had died and the house had been sold a couple of times over. One of the most infamous stories of the Bern Harlow house is one told of a terrifying, possibly ghostly premonition experienced by an actress in the 1960s. That actress was Sharon Tate.
Sharon Tate was the girlfriend of a man named Jay Sebring, who was known as a "hairstylist to the stars". She dated him for a short period in time, but while she was dating him she would stay at his home that was also once the home of Paul Bern and Jean Harlow. One night she had a horrifying experience while staying in the Bern Harlow home.
She felt a presence come into the room that she was standing in and swore that it was the ghost of Paul Bern. "A short and somewhat angry man" was how Sharon Tate had described the ghost of Paul Bern. After leaving the room to get away from the apparition, she went downstairs to have a drink and had a hair-raising vision of a man with his throat slit and tied to the wooden posts at the bottom of the staircase. She had a drink or two and fell asleep after these bone-chilling visions occurred in her boyfriend's old Hollywood home.
The next day, she realized that her visions hadn't been merely dreams but she indeed saw Paul Bern's ghost and the ghost of a cut-throated man tied to the staircase railing. Sharon Tate thought that the ghost of Paul Bern was the same man at the end of the staircase, but after Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring were included in the victims of the hideous Manson murders, people collected that Paul Bern's ghost or possibly Jean Harlow's ghost were trying to warn Sharon Tate of her and Jay's grisly fate at the hands of the Manson gang. The man at the end of the staircase with the cut throat? Well, that is now considered to have been a premonition to Sharon's boyfriend's untimely and despicable death by Helter Skelter.
Do both Paul Bern and Jean Harlow's ghosts haunt the old Benedict Hollywood home? In my opinion, most likely. I also believe that the ghost of another suicidal man, plus Jay Sebring's ghosts also might be trapped or confusedly roaming the halls of the Old Hollywood Bern/Harlow home.
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© 2011 Nicole Canfield