Showing posts with label ghosts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghosts. Show all posts

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 13th: SPIRITS WITH SPIRITS at Tom Bergin's

GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual gathering of regional ghost hunters. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, find ghosts! Come see the “hot spots” with “cold spots.”

All those who attend will receive a free G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have, please wear it so others can find you.

THE DATE: March 13th, 2009 (Friday)
THE PLACE: Tom Bergin’s Tavern (840 S. Fairfax) map
THE TIME: 8pm to the Witching Hour


Although the name and location of this restaurant has changed since they first opened their doors in 1936, from “Tom Bergin’s Old Horse Shoe Tavern and Thoroughbred Club” (on Wilshire) to “Tom Bergin’s Horse Shoe Tavern” (on Fairfax) to just simply “Tom Bergin’s” (still Fairfax), the famous “horse shoe-shaped” bar that started it all has remained exactly the same. So much so, that at the time of the big move (just a couple of blocks away), loyal customers personally carried the bar (in one piece with the 17 benches attached) just to make sure nothing changed.

“Tom Bergin’s” has achieved immortality for two important contributions to American culture. First, in early 1950's, it became one of the first establishments in the USA to serve “Irish Coffee,” and secondly, the place served as the inspiration, both in look and feel, for TV’s “Cheers.” The character of "Coach” was even modeled after Head Bartender Chris Doyle. Indeed, “Tom Bergin’s” was the original “place where everyone knows your name” as evidenced by the ritual of placing faithful customers’ names on large shamrocks that hang over the bar.

In Ireland, legends of leprechauns, fairies, and banshees are common place, so it is only fitting that Los Angeles’ oldest Irish Pub has its own share of tales to tell. The figure of a woman has been known to walk through the bar area only to vanish moments later, while a mysterious man has also been known to disappear before one’s eyes near the fireplace in the restaurant. Are these two spirits connected to each other? And, who is responsible for the mischievous movement of objects late at night when the customers have left? Could it be a third ghost? If all this seems too disturbing, take comfort in the knowledge there are no leprechauns running around the bar… or are there?

(to see last month's SPIRITS with SPIRITS location...)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Highlights from October's SWS at Philippe's the Original

On the second floor of Philippe's The Original French Dip restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, a small but strong group of GHOULA members tapped into the ether, and their beers, to discover a startlingly chilling cold spot adjacent to the brick wall on the North side of the building. In this area, dowsing rods were propelling like helicopter blades and ghost orbs were captured on digital film.

By channeling the paranormal energy, comic book artist Rafael Navarro was able to produce an automatic sketch of the entity which circulates the area. The image which came through was that of a towering and intense blue woman which matched an eyewitness account later in the evening by new GHOULA member William.

An improptu tarot reading by psychic specialist Amy H. revealed that the nature of the ghost was that of a former Madam of the brothel (and not a prostitute as previously thought) who paces the hallways in search of lost or stolen finances. One theory suggests that the money is still hidden with the recesses of the brick walls, possibly in the cold zone. Could the Madam be protecting her stash, or seeking revenge for lifted loot?

A good time was had by all, including the hoardes of unsuspecting Dodger fans who stopped in for a late night snack after the playoff game.

(to read about the SPIRITS of this location...)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Highlights from the September 13th “Spirits with Spirits” at the Haunted Culver Hotel

Earlier in the evening, before arriving at the Culver Hotel, two of the guests informed GHOULA that they conducted a tarot reading to forecast the evening’s events. The “Temperance” card, featuring a bartender, strangely enough was the prominent card of their session. For the record, neither member drank very much, heeding the advice of the great beyond.

As always the Culver Hotel delivered great service, good food, and a warm atmosphere, providing the perfect, casual place to soak up the glamour of old Hollywood.

Unfortunately, no ghosts were spotted that night, but two psychics in attendance picked up other-worldly energy from another era. One psychic felt the sad presence of a suicide victim near the John Wayne Suite, while the other psychic (Psychic Lee Barron from “Ghosts Wanted”) felt the presence of a man eternally walking down the stairs behind the bar. Could that have been the ghost of Harry Culver coming from his office?

The management of the Culver Hotel was kind enough to point out to us the second floor offices of Harry Culver, where most of the spiritual activity takes place.

The ghost enthusiasts present were also treated to an impromptu tour of the basement level, which was used as an “air raid shelter” for Culver City during WWII. The Management claimed the stories of a secret tunnel connecting to the Culver Studios are not true, or at least they haven’t found any evidence of it.

Another member of the hotel staff shared an experience with us she had in the lobby’s restroom. One night, as she was stepping out the ladies’ room, she turned around to witness the faucets turning on with the handles moving by themselves.

Also, two employees were overheard talking about a corner of the lobby where the lights from the lamps and sconces would occasionally, and mysteriously, flicker. The isolated flickering continued long into the night, just like the ghostly conversation at our table.

Thank you all who came out to our spectral soiree.

(to read about the SPIRITS of this location...)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Highlights from the August 13th “Spirits with Spirits”

The energy at the H.M.S Bounty was particularly strange the night we descended upon it.

When GHOULA asked the bartender if there were any ghost stories associated with the bar, itself, the bartender just kept mumbling about the “other” ghost in The Gaylord and kept making cryptic remarks about a “figure” in the restaurant’s back room. When asked to explain further, the bartender stopped talking all together and ignored us completely.

Then later, while we were looking at the display of Gaylord memorabilia in the lobby, we were told by the night watchman that no one was allowed to look at that, and we had to leave the lobby immediately,… which we did.

Some members of GHOULA took a side trip to look at the original Brown Derby “hat” building, which still exists down the street from The Gaylord. It is now a very active Korean Dance Club.

As they walked back to their cars, past the front of the Gaylord Hotel, the same night watchman shooed them away from the sidewalk in front of the lobby, and then called the police, who arrived as the last members of our party were getting into their cars.

Although no ghosts were seen that night, there are definitely unfriendly spirits there.

(to read about the SPIRITS of this location...)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June Spirits with Spirits Event Summary: Hotel Roosevelt

Here are some of the breaking headlines from last Friday nights “Spirits with Spirits” at the famous Roosevelt Hotel…


Perhaps the most famous “haunted” mirror in the world has been removed from its usual location in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel.

Tourists and “Marilynites” are now greeted by an empty wall, where once hung the mirror that was used in Marilyn Monroe’s private poolside suite.

Not too long ago, one could stare into the same mirror that Marilyn would gaze into, and possibly see Marilyn, herself, staring back in the reflection.

A representative of the hotel has assured GHOULA that the famous mirror will return to its proper location once the hotel has finished remodeling the lobby. In the meantime, it has been safely stored with other items from the hotel’s art collection.


While wandering around the Roosevelt Hotels public spaces, Psychic Lee Barron picked up a lot of unusual but unfocused energy like orbs and a blue cloud in the Ballroom. Then, he came upon an empty hallway directly below the famous haunted lobby, and in that darkened space, the energy intensified revealing a new ghost. Psychic Lee Barron reports that it was an apparition of a man wearing a janitor-like uniform and holding a mop.

Although, Psychic Lee Barron sensed the male spirit toiled for many years in the hotel, its energy was contended as if, in life, this janitor enjoyed his job, and his role in keeping this historic hotel looking beautiful. Perhaps, this ghost lingers to keep a watchful eye on his fellow staff as they maintain the hotel’s high standards.

Note the ghost orbs in the foreground to the left side of the old service hallway beneath the glowing red light. Using flash photography with a standard digital camera, three orbs are clearly visible. Below is the same point of view photographed without flash.


Mrs. Carradine discussed her new “Energy-Transference Theory” that answers the question that has troubled Ghost-hunters for the last two-hundred years.

“Why do ghost wear clothes?”

More specifically, how can the spirit realm be inhabited by inanimate objects, or in other words, how can you have ghosts of things that had no “life force” to begin with? How are things like ghost ships or phantom carriages possible? This question was first asked by Frederic W.H. Myers in Phantasms of the Living (1886) and to this day, debate rages on. Until now?

Mrs. Carradine’s solution is very simple and straight forward. All objects, no matter how “inanimate,” are made of energy. At their core, they still have electrons swirling around (and perhaps even vibrating strings at the sub-sub-sub atomic level). Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and it can only be transferred, it is therefore possible that “inanimate” objects can “absorb” some of that “life force” from humans (i.e. the uniform and sword of a soldier will also carry that same emotional residue of that tormented the soldier, himself.)


July 13, 2008
El Compadre Restaurant
7408 W. Sunset Blvd.

Full event info to be posted on July 1st.

Thanks to everyone who attended a wonderful event. The handmade Victorian-era scrying tool pictured above will soon be available exclusively in the GHOULA online store. See you soon!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Catalina Island's Ghosts of the Past

Excerpts reprinted from article by Julie Miller in the Australia's Sydney Morning Herald:

The woman from the gift shop at Catalina Island's Casino is convinced the building is haunted. She animatedly tells me how, just two days earlier, a clock fell from the wall of the shop for no reason. She then launches into other tales of the unexpected from the building's history: of the hapless worker trapped in cement during construction of the Art Deco masterpiece; of a pipe organ playing on its own; and of a period-clad apparition disappearing through the wall near the popcorn machine. All proof, Lynette believes, that this landmark is an epicentre of paranormal activity on an island crawling with phantoms.

Just an hour's ferry ride from Long Beach, Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island is a Mediterranean-style retreat that provides a welcome escape from the madness of Tinseltown. Once the playground of the rich and famous, it now attracts tourists in search of a fun daytrip or tranquil weekend away, a place with a quite different view of the Californian lifestyle.

Gorgeous as it is, however, there is admittedly something a little eerie about this island. Catalina - and in particular its main port of Avalon - feels trapped in time, a vestige of a once-glorious past. And as the chilling Pacific fog rolls in, as it does on a regular basis, shrouding the dramatic coastline in white, it's easy to understand why so many believe the island is the haunt of entities other than just tourists.

Catalina had been occupied for thousands of years by Native Americans but its modern history began 150 years ago when tourists began discovering "the Capri of the West". In the 1920s, the island was purchased by the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., who built roads, constructed hotels and shops and erected the $2 million dance pavilion known as the Casino (a misnomer, as gambling was banned in the building). Wrigley also brought his baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, over for spring training, placing the island in the social spotlight for the first time.

During its heyday, Catalina was where Hollywood came to play. Western novelist Zane Grey had a home here; Charlie Chaplin and his wife Paulette Goddard were frequent visitors; while movie director Cecil B. De Mille said Catalina was "the only place where I can get away to work amid real inspiration". The Casino Ballroom, which held 3000 patrons, drew big name bands led by Glen Miller, Bennie Goodman, Ray Noble and Jan Garber and it became the hub of Hollywood nightlife.

Beyond Avalon is another world - hectares of rolling wilderness, inhabited by wild boar, foxes, bald eagles and bison, introduced in the '20s during production of a western movie. There are several tours available to explore inland or you can rent bicycles if you want to do it the hard way.

Those with an interest in Hollywood history may also be drawn across the island to another place of notoriety - the secluded bay near Two Harbours where the actress Natalie Wood drowned in 1981.

Some people say her ghost still wanders the nearby beach, a lonely figure spotted during the winter months. Perhaps she is searching for clues to the mystery of her early demise or perhaps her spirit is simply content to linger in a place of rare beauty and tranquillity, an eternal haven from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.


Getting there: Catalina Express departs from the Long Beach Downtown Landing several times a day. A round trip costs $US59 ($63) or $US79 for a Commodore's Lounge upgrade, which includes pre-boarding, a comfortable lounge area and a drink.

Attractions: The Avalon Scenic Tour on the open-air trolley costs $US16.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Inland Empire Paranormal Investigators tackle Colton's Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery

Excerpts from Inland ghost hunters find the paranormal -- or the simply normal
by Gregor McGavin of The Press-Enterprise:

The grave was marked only by a splintered wooden cross jutting from the weedy grass of Colton's Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery.

No name, no headstone. Just two lengths of weathered wood bound by a bolt.

"No one knows your name," K.D. Foreman said from the graveside on a recent morning. "Is there anything you'd like to say?"

There was no reply from that resting place, nor from a dozen others throughout the cemetery. But that's sometimes the case for Foreman and the other members of the Inland Empire Paranormal Investigators.

Much of their work comes later, when the amateur ghost hunters painstakingly analyze the audio, visual and electromagnetic recordings they gather on their outings.

The Inland group is one of dozens throughout Southern California and hundreds -- if not more -- nationwide, enthusiasts estimate. The 70 or so members met online beginning a year ago and have visited private homes, historic landmarks and graveyards throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties. They arrive armed with digital cameras and television remote-size devices they say capture electromagnetic fields and sounds undetectable by the naked ear. Investigations take place weekly, said Foreman, the 43-year-old substitute teacher who organized the group and serves as its leader.

"It's a hobby and a calling," said Foreman, who says she started having visions of future events at age 10. Similarly prophetic dreams started two years later, Foreman claims, when she foresaw her brother in a car accident on his way to a concert.

Foreman says that the spirit of an old man she believes is the former occupant haunts her Yucaipa home. He turns the television on full blast in the night and makes her golden retriever growl.

Peaches Veatch, 34, a mortgage loan consultant from Riverside, says her introduction to the supernatural came at age 10. Her godfather, who had died several years earlier, appeared in her bedroom late one night. She says he was sitting in a chair in the corner -- a chair that did not exist. His image disappeared seconds later.

"Why he appeared to me, I don't know," Veatch said.

The Inland group gathered on a recent weekend for a midday visit to Agua Mansa. The site sits on a few acres of sloping hillside a stone's throw from the Santa Ana River, in an industrial stretch of Colton.

The cemetery, established in the 1850s, has been home to many supposed ghost sightings. Motorists on the winding, two-lane road out front have claimed to see an old man walking his dog. In some accounts, both disappear moments later; in others, they seem to walk straight through the gates.

Inside, pepper trees shaded crumbling headstones and broken crosses. Some graves were half-hidden by weeds and grass; others were not marked at all.

"Peaches, come over here and tell me if you sense anything," Foreman called out at one point.

"I sense they just cut the grass," Veatch said.

At another grave, Veatch said her head began to buzz, as though she was standing beneath power lines.

"We sense a spirit here -- could you light up this meter?" Foreman asked.

"Nothing," Foreman declared a minute later.

The investigation was over after an hour.

A few days later, the group sent some audio recordings to an observer of the investigation. Some were indecipherable; others sounded like the wind. On one of the more promising files, a brief whisper could be heard after an investigator asked for a response from one of the graves.

It turned out to be the observer muttering under his breath after accidentally rustling his notebook.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

BLUE SPIRITS: Published March 30, 1885 in the New York Times

The recent use of aniline blue in connection with spirit manifestations has been warmly received by the opponents of Spiritualism. A spirit that had emerged from the usual cabinet where the medium lay entranced was rudely sprinkled with aniline blue by a wicked skeptic. The spirit retreated to the cabinet, and on investigation it was found that the medium's cheek was dyed a deep blue.

From this coincidence the opponents of Spiritualism are now joyfully arguing that the alleged spirit was not a spirit at all, but only the medium disguised; and it is claimed that no medium will hereafter try to personate a spirit through fear that he will be dyed blue and his dishonesty thereby exposed.

It will, of course, be asserted by earnest Spiritualists that the mere fact that the medium was found with his cheek dyed proves nothing. As is well known, a spirit, in order to be visible, must clothe itself with material particles taken from the body of the medium, which particles are returned to their owner when the show--that is to say the manifestation--is over.

If a spirit meets with an accident while wearing the medium's body, and the body is thereby stained with blue or any other color, it is not the spirit's business to wash it before returning it. All bodies borrowed by spirits are at the risk of their owners, and the latter must expect that some little wear and tear will happen, especially in cases where a spirit finds a body a tight fit and bursts it out under the arms or across the back.

Still, it must be confessed that this argument will have little effect upon unbelievers, who will continue to maintain that if a medium shows the mark of aniline blue that has been sprinkled on an alleged spirit he is an impostor. This conviction cannot be removed by anything the Spiritualists can say, and mediums who are wise will take measures to avoid any possible future complications with aniline blue.

This can readily be done by permitting only blue spirits to materialize. We know on the authority of SHAKESPEARE that there are blue spirits, and it is plain that aniline blue would make no mark on them. Of course in order to provide blue spirits with a temporary blue body it would be necessary for the medium to paint himself blue. Were he to do this, and to exhibit only blue ghosts, the malice of the sprinklers of aniline blue would be brought to naught.

In case, however, any attempt should be made to dye blue spirits black or yellow it would be well for every spirit to carry a damp sponge in its pocket and to wipe away any coloring matter that wicked men might throw at it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ghost of the Week: Castle Green's Woman in White

Castle Green (99 S. Raymond St., Pasadena) - Located in the heart of old Pasadena, sits one of the most foreboding hotels in Southern California. Built in the late 1890's, it served as a luxury resort destination for traveling Easterners for many decades. When its run as a hotel finally came to an end, it was abandoned and fell into ruin. Its only activity was to serve occasionally as a movie location. Today, this imposing structure is still closed to the general public, but in recent times has been sectioned off into private residences.

With its influx of new residents came an influx of new ghost stories. The current tenants have reported everything from door knobs turning by themselves to phantom foot steps. The most prominent ghost however is a woman dressed in a white Victorian gown that wanders the halls followed by the faint scent of perfume. Her identity and connection to the building is unknown.

Normally closed to the public, one of Southern California’s most historic (and haunted) grand hotels from the 19th century will open its doors for four hours. Don’t miss this rare opportunity!

Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007, 1pm-5pm
Holiday Tour of Castle Green, $20
99 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

The Event benefits the Friends of the Castle Green

Saturday, January 20, 2007


WHERE: The Royal Theater11523 Santa Monica Blvd. West LA (Map)
STATUS: Active (regular screenings)

Some places are haunted by spirits that are seen many times by various witnesses over the decades. Then, there are locations that are only visited by a ghost once, and the tale of that dramatic moment is then repeated, and past along, for the years that follow.

One such occurrence happened at the Royal Theater on LA's West side. Even though this theater, previously known as the Tivoli Theater, seems to date back to the 1920's when the area (not just the street) was called Sawtelle, this ghostly incident happened in the 1990's, according to those that tell this tale.

An elderly woman, who was late meeting her elderly husband for a screening (which had already started by the time she arrived), past through the empty lobby (their prearranged meeting spot) into the darkened theater, and searched for her husband. As her eyes adjusted to the limited lighting, she found where he was seated and quietly joined him in the empty seat next to him. Though they didn't say a word to each other during the movie, they held hands through most of the film.

When the picture ended, and the auditorium's lights went on, she discovered the seat next to her (formerly occupied by her husband) was empty. She didn't see him anywhere, but assumed that he went to the restroom before the credits rolled on the screen to beat the crowds.

She waited in the lobby outside the Men's Room. Eventually, after a while, she asked an employee if he could go in and check on her husband. To her surprise, the restroom was empty. When she asked is any of the staff had seen her husband, and gave a description, she learned the truth...

Her husband had a heart attacked in the lobby and was pronounced dead by paramedics before the movie even began. Although, his body had been taken away by ambulance before his wife arrived at the theater, it seems his spirit lingered long enough so that they could watch one last movie together.

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... )

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Where: 1050 S Hill St, Los Angeles (map)
Status: active as entertainment venue


This Belasco Theater, not to be confused with the other Belasco Theater in downtown, was the second Belasco theater. When it opened in 1926, Mr. Belasco moved his productions from his first location at 337 S. Main Street to this grander building. (Incidentally, the former location is also said to be haunted from its later incarnation as "The Follies.") This new theater was built along with (and next door to) the Mayan Theater, and it's old-world Spanish influenced architecture complements (while metaphorically at odds with) the Mayan new-world indigenous inspired design. Additionally, beyond the two cultures at war reflected by the exteriors, inside each building, the opposite ends of the theatrical spectrum were presented. Dramas in the Belasco, and Musicals/Comedies in the Mayan.

For about thirty years, these two theaters operated like downtown's version of "yin" and "yang." Until, this Belasco closed as a entertainment venue in 1952. Ironically, the building was later used for church services, while the Mayan began a sinful life as a porno theater.

It was during this second life (or should we say its resurrection) as a church that stories of a possible ghost began to surface. A former organist for the Metropolitan Community Church, who occupied this theater from the early 1970's to the mid 1980's, has said that members of the congregation often claimed to have heard phantom footsteps coming from the stage, or odd rustling sounds from back stage when the area was apparently empty.

Although, he personally never felt the theater was haunted and had an explanation for these mysterious happenings, his reasoning seemed even more bizarre than an official ghost story.

It was his belief that people actually heard a very elderly lady, who lived under the theater's stage (in what was once the "green room"). The organist assumed she was part of the previous church that had occupied this theater, and his church just inherited her. For a short time, there was an overlap between these two Churches when both operated out of this same building but at different times. This is when he first became aware of her. When the MCC eventually took over, the occasional sightings of her decreased, until she just seem to disappear.

To this day, no one knows her true identity, her connection to the building, or when she left the building (if she did). Perhaps, her spirits still lingers, and perhaps the old woman they thought they saw was never there to begin with

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 L.A. area...)

(to read about the ghosts of Los Angeles' other Belasco theater...)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


WHERE: Westwood Village Theater
(1036 Broxton Ave, Los Angeles) Map
STATUS: First-run theater

The Ghost(s):

"Residual energy" is the term that the ghost-hunting community uses to explain a certain kind of "haunting." The belief is that an intense moment (in a human life) can, whether good or bad, somehow be absorbed (or recorded) by the surrounding environment, and as a result that specific event gets reenacted, over and over, like a scene from a DVD being replayed again and again. In such cases, the spirits seem to have no awareness of the contemporary surroundings, "it" is just doomed to repeat those same actions in a never ending loop.

The Fox Westwood Village Theater (now the Mann Village Theater), built in 1931, is not only one of the best places in the city to experience the magic of the movies (with 1500 seats to choose from), but this monolithic structure that towers over the village may also be one of the best places to experience "residue energy."

Around 10:00am, January 11, 1932, two bandits broke into the lobby with the intention of stealing the theater's weekend receipts. At gun point, they rounded up a janitor, and two delivery men, and mistakenly believing that one of the delivery men was the manager, ordered him to open the safe. When the three hostages eventually convinced the gunmen that they didn't know the combination, they were bound and gagged. The bandits then waited for the real manager to arrive.

As if this attempted robbery wasn't going badly enough, instead of the manager showing up, a police officer wandered in off of the street. A gun-fight erupted, and the officer took two direct hits in the mid-section, and died almost instantly. Outside, a third accomplice (their "get-away driver"), heard the shots and sped away, just as the bandits came running outside (wounded and without the loot). Ironically, the robbery was the driver's idea, and he assured his two buddies it would be extremely quick and easy.

In what turned out to be the unluckiest part of this whole debacle, the officer they had murdered, was an extremely well-beloved detective, who had endeared himself to the Hollywood community when he had (only a couple of years before) walked in on another robbery at the Grauman's Chinese Theater (now the Mann Grauman's Chinese Theater) and apprehended the assailants. As a result of his popularity, many celebrities (including Clark Gable, Tom Mix, and Jimmy Durante) rallied the public against these small time crooks. Thus, after a well publicized man-hunt, capture, and trial, the perpetrators received the death penalty.

Ever since then, every now and then in this historic Westwood landmark, when the theater is "empty," and things are quiet, a member of the staff will hear gunshots, yelling, and commotion coming from the lobby area, as if the events of that day were happening all over again. It seems that even in death those bandits are doomed to repeat the worse day of their lives. Is there a more fitting punishment for their crimes?

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 L.A. area...)

Monday, January 15, 2007


WHERE: Crest Theater
(1262 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles) Map
STATUS: First-run theater


Although the Majestic Crest Theater's future as a first-run movie theater may be in question, there is another question that hovers over its past. In the days before digital projection, when movies were on long strips of 35MM film and delivered to theaters in reels that had to be shown in sequential order. To prevent interruptions in the movie, the projectionist had to "switch over" (between two projectors) from one projector coming to the end of its reel to the other projector to start the next reel. This was a skill that took time to perfect, and it was an act that became the basis for an often told tall tale that seems to accompany some of these old projection rooms in these old movie theaters across the country.

The story is typically told by an employee as he recalls that time when a small overworked theater staff gets so busy handling a customer in the lobby that they forget to change the film reels upstairs, and put the new ones in for the next screening (a time consuming activity involving "threading" the new reel's film through the projector and into a "take-up reel" on the other side). When the showtime arrives, and a flustered employee races upstairs, unlocks the door to the projection booth, and steps inside. He discovers, as if by paranormal forces, the projector and reel are ready to go, and all he has to do is press a button. Variations of this tale have included unseen hands that magically do the "switch over" while no one is in the projection booth.

Although its easy to place these anecdotes into the territory of "urban legend" because their frequency across the country, those that work these historic neighborhood theaters firmly believe these stories as true. Locally, our very own Majestic Crest Theater near Wilshire and Westwood Blvd. was said to have one of these miraculous self-operating projection booth that occasionally helped out the busy staff, by preventing interruptions or delays with the movies shown (when staff could not be present to do the task). It is unknown why certain theaters claim this story, and people have questioned why this would occur at this small cinema.

Then again, some familiar with this local landmark are not surprised. This great example of an Art Deco theater opened in 1940. Although it had live performances at the very beginning, it was quickly converted into a places for "alternative" movies, showing exclusively newsreels during the WWII, and then segueing into foreign films, and then more avant-gard fare (or what we would call today "independent films"). And thus, the theater, itself, has always had a very independent spirit, from when Frances Seymour Fonda (wife of actor Henry Fonda, and mother of Jane and Peter) owned it at the beginning to the more recent ownership of Robert Bucksbaum. This is a place that owners seem to want to be "hands on" with, and it's a place that patrons want to support because of that "personal touch." So, perhaps these tales stem from the idea that maybe the Crest is showing its appreciation by being "hands on" itself?

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 L.A. area...)

Sunday, January 14, 2007


THE PLACE: Greystone Park
905 Loma Vista Drive Beverly Hills (map)


Although the Greystone Estate (a.k.a "the Doheny Mansion") is probably best known as a location for hundreds of movies, TV shows, commercials, and print ads, it was also the site of one of Southern California's greatest solved (but really unsolved) mysteries. Shorty after this 55-room mansion was built by Edward Doheny (as a gift for his son), Edward "Ned" Doheny Jr. and his personal assistant (and closest friend), Hugh Plunkett, were found dead (each with a bullet hole in their head) on February 16, 1929 in one of the guest rooms of this stately manor. At the time, Plunkett and Doheny (along with President Warren G. Harding and Ned's father, oil tycoon Edward Doheny) were embroiled in the infamous "Teapot Dome" bribery scandal, so the sudden death of these two co-conspirators was big news at the time.

The official story (as reported in the newspapers of the day) is that Plunkett went crazy one night and murdered his employer, and then turned the gun on himself. The reasons given for Plunkett's psychotic episode have ranged from a salary dispute to his recent divorce. (His ex-wife, incidentally, was an out-spoken believer of the paranormal.) The homicide detective who arrived at the scene, Leslie T. White, later wrote an autobiography entitled "Me, Detective," in which he devoted a chapter to the injustice of the Doheny investigation. In addition to waiting a couple of hours before calling the police, the family (with help from the family's doctor) apparently staged the scene of the crime and the placement of the bodies as well as tried to disguise the time of death (which all contradicted the blood and bullet evidence). A proper investigation was never conducted (perhaps because of the family's political influence). Despite the obvious tampering and the "rehearsed" eye-witness testimony from the family's housekeeping staff, the case was declared solved by the District Attorney's office the next day, and the bodies were immediately cremated (even though this practice was contrary to the family's religious beliefs).

Over the decades, there have been many theories and rumors surrounding this case. One of the most popular stories is that Ned's religious wife killed both of them, when she discovered that they were having a gay romance. It should also be noted, that earlier that day, witnesses claimed that the two men were having a loud argument at Plunket's apartment (636 South Cochran Avenue), followed by what sounded like doors slamming. Did the other tenants actually hear gun shots, and just mistake them for doors? Curiously, the Doheny family also buried the remains of Hugh Plunket, the supposed killer of Ned Doheny, near their beloved son/husband's remains. Why?

Whatever happened that rainy day (regardless of "official" reports) remains a true mystery. It is these unanswered questions of this tragedy that most likely are at the heart of this historic house's haunting. Why else would the apparition of a man be seen walking the halls outside the scene of the crime? Is it the ghost of Ned Doheny, or is it Hugh Plunkett? Why does a pool of blood appear (then disappear) on the floor of room where the murders supposedly happened. Why just one pool of blood when there were two victims. Who's blood is it? And more importantly, what are the manifestations trying to tell us?

When visiting this landmark building and gardens, keep your eyes open. Any paranormal experience you have may provide the missing clue that finally solves this forgotten case, and ultimately allows the troubled ghosts of the Doheny Mansion the peace they deserve.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


WHERE: Palace Theater
(630 S Broadway, Los Angeles) Map
STATUS: Dormant


Although this theater is probably best known as the one Michael Jackson danced in front of in the Thriller video (before he turned into a werewolf), this movie palace has the distinction of being the oldest movie theater in Los Angeles, as in the oldest theater that showed movies. Since the Palace had an earlier life as a vaudeville theater before being converted to a cinema, it is much older than the other theaters that were build to show movies. Because of this little quirk, it was built in an era before amplified sound, so all seats had to be built within eighty feet of the stage (so patrons could hear the live actors), and thus is one of the more intimate movie palaces downtown. Also, because of this earlier life predating the cinemas as we know them today, it also has a dark secret. It is one of the few building still standing that had a segregated “Negroes Only" balcony (later transformed into a "third class" balcony for the poor) with it's own separate entrance from the side alley, making it impossible from someone in that balcony to mingle with anyone else in the theater.

Needless to say, that ominous third balcony is one of the spiritual "hot spots" of this very haunted theater. People, while standing on the stage, have seen "figures" in the darkness standing in, or walking about, the third balcony (when the only door to that level is locked). Additionally, witnesses have claimed to see a woman on stage walking from center stage to the wings (stage right), and disappearing once backstage. She is said to be dressed in a white (very lacy) gown. Her identity is unknown, but she is believed to be a performer from the days of the vaudeville circuit. It should be pointed out, that she always vanishes at the location of a giant electric transformers used to operate the lights. Perhaps these electric-magnetic fields generated affect the ghost. It is also interesting to note, that the cremated remains of two adults and one child were found in a box in the basement level of the theater. Who these people were, their connection to this theater, or why their ashes were placed there is still a mystery. Could it be related to the woman on the stage, or the people in the balcony? We may never know.

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 L.A. area...)

Thursday, January 11, 2007


WHERE: The Carthay Circle
(6316 San Vicente Boulevard, Los Angeles) Map
STATUS: Domolished


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.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


WHERE: The Los Angeles Theater

(615 S. Broadway, Los Angeles) Map

STATUS: Dormant (Occasional Screenings)


The Los Angeles Theater was not only the last of the great movie palaces downtown, but it was also the most expensive. No expense was spared in the decor of the Los Angeles, which included crystal chandeliers, marble, gold leaf, silk wall coverings, neon lighting, air-conditioning, walnut paneling, and fountains. Even the custom curtain used was said to be the most expensive in the world. All of this decadent wonder was done at the height of the Great Depression. The main lobby, and lounges are so opulent and large that today they are rented out as film/television/print locations to represent places of wealth, and double for the interiors of banks, mansions, or palaces. Despite all this grandeur (or because of the costs) the theater went belly-up in less than a year. It eventually reopened and did well during the war years, but business dwindled, and by the 1970's the crown jewel of downtown's "corridor of fantasy" became a the world's only 2200 seat porno theater.

Today, the theater is closed to the public. Occasionally, screenings and events are held there so people can see what it is like to be surrounded by such decaying opulence. A few lucky visitors may even meet the (decaying and opulent) former patron in a tuxedo, who lingers near the stairs to the lounge. Witnesses claim that the man stops at a mirror to adjust his tie before disappearing. People have also seen him while looking in the mirror approaching them from behind. Then, on the other end of the ecto-economical scale, the blue-collar ghost of a former projectionist has been spotted over the years in the projection booth. Aside from those two spirits, disembodied voices, laughter, and whispers has been heard throughout the downstairs lounges, dressing rooms, closets, and children's area. Perhaps, all these ghosts are getting reading for a show that will never again start.

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 L.A. area...)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


WHERE: The Tower Theater
(802 S. Broadway, Los Angeles) Map
STATUS: Dormant (occasional rock concerts)


The French Renaissance inspired Tower Theater has the distinction of being the oldest "movie theater" in Los Angeles (since October 12,1927). That is to say, the oldest theater that was specifically built as a cinema, as opposed to a live theater that was converted to show movies. It also has the distinction of being the first theater in Los Angeles to screen "The Jazz Singer," the first "talkie" (motion picture with recorded synchronized sound) Its said that during that movies' run, the theater was filled with depressed actors, who realized that this film marked the end of their careers (either because of accents, or their now obsolete acting style).

However, despite the "sadness" that still permeates that room, the ghostly actress (in a white dress) said to haunt this building is thought to have been a stage actress (who performed floor shows between screenings) and not one from the silver screen, because her sightings are generally around the stage and basement "dressing rooms."

These "live shows" apparently were not very common at this location, and the stage and backstage were not built to accommodate them. So, this tale seems unlikely. It is also believed she was killed in a fire that occurred in the basement even though a fire at this location has never been documented (which is not to say it didn't happen). That said, there was a "legitimate" theater ("The Garrick") at this location that was torn down to build the Tower, so perhaps this female phantom is connected to that building and predates the Tower.

Interestingly, a former usherette was murdered (shot twice in the head) in 1929 after she finished her shift at the Tower. So then again, perhaps she is the girlie ghost that has been seen here. Maybe, she is forever stuck doing her rounds one last time before leaving for the night.

Given this theater's "movie" history, it is not surprising that the other commonly seen ghost is that of a male projectionist seen in the projection booth. In addition, a location scout who visited the theater claims that a "hand" grabbed him while he was trying to ascend the stairs from the restrooms to the lobby with such force, it pulled him backward.

So, if you ever have the chance to see a live show at this creepy venue, make sure that the person brushing up against you is actually there.

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 L.A. area...)

Monday, January 8, 2007


WHERE: Belasco''s Theater
(337 S. Main Street, Los Angeles) map
STATUS: Destroyed


Los Angeles, like just about every other city in the United States, has a Main Street that runs through its core. However, unlike most towns, the Main Street of Los Angeles is nothing to boast about. It’s a derelict section where most of the city’s homeless congregate, and a sad and depressing place to visit. Though it may be hard to believe today, it was apparently worse fifty years ago.

It was back then that the Belasco Theater (aka "The Follies") presented strip shows and other bawdy entertainment for those brave enough (or crazy enough) to go to that part of town at night. The area was said to be so dangerous, that an artist who rented a room above the theater was able to paper the walls of his little room with all the sensational newspaper articles about the various former strippers who had been murdered, or had committed suicide. With all the tragic lives coming to an end in that area, the building naturally became haunted by one of those doomed girls who died too young.

Witnesses said the ghostly figure was that of an attractive redheaded woman, always scantily-clad, and always wandering around backstage before vanishing into thin air. Although the theater was demolished many years ago, the redhead still crosses the now vacant lot, every now and then, offering cheap thrills to anyone who happens to see her near-naked body in the moonlight.

The Belasco Theater was located at 337 S. Main Street in the heart of Downtown. A second Belasco Theater was built in downtown Los Angeles, adjacent to the Mayan Theater, in 1926 on Hill Street to host "legitimate theater" and cinema. After its construction, the original Belasco was renamed the Follies.

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 L.A. area...)

(to read about the ghosts of Los Angeles' other Belasco theater...)

Sunday, January 7, 2007


WHERE: Pasadena Playhouse
(600 North Rosemead Boulevard, Pasadena) map

STATUS: Active theater


This classy theater opened in 1925, and was built to house Pasadena's community theater that had originally started on a lower class burlesque stage. Just as this little theater troupe (lead by Gilmor Brown) overcame great odds to gain respect, so too did this theater, which in 1937 was declared California's Official State Theater because of the its innovative programing, which attracted the very top playwrights and actors to go to this suburb of Los Angeles and do "community theater."

This tradition of attracting the best in the dramatic arts to Pasadena continued for the many decades that followed since Gilmore Brown first set foot inside this building. Another tradition of the playhouse that continued was the continuous presence of Gilmor Brown, himself, even after his death in 1960. It is said that Gilmor requested hidden passageways to be built throughout the theater, so that he could secretly watch (and eavesdrop on) the rehearsals, and likewise it is said that his presence is still watching the goings-on of this fabled stage from the shadows to this day. This uneasy feeling of being spied upon on (and around) the stage was so common that faculty members felt it was necessary to warn incoming students (of the attached acting school) of Gilmor's ghost, and explain to them that "he" is just being protective of the place he helped build. So, should you ever have the chance to walk through this historic landmark and/or walk across the historic stage, don't worry if you feel the piercing eyes of a being from the great beyond. He means you no harm.

Additionally, anything strange that happens inside the theater is blamed on his ghost. In the past, lights have mysteriously turned on and off during performances (even after the wires had be examined by an electrician). An often repeated tale involves a stage manager's stack of notes with a production's sound and lighting queues getting scattered around a room during each intermission of that production (and even after the doors were locked and a guard was placed in front of it).

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 L.A. area...)