Showing posts with label haunted theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label haunted theater. Show all posts

Sunday, January 21, 2007


THE PLACE: The Bob Baker Marionette Theater
1345 W 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Downtown) (map)

STATUS: Active (shows weekly)


Although people generally associate ghosts with violent/sudden deaths, there are many other theories as to why a ghost will haunt a certain location. Some believe that spirits will return to places that (in life) gave them great pleasure, or perhaps sites where (in life) much time was spent. There is also a theory that confused ghosts sometimes seek out humanoid objects to possess like wax figures, mannequins, or dolls, and thus gravitate to spots where these objects can be found (old wax museums, children's bedroom's, etc.)

So, naturally (or super-naturally) the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, the oldest indoor continuously-operating puppet theater in the United States, is said to have at least three phantoms of former puppeteers lingering around (seen by staff). One watches the staff from his favorite seat on the east side of the theater (last row against the wall, three seats from the aisle). Perhaps he just doesn't want to leave this happy place, or maybe he just likes being around puppets. Additionally, Another former puppeteer is seen in the backstage area. In the wings (on the West side of the building), there are mirrors so that performers can check their puppets, or practice moves. While doing this, they will see this second ghostly puppeteer (in the mirror's reflection) watching them.  When they turn around, no one is there.

Another story about this former puppeteer involves a young man seeking a job at the theater. He was asked to sit down and wait in the auditorium. While, seated a tall man sat near him, and didn't male a sound. When the young man was called into another room, he commented on the tall man, only to be told that no one else was in the building. Shortly thereafter, he recognized the mystery man from am old photo hanging on the wall, and was told that the tall man was a former puppeteer, and died some time ago. The young man turned down the job to work at the theater. The "tall man" was also seen by a female puppeteer in the hall near the restrooms (next to the party room) late one night. Thinking it was a fellow puppeteer playing a joke on her she confronts the figure, only to have it disappear into the shadows.

Plus, whenever something goes wrong during a performance such as a string breaking or a set falling, it's always blamed on the resident spectre, presumably unhappy about something in the show. One puppeteer's broken cell-phone (with a dead battery) would even make late night phone calls to the puppeteer's friends from inside the theater (from inside a locked loceker). One night while Bob and a puppeteer were working late, a heavy sound-proof door opened and slamed itself closed. Spooked, Bob reportedly turned to his employee and said "Let's get out of here. Don't even turn on the alarm."

In ancient times, the "illusion of life" created by marionettes was thought to be work of other-worldly forces. Who knows, maybe this resident "ex-puppeteer" still lends a hand during performances, animating the inanimate objects, and making them move in realistic ways. Is it possible that old habits die hard,... and that's why the ghosts linger?

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... )

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... )

Friday, January 19, 2007


Where: 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood (map)
Status: Active as an entertaiment venue


By 1929, when Alexander Pantages acquired the the front portion of the A.G Bartlett estate (six year's after Bartlett's death), the exotic plants from around the world that Bartlett had collected to bolster Hollywood's appeal, had either died from neglect, or moved to the nearby (and at that time new) Hollywood Bowl, despite attempts to incorporate them into the garden surrounding a large hotel to be built (which obviously never was) at that location.

Although this beautiful paradise was paved over, it could be argued that Pantages built a theater that is just as beautiful, and also increases Hollywood's appeal. It was the last and largest movie palace built in Hollywood, and some claim it was the first Art Deco theater in United States. Eventhough it still bears Pantages' name, he unfortunately didn't own it for very long after it opened in 1930. Due to the expenses involved defending his name against a fragulant (but well publized) rape charge, Pantages had to abandon thoughts of the 12 stories that were to be built above the Hollywood theater (like the other buildings at Hollywood & Vine), and sell the property.

During the 2000 restoration, it is said a painter working on the interior of the auditorium, complained that a "man in a hat" walked along the scaffolding (stepping off from the balcony), and stood over the shoulder of the painter, closely inspecting his work. When the painter turned to face his visitor, the "man with the hat" vanished into thin air. Shortly after, the same incident happened to an electrician, who was also up in the scaffolding to inspect the wiring. Both workers quit following their encounter. The identity of this "man in the hat" is unknown, but it either thought to be Bartlett, Pantages, or Howard Huges keeping an eye on things.

Howard Hughes acquired the theater in 1947, and moved his operations into the upstairs offices. He even built a door that went from his office to the back of the balcony, and it is said that he would sit in the last row and watch the same movie play over and over all day. Although this movie marthon ritual would later in life get out of control with stints that would go for days in a locked screening room, the seeds of this mania started at the Pantages theater. To this day, during reheasals inside this historic playhouse, a man will be spotted (from the stage) sitting in the last row of the balcony. When security is sent up to eject the tresspasser, no one is ever found. Sightings of Howard Huges are so common in this place that the historical marker on a street light in front of the building even mentions his ghost.

Additionally, staff members have told stories of a phantom man that walks up the aisle during a performance (as if to exit through the back) only to vanish as the usher holds the door open for him, as well as phantom women seen walking in the balcony (eastside) or the Ladies Room (off of the lobby).

There was also a widely reported event, where a disembodied female voice was heard singing into a microphone set up on the stage, when no one was on, or near, the stage.

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 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...)