THE PLACE: The Bob Baker Marionette Theater
1345 W 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Downtown) (map)
STATUS: Active (shows weekly)
THE BOB BAKER MARIONETTE THEATER'S GHOST(S):
Although people generally associate ghosts with violent/sudden deaths, there are many other theories as to why a ghost will haunt a certain location. Some believe that spirits will return to places that (in life) gave them great pleasure, or perhaps sites where (in life) much time was spent. There is also a theory that confused ghosts sometimes seek out humanoid objects to possess like wax figures, mannequins, or dolls, and thus gravitate to spots where these objects can be found (old wax museums, children's bedroom's, etc.)
So, naturally (or super-naturally) the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, the oldest indoor continuously-operating puppet theater in the United States, is said to have at least three phantoms of former puppeteers lingering around (seen by staff). One watches the staff from his favorite seat on the east side of the theater (last row against the wall, three seats from the aisle). Perhaps he just doesn't want to leave this happy place, or maybe he just likes being around puppets. Additionally, Another former puppeteer is seen in the backstage area. In the wings (on the West side of the building), there are mirrors so that performers can check their puppets, or practice moves. While doing this, they will see this second ghostly puppeteer (in the mirror's reflection) watching them. When they turn around, no one is there.
Another story about this former puppeteer involves a young man seeking a job at the theater. He was asked to sit down and wait in the auditorium. While, seated a tall man sat near him, and didn't male a sound. When the young man was called into another room, he commented on the tall man, only to be told that no one else was in the building. Shortly thereafter, he recognized the mystery man from am old photo hanging on the wall, and was told that the tall man was a former puppeteer, and died some time ago. The young man turned down the job to work at the theater. The "tall man" was also seen by a female puppeteer in the hall near the restrooms (next to the party room) late one night. Thinking it was a fellow puppeteer playing a joke on her she confronts the figure, only to have it disappear into the shadows.
Plus, whenever something goes wrong during a performance such as a string breaking or a set falling, it's always blamed on the resident spectre, presumably unhappy about something in the show. One puppeteer's broken cell-phone (with a dead battery) would even make late night phone calls to the puppeteer's friends from inside the theater (from inside a locked loceker). One night while Bob and a puppeteer were working late, a heavy sound-proof door opened and slamed itself closed. Spooked, Bob reportedly turned to his employee and said "Let's get out of here. Don't even turn on the alarm."
In ancient times, the "illusion of life" created by marionettes was thought to be work of other-worldly forces. Who knows, maybe this resident "ex-puppeteer" still lends a hand during performances, animating the inanimate objects, and making them move in realistic ways. Is it possible that old habits die hard,... and that's why the ghosts linger?
If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.
(to read about another haunted theater in the LA area... )