Monday, May 31, 2010

LOST: Haunted Hotel #1


As part of GHOULA's mission to preserve the haunted history of greater Los Angeles, periodically GHOULA will spotlight a haunted building from our great city that is no longer with us, in an effort to prevent these stories from being forgotten (even if their ghosts are also no longer with us).

THE AMBASSADOR HOTEL
(3400 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles) Map

THE GHOST(S):

Opened in 1921 (demolished in 2005), the Ambassador Hotel (built on swamp land) was one of the first serious threats to Hollywood as a "playground for the stars" as celebrities searched for new areas where they could avoid the growing numbers of tourists. The hotel's own tropical-themed "Coconut Grove" night club (on the ground floor) became the new oasis for movie folk that wanted to be left alone. That said, unfortunately despite the glamour, elegance, and notable guests of this former landmark (and The Coconut Grove), the hotel was most famous for being the site of Robert Kennedy's assassination, which also marked the beginning of the end for this pink palace.

After those tragic events, the Ambassador slid down to the fate of all historic buildings in Los Angeles (before they are demolished), becoming a "film location" with its luxurious ballroom becoming a sound stage. Occasionally however, it did regain its former glory when a production would shoot a "period piece" there, filling the halls with actors in vintages costumes. But, these moments were fleeting. Ironically, the movie "Bobby" about the assassination of Robert Kennedy took so long to get funding, the production was forced to "rebuild" the Ambassador (since the hotel was demolished shortly before production began).

There are two strange stories that have been often repeated about the building. First, The Coconut Grove used to have caged canaries throughout the dinning room. Because of the heat, noise, and gas lighting, many birds would die in the course of a night. So, cages filled with additional (spare) canaries were kept in storage to replace the dead ones as their little bodies were discovered. It is unknown how many hundreds (probably thousands) of birds died in that one room over the years.

Secondly, aside from the usual "cold spots" and electric anomalies, there were tales of a ghostly "woman dressed in white" figure that would appear in a fourth story window (seen from outside), who would lean out that window, and then disappear. Was she a suicide victim? Was she going to climb out the window? Was see trying to get some one's attention outside? Was she calling for help? To this day no one knows who she was, or why she haunted the hotel (and that specific room)... And sadly, since the hotel is gone, no one will probably ever find out the truth? Then again, maybe she'll take up residence in the new building on this site. Only time will tell.

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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

REAL GHOSTS with REEL GHOSTS


THE DATE: May 28 & 29
THE TIME: Fri: 9:45; Sat: 5:25 & 9:45
THE PLACE: The New Beverly Cinema
(7165 W. Beverly Blvd.) map
THE MOVIE: Ghostbusters (1984)
THE ADMISSION PRICE: $7.00

Your chance to see this movie about ghosts in an actual haunted theater!
(Note: this event is not hosted by GHOULA)

The New Beverly Cinema is said to be the home of a phantom projectionist, and an audience member apparition... (read more)

The Biltmore Hotel, the Central Library, and Dan Ackroyd's former residence are just a few of the local locations that have a connection with this comedy classic. (read more)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST: Haunted Theater #2



As part of GHOULA's mission to preserve the haunted history of greater Los Angeles, periodically GHOULA will spotlight a haunted building from our great city that is no longer with us, in an effort to prevent these stories from being forgotten (even if their ghosts are also no longer with us).

THE CARTHAY CIRCLE THEATER
(6316 San Vicente Boulevard, Los Angeles) Map

THE GHOST(S):

Outside of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, no other movie palace exemplified the glamour of the Hollywood ideal like the Carthay Circle Theater (opened in 1926). The "Chinese" and the "Circle" were the only two theaters in Southern California to host premieres with the over-the-top fanfare (otherwise only seen in the movies, themselves), featuring red carpets, search lights, and bleachers filled with screaming fans. These two theaters set the standard that award ceremonies desperately try to copy to this day. However, unlike its themed Asian counterpart, the Carthay Circle (so named because of the shape of its auditorium) was pure American, with an Old West inspired decor that continued from its interior to the Gold Rush themed fountain located in the traffic island in front, which by the way, still exists today (despite being a subject of vandalism and hate crimes). But, the most bizarre element of this "Spirit of the American West" theme was the giant custom curtain that paid tribute to the tragic Donner Party, who resorted to cannibalism to survive.

Aside from that graphic depiction of one of the most macabre moments of the Golden State's history, there was something even more surreal behind the curtain. It is said that the ghost of a vaudevillian performer, who died of a heart attack during a floor show on that stage, haunted the backstage area of this famous theater. Now, that the theater has been demolished, and an office building has been erected on that spot, unfortunately there have been no further sightings of a ghost in baggy pants with a seltzer bottle.

http://cinematreasures.org/theater/1158/

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.

Monday, May 24, 2010

EVP's @ The Los Angeles





On October 12 of 2009, A small group of GHOULA members were asked to investigate the ghosts of the Tower Theater in Los Angeles' Historic Theater district. This is a short film from one of the participants about that investigation.

(to read more about the ghosts of the Los Angeles Theater...)
(to read more about that ghost hunt...)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

June's SPIRITS with SPIRITS


GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let's put the “Boo!” back into “booze.” All those who attend will receive a free G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you.

Note: At this month's gathering, the management has agreed to give attendees tours of the haunted room. In addition, there will be themed live entertainment in the bar, and some other surprises. (for more info...)

THE DATE: June 13th, 2010 (Sunday)
THE PLACE: The Aztec Hotel
(311 W. Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia ) Map
THE TIME: 8:00pm to the witching hour

THE GHOST(S):

Although, the Aztec Hotel is best known for its link to the Southern Californian car culture as a Route 66 road-side attraction, this structure predates that famous highway. When this architectural curiosity opened in 1924, it was thought to be one of the most unique buildings in California, and artists and architects made pilgrimages to experience it. This was in large part due to the designs of architect/ explorer Robert Stacy-Judd. Not only did he specialize in a "Mayan Revival" style (that was more literal than the Mayan influenced "zig-zag" art deco popular at the time), but this eccentric artist was also an expert on the Mayan culture, and frequently traveled to Central and South America in search of lost cities (sometimes using dirigibles to explore uncharted areas). Because he was such a colorful character, the "Indiana Jones" of his day, balancing academics with adventure, some believe he may even be one of the resident ghosts.

It's interesting to note, this hotel seems to have much more in common with the "dead" Aztec culture than just sharing the same name. First of all, despite its sophistication that seems ahead of its time, "The Aztec" has always had trouble surviving. Within two years of its opening, the owner had money troubles (due to the high construction costs of the building), and its future was bleak. If the community hadn't rallied to keep it open, it would have died then. Now, here we are almost a hundred years later, and the hotel still seems like its always on the verge of extinction (and yet is still beloved). Secondly, like the Aztecs, and again despite its sophistication, it seems to always have had a barbaric reputation. From the very beginning, the Aztec has been a place of scandal (a brothel, a speak-easy, a gambling den, a gangster hang-out, a crime scene, a half-way house, etc.) When it opened, it quickly became a place where famous people (and local police) would go to be naughty, and that tradition seems to have continued through the decades. As Shirley Jackson wrote in The Haunting of Hill House, "Some houses are born bad."

This strange hotel is also widely considered the most haunted place on old Route 66 (on par with "Suicide Bridge" in Pasadena). Although ghostly activity has been experienced throughout the building, most of the activity seems to center around room 120 (and the hall outside room 120). Over the years, many people have seen "the woman" of room 120. One irate customer even complained once to the clerk that he gave him the key to an already occupied room, because when he walked in, "a woman" was sitting on the bed. The exact story as to who this female phantom is (or was) has been lost over the years, but she is known by most as "Razzle-Dazzle" and is commonly thought to have been an actress that was killed by her husband in that room. Some variations of the story present her as being a prostitute and/or the death as being an accident. Though some have named the entity "Sarah," her actual name is unknown, and no one has been able to prove that anything unusual has ever happened in that room. That said, the sightings of her (as well as other odd phenomena) continue to this day. So the next time you are driving down that historic highway, pull over and enjoy one of the "most unique" buildings in California.

(to see last month's location...)
(to read another ghost story about this location...)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Highlights from May's SwS


Thank you to all who came out for this Disney-themed ghostly event (I counted about 45 people). Thank you to The Snow White Cafe for their hospitality, and to our lone, hard-working bartender. Also, Thank you to the Boyle Heights Paranormal Project (BHPP) for their presentation about their recent investigation of the building's second floor (above the Snow White) in the Stella Adler Theater (in the former location of famous Embassy Club).

Additionally, more ghost stories about the building were discovered. As well as the ghost of a little girl, who is heard crying in one of the theaters, there have been phantom footsteps heard in the halls. There is an elevator that occasionally staff will hear distress alarms from, but when they go to rescue the trapped riders, the elevator is discovered to be empty. However, the most commonly seen ghost is that of a "man in suspenders" (described as a waiter with his coat off on an eternal break), who resides in the theater on the North/West corner of the building.

Friday, May 14, 2010

EVP's @ The Tower





On October 12 of 2009, A small group of GHOULA members were asked to investigate the ghosts of the Tower Theater in Los Angeles' Historic Theater district. This is a short film from one of the participants about that investigation.

(for more info about that night's ghost hunt...)
(for more info about the ghosts of the Tower Theater...)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May's SPIRITS with SPIRITS

GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let's put the “Boo!” back into “booze.” All those who attend will receive a free G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you.

Note: At this month's gathering, a "lost" Disneyland artifact will be on display for the first time since its removal in 1982, and for this one night only! In addition, the author and Illustrator of "Disneyland after Dark: An Unauthorized Guide to the Happiest (Haunted) Place on Earth" will be present. (for more info about this book...)

THE DATE: May 13th, 2010 (Thursday)
THE PLACE: The Snow White Cafe
(6769 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles) Map
THE TIME: 8:00pm to the wicked witching hour

THE GHOST(S):

Los Angeles seems to be the land of contradictions. For all the sunshine, swimming pools, and starlets, there also always seems to be a seedy under belly of sex, scandal, and savagery. Nowhere in this city do these two worlds collide like Hollywood Blvd., where the glamour seems to rub up against the grubby. No where on this boulevard of broken dreams is that dichotomy exemplified better than the historic "Snow White Cafe." Anyone who dares to enter this typical hole-in-the-wall tavern, and walk past the drunks and barflies, will be treated to fanciful murals of Snow White and the seven dwarfs (as they appeared in the 1937 Disney film) as if the walls were sprinkled with pixie dust. Why is this copyrighted character inside this alcoholic alcove?

The often told story is that the murals were a gift from a group of Disney animators, who ate breakfast there everyday (when it was a waffle-house) before going to work. However, in Gregory Paul Williams' "The Story of Hollywood," it is reported...

"After the premiere of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" at the Carthay Circle, Disney opened the film at the Vogue. For the party afterward, a friend offered a recently purchased shop he was remodeling into a restaurant. Disney sent Josh Meador and other animators over to paint murals of the Snow White characters on the walls and on the ceiling canvas, creating the Snow White Cafe."

Aside from the association with Walt, himself, the building also has a connection to Disneyland. This Snow White-themed room would mark Disney's first attempt at creating a themed environment for people to walk through and experience. Also, years later when he would build an actual Snow White attraction in his own amusement park, because of a lack of time and money, the planned facade to the "dark-ride" was replaced with another fanciful "Snow White" mural. So for these reasons this "wishing well-watering hole" is in many ways a spiritual predecessor to Disneyland.

In recent times, it is rumored that the Walt Disney Company, in a misguided attempt to maintain brand purity, has tried many times to put this odd little piece of history out of business ,but has never succeeded. Thus, this Disney curiosity continues.

Although the management claims that there are no ghosts within the four walls that make up this tavern (even though one bartender confidentially told GHOULA that glasses sometimes mysterious slide off of the rack by themselves), the rest of the small, two-story, Spanish Colonial building (built in 1928) is well known to be haunted.

Their neighbor (on the other side of their East wall), the Hollywood Wax Museum has been plagued for decades with all sorts of spiritual activity, including dark shadowy figures that roam their section of the building. Likewise, the Snow White Cafe's neighbor on the West side (and on the floor above them), the Stella Adler theater, is also said to be haunted by a little girl, who has been seen by many witnesses. Why do so many ghosts wander through all the rooms of this building except one? Come to the Snow White Cafe and find out.

(to read more about the ghosts of this location...)
(To see last month's Disney-themed location...)

Free (Haunted) Lighthouse Tours (Pt. Vincente)


The Date: 2nd Saturday of each month
(except in March, for that month's info...)
The Location:
Point Vicente Interpretive Center
31501 Palos Verdes Drive West. [MAP]
Parking is available at the Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall
30940 Hawthorne Blvd. [MAP].

Note: This event is not hosted by GHOULA. This is just a local (ghost related) event that exists independently that GHOULA wants its members to know about. As such, docents and staff at this event may not wish to discuss this landmark's haunted history.

The Ghost(s):

The Point Vicente Lighthouse in Palos Verdes has been helping visiting ships navigate these local rocky waters since 1926. However, it's the lighthouse's role with something else visiting this coast line that has intrigued ghost hunters for decades. Apparitions of a woman in an old-fashioned white dress (blowing in the wind) have been seen (most often during heavy fogs) inside the glass-encased lens room on top of the lighthouse, or pacing along its exterior catwalk, as well as wondering (sometimes running around) the grounds surrounding this historic landmark and near the cliffs. Sometimes her long black hair is described as "tangled" or "wet."

Over the years, two separate stories have developed as to her identity. She is either the depressed wife of a sailor (killed in a shipwreck at that location), who committed suicide from the tower (or nearby cliffs), or she is the wife of a former lighthouse keeper, who accidentally fell from the tower (or the nearby cliffs), or she is actually two different female ghosts (one haunting the tower and one haunting the grounds).

Also, it is commonly believed that this phantom is connected to two events in the lighthouse's history. Some say this "woman" first appeared after WWII when the window panes on the land-side of the lighthouse were painted (as to not disturb the house in the surrounding hills), and that she disappeared (and has not been seen since) when the same panes were repainted in 1955. There may be truth to these claims, but then again the U.S Government generally frowns on such stories. So, any recent sightings by federal employees would most likely go undocumented. Also, some claim that the sightings of this glowing white figure are actually the result of an illusion created by the bright white light shinning through the coat of paint on the panes. The real story surrounding this well-known local ghost (and her issues with painted glass) may be unknown, but that doesn't stop ghost hunters from visiting this lighthouse for themselves, looking for any lingering proof of her existence.

http://vicentelight.org/index.htm