Thursday, April 12, 2012


GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social 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: April 13th, 2012 (Friday the 13th)
THE PLACE: The Coral Cafe,
3321 Burbank Blvd. Burbank (Map)
THE TIME: 8:00pm to the witching hour


"I still get the creeps, I still get a funny feeling driving over to Burbank"
--Tim Burton (2006)

Despite its seemingly benign, 1950's suburban appearance, beneath the sunny surface of Burbank lurks the twisted dark place that shaped the childhood of filmmaker, Tim Burton (which he lampooned in "Edward Scissorhands"). Additionally, it is the unlikely home of Halloweentown and Dark Delicacies. In 1952, the California Crime Commission singled it out as a hotbed of Mafia activity. Plus, due to its ties to the aero-space industry, it probably has had more airplane crashes than any other city in the world. Also, it is home to a few haunted locations...

The most famous of which is probably a neighborhood coffee shop named The Coral Cafe (a fixture of Burbank since 1957), and known locally as the "Haunted Cafe" because of its appearance on the Biography Channel's "My Ghost Story" (and other TV shows) and the rather dubious "security camera" video tape of a supposed ghost following a staff member around the restaurant that has been circulating for the last few years.

That famous "ghost caught on video" footage aside, The employees, and some regulars, do believe that this diner is haunted by a harmless spirit or spirits. Although, there has been a sighting of an "old lady" seated in one of the booths, most of the activity seems to occur in the bathrooms. Invisible hands turn on and off the faucets and open and close the stall doors. Why do ghosts and bathrooms seem to go together like cafeterias and Jello?

Are these disturbances from the same ghost, or is it two separated entities haunting different ends of the same building?

Almost a century ago, alfalfa fields occupied this section of Burbank, and they were owned by Burbank's most famous resident, James J. Jeffries aka "Big Jim" or "The Boilmaker" or "The Great White Hope." Jeffries (the namesake of nearby Jeffries Street) was one of the great Heavyweight Champions of all time, but he is best remembered for his involvement in "The Fight of the Century" where (as an older man) he was lured (with money) away from his Burbank farm back into the ring to fight the first African-American Heavyweight Champ, Jack Johnson. This battle of the races was the only time that Jeffries was knocked down, and Jeffries admitted that even on his best day he was no match against Johnson.

Years later, in the 1950's, Jim Jeffries elderly wife was killed in a car accident not far from their home. A few months later, Jeffries followed her with a fatal heart attack at age 77. All remnants of their farm are now long gone. Incidentally, after his death, the Jeffries barn (pictured below) was purchased by Walter Knott and moved to Knott's Berry Farm where it is still used today as the "Wilderness Dance Hall" (and as a maze for their Halloween Haunt), and where employees still see Jeffries' large ghostly figure. But, what about her ghost? Could the old lady seen at the Coral Cafe be spirit of Mrs. Jeffries?

Lastly, there is a "phantom monk" that has been seen in various locations in the San Fernando Valley, who is always traveling in a north-west direction (presumably repeatedly making the journey between the San Gabriel Mission and the San Fernando Mission). The Coral Cafe sits in his path. Could the restaurant's disturbances be connected to him passing through?

So, come out to the historic Coral (haunted) Cafe, and have some dinner, or dessert, or a drink, or just mingle with ghosts.... See you there!

(to read about last month's haunted location... )
(to see the imfamous Coral Cafe ghost tape... )
(to see a map of previous SPIRITS with SPIRITS locations... )

Thursday, February 23, 2012


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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GHOULA's Chilling Challenge...

GHOULA's Chilling Challenge: The Doheny Murders

Calling all ghost-hunters, paranormal investigators, psychics, sensitives, spirit-boarders, Ouija masters, and those interested in getting a glimpse of the "other side." Whether you are acting alone, or in a team, GHOULA wants you! Whether you are a seasoned pro or this is your first ghost hunt, GHOULA wants you! (If you are none of the above, you may also participate. All are welcome)

If you are up for the challenge, come be a part of history, and solve one of Los Angeles' many famous unsolved murders. February 16, 2012 (Thursday), will be the 83th anniversary of the unsolved scandalous murders of Ned Doheny and Hugh Plunket. To mark the occasion, GHOULA is asking the local ghost-hunting community to try to shed new light on this cold case. (For info about this case go to the link below.)

1.) On the day of the actual murders/suicides, we invite paranormal investigators to investigate the supposed crime scene, which is now a quiet city park in Beverly Hills at 905 Loma Vista Drive (map). Or, if you are psychic or have a Spirit Board (Ouija Board), you can tap into the spirit realm from any location that day. Hopefully your skills will uncover a new piece of information to add to the discussion, or perhaps even find the solution to this historic whodunit.

2.) Any other-worldly information you may obtain, we would appreciate it if you shared it with others at our next SPIRITS with SPIRITS, on March 13th (the location will be announced a few days before the 13th). This will be a great opportunity to compare notes with others, and make sure this imfamous case (and these ghosts) are not forgotten.

For more info on the murder case....
For more info on Greystone Park....

Thank you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February's SPIRITS with SPIRITS

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.

THE DATE: February 13th , 2012 (Monday)
THE PLACE: Barney's Beanery - The Original8447 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood (Map)
THE TIME: 8:00pm to the witching hour


The "City of the Angels" (and its dark history) is apparently ideal as a back-drop for detective stories since it is home to so many famous fictional detectives (Phillip Marlowe, Easy Rawlins, Quincy, Barreta, Joe Friday, The Three Investigators, etc). Among that crowd, Lt. Columbo (no first name), portrayed by Peter Falk on the popular Columbo TV series that spanned five decades, is perhaps the most beloved Los Angeles-based fictional detective.

...One more thing, when Columbo needed to mull over the clues and figure out who-dun-it, do you know where he would go? He would have a seat at Barney's Beanery, and enjoy a bowl of their chili, and as if by magic the solution would present itself.

Although the Beanery proudly boasts that it has the "2nd Best Chili in Los Angeles," based on a 1960's local chili cook-off (1st place went to The Magic Castle), Barney's chili is tops with Columbo, who claimed to eat chili everyday (sometimes without beans for variety). To underscore the importance of Barney's to Columbo, Burt, the show's fictional proprietor of the Beanery, played by John Finnegan, was one of the very few reoccurring roles of that anthology program that would change its cast with each episode. It is also interesting to note that through most of the TV show's run, Los Angeles' real life chief of police, Daryl Gates, ate chili at the fancier and more up-scale Chasen's restaurant just a few blocks away. Was Columbo's presence at the more down-to-Earth, rough and tumble, ram-shackle juke-joint nearby meant as a statement to emphasize Columbo's "outsider" persona?

Ever since Barney's Beanery opened on Route 66 in 1920, it has always appealed to outsiders and the fringe of our great city, whether it was transients, outlaws, hoodlums, artists, beatniks, hippies, or the lowest of all... screenwriters. Barney's started life as an isolated roadhouse along a dusty highway outside of town, where bar fights were common, and happily that atmosphere still exists today. It is said that singer, Janis Joplin, once cracked a bottle over the head of LA's "Lizard King," Jim Morrison during a dispute here.

Speaking of Jim Morrison, does the ghost of this 1960's rock star, and lead singer of the LA-based band, The Doors, haunt this historic establishment? Is it his ghost that is seen in a white shirt walking past the door of the rooftop office? According to local legend, Morrison was a free spirit during his life, and would occasionally climb up to, and walk along, the rooftops of many of the buildings in that area despite the obvious danger. Also according to local legend, Morrison (in death) seems to be a spirit that moves freely around West Hollywood since other places in the immediate area claim to be haunted by Morrison ghost.

Likewise, who is the phantom in the basement that plays with the levers to the bar's beer system, and is felt pushing past employees as they descend down the stairs? Is this the sad, booze-obsessed spirit of Janis Joplin, who had her last drink at Barney's before going back to her hotel room in Hollywood and overdosing on Heroin?

Or, are these haunted hi-jinx due to a deceased former employee who still lingers at his old workplace? Perhaps, as some believe, it is even a long gone busboy (or rather "busboooo-oy).

Whoever/whatever it is that spends his/her/its after-life taunting the staff is unknown. All we can do is come out, patronize this piece of history, be a part of its history, ...and mull over these possibilities while enjoying a bowl of their famous chili. Perhaps, as if by magic, the solutions (and the apparitions) will present themselves?

Burt: "You know what's your trouble? You don't have much imagination....You always look at the menu, and you always order chili."
Columbo: " I'll have the chili."
Burt: "See what I mean?"
Columbo: "Well, look at it this way, you'll never be disappointed."

(to read about last month's haunted location... )
(to read about the lawlessness of the area... )
(to read about Morrison's ghost... )