Haunted: Hollywood Ghost Stories
Hollywood's Most Haunted Places
Hollywood...the land of dreams, beauty and glamour. Many come here to pursue fame, fortune and stardom and a lucky few even make it, becoming legends in the process. For others, their stories are not as happy, with many finding only heartbreak and misery. Hollywood is full of these stories and of haunted places: the studios, hotels and yes, cemeteries, where the souls of those who succeeded, as well as those who tried and failed, continue on, unable to let go of the earthly lives they once led. Let's read more about Hollywood's Ghost Stories.
Photo by Christian Haugen on Flickr.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Tops the A-list of haunted places
The historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel was founded in 1927 by a group of Hollywood's greatest stars of the time including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Louis B. Mayer. It was built as a West Coast home for the East Coast executives who came to work in the film industry, and is widely known to be the location of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.
The hotel is equally well known for some of its famous former guests, at least two of which are believed to still be visiting from the after-life. These other-worldly encounters started after the hotel went through major renovations in the 1980s, and the celebrity ghost stories have only grown since then. One of those famous specters is Montgomery Clift, who stayed in Room 928 for three months while filming "From Here to Eternity." Clift has been seen and heard pacing the floor, rehearsing his lines and playing his bugle, all activities he reportedly did when he was alive. Some who have stayed in the room also report feeling a pat on the shoulder.
The Hollywood Roosevelt was also the sometime home of Marilyn Monroe, who either stayed poolside or in Suite 1200, for months at a time. While she was alive, one of her favorite rooms contained a large mirror which has since been moved to another part of the hotel. Several people have reported seeing her in this glass as well as dancing in the ballroom. Monroe only seems to visit the hotel, however, as her ghost has been spotted in the Brentwood home where she died as well as Westwood Memorial Cemetery where she is buried.
The Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is a landmark, known internationally as a symbol of Los Angeles and the film industry. Every year visitors from around the world make sure to have their picture taken in front of it. Built in 1923 by newspaper publisher Harry Chandler, the sign was meant to be a billboard for the glamorous Hollywoodland subdivision and was only supposed to last about a year.
Nine years after it was erected a struggling young actress named Peggy Entwhistle climbed to the top of the "H" and threw herself off. Although she had been successful on Broadway, Entwhistle had been unable to find work in pictures and became deeply disappointed after years of waiting for her big break. In the years since her death, hikers in the area have reported seeing a woman in 1930s clothing who quickly disappears when approached. Sight-seers have also been overwhelmed by the smell of gardenias, the scent of Peggy's signature perfume.
This is part of the History Channel's excellent Haunted History series, which examines haunted locations all over the world.
Graumann's Chinese Theater
Another Hollywood landmark is Graumann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. The fourth and final theater built by showman Sid Graumann in 1927, it is easily identified by its 90 foot pagoda tower, copper roof and dragon motif. The famous courtyard features footprints and signatures of some of Hollywood's most famous stars stamped in concrete, and is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Graumann's has hosted more movie premieres than any other theater and, in 1968, was declared a cultural and historic landmark.
The theater also apparently has several ghosts, of which the most talked is a former stagehand named Fritz who hung himself behind the screen. He still seems to be hard at work, for visitors have noticed the impression of hand prints on the heavy floor-length velvet curtains which then start to move by themselves. Moviegoers and employees have also seen lights flickering on and off, heard strange sounds and felt as if they were being watched. There are also stories of a little girl ghost who wanders around backstage.
One of the theater's other haunted places is not as well known. Graumann is rumored to have built several private party rooms for hosting his famous friends. These rooms are now sealed off but, at the time, had a door with a buzzer for access. (For my money, I would bet this had as much to do with Prohibition as with privacy.) Guards have reported hearing these buzzers coming from behind the sealed walls.
Hollywood's Most Haunted Studio
Built in 1926, Paramount is the last major studio actually located in Hollywood. Their 1927 release, "Wings" won the very first Academy Award for Best Picture, the only silent film with that distinction. It is rumored to be the most haunted of all Hollywood studios, perhaps owing to its location next door to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Many of the stars from Hollywood's Golden Age are buried there and some people claim to have seen their spirits passing directly through walls from one lot to the next! The stages closest to the park, 29 - 32, have reported the most paranormal activity with heavy stage doors opening and closing on their own, trespassers vanishing into thin air and disembodied footsteps.
The Hart Building, formerly part of Desilu Studios, is one of the oldest on the lot and is supposedly home to the spirit of an unidentified woman who carries the strong smell of perfume. She is apparently quite temperamental and is known to throw items from desks onto the floor. She has also been known to unlock windows and doors, turn lights on and off and tap people on the shoulder to get their attention.
More recently, security guards at Paramount have come to believe actress Heather O'Rourke ("Poltergeist") haunts Stage 19 where she once guest-starred on "Happy Days." People have heard laughter and running on the catwalks, one of the young actress's favorite places to play.
Next time you're in Hollywood, you can take a tour of the most haunted studio. Just visit Paramount Studio Tour.
What do you think...Real or fake?
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Ghosts of Hollywood Past
Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for some of filmdom's most famous classic stars. Paramount Pictures was, in fact, built on the back half in the 1920s and is still in operation there today. Celebrities such as Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille, Hattie McDaniel, Fay Wray and Charlie Chaplin are all buried here, leading the cemetery to be placed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
At least three celebrity ghosts have been seen regularly. William Randolph Hearst has been known to visit the grave of his mistress Marion Davies. Clifton Webb haunts the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum where people have seen his semi-solid form, as well as heard his voice calling out. Visitors to the grave of silent film actress Virginia Rappe report hearing sobbing sounds and feeling cold spots. Some even say the sounds emanate from her coffin.
Forever L.A. - A Field Guide to Los Angeles area Cemeteries and their Residents
Hollywood Forever is a chock full of Hollywood history and its famous denizens. If you want to find out where other luminaries call their final home, check out "Forever L.A." It details many Los Angeles area cemeteries with beautiful photographs on the architecture found there, as well as info about some of the famous residents.
Legend of Haunted Hollywood
Valentino has spawned multiple celebrity ghost stories and is probably Hollywood's most prolific ghost. Although he died of peritonitis in 1926, he continues to haunt no fewer than four places in the city: Falcon Lair, his former home; Hollywood Forever Cemetery; the Knickerbocker Hotel; and Paramount Studios where his ghost has been spotted walking through the gates. He is sometimes dressed as the title character in his most famous film, "The Sheik."
Even his dog, a Great Dane named Kabar, is known to appear at HIS final resting place, the Los Angeles Pet Cemetery. Other famous pets buried there include Petey from the Little Rascals and Hopalong Cassidy's horse. Kabar died in 1929 and is said to be playful with visitors.
Valentino on Film
Ninety years after his death, Rudolph Valentino is a cultural icon, and still considered one of the most alluring actors to ever grace the screen. Watch "The Sheik," his most famous film, and find out why.
Between 1923 and 1960 Universal Studios created some of the most famous horror pictures of all time including "Dracula," "Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man," "The Invisible Man" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." One of the biggest of the era was "Phantom of the Opera" starring Lon Chaney. Released in 1925, the sets were so large and ornate that a special stage had to be built to accommodate them. Some say that Chaney liked it so much he has made Stage 28 one of the most haunted in Hollywood 80 years after his death. Crew and craftsman have often seen a man in a black cape running on the catwalks overhead. Security guards also report doors opening and closing by themselves, and lights turning themselves on and off at night.
2398 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
This address in the Hollywood Hills marks the site of legendary magician Harry Houdini's former home. Houdini only lived here a short time in the 1920s when he was exploring the nascent film industry. it was here that many seances were held (with occasional guest Arthur Conan Doyle), reportedly to try to contact the spirit of Houdini's mother, but also to continue his work de-bunking fake mediums and their poor stage magic.
After the magician's death on Halloween night 1926, his wife Bess continued to return to the home where she held seances of her own, trying to reach her dead husband. You see, they had made a pact many years earlier that if he was able to contact her from the other side, he would do so using a secret code the two had devised. Although she was apparently never able to make contact during the rest of her lifetime, many people visit the former home site on Halloween night every year and have reported seeing a mysterious figure walking around the grounds. Did Harry Houdini find a way back after all?
Read about the relationship between Houdini and Doyle and their mutual interest in the supernatural.
Get Universal's Classic Monster collection on DVD, available separately or as a boxed set.
Which Hollywood ghost would you most like to meet?
Haunted Hollywood Tours
These Hollywood tour companies specialize in haunted places.