Few places are filled with more hauntings than Hollywood. And few places offer a more perfect backdrop for perpetuating tales of the supernatural: a stardusted Neverland steeped in glamor, fame and fortune, broken dreams, sex, scandals, murder, and suicide.
If all the purported Hollywood hauntings are to be believed, then the entire place is brimming with spirits and ghosts. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these stories have little substance and are generated by rumor, legends, imagination, and pure hokum. It's a deliciously intriguing subject, nevertheless.
I was raised in Southern California but didn't really hit the Hollywood scene until I was nineteen or twenty. At that time I had an insatiable appetite for ghost stories and things macabre and spent a lot of time exploring the dark side of Tinsel Town. I visited just about every place that was rumored to be haunted or had a sinister history.
I saw the shabby apartment on Harold Way where the definitive Dracula Bela Lugosi died, as a penniless drug addict. I found the house in Laurel Canyon where Ramon Novarro, screen star of the silent era, was brutally murdered in 1968 on Halloween night.
I visited Falcon Lair, the last home of 1920's heartthrob Rudolph Valentino, which is reportedly haunted. At the time that I went there, the home was owned by heiress Doris Duke (who died there in 1993).
Falcon Lair, the haunted home of
silent screen star Rudolph Valentino
When I was in my early twenties I lived for a brief time in a Beverly Hills home that was very near Cielo Drive, where actress Sharon Tate was murdered. Ironically, the Valentino estate Falcon Lair was also near the Tate mansion (which has since been torn down) - - and the horse stables were located on Cielo Drive. A friend took me to see the stables and we were told by a caretaker that it is haunted by one of Rudolph Valentino's horses - - the phantom stallion roams the grounds after dark.
I was familiar with the haunted Chancellor Apartments on Cherokee (just off of Hollywood Boulevard) because an acquaintance of mine lived there. The Chancellor was the last known residence of Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia, whose savage murder in 1947 still remains unsolved.
The famous Hollywood sign on nearby Mount Lee has long been haunted by a "mysterious" lady in white. The original Hollywoodland sign was erected in 1923 as a real estate advertisement. Fledgling actress Peg Entwistle committed suicide by jumping off the sign in 1932. The full story can be read in my post entitled
The places on (or around) Hollywood Boulevard that are supposedly haunted are far too numerous to mention. Among the most well-known are the Knickerbocker Hotel, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the Pantages Theater, the Vogue Theater, and Grauman's Chinese Theater.
The Vogue Theater had originally been the site of an elementary school. In 1901 the school burned down. Twenty-five children and one teacher were killed. The spirits of children have reportedly haunted the theater ever since. The Vogue Theater is also haunted by the ghost of a German man named Fritz, who was the projectionist for forty years. He died of a heart attack in the projection room in the 1980's.
The Vogue Theater at 6675 Hollywood Blvd.
first opened in 1935 and still exists today.
Ill-fated actress Frances Farmer lived at the Knickerbocker, when - in 1943 - she was arrested, dragged half-naked through the lobby, and eventually placed in an insane asylum (at the request of her vindictive mother). In 1948, silent film director D.W.Griffith died in the lobby of the Knickerbocker. Strangely enough, actor William Frawley (Fred Mertz of I Love Lucy fame) collapsed from a fatal heart attack on the sidewalk near the Knickerbocker in 1966.
The Knickerbocker Hotel on Ivar, near the corner of
Ivar and Hollywood Boulevard was built in 1925.
This photo looks exactly as I remember it.
The old Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, final resting place of the stars, is reportedly haunted by numerous movie star ghosts - including that of Rudolph Valentino and Clifton Webb. It is located directly behind Paramount Studios (on Melrose) and has recently and inexplicably been renamed the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Tacky. Very tacky. On several occasions I had sneaked into the cemetery after-hours for romantic trysts. One Halloween, I and several friends went there at midnight in search of famous ghosts. It was a very creepy experience but no spirits cared to manifest themselves.
Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery,
now known as the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
A creepy place after dark.
The Roosevelt Hotel at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard (newly renovated) harbors the ghosts of two former residents - - Marilyn Monroe and Montomery Clift. Marilyn supposedly appears in a lobby mirror, and Monty haunts his old room (which is # 928). Also the Blossom Ballroom has several "unexplained" cold spots. This old ballroom was the site of the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.
I've heard rumors that John Belushi's ghost has haunted bungalow #3 at the Chateau Marmont on Hollywood Boulevard ever since his death there in 1982. The spirit of Howard Hughes supposedly lingers at the Hollywood Boulevard Pantages Theater. Hughes didn't die there, but he purchased the building in 1949.
The Hollywood Wax Museum, still located on 6767 Hollywood Boulevard, is a gathering place for restless spirits. A reporter for the National Enquirer once spent the night in there alone and was terrified, claiming that he'd never go back.
There's also a lesser-known Hollywood Boulevard ghost that still lingers on the famous corner of Hollywood and Vine. There was a bus stop on the northwest corner of this intersection in the 1920's that was frequented by actor Lon Chaney. He would go there every morning to catch a bus to the studios when he was looking for work. His ghost is still seen late at night where the bus stop used to be.
Speaking of ghostly places, the infamous Suicide Bridge is probably the creepiest place of all. Although it's located in Pasadena, not Hollywood, it is worth a mention. Originally called the Colorado Street Bridge, it was built in 1913. One of the workers accidentally fell from the bridge and landed head-first in wet cement. His body is still entombed in the cement, under the bridge.
Suicide Bridge in Pasadena
(the Colorado Street Bridge, built in 1913)
Site of over 100 suicides and ghosts galore
This post is getting too long and I haven't even scratched the surface of Hollywood haunts. Tinseltown has long had a surplus of ghosts and legends - - many of whom are more popular than the undead residents.
This post was written quickly and I relied solely on my memory. Please excuse any typos or errors.