Democracy Dies in Darkness

Retropolis

Gen. George Patton's wife put a Hawaiian curse on his ex-mistress. She was dead within days.

By Michael E. Ruane

April 24, 2017 at 1:15 PM

Jean Gordon, left, was found dead in a gas-filled apartment after Gen. George S. Patton’s funeral. Patton, right, at his last news conference on May 21, 1945, at his headquarters in Germany. (Bettmann/Getty Images; Charles Haacker/AFP/Getty Images)

Shortly after Beatrice Patton buried her husband, Gen. George S. Patton Jr., on Christmas Eve 1945, she summoned a woman named Jean Gordon to her hotel room in Boston.

Gen. Patton, after a lifetime of military service, and grand achievements in World War II, had suffered a broken neck in a car accident in Germany on Dec. 9, 1945. He died Dec. 21, and was buried in a military cemetery in Luxembourg.

Watch more!
Gen. George S. Patton Jr. died on Dec. 23, 1945, after suffering a broken neck in a car accident in Germany on Dec. 9, 1945. He was buried in a military cemetery in Luxembourg. (National Archives and Records Administration)

The Pattons had been married for 35 years, with minimal domestic turmoil, except for an apparent dalliance the general had with Gordon in 1936, according to Patton biographer, Carlo D'Este.

Gordon was 21, and the daughter of Beatrice's half sister. Patton was 50, and in the midst of a midlife, between-wars crisis. The Pattons were then stationed in Hawaii, and Gordon was passing through, headed for Asia.

Related: [World War II made George Patton a hero, but the Great War made him a commander]

Gordon "made a play" for the general, D'Este wrote, and after Patton and Gordon returned from an unchaperoned trip to another island, Beatrice realized that they were having an affair, he wrote. The incident nearly destroyed the Pattons' marriage, left Beatrice crushed and the general stricken with remorse. Over the next 10 years, the marriage was salvaged, and the general went on to become a legendary, if controversial, figure in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Gen. George S. Patton was fatally injured in a car crash in Mannheim, Germany. His funeral was held at Christ Church in Heidelberg, Germany, on Dec. 23, 1945. (Burroughs/Associated Press)

But Gordon had reappeared in Europe during the war, alarming Beatrice.

And now, with the war over and her famous husband buried, Beatrice wanted to see Gordon. She asked her brother, Fred Ayer, to set up the meeting. Neither he nor Gordon knew the purpose. They arrived first. When Beatrice appeared, she took off her hat and coat, looked angrily at Gordon and pointed a finger at her.

"May the Great Worm gnaw your vitals," Beatrice pronounced, uttering what D'Este said was a feared curse she had learned in Hawaii years before. "And may your bones rot joint by little joint."

Gordon turned gray, and Ayer ran from the room.

It's not known what else was said between the two women, but a few days later, on Jan. 8, 1946, Gordon was found dead in the New York City apartment of a friend. She was discovered on the floor of the kitchen with the oven gas turned on, and had committed suicide. She was 30. One news service said pictures of the general were strewn around her.

Read more Retropolis:

Hitler's mother was "the only person he ever genuinely loved.' Cancer killed her decades before he became a monster. 

The U.S. joined the Great War 100 years ago. America and warfare were never the same. 

The fake news that haunted George Washington

Virginia Tech was not the worst school massacre in U.S. history. This was. 

Hitler refused to use sarin during WWII. The mystery is why.

'Assassins!' A Confederate spy was accused of helping kill Abraham Lincoln. Then he vanished.

Hunting down runaway slaves: The cruel ads of Andrew Jackson and 'the master class'


Mike is a general assignment reporter who also covers Washington institutions and historical topics.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

You obviously love great journalism.

With special savings on our Basic Digital package, you’ll never miss a single story again.

Already a subscriber?

Secure & Encrypted