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
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.
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.