Saturday, September 15, 2012

Peg Entwistle Memorial Hike!

It's the 80th anniversary of one of Hollywood's most famous deaths.

THE DATE: September 16th, 2012 (Sunday)
(on the anniversary of her death)
THE PLACE: Behind the "H" of the Hollywood Sign
(Directions to the "H" are below)
THE TIME: 5:00pm - 7:00pm (Sunset)
(meet us at the top)


"I was hiking near the Hollywood sign today, and near the bottom I found a woman's shoe and jacket. A little further on I noticed a purse. In it was a suicide note. I looked down the mountain and saw a body...."
--- Anonymous call to the Hollywood Police Station

81 years ago, this September, a sad, depressed, possibly drunk, unemployed actress left her home on Beachwood Drive and started walking up the road to the Hollywood sign. On that treacherous hike, that probably took her most of the night, she eventually made it to her destination, the fifty-foot letter "H" at the beginning of the internationally recognized Hollywood sign (then the Hollywoodland Sign). She climbed a ladder that was attached to the backside of the flat metal structure, and leaped to her death once she reached the top. It is thought that she did not die instantly, but instead lingered for hours in the brush below, where her corpse was eventually discovered by hikers. For a short time she was simply known as "The Hollywood Sign Girl," until her published suicide note was recognized by her uncle. Her name was Peg Entwistle.

When people tell her tale, they always point out the ironic twist that occurred shortly after her death. A letter arrived at her address, stating that she had landed the lead role in a new play about a woman who commits suicide. However, there's the bigger (more obvious) irony. This act of desperation over the lack of a show-biz career, ended up making her more famous (or infamous) than any of her working contemporaries. Not everyone can easily name the stars of the early 1930's, but most people know the Hollywood Sign Girl.

Her legend seems to grow with each passing year, and as it does, so do the stories of her restless ghost near the famous landmark. Most people describe her apparition as a young woman dressed in a 1930's style white gown walking along a trail (sometimes dazed). She is most commonly seen by hikers (not unlike those that originally found her body) and dog walkers in the very early or very late hours. Witnesses claim that she is accompanied by the strong scent of the gardenia flower (thought to be her favorite perfume). Some accounts even describe her reenacting her final moments stepping off of the top of the "H" only to vanish as she falls. She seems doomed to repeat the last moments of that last night over and over again, just as we also seemed doomed to repeat those last moments with each retelling of her story.

DIRECTIONS: Follow N. Beachwood Drive up the hill to the end (just before the "Sunset Ranch Hollywood" stables). You'll see cars parked around a trail head, so park anywhere you can. Follow (on foot) the dirt trail up and along the ridge adjacent to the stables. This trail will merge into a larger trail (Mulholland Hwy). Make a hairpin turn left (South-West) on this new trail, and follow it (going towards the Hollywood sign) until it dead ends at a paved road (Mt. Lee Drive). Turn right on the paved road, seemingly away from the Hollywood sign. The road will take you up the backside of Mt. Lee, offering great views of the San Fernando Valley and Forest Lawn, to the top of the mountain and a dramatic reveal of the Hollywood sign, the same view Peg Entwistle had before she jumped (incidentally Peg's studio, RKO, is dead center in this view). Below is a link to a map, which you should study, before going out there, since its very easy to get turned around out there on the trails.

View Larger Map

Monday, September 10, 2012

September's SPIRITS with SPIRITS

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.

Note: On Thursday night, Yamashiro hosts a neighborhood farmer's market (5pm - 9pm), so there will be additional food and drink available from vendors and food trucks in Yamashiro's parking lot. For those that don't want a formal Japanese dining experience (or the expense), this is a great way to see this historic restaurant, the amazing view, and enjoy the pleasant weather. (for Farmer's Market info...)

THE DATE: September 13th, 2012 (Thursday)
THE PLACE: Yamashiro
1999 N. Sycamore Avenue, Hollywood (Map)
MEETING SPOT: We will be in the Farmer's Market (parking lot),
seated at the tables around parking space #130. Look for someone with a GHOULA button.
THE TIME: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

PARKING: There is of course valet parking at the restaurant, but Yamashiro also provides FREE off-site parking at with shuttle service up and down the hill. (for free parking/shuttle info...) For those that want to take the Metro, the restaurant is a short (but steep) walk from the Hollywood/Highland station.


Robert Arthur's book, "The Mystery of the Green Ghost" (1965), is about a haunted, ornate Asian-themed mansion on top of a hill in Southern California that is filled with ghosts, secrets, and treasures of the Orient. The story was inspired by the Bernheimer House and Gardens in Pacific Palisades. Although, that amazing structure is no longer with us, the original Bernheimer House and Gardens (before Bernheimer moved west to the Palisades) is still around, on a hill, 300 feet above Hollywood, and it too is filled with ghosts, secrets, and treasures from the Orient.

When this residential fortress was completed in 1914, the Bernheimer Brothers (Adolph and Eugene) filled it with Asian antiques and artifacts from their travels, dubbed it "Yamashiro" ("Castle on a Hill"), and mysteriously vowed (as reported in the LA Times) that no woman would be allowed to enter their house as an invited guest. Their new "Yamashiro' was said to be an exact replica of a palace in Japan, but in reality, the design is just a hodge-podge of Japanese and Chinese motifs placed on top of a European-style house. As a palatial home, Yamashiro lasted less than ten years. Eugene died in 1923 (his remains are said to be buried in the central courtyard), and Adolf moved to the Palisades.

The estate was then converted into a private club for Hollywood's elite (a response to the other societies that would not allow actors), known as the "400 Club." During its life, this anything-but-simple structure has also served as a military academy, apartments, the supposed headquarters for Japanese spies during WWII, a theme park, the possible inspiration for Grauman's Chinese Theater, and was abandoned for several years before eventually becoming (in 1960) one of Hollywood's most famous restaurants (famous for having the best view in Los Angeles).

That cryptic proclamation (or warning) about women being forbidden is ironic considering Yamashiro's most prominent ghost is that of a "weeping woman" in the "Bride's Room" on the second floor. Her cries are heard, but when someone investigates, and opens the door. The room is empty. Also her silhouette has been seen from outside crossing in front of the upstairs windows. Her identity and reason for such sadness is unknown. Like so many historic watering-holes in Los Angeles, Yamashiro's is also said to have been a speak-easy and perhaps a bordello. Is the "weeping woman" one of the disillusioned would-be starlets that was forced to sell her body to survive during the Great Depression?

Additionally, there is a male silhouette that passes those same second story windows. He is presumed to be a former bartender, because most of the sightings of this phantom figure are seen in the bar area (to the right of the main entrance). Although witnesses and staff seem positive about his identity, it is worth noting, that in 1955, film pioneer, Fayette Thomas Moore committed suicide by gunshot in his parked car on the street in front of this historic landmark. Also, Yamashiro sits at the end of Sycamore Avenue, which according to local lore was named for a row of Sycamores at the base of the hill used to hang outlaws. Could the male ghost be the suicide victim or one of the hanged bandits? Perhaps it is the ubiquitous spirit of Rudolph Valentino, who not only visited the house (in life) when it was the 400 Club, but whose ghost has been seen all over Hollywood. Or, what about Bernheimer, himself, whose remains may be just a few feet from the bar, where the ghostly man has been seen?

So, come out, and have a drink, and explore Los Angeles' oldest structure (600 years old), the pagoda (of the outdoor "Pagoda Bar"), as well as the other surprises waiting to be discovered inside and around Hollywood's "Castle on the Hill" (directly above Hollywood's Magic Castle)... if you dare!
(to read about last month's haunted location... )
(to see a map of previous SPIRITS with SPIRITS locations... )

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Date: August 18th, 2012
Time: 7:00pm
Place: La Cienega Park, 8400 Gregory Way
(1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica)
Admission: $10.00

The Biltmore Hotel, the Central Library, and Dan Ackroyd's former residence are just a few of the local locations that have a connection with this comedy classic. (read more)


Where: EVE Gallery
280 W. Second Street, Pomona (map)
Date: September 1st (Saturday)
Time: 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Admission: FREE

In China, the 7th lunar month is called the "Ghost Month," and the 15th day of that month is known as "The Ghost Day."

It is believed that on this day the barrier between the realm of the spirits and our realm vanishes, and ghosts are free to travel between these two worlds. Thus, a celebration is held on this special day to entertain and amuse these visiting ghosts.

It is in that spirit, that GHOULA with the EVE Gallery presents

GHOST NIGHT - a lively evening of art, music, and ghost stories in Southern California's most haunted gallery (at least on this night).

Note: This event will also be the debut of GHOULA COMIX #2. The book will be available for purchase, and many of the artists will be present to sign copies.
(for more info...)

*For artists that are interested in being a part of the exhibition, contact