By Leslie Valentin
Reality television is no doubt one of the biggest rated components of media viewing today. Add in a paranormal aspect and the crowds seem to grow into a frenzy of wonder and excitement wondering what will happen next. So when a mogul like Hugh Hefner makes a statement about his mansion being haunted on national television; it is no coincidence that more curiosity would even spike.
So, when I received word and was asked to write an article about the Playboy Mansion being haunted, I was with my friend headed towards Missouri in the car. I looked at her and half-wittedly laughed stating, “Sure it is…!” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and I had some reservations about what I would sleuth up for facts on this topic. However, the writer in me loves a challenge and thus I started digging out the truth behind the claim – is the Playboy Mansion haunted?
Let’s set the stage shall we?
The Place: The E! Television show: The Girls Next Door, which has also been known as the Girls of the Playboy Mansion, in California.
The Players: They include Hugh Hefner, Karrisa Shannon and Crystal Harris (Hugh’s fiancée).
When: Episode Three, November 2009
Hugh’s cuties, Karrisa and Crystal are throwing a slumber party in this particular episode. Their guests include other Playmates. During the course of the Bunny fun-filled evening, they decide to tell ghost stories around a campfire.
Cue: Enter Hugh Hefner.
Hugh sneaks into the party and announces that the Playboy Mansion is haunted by the wife of a former owner who threw herself off the balcony.
Pandemonium breaks out amongst the Bunnies. Karrisa and her twin sister Kristina suddenly start talking about how they can confirm this because of odd occurrences they have experienced in their bedroom there in the mansion. They make claims that the doors close on their own, lights flicker and they hear footsteps in the attic above their bedroom.
With the paranormal ambience stirring like a tornado these days made exceptionally popular by movies and television, this sounds like an iron-clad definition of proof. Isn’t it?
Well, for those fans of the Bunnies as well as the paranormal, it is important to know that the original Playboy Mansion was purchased by Hugh Hefner in 1959 at 1340 N. State Parkway in Chicago, Illinois. Then Hugh decided in 1971 to move to California. Between 1971 and 1974, Hugh shuttled back and forth from Los Angeles to Chicago. In 1974, Hugh decided to permanently stay out west and the mansion at 1340 N. State Parkway was donated to the Chicago Art Institute. It was then used for student housing and then later converted into condominiums. The current Playboy Mansion is located at 10236 Charing Cross Road in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles, California.
The original mansion was built in 1899 for Dr. George S. Isham and his wife Katherine Porter Isham. An interesting tidbit of information is the marriage of Dr. George S. Isham and Katherine Porter joined together two of Chicago’s pioneering families. The mansion itself boasts 70 rooms and is laid in French brick and limestone.
Deaths related to the 1340 N. State Parkway mansion are rather indirect. Hugh’s executive assistant, Bobbie Arnstein, was arrested outside the mansion by the D.E.A. in 1974. Hugh paid all her legal bills; however on January 12, 1975, she committed suicide as a result of an overdose of drugs and alcohol.
The current Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles however, carries only one death directly tied to the property. In 2010, a man fell to his death from a tree trying to gain access to the mansion and grounds. The claim that Hugh made at the slumber party of his Bunnies that a former owner’s wife plunging to her death from a balcony has become, after numerous hours of digging and researching, merely a “tail” at this time.
The concluded twist to this “ghostly tale” around the campfire seems to be a possible publicity rouse for the television viewers as well as perhaps to send a few shivers down his Bunnies spines!