Tag Archives: hollywood

An LA Ghost Hunter Watches: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

The 9th film from Quentin Tarantino takes place in 1969 Los Angeles, blending real history with fiction, real characters (Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate) with fictional ones (played by mega stars Leonardo DiCaprio & Brad Pitt).

My series “A Ghost Hunter Watches” usually looks at fact versus fiction.  While we will do the same a little bit in this episode, we will instead focus on what haunted locations where featured at in the film.  Yup, in addition to having a Charles Manson storyline, QT filmed at some iconic locations that were even part of my LA Hauntings tour (one is even featured right here on the movie poster)!

Keep up to date on future live streams on my YouTube page here.  Enjoy the look back at “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”:

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Check out this great behind the scenes video taken by spectators on Hollywood Blvd showing the immense detail the films art department partook.  And this is just for things seen in the background…. beyond just signs, full store fronts and sometimes even interiors were built and dressed just to have Leo & Brad drive past them.

 

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C is for (haunted) Cemeteries!

Among the haunted cemeteries I cover in this live stream are…

Mountain View Mausoleum, Altedena, CA

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA

Archer Woods Cemetery, Summit, IL

Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, IL

Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, IL

 


Roosevelt Hotel (Haunted Oscar Locations, Pt. 2)

This is the thrilling conclusion of Haunted Oscar Locations Pt. 1, which you can find here.

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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.

Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks at Mary & Douglas's cement signing. They were the first people to have their prints and signatures added to the Chinese Theater courtyard.
(L to R) Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks at Mary & Douglas’s cement signing. They were the first people to have their prints and signatures added to the Chinese Theater courtyard.

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.

RooseveltHotelPool-Haunted2It’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.

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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.

Babe Ruth at the Roosevelt Hotel

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.

Haunted Roosevelt Hotel

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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.

Haunted Roosevelt Hotel

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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.

RooseveltBlossomBallroom-HauntedFinally, 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.


Fall Event Schedule!

Sept 9-11: The Hollywood Show, Rosemont, Il (hollywoodshow.com)

Sept 10: Screening of “Cry Baby” and signing with star, Amy Locane, Woodridge, Il  (hollywoodblvdcinema.com)

Sept 16: Investigation

Sept 17: Lake/McHenry Ghost Adventure, Long Grove, Il (facebook.com/events/508522306014679) 7-hour tour through some of the most haunted places in Lake and McHenry County with Ursula Bielski and Chicago Hauntings.

Sept 24: Private Event

Sept 28: Archeologist Dan Melone speaking on the topic of his work on Robinson Woods Indian Burial Grounds (one of my favorite sites).  This will be held at the Norwood Park Historical Society. (norwoodparkhistoricalsociety.org/events/events16.html)

TBA: Appearance on “Pretty Late,” WGN AM-720

Oct. 1: Investigation

Oct. 6: Investigation

Oct 7-9: Chicago Ghost Conference / Dark Shores 2016, Willow Springs, Il (chicagoghosts.com/conference.html) A full weekend of great presenters and parties.  I will be on hand to talk about some of the research I’ve been doing in Los Angeles including talking about Linda Vista Hospital, the haunted house near the site of the Tate/Manson murders, the Formosa Cafe hauntings along Hollywood Blvd and possibly Pasadena’s “famed” suicide bridge. Amazingly, this event will be held at one of Resurrection Mary’s favorite locations, the Willowbrook Ballroom.

Oct 10: Private Event

Oct 13: Special hosted screening of “Poltergeist”  Details are TBD at this point.

Oct 15-16: Milwaukee ParaCon, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus (milwaukeeparacon.com).  I will be on hand with Jay Bachochin, one of my partners in crime in creating the documentary “The Hidden Truth?” which chronicled the mysterious series of drownings in LaCrosse, WI, the possible paranormal connections and the investigation that followed.  We will be meeting and greeting while sharing stories of ghosts and Jay’s ongoing search for Bigfoot.

Oct 20: Third Thursday, Los Angeles, Ca (link TBA) Free panel discussion with filmmakers followed by a mixer/cocktail party.  Admission is free, but RSVP required.  Sponsored by the International Screenwriters’ Association (networkisa.org)

Oct 21: Haunted Chronicles, online (paramaniaradio.com/SHOW.php?showid=66) Live radio show, I’ll be talking about haunted sites with Jennifer Runyon Corman & Jimmy Haunted.

Do you need a speaker for your event?  I’ll be in the Midwest until Oct 17, then I’ll be in California starting Oct 21.  Drop me a line and I’ll come tell stories at your Halloween party/company party, etc.!


Bugsy Siegel: An LA (Mafia) Story Part 2 of 3

By Connor Bright and Scott Markus

The life of Siegel played out all over town and the other day we at LA Hauntings decided to visit as many locations tied to the mobster as we could in a single day and a half tank of gas. We focused on the highlights, from the beginning to the end, with some amusing or intriguing points in the middle.

Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill Harry Greenberg Castillo de Lago locations photo CastilloDeLago_zpsb5111564.jpgWe began our day in the hills below the Hollywood sign; it was in the shadow of the monument that Benjamin Siegel set up one of his first operations in Los Angeles. The 20,000 square foot, nine-bedroom, six-bath, Castillo De Lago with all of it’s considerable free space was taken over in the late 1930s by Siegel.  It operated as a casino and brothel (our original source also said it was a speakeasy as well, but with prohibition being repelled in 1933, there was no longer a need for secret places to sneak a drink, though we are sure alcohol was a staple here). The house was built in 1926 for Patrick Longdon, a wealthy oil entrepreneur, and his wife. A week after moving in, Mrs. Longdon passed away and a distraught Patrick moved out. Castillo Del Lago remained empty until Siegel’s arrival. Some reports say that it remained empty after the mob left; others report a revolving-door style barrage of tenants with long bouts of abandon. Whatever the case, it was bought and renovated by Madonna in 1993. The pop legend stayed only a few years, after a crazed fan attempted to break into her home and threaten her life.  She sold the house at a loss.

Reports of Castillo Del Lago being haunted are commonplace. Visitors to the home are said to feel a “deep sense of foreboding” (Hollywood Haunted, Laurie Jacobson and Marc Wannamaker). A fashion photographer named Tom Murray who used the location in 1998 reported that his crew felt uncomfortable and everything he shot inside the house came out black.  Mechanical malfunctions, especially with photographic equipment, are commonplace at haunted locations.  Madonna even reported a force in the house that made her feel unsafe. Her caretaker would hear a voice calling his name when he was alone, and doors would close and lock behind him of their own violation.

After taking some pictures of the Hollywood sign and poking around a few of the more lavish Hollywoodland homes, we traveled down the mountain to an unassuming intersection outside of a Best Western.

Where Vista Del Mar Avenue meets Dix Ave is the location where Benjamin Siegel proved his loyalty to the Mafia, killing his childhood friend, Harry Greenberg in 1939. Bugsy was known for his temper and it was during the trial for Greenberg’s death that papers dubbed him “Bugsy,” which came from the slang “bugs” meaning “crazy.”  Siegel hated this nickname intensely.  People dared not use it in front of him, fearing the result.

There is no better was to incur the wrath of the mafia than to turn snitch and rat to the police.  This is exactly what Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg may have done to the members of Murder, Inc.  As you can imagine, his story doesn’t end well.

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(The above group mug shot shows Bugsy Siegel, second from left with the dark hat and Harry Greenberg in the dead center, wearing a lighter colored coat)

He spent years as an associate of the group as a stink bomb and acid disfigurement specialist. Greenie had lots of information on the inner workings and could name names if he so desired.  When investigators crept closer to Greenberg, he fled to Canada to hide.  Unfortunately, a letter sent to top Mafia brass asking for cash to continue hiding was met as a possible “pay me or I’ll talk” threat.

Regardless whether or not Greenberg was attempting to extort the Mafia and Murder Inc., Emanuel “Mendy” Weiss, who was now the head of Murder Inc., decided to play it safe.  A hit was ordered on the one-time ally.

On November 22, 1939 Harry Greenberg was shot and killed outside of his Vista Del Mar Ave apartment (now part of the Best Western). Big Greenie most likely knew his murderers, who were supposed to have been, Whitey Krakower, Albert Tannenbaum, Frankie Cabo, and Siegel.

Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill Harry Greenberg Castillo de Lago locations photo GreenbergAssassinationSite_zps24b6ba17.jpgShots rang out, more than two dozen in total, echoing off of the Hollywood Tower Hotel across Franklin Ave.  The Hollywood Tower would achieve greater fame later, serving as the inspiration of the Disney ride, Tower of Terror, but also earns a stop on our LA Hauntings tours due to the persistent ghost stories coming from the site.  The most frequently given explanation for the hauntings is the Mafia violence of the area. (the aerial shot to the left was taken from the top of the Hollywood Tower Hotel)

After firing at least six of the shots himself, Siegel, always cool, calm and collected, returned to a party he was hosting, ideally building in an alibi for his whereabouts.

Eventually Tannenbaum confessed to the murder and, in exchange for amnesty, agreed to testify against the others. Siegel and Carbo faced charges for Greenberg’s murder. Krakower was mysteriously murdered before he could testify or be charged.  Some believe Siegel killed Krakower, a particularly cold move, considering that Siegel’s wife Esta, was Krakower’s big sister. After the death of two witnesses, no other witness would come forward, so “Bugsy” and Carbo were acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

The trial gained attention because of Siegel’s treatment while in prison. He didn’t have to resort to eating prison food, rather, he had food from his favorite LA eateries catered to him.  The smooth talker was allowed lady visitors in his cell and he could even leave prison to visit his dentist!

Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill Harry Greenberg Castillo de Lago locations photo HarryGreenbergDeathLocation_zps7e71d153.jpgOn a side note, Siegel’s lawyer, Jerry Giesler, was known for handling the biggest high-profile cases in Los Angeles. Famously representing Lana Turner, when her daughter murdered mobster Johnny Stompanato, a close friend of Mickey Cohen. Giesler also represented the theater chain owner Alexander Pantages, in a case we talk about on our tour!

 Join us one more time for our final installment of this series, we will visit more LA locations that were important in the life (and death) of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and the ghost stories associated with these locations.  Also, as you can likely imagine based on the photo on the right, you can also follow LAHauntings on Instagram.  Click the photo to find us.

Part Three: Click Here


A History of Rock n’ Hauntings at Barney’s Beanery

images-1_zpsa5b8e183Barney’s Beanery has a special place in Hollywood and Rock ‘n Roll history. A loud restaurant with walls full of signs, memorabilia, lunch boxes, and car parts, Barney’s has earned its reputation as a place where celebrities can go to blend in or stand out. The well worn bar stools have been graced by Marilyn Monroe and peed upon by Jim Morrison.

In 1920 John “Barney” Anthony decided to open up a restaurant using the chili recipe he perfected as a navy cook during World War I. In 1927 Barney’s relocated to a new location alongside famous route 66 and the legend was born! The Beanery still stands and Anthony’s chili remains a menu staple!

url-3_zpsc7c1057dBarney’s Beanery has seen thousands of people walk through its doors, from the classy Rita Hayworth, to the Rebel Without A Cause star himself, James Dean. Rumor his it that Barney’s was the site of the last supper for Dean, the night before his tragic accident.

The outlandish writer/director, Quentin Tarantino, supposedly wrote Pulp Fiction while sitting at one of the booths. Perhaps the same booth that Janis Joplin ate her last meal, before heading back to the Landmark Motor Hotel where she was staying. The iconic voice was a regular at the Beanery before her heroin and booze addiction ended her life on October 4th, 1970.

Jim_Morrison_zps2caabf28Around the same time as Joplin, another rock and roll Idol used Barney’s as his local watering hole.  Jim Morrison of The Doors would come in to drink after recording over at The Doors Workshop just a bit father down Santa Monica Blvd. That is, until one night in the mid-1960s when Morrison was inspired to stand on the bar and relieve himself.  The decadent singer was immediately escorted out and not welcomed back. However, now there is a plaque on the bar honoring the Beanery’s connection to Morrison, installed after Morrison’s sudden death in France in 1971.

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Barney’s Beanery, like many a well-loved bar before it, is not without it’s ghosts, be they passed on patrons or something else entirely. The staff is friendly and even open to sharing a few stories if it’s not too busy.

One of the Beanery’s local spooks is an entity known as “The Man in Black.” With a description to match his name, the spectre is often seen standing by the ladies restroom, which at one point in time was part of a gambling and billiards room. Some people associate this Man in Black with a 1973 murder that took place in the restaurant. On September 15th of that year 25 year-old Leonard Taylor shot and killed Robert Rush, the 34 year-old bartender, over a game of pool. This documented murder has led to the belief that The Man in Black is Rush’s spirit, still watching over games.

Screenshot2014-06-08at54441PM_zps6fa3529cFemale employees at this restaurant will feel a touch on their back as if someone is trying to walk behind them, only to turn and realize the walkway is empty.  It is worth noting that among the famous patrons that once frequented this establishment is Erroll Flynn, who is as remembered for his acting work as he is for his large sexual appetite. The mischievous spirits at Barney’s Beanery are known to pull ponytails, and push open the swinging kitchen doors so that they rock wildly on their hinges. Occasionally the staff has heard a great “whooshing’ sound, almost like a strong wind, indoors, without even a breeze.

With almost 100 years of history under its belt, Barney’s Beanery has seen just about everything. It is no surprise that it is home to some paranormal entities as well. Even if you don’t believe the ghost stories, one thing is for certain, if you want to see a Hollywood staple and love a busy atmosphere, Barney’s is a MUST! The history isn’t just printed on the back of the menu, it’s hanging on the walls, and felt in every inch of the building.


Join us and GHOULA for the HAUNTED HOUDINI TOUR

GHOULA and LA Hauntings Ghost Tours
Present…
The HAUNTED HOUDINI TOUR!
By Richard Carradine
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Come join us on the eve of his 140th birthday as we travel across our city and explore the super-natural sites connected to the famous magician’s life (and after-life)…

Harry Houdini is generally thought of as the greatest showman that ever practiced the craft. Additionally, because of his knowledge of the art of illusion and his work exposing the tricks of fraudulent mediums during the age of Spiritualism, he has become the poster boy for generations of skeptics and debunkers of paranormal phenomena. However, despite dozens of books and biographies, the man’s personal views on the occult are still an enigma, with experts debating to what degree did he actually BELIEVE. Ironically, to this day, Houdini is the only historical figure whose ghost people across the country routinely try to contact, usually on Halloween (the date of his death).

Although Houdini did not spend much of his life in Los Angeles, the time he did spend under our palm trees were moments that defined his life, career, and possibly his views on the spirit realm. Indeed, not only did he leave his mark on this town, it may have also left its mark on him… Even all these decades after his death, the great escape artist just can’t seem to get away from LA.

Seating for this tour is limited. (12 guests per tour. 3 tours. 1 Day)

DATE: March 23, 2014
TIME: 10:30am, 1:30pm, or 4:30pm (tours run 1 1/2 to 2 hours each)
PRICE: $35.00 (plus a handling fee)
MEET-UP LOCATIONThe Hollywood Heritage Museum (The Lasky-DeMille Barn)
2100 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068 (map)

NOTE: Your ticket also includes free entry into the museum, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. So please plan to spend an extra hour with their historical exhibits either before or after the tour.