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.