Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Curse of the Shrunken Head

In honor of Halloween, this month I am focusing on Hollywood tales of a spooky nature. Enjoy!

Clark Gable's Rather Unusual Idea of a Romantic Gift

Want to get your partner the kind of romantic gift a leading man, the King of Hollywood, might buy?

Try a shrunken head.

It seems that Clark Gable once gave Carole a shrunken head as a gift -- you see, they were both the ultimate pranksters. It was their thing -- to try to one up each other. 

But this time, Clark had gone too far. Carole felt the head had cursed her, and she it out the window on a drive through Coldwater Canyon. It is well-documented that they went back to pick up the head -- it seems she was afraid of the fury of the shrunken head. Lombard was known to consult with psychics and mediums, and I am sure they would advise her that was not good ju-ju. 

This is where the story diverges. Gable later said they made an anonymously gifted the head to Alfred Hitchcock who buried it in his garden. Lombard said they buried it in their own, all the while she accused Gable, "If our marriage doesn't work out its your fault... yours, and its." Yet another account says Hitchcock purchased the home where Lombard and Gable had buried the head, without knowing it was there. 


But my favorite account, and the one that seems most likely to me, is that supposedly they were to make a publicity stunt out of the whole thing, inviting the press to an exhumation of the shrunken head. In today's terms, this kind of thing would be sorely frowned upon. But back then it is easier to understand -- the political and ethical considerations weren't so strong, and Lombard was a prankster who, I am sure, meant no harm.

The house where the shrunken head is supposedly buried -- perhaps it is still there?

The house where the shrunken head is supposedly buried -- perhaps it is still there?

Carole Lombard'S Tragic Death

Sadly, the eerie event did seem to foretell doom -- if you believe in that sort of thing. In 1942, Lombard, Gable's publicity agent Otto Winkler, and Lombard's mother (affectionately known as Petey) took an impromptu flight home from selling bonds for the war effort. They were supposed to take a train, indeed, they had been cautioned numerous times not to take a plane. Commercial aviation wasn't at its safest back then, not to mention the added security risks of wartime in America.  

Carole's mother "Petey" stands alongside her famous son-in-law and daughter.

Carole's mother "Petey" stands alongside her famous son-in-law and daughter.

Petey wasn't happy about the situation at all -- an avid believer in numerology, there were too many 3's swirling around the situation. Lombard was 33, the flight number was 3, you get the idea. Ominously, Winkler had told his wife that if he boarded a plane on that trip, he would never come home. 

The plane crashed into Mount Potosi, just outside of Vegas, killing all on-board. 

love a good hollywood ghost story? read on!