This is a review of the horror movie, “The Nun,” but we also get into a lot of real life Ghost Stories in LA, the mysterious death of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel and the Bell Witch Cave in Tennessee.
Category Archives: LA County
Coming to you from Culver City, overlooking Culver Studios and the Culver Hotel, I take some time to analyze some possibly paranormal photos! If you have some of your own to share, please send them over to me!
This is the thrilling conclusion of Haunted Oscar Locations Pt. 1, which you can find here.
Roosevelt Hotel, 1924
The glamorous, though perhaps long and drawn-out, annual rite of passage known as the Academy Awards, checks in around three hours if we’re lucky nowadays. The first ever awards only lasted 15 minutes. It was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which is just across the street from the Chinese Theater and down the road from the Pantages.
The Roosevelt was put up by Louis B. Meyer, Sid Grauman, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, the later two, of course, were Hollywood’s first power couple (see picture to the right).
Hauntings here happen throughout the building, but especially at the pool area (which is one of my favorite places in all of Los Angeles… well, one of my favorite places in the world). The pool is set back from the streets, nestled between the main hotel building and a series of bungalows. This location is a hidden gem that’s open to the public due to the poolside bar that caters to guests and curiosity-seekers, alike.
It’s not uncommon for a security guard to see that somebody’s down in the pool area after it’s closed. A guard gets dispatched to kick out the after-hours guest, but when they arrive, there’s nobody’s there. So, he gets on his walkie-talkie to report it, only to hear back from a person in the control room, still watching on a monitor that, “No, they’re still there… and they’re standing next to you.”
When I was doing the LA Hauntings tour, I had a hotel employee in the van with us who claimed that he himself has seen these spectral people on security cameras as well. It’s noteworthy to point out that these cameras shoot in infrared, allowing for recoding after dark. Ghost hunters believe paranormal activity happens frequently in light spectrums that the human eye cannot observe, including Infrared. The same employee told us that it’s not just one individual that’s observed – there will be groups of phantom people hanging out poolside.
Thirteen floors up, the crack of the bat is heard on the rooftop. Babe Ruth used to spend some of his offseasons hanging out in Hollywood (pictured below in front of the Roosevelt). He allegedly had a batting cage installed on the roof and people apparently still hear the crack of the mighty Bambino’s bat.
Montgomery Clift was in the Sinatra film “From Here to Eternity.” In the film he had to play a bugle. This is not something he knew how to do, so he would have to practice. He was staying on the 9th floor of the Roosevelt and loudly practiced while pacing the hallway, likely annoying everyone in earshot. To this day, the front desk still gets complaints of horn playing coming from the hallways. Usually, only this phantom sound is observed, but apparently on one occasion his specter was sighted. He vanished by walking through a wall where a doorway used to be after tipping his cap to the witness.
I had the privilege of appearing on a couple of episodes of “Monumental Mysteries,” which was a spin-off of the popular Travel Channel series “Mysteries at the Museum.” The east coast-based production crew would come to LA and interview me if they were covering something unusual like a haunted Spanish Mission or odd UFO experiences. While setting up a shot, the producers asked me if the Roosevelt Hotel, where they were staying, was haunted. One producer talked about watching her closet door slowly open by itself. Not thinking too much of it, she closed the door and went into the bathroom to wash up. When she returned, the closet door was again open, but now the iron was sitting on her bed. We’re talking about a heavy object somehow transporting itself to a new location, not just falling off a shelf. Predictably, when I asked what floor they were staying on, the answer was, “the 9th.”
A lot of the best stories I know about haunted Los Angeles and Hollywood come from doing the tour when people on the tour share their own experiences. This one came before the tour even started. The clerk at the rental company where I rent the van picked up the van asked, “What are you renting this van for?”
When I told him about the tour, he said, “You go to the Roosevelt Hotel, right?” He obviously had a story to tell. He talked about checking in to the Roosevelt. Unpacking, he the closet door, revealing a maid standing inside, warmly smiling back. In an instant, she vanished.
The only rational reaction would be to hit your head on the ceiling while jumping out of your skin in fright. This is an interesting case to me because it shows how a paranormal experience can override rational thought and emotion. He claimed he felt very welcome, that it was a warm greeting. Whatever happy maid is still there, she is projecting a loving, positive feeling – a psychic impression. It’s also a nice reminder that paranormal experiences, while they’re always unexpected, they’re not always negative. One has to wonder if this helpful maid was the one to took out the iron for the “Monumental Mysteries” producer.
None other than Marilyn Monroe, probably Hollywood’s most sighted female ghost, was seen at the Roosevelt, but not in the most conventional way. Her ghost isn’t seen directly, but as a reflection in her very own mirror. Marilyn stayed here for a time and had a large mirror, about the size of a doorway, installed in her room. She would rehearse the next days’ scenes into it, being able to see, from head to toe, how she would appear on camera. After countless hours of emoting into this inanimate object, perhaps she left some deeper imprint on it. For a time, the mirror was placed in a second floor lobby, allowing anyone a chance to try to catch a glimpse of the blonde bombshell (the hotel even had a sense of humor about it, placing a cardboard cut-out of Marilyn in the distance for a good photo op). In 2008, the mirror was placed into storage for safekeeping while some construction took place. A decade later and the mirror has still not reemerged. Word around town is that Lindsay Lohan purchased the mirror. Hopefully it’s in a safe place, wherever it is.
As an interesting side note, as mentioned in part one of this article, Marilyn had her hair dyed blonds in the salon at the haunted Gaylord Hotel and her first photo shoot as a blond took place here at the Roosevelt, poolside, for a sunscreen lotion print ad.
Not every haunting at this location is a positive one. At one point, an employee of the Cinegrill, one of the Roosevelt’s bars, was on the tour. He told me that he was talking to some security guards who heard screaming coming from a hallway. Looking at the security tapes, they saw one of the maid staff seemingly get thrown out of a room, hitting the wall opposite the doorway. She ran, screaming down the hall. As these stories tend to go, she left the premises, never to return and, unfortunately, never telling her story.
What in the world happened? Is that story even true? We won’t know, but I’m just passing this interesting, spooky story along to you, to create a timestamp of the first negative story about this location that I’ve ever heard.
Finally, our last story is an Oscar story! Apparently people in the Blossom Ballroom, which held the first-ever Oscar Award ceremony, feel a constant cold spot in the area where the podium stood. Unlike other stories about cold spots, where it comes and it goes, this oddity is focused in one spot all the time and it’s there almost constantly. I wonder if somebody’s still giving their award acceptance speech, continually reliving the biggest highlight of their career. Some wonder if the cold spot is some some sort of a doorway that’s allowing for all this energy to be coming and going, allowing all these entities to continually make their presence known.
Outside of Linda Vista Hospital, which is now an off-limits, private location, I believe the Roosevelt is the most haunted building in all Los Angeles and a must visit, whether you’re a local or just passing through town like to many a soul have done in the past.
Did you know that a CRAZY amount of Academy Award Theaters are haunted? This goes all the way back to the very first award ceremony back in 1924.
Recently, I was fortunate to be back on the “See You on the Other Side” podcast to discuss the “Oscar love curse,” which is the idea that after someone wins an Oscar (usually referring to women) their relationships end. And in the process we went into a whole bunch of different ghost stories revolving around celebrities (click on the image to listen to the full episode).
One thing I was hoping to get into that we just didn’t have time for on the episode was the surprising amount of Oscar theaters that are haunted. In order, from newest to oldest, here’s the list:
Hollywood & Highland Center / The Dolby Theater – 2002 – Present
Located at the Hollywood & Highland Center, (pictured right with a portion of DW Griffith’s “Intolerance” set rebuilt to the same, massive scale as the original), the Dolby Theater was called the Kodak Theatre when it first opened just back in 2002. The location recently hosted their sweet 16 Oscar ceremony. It’s not known how actively haunted this place currently is, but it’s built on the site of a known haunted location. Long ago the Hollywood Hotel stood on this location and was one of the many places where people would encounter Rudolph Valentino’s ghost.
I should do a full article about him. I always called him ‘Hollywood’s most traveled ghost,’ because he is apparently seen in over a dozen places around Los Angeles as well as a half dozen or so places in New York. So, his loss of life has not slowed him down at all. He is still the quite popular person and, of course, was the silver screen’s first sex symbol, who died at a very young age. His death left so many people hurting that there are still annual funeral services held on the anniversary of his death, some 90 years later.
There are reported suicides that came about as a result of his death as well as injuries sustained as his body made its way from New York to its current and final resting place at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
At the Hollywood Hotel (pictured left from a 1922 film titled “Hollywood Snapshots”), women would say that his spirit would appear there and give them a kind of a spectral goodnight kiss from the other side. Naturally, that room was booked out far in advance because everybody wanted them to have one last encounter with Valentino
Is Valentino still hanging out where the Oscars are currently being held? Who’s to say? We haven’t heard anything yet. If you’ve heard anything about hauntings at the Hollywood and Highland Center I’d be very interested to find that out. It’s possible stuff is going on, but there’s just so much chaos and commotion that it’s hard to notice it.
Pantages Theater, 1950-1960
This is an interesting spot that was on the LA hauntings tour I used to give and still love coming here because most of the time we were telling ghost stories that are dark, sad or negative. This seems like it’s a place where people love to come back. So, this is kind of a happy ghost story location.
Howard Hughes’s presence is still felt there frequently, as he owned the building during the decade it hosted the Academy Awards. It’s associated with the smell of cigarette smoke. You’d think this guy must have smoked like a chimney but of course we know this guy was very neat and proper. He despised cigarettes. So, it’s interesting that we now associate the smell of cigarette smoke with Howard Hughes. You wonder, is it some former employee who’s smoking in his office and heard Hughes walking down the hall? He’d be freaked out because he knew he’d be in trouble and that bit of an imprint to this day.
There’s also apparently the ghost of a rabid theater goer. Now that she’s on the other side, and doesn’t need to buy tickets, she’s enjoying show after show. She’s enjoying herself so much so that she sings along to the performances. She even keeps up with the more modern performances that have come around after she passed away. Apparently she’s able to pick up new tunes. It’s alleged that she’s even ruined some recordings because her off-key loud singing that’s picked up on recordings.
I could good in depth about Alexander Pantages, who opened this theater. He had a conspiracy against him that’s pretty well documented by the Kennedy family. It’s all really fascinating stuff. Pantages himself doesn’t haunt this location, though he had 80 some locations across North America. Maybe his presence is still felt at one of those. This was the last building he built and he did not have a positive experience here in LA.
My favorite ghost story about the Pantages revolves around a wardrobe person who was cleaning up after a performance one night. She was the last person in the building. The lights shut off on their own and in the darkness she tripped over something and fell. She had a moment she started to panic. Then, out of the darkness, someone grabbed her warmly by the arm helped her to her feet. They walked with her all the way up through from the main room, through the lobby to the front doors. She opened the door and waited for the street light from Hollywood Boulevard to stream in so she could illuminate and thank her rescuer, only you see that there.
Again, a protective presence made its presence known. It’s interesting to note that even though this building went up long ago, the activity didn’t start till more recently. In the early 90s there was a break-in and a lot of damage was done to the upper balcony area. It seems like ever since then, the spirits that maybe were sitting there dormant, have taken a more active role in protecting the space.
In the land of hand prints in concrete and poorly constructed Ironman costumes, Victor Kilian spent one of his final evenings. He was killed in his home nearby, but this was one of the last places he visited in life. He was a character actor who made guest appearances classic TV shows of the time and western films in an earlier era. We don’t know how his life came to an end other than murder by a still unknown assailant.
Late at night at the Chinese courtyard you can have a quiet experience here. People encounter an elderly man who seems kind of confused or lost. In the process of trying to help them out, he vanishes. People believe that this is Victor Kilian.
Two alternating locations, 1930 to 1943
This is, most famously, where Robert Kennedy was killed by Sirhan Sirhan. People claim there are hauntings associated with the assassination but it’s hard to get a read for that. Is it just that that event was such an important moment in the fabric of American history to this day?
Like Linda Vista Hospital, when it went out of business it became a movie set. I talked with very good friend, DJ MacHale, who wrote and directed the movie “Tower of Terror” for Disney at this location. He said he talked to the caretakers of the location and as well as his crew members and nobody reported any odd feelings.
However, there were some stories about a woman in white seen beckoning from a fourth floor window as well as activity in the Coconut Grove which was the swingin’ nightclub that was part of the hotel.
However, we won’t know anything more about this location as it was bulldozed in 2005 to make way for a high school. We shall see we if any stories emerge from these students and teachers at this location.
As a footnote, I gotta say, my favorite dive bar in Los Angeles is right across the street: the HMS Bounty. It’s an old, dungy, dark, nautical-themed dive in the lobby of the Gaylord hotel, which is a classic old hotel put up by Gaylord Wilshire. Wilshire, of course, was the big developer who Wilshire Boulevard is named for. Additionally, it’s in this building’s downstairs salon (now the laundry room) where Marilyn Monroe had her hair first dyed blonde.
This building, from the bar through out the residences, does claim some activity.
The Biltmore to this day, I think, is the most beautiful hotel in Los Angeles. It should be noted that its most famous ghost is a cinema icon: Slimer. This located doubled for a snooty New York Hotel where the Ghostbusters encountered that “ugly little spud.’
That said, the biggest hint of why we’re talking about this location is located in the bar, where you can order yourself a drink named after a young actress: A Black Dahlia martini. Elizabeth Short is still one of the most mysterious cold-case files in American history. Something that I hope paranormal investigation gets to the bottom of in time may be a scrap of evidence that helps us get to the bottom of this murder (If anybody needs a memory jog, she went missing for a number of days and the next time she was ever seen again her body was found cut into pieces in a field just barely off the road on Norton Street in the area that is now the Crenshaw district, just south of the ten in Mid City.
We don’t have any clue really what happened to her, but the last time Elizabeth Short was seem was in the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel frantically making phone calls. Eventually she went outside, got into a car, and was never seen alive again. Some people have claimed to see her spirit in the area of the phone banks to this day. Now wouldn’t it be interesting if somebody doing a paranormal investigation picked up a clue during an EVP session here?
Check out the video below for a video tour I did with Max Timm and Connor Bright as we visited locations important to the Black Dahlia story including the Biltmore and the location where her body was discovered.
Stay Tuned for PART 2 coming in just a little bit. Spoiler warning, Part 2 consists ENTIRELY of the haunted history of the Roosevelt Hotel! I think it’s the most actively haunted public building in LA and I am thrilled that I’ll be posting some brand new stories about that haunted site! Stay up to date by signing up for our free newsletter!
You’ve gotta love a mountain hike that leads to a mostly hidden cemetery! Glendale, CA’s “first family,” the Brands, started a pet cemetery that they themselves began laying themselves to rest in. The nearby family home, library and this cemetery all claim some level of paranormal activity. There are reports of occult activity at the cemetery, though that’s always a red flag for urban legends to me.
Oddly enough, the modern history of this area dates back to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago where Missouri realtor Leslie Brand and his wife visited and were immediately taken by the East India Pavilion.
Just a year later he purchased the small community of Glendale (click on the map image to the right to open the GoogleMap of the location) with hopes of further developing the community and also crafting his perfect, East India-inspired family home. The home, situated at the base of the Verdugo Mountains was named “The Lookout” in Indian, or Miradero. Interestingly, the land he purchased is still outlined and named “Miradero” on GoogleMaps.
The East Indian style home, nicknamed “The Castle,” built in 1904 quickly became the social hot spot of Glendale. When Leslie died in 1925, he donated much of the Miradero land to the city of Glendale, specifically to be used as a library and park. This library was finally opened some 31 years later and continues to operate to this day. The park, with baseball diamonds, is in heavy use.
Sadly, like all too many possibly haunted cemeteries, this one has a history of desecration. Single graves were unearthed on separate occasions with bones of the deceased being scattered about the grounds and skulls stolen. One of the skulls belonged to Miradero architect Nathaniel Dryden.
Parking in one of the main parking lots, walking up the paved Brand Park Drive, keeping Miradero on your right, gaining altitude as you reach the Verdugo Mountain range, you’ll eventually reach a T intersection. In front of you, you’ll find decaying stars to nowhere (pictured left). It’s eerily similar to the present date site of Altadena’s Cobb Estate.
Bear left at the t-intersection and you will soon find the fenced-off Brand Family cemetery, which contains several conventional graves as well as the remarkable pyramid-shaped grave of Leslie Brand.
The trails into the mountains behind the estate still boast scores of ruins from a bygone time. The photo below shows Brand Cemetery as seen from a nearby mountain ridge (note the pyramid in the lower right corner), along with
Below is another stairway to nowhere, deeper within the mountains. While there seems to be a large amount of infrastructure, including old, decaying roads, power line supports and building foundations, researching historical topographical maps to not show any buildings whatsoever. Perhaps these buildings were not built with any official permitting as Brand kept these grounds private, even hidden from civic meddling, as he was a powerful force in Glendale. Unfortunately, this makes dating and identifying buildings in this area quite difficult. Event the cemetery, which has to have started in the early 1920s or earlier doesn’t appear on these maps until 1967.
The most concrete paranormal activity takes place in the library itself where Leslie Brand understandably continues to spend time in his dream home. If that’s a conscious haunting or that of the residual variety remains to be seem as encounters seem to be too fleeting to gleam much information from.
Due to the terrible grave desecration that happened at the family cemetery, one would understand the place being under close surveillance as much as you would understand if there is some amount of unrest here. I do believe that paranormal investigation at this site is important as much as I feel that it’s important to do this investigation the “right way.” Respect the land, the rules and honor the family that helped build Glendale.
For continued, much more in-depth reading into the history of this site & the brand family themselves, check out a great KCET article here.
Glendora’s Bennett House, built in 1905, was purchased by the Daughters of the American Revolution and they found out quickly (during their very first monthly tea party meeting) that they weren’t alone in the home. The visage of a phantom man crashed the party before vanishing. Occupants also talked about hearing sounds of objects moving, but not seeing anything out of the ordinary happening; this seems to be a common residual-type haunting.
It’s unclear if much activity has taken place in the house since that first encounter with the vanishing man in 1982. It’s not uncommon for paranormal activity to spike when a building undergoes a change (renovations, new inhabitants, etc.). Maybe once the new owners settled in, the spirits settled back down as well.
This is not the only haunted residence in Glendora as John Zaffis, founder of the Paranormal and Demonology Research Society of New England (not to mention that he’s the nephew of famed demonologists Ed & Lorraine Warren) investigated another affected home in Glendora on his show, Haunted Collector. Read more about that story at Glendora Patch.
Do you know of other haunted sites in Glendora? Have you experienced anything yourself at the Bennett House? Were you there at that famed 1982 tea party? As always we wanna hear about it?
By Scott Markus
There has been much concern for the fate of one of LA’s most unique landmarks and ties to strange history – Murphy’s Ranch. Plans for the demolition of the remaining buildings have long been known. Then, early in 2016, some dates became public knowledge. Specifically, late March was the bulldoze date. Scott and Connor made a trip to the site in early April to get a look at the changes. While a lot is gone, it could have been much worse.
Immediately apparent is the large fence and wall have been totally removed, making trail access even easier than it already was. Perhaps if the gates weren’t locked in the first place, people wouldn’t have felt the need to create their own hole in the wall in the first place.
The huge water tank was the first victim of the “clean-up,” having been eliminated in early 2016. It was fairly recently that someone got themselves stuck inside of it, requiring help from the authorities to get free (I think it’s okay to call them an idiot). The silver lining here is that there’s still evidence of where the tank was. The cement walls were sliced at an angle, creating a sort of curb for the downward sloping trail. Of course, we’d love for the tank to still be standing, but this is a nice accent that lightly hints at the former site.
Seen to the right, Connor (and co-adventurer, Brownie the chocolate lab) is standing in what was once the center of the large water tank. The now removed wall gives you a unique perspective and vantage point to how enormous this thing was.
Along the way we passed the remains of a small house (pictured below). Though largely untouched for the moment, most of the debris in the structure was swept out towards the road. Our guess is that the junk will be cleared, but we hope the foundations remain.
To our (and Brownie’s) delight, the most iconic building is still standing, fully in tact. Not only is it untouched, but for the first time that I’ve seen, the cyclone fencing around it has been removed, making this a strangely inviting location.
The large metal building, which had turned into a mountain of twisted metal was removed (before and after pictures below), along with the remains of a 1960’s VW Mini Bus. The loss of this bus is a negative to me because it was a wonderful example of how this location went from a center of hate and domination in the ’40s to a home to artistic endeavor and free thought/love in the ’60s. Poetry in history. The remnants of the van were brought up to the main road, likely for easier collection.
I didn’t really want this to be a “review” of the changes, as I am quite the naturalist/preservationist. I would’ve loved to see what was left standing of the large structure secured in a safe way, but I understand clearing out the debris. Though I hate the loss of the water tank, people getting stuck inside of it (again, like idiots) makes this an easy decision for the powers that be to simply remove it. Removing the wall & fence at the trail head seemed unnecessary. Simply opening the gates and welding them to a secure, open position would’ve been effective and a much easier task then removing everything in full. Still, as far as everything else is concerned, I’ve found my peace with what we’ve lost and I just hope nothing else goes. This is such a wonderfully unique piece of Los Angeles history, it would be a shame to lose anything else.
I plan to do a more complete live video discussion on this topic in the near future on Periscope. That video will later end up on YouTube and right here with video footage of some hard to find locations and a lot more ‘off the beaten path’ structures in this area you may not know about. Stay tuned!