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Haunted Places: The Knickerbocker Hotel

Updated on January 6, 2013
Elvis Presley walks into the Knickerbocker.
Elvis Presley walks into the Knickerbocker. | Source
William Frawley in I Love Lucy.
William Frawley in I Love Lucy. | Source
Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini | Source

The Hotel of Doom

When you’re driving on the 101 freeway, you can’t help but notice The Knickerbocker Hotel. It resembles a great piece of history in Los Angeles County. It also resembles a piece strangeness in the world of the paranormal.

This was the place to go for Hollywood’s biggest stars. Elvis Presely came here often always staying in room 1016, Marilyn Monroe honeymooned here with Joe Dimaggio, William Frawley from the show I love Lucy and Director D.W. Griffith lived here, Rudolph Valentino was at the bar often did tango here, and many other famous people came here often. Unfortunately, The Knickerbocker seemed to attract tragic situations to Hollywood’s most famous.

I might as well start off with the strangest event since I think it might be the reason why it attracted the later events. The famous magician Harry Houdini had always taken an interest in the occult. He had made a deal with his wife Bess that if he were to die before her, he would try to contact her on the other side. A year after his death in 1926, Bess and a group of people conducted seances on Halloween night on top of the Knickerbocker hoping to contact Houdini. She did this for a decade and finally gave up in 1936. Suddenly, as soon as the seance was done, a huge thunderstorm came. It was later learned that this thunderstorm only took place under the Knickerbocker! Was Houdini finally summoned? This might have been his way of contacting the other side since it’s highly unusual that a thunderstorm would take place under just one building. It looks like these seances would later trigger some horrific events.

D.W. Griffith was a great film director during his time. However, he was released from Hollywood and people forgot about him and his work. He grew into depression and was isolated from society. He spent the last 10 years of his life at The Knickerbocker and spent most of his time at the bar. All he talked about was his sadness with people that were at the bar. The most notable item in this hotel at the time was a $120,000.00 chandelier that was in the hotel lobby. It was under this chandelier that D.W. Griffith suffered from a stroke and died.

The talented actress Frances Farmer was arrested here for getting into a fight. She was seen being dragged out of the hotel lobby half naked. Her arrest at The Knickerbocker was the beginning of her downward spiral to mental illness, leading to her lobotomy. Apparently, while her career was taking off nicely, but her personal life declined greatly. She had a failed marriage along with numerous relationships that did not work out. This got the best of her and she turned to alcohol and amphetamines. Her bizarre behavior got out of control on set, and this led to her arrest at The Knickerbocker. She was diagnosed with manic-depressive psychosis and was sent to the screen actor’s sanitarium in La Crescenta.

William Frawley lived at the hotel for a long time. In march of 1966, Frawley was just arriving at the hotel when suddenly he dropped dead of a heart attack. He was carried into the lobby in an attempt to save his life, but he didn’t make it.

Irene Gibbons, a costume designer for MGM, committed suicide here. She claimed to have been in love with actor Gary Cooper and that she was the only man that she would ever love. Cooper had died in 1961. On November 15, 1962, she checked into the hotel under a different name. She had slit her wrists, but she was still alive. She then decided to jump out the 14th story window to her death.

As of today, The Knickerbocker hotel is now converted into a senior citizen home. It’s reported to be haunted. The ghost of Rudolph Valentino is said to be where the bar use to be (He’s also rumored as Hollywood’s most traveled ghost), and Marilyn Monroe has been seen in the women’s bathroom. Staff members report of lights turning on and off and things moving on their own. Were the seances conducted at The Knickerbocker responsible for all the bizarre tragedy’s that have happened there? It remains a mystery.


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    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Always enjoy your articles. I too wonder if the current residents have encounters with these spirits.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. A fascinating read. Too bad it's no longer a hotel as I would love to check into Elvis' room. So many stories that these spirits want to share and glad they have found a permanent home. I wonder how they get along with the senior citizens. Passing this on.