There’s going to be a whole lot of Haunted LA posts in the near future, but one site that won’t be on that list (at least not yet) is the Frolic Room. This dark, shoe box-sized, old Hollywood bar has operated at this site since 1930, first as an illegal speakeasy (however, the west wasn’t as strict about enforcing the Volstead Act as the rest of the country).
The tiny bar sits in the shadow of the massive Pantages Theater, Hollywood’s most celebrated theater still in operation. For a 10-year stretch, from 1950-60, the Pantages hosted the Academy Awards and plenty of after parties invaded the Frolic Room, post-ceremony. I can’t imagine what this humble little bar looked like, crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with the biggest names in Hollywood, all jockeying for their next martini while clutching their newly-won gold statuette. I suppose you don’t have to use your imagination too much as there is a massive mural of celebrity caricatures that busies one of the walls featuring everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein to Marilyn Monroe and the Marx Brothers.
Today, the bar feels like a sleepy little dive, full of history and character, that really only gets packed with people who are grabbing a quick drink during intermission or after seeing the most recent performance of “Hamilton” or “Wicked” at the Pantages.
This is a place of creativity too. Not only did Charles Bukowski mention the Frolic Room in his writings, but he was a regular here. That iconic neon sign just about begs to be burned into celluloid and it has been featured in countless movies over the years including LA Confidential (pictured, left).
Considering its long legacy of colorful characters, you’d expect the bar to be just teeming with ghosts, like the Pantages next door is. However, we have yet to hear any fist-hand accounts of unexplainable phenomena.
It should also be noted at a mysterious death, likely a homicide, but never ruled as such happened here in 2010 when the bar’s bouncer was found, victimized by blunt force trauma in the front vestibule. It is essentially classified an unknown death and since there were no witnesses to see what happened, this death will remain a mystery.
In one last (aggravating) note: No, this isn’t the last place the Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short, was seen alive. I swear, any building in Hollywood that’s been in operation since 1947 has an alleged Black Dalia connection. The currently popular Cecil Hotel also has Black Dahlia urban legends connected to it, though it’s likely she never, ever set foot there. The Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA was the last location the Black Dahlia was ever seen alive. She was observed making phone calls in the hotel’s lobby before then getting into a car and disappearing into the night.
Is there any evidence that Short was ever at the Frolic Room? No, however, I do think it’s likely she could’ve visited the place. We know her last Hollywood apartment was on Cherokee Avenue, just north of Hollywood Blvd. From her apartment doorway to the Frolic Room is under a mile and we do know she was a regular at Boardner’s, so she wasn’t opposed to hitting up the local Hollywood night life.
Anyway, just trying to set the record straight (even Smithsonian Magazine incorrectly mentioned the Black Dahlia in its write-up of the place. Get it together!)
Hollywood Blvd is one of the most supernaturally active streets I have ever encountered with probably a dozen dramatically haunted locations over just a couple of blocks bookended between the Pantages Theater and the most haunted building in all of Hollywood – The Roosevelt Hotel. So, where are the Frolic Room’s ghosts? My guess is that they are there, but I just haven’t asked the right person yet.
So, I ask YOU, have you ever had a paranormal experience at the Frolic Room? Have you heard of anyone who has? Do you have an additional interesting fact about this location? Please leave your comments on this page and thank you in advance!