[IMG:L]Lush, green and decidedly private, the posh stretch of Benedict Canyon outside Beverly Hills is an upscale neighborhood that’s served as home to hundreds of industry-savvy people living the good life. And yet when the sun goes down and darkness spreads, it can become one of the most spooky locales in Hollywood, a place where bad things can happen to good people.
The canyon’s Cielo Drive served as the sight of one of the bloodiest and most vicious murders in Los Angeles history: the 1969 slaying of pregnant actress Sharon Tate, hairstylist-to-the-stars Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and others at the hands of followers of aspiring rock star-turned-cultist Charles Manson. But it’s not the epilogue of the heinous multiple homicide that’s tinged with haunting aftereffects; rather, it was ghostly premonition of the horrors to come.
The story starts three years before Tate’s death, when she was staying alone at ex-boyfriend Sebring’s nearby Eaton Drive home, once owned by MGM film producer Paul Bern, who was briefly married to the ill-fated platinum blonde screen star Jean Harlow before he mysteriously took his own life in 1932. The Bavarian-style home featured hand-carved likenesses of stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino.
Plagued by an overwhelming, ominous vibe all night, Tate was literally hiding under the covers in bed trying to fall asleep when suddenly a “creepy little man” entered her room. Thanks to Sebring’s history lessons, she recognized the spectre immediately: it was Paul Bern, skulking about as if searching for something. When the actress threw on a robe and bolted out of the room, the ghostly visitor completely ignored her.
As she dashed down the stairs, Tate was greeted by a horrific sight: the spectral image of a figure—she couldn’t tell if it was male or female—tied to the railing with their throat sliced open, precisely the way she would be killed in 1969. Stunned and shivering, she darted past the gruesome vision and ran to the living room, hoping to calm her jangled nerves with a drink.
[IMG:R]Unable to find Sebring’s liquor stash, Tate suddenly had an unusual urge to press a spot on one of the bookcases in the room, and to her surprise a hidden bar was revealed. She took a drink and was then seized by another bizarre impulse. She began tearing away wallpaper at the base of the room, discovering an expensive, beautiful copper base hidden underneath.
Still feeling her actions were being guided somehow, she turned back to the stairs and made her way past the bloody apparition, than back to the bedroom where the vision of Bern was still skulking outside in the hallway. Once she returned to her bed, she climbed under the covers and fell asleep instantly. It all must have seemed like a feverish dream to the actress…until the next morning when she returned to the living room and found the bar and the copper wall molding exactly where she had left them.
Far from a ghost story to be passed around after the actress’ untimely demise, the incident later made Los Angeles newspapers well before Tate died, as she felt compelled to tell anyone who would listen and grew convinced that the murdered image she saw was herself. Perhaps Tate was given an advance vision of the violent and horrible fate in store for her when the Manson Family cut her promising life so short only three years later in that very same stretch of Benedict Canyon.