The Ghosts of Old Hollywood

Betty Grable Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Halloween just wouldn’t be complete without a few ghost stories, right?  So for the sake of getting into the Halloween spirit, here are a few ghost stories featuring some familiar characters.  If these stories are to be believed, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you might still have the chance to encounter some of Hollywood’s most legendary stars.

Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera

Since it’s Halloween, let’s start with one of the greatest horror film actors — Lon Chaney.  Reportedly, Lon Chaney’s ghost can be found lurking around sound stage 28 at Universal Studios where he filmed his classic silent film The Phantom of the Opera.

Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino may very well be one of the busiest ghosts in Hollywood.  People claim to have seen his ghost at his former homes, at Studio 5 at Paramount Studios, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and at the Knickerbocker Hotel (which has since been converted into housing for seniors), where he was a frequent visitor.

The Knickerbocker

The Knickerbocker Hotel SignSpeaking of the Knickerbocker, lots of paranormal activity has been reported there.  The former hotel has certainly seen its share of tragedy and other unusual events over the years.  Director D.W. Griffith died beneath the chandelier in the lobby.  I Love Lucy star William Frawley died on the sidewalk right outside of the hotel.  Costume designer Irene committed suicide there.  Frances Farmer was once dragged through the lobby and taken to an institution.  After Harry Houdini’s death, his widow Bess held annual seances at the Knickerbocker, trying to make contact with her husband.

Peg Entwistle

Peg Entwistle

Peg Entwistle never made a name for herself as a film actress, but she is now known for being one of Hollywood’s most notorious ghosts.  After appearing in only one film, 1932’s Thirteen Women, Peg committed suicide by throwing herself off the “H” of the “Hollywood” sign (then the “Hollywoodland” sign).  Her ghost has been spotted by many people hiking in the area of the “Hollywood” sign.

Thelma Todd

Thelma ToddIn addition to being an actress, Thelma Todd also owned a cafe called Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe. At the time of her untimely death, she lived in an apartment above the cafe.   The site of the cafe has gone on to be used by a production company and an attorney’s office.  Many people who have worked in the building report seeing Thelma’s ghost walking down the stairs.

Clifton Webb

Clifton WebbThe ghost of Clifton Webb is said to linger around his former home and near his final resting place in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

The Roosevelt Hotel

Last, but certainly not least, there are a couple of famous guests who reportedly still haven’t checked out of Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel.  If you want a brush with the paranormal, the Roosevelt is the place to be.

Marilyn Monroe Fixing MakeupMarilyn Monroe was a frequent visitor to the Roosevelt.  Reportedly she can still be found checking her make-up in a mirror hanging in the lobby.  The mirror used to hang in what was Marilyn’s favorite room at the Roosevelt.

Montgomery Clift From Here to EternityWhile filming From Here to Eternity, Montgomery Clift stayed at the Roosevelt in room 928.  When not on set, he would pace up and down the hallway of the ninth floor, practicing the bugle and memorizing his lines.  From Here to Eternity was released sixty years ago, but Monty’s ghost is reportedly still rehearsing on the Roosevelt’s ninth floor.

Guests and hotel staff have reported passing a man in the hallway, but when they turn to look at him again, nobody is there.  The front desk frequently gets calls from guests complaining of hearing trumpet music that doesn’t seem to be coming from any identifiable source.  Many guests who have stayed in room 928 claim to have had encounters with strange apparitions in the room.  Unusual sounds have been heard coming from room 928, even though the room was unoccupied at the time.  Well, at least not occupied by any Earthly inhabitants anyway.