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
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.