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 (square) G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group.
THE DATE: March 13th, 2012 (Tuesday)
THE PLACE: The Beverly Hilton, Trader Vic's Lounge (poolside)
9876 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills (Map)
THE TIME: 8:00pm to the witching hour
When architect Welton Becket designed the "ultra smart" Beverly Hilton in 1954, he used an inspired gimmick to speed along the construction process. The actual hotel rooms were built (and completely decorated and furnished) elsewhere, so that they could be brought to the construction site, hoisted up, and slid into their appropriate place, one next to another (like placing books on shelves).
Walt Disney, who was friends with the mastermind behind this and other futuristic local buildings (like the circular Capital Record building in Hollywood or the spider-like Theme Building at the center of LAX), was so tickled by this trick that he asked Welton to repeat it, when he commissioned him to build the futuristic Contemporary Hotel in Walt Disney World. Becket's sleek, white, automobile-centric designs (entering the Beverly Hilton without a car can be a confusing experience) also influenced Disney's "world-on-the-move" vision of Tomorrowland and EPCOT (Walt's never realized Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).
Even though this glamorous resort seems to have one foot in the future, luckily it still has the other foot firmly in the past, as evidenced by the ghosts of another era that still linger.
When GHOULA asked a security guard about possible spirit activity, he proudly replied that all the great hotels in America have a ghost story, and the Beverly Hilton is no exception. In addition to the odd electrical anomalies and misplaced objects that are chalked up to mischievous ghosts, there are two prominent apparitions that have been seen by many employees over the years. One is in the Ballroom, and the other wanders the spaces of the 8th floor. The "man" in the Ballroom is believed to be a former electrician, whereas the "woman" of the 8th floor is a guest. Why these two spirits have taken up residency here, as well as their exact identities, is still a mystery.
Although there have been a few well-publicized suicides here as well as a least one murder (involving Howard Hughes' "scientific advisor" and an Israeli war hero), none of these incidents are connected to an electrician or a female guest...
However, ever since movie star Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, conspiracy theorists have attempted to connect her "suicide" with Senator Robert Kennedy. Officially, Mr. Kennedy was in Central California with his wife and family when she died. According to LA's then Chief Deputy District Attorney, the then Mayor, and the then Chief of Police, Kennedy was secretly staying at the Beverly Hilton that day. Unfortunately, other than statements made to the LA Times, no documents or files exist to prove this. FBI files recently declassified due to the Freedom of Information Act, imply a relationship between Marilyn and Robert Kennedy, that he abruptly ended. Did she visit him at the Beverly Hilton that day? Did he give her the bad news there? Was she so distraught over this that she killed herself later that night? Does her ghost now revisit the place where this happened, reliving those moments over and over, or maybe trying to change them? We will probably never know for sure the answers to these questions.
There is also a third ghost that GHOULA has heard rumors about, and those that have seen "him," know exactly who he is and why he's there...
It would seem that this friendly ghost is none other than Merv Griffin (1925-2007), TV talk show host, singer, creator of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy," as well as the famous hotel's former owner (1987-2003), who lingers to keep an eye on things. It should be noted that critics claim that the hotel's glory faded under Griffin's ownership as expensive maintenance and renovations were deferred.
Regardless, the happy ghost of Merv Griffin is said to stroll around the hotel's pool, past the Polynesian-themed Trader Vic's poolside lounge, which seems appropriate for a man famous for singing "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts"
The Beverly Hills' Trader Vic's, which opened with the hotel in 1955 at a different location on the ground floor, launched the tiki-bar craze of the 1960's, created the tropical concoction known as the "Mai Tai," and is where Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron) would unexpectedly stick an ice-pick into his leg (a prosthesis from a supposed shark attack), closed in 2007. Fittingly, Merv Griffin's post-burial reception was one of the last events held in the historic dining room.
Although the modern poolside redo of the Trader Vic's concept has its haters, where else can you enjoy these historic drink recipes outside in the warm night air... along-side the original masks of the Lone Ranger and Captain America on display? So come on out to this lounge, have a Mai Tai, toast the ghosts, and welcome Whitney Houston's spirit. (The Beverly Hilton is also the site of the pop-star's untimely death.)
(to read about last month's haunted location... )
Also, if you participated in GHOULA'S CHILLING CHALLENGE: THE DOHENY MURDERS, please join us and share any information you may have discovered.