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Nov. 26, 2020

Ep. 11: Hollywood Horrors, Pt. 2 - Haunted Hollywood

We’re here at episode 11 for part 2 of our HOLLYWOOD HORRORS series - Haunted Hollywood! 
Ahh, Hollywood. The home of incredible highs of stardom…and unspeakable lows of tragedy. One minute you’re the talk of the town, and the next you can’t even get...

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We’re here at episode 11 for part 2 of our HOLLYWOOD HORRORS series - Haunted Hollywood! 

Ahh, Hollywood. The home of incredible highs of stardom…and unspeakable lows of tragedy. One minute you’re the talk of the town, and the next you can’t even get a call back from your agent. So many have come to awful ends in Hollywood, California, and many of them never left…even after death. 

Carrie takes us on a macabre tour of the town, from the Roosevelt Hotel to Hollywood Forever Cemetery, to the Hollywood sign and Universal Studios. Along the way we encounter the restless sprits of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and Lon Chaney, and truly chilling stories like that of Rudolph Valentino’s cursed ring and Sharon Tate’s eerie premonition. 

That’s Hollywood, baby.
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Do you believe in ghosts?
Yeah, yeah, I know. It was even a point of concern for you at the beginning of our relationship. 

For the second in our two-part series on Hollywood Horrors - check out part 1, “Cursed Films”, if you haven’t already - we’re going to continue to combine the world of movies and movie stars with the world of the bizarre with stories of “HAUNTED HOLLYWOOD”. 

There’s a reason LA is called the City of Angels, because it seems that no one in the industry truly leaves, even after death.


To make things easier I’m dividing the hauntings I’ll be discussing by a few major locations in Hollywood.


We’ll start with one you’ll read in every book or slideshow on Hollywood hauntings - THE ROOSEVELT HOTEL. Located right on Hollywood Boulevard, the Roosevelt opened in 1927 and is the oldest continually operating hotel in Hollywood, and was named after President Teddy Roosevelt. Those that financed it included MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer and silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Roosevelt in 1929 inside its Blossom Ballroom, and has even hosted the Razzies on numerous occasions. Films shot at the Roosevelt include Catch Me If You Can, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Beverly Hills Cop II, with recent TV shows filmed at the hotel including OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, Lucifer, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. 

So...the ghosts. There are many! And this is because the hotel has had a lot of famous and notable residents and guests. The most famous ghost, one that is always brought up when discussing the hotel’s haunts, is Marilyn Monroe. Incidentally, one of the most famous women of all time, and certainly a workaholic ghost, because she’s seen all around town, apparently. Monroe, who died of what was deemed an intentional suicide by overdose at the age of 36, stayed at the Roosevelt constantly during her life. She even lived there on and off for 2 years prior to her big break. Accounts vary as to where she actually lived, with some pointing to Room 229, Suite 1200, or poolside in Cabana 246. One of her first modeling jobs was even on the pool’s diving board behind the hotel’s main tower.

Her apparition has been seen all around the hotel, including lounging by the pool around dusk. But the most common sightings by far are in what’s called the Marilyn Monroe Mirror, for just this reason. The story told most often is that around 1985, just before the hotel reopened following a 2 year restoration, a staff member was cleaning the room that the actress always asked for when she stayed at the hotel, whichever room that was. When polishing the room’s full-length mirror, the housekeeper noticed a beautiful blonde woman standing behind her. She turned and, surprised, found no one there. But when she looked back at the mirror, the woman was there, and the housekeeper now recognized her as Marilyn Monroe. Later, she shared her experience with the cleaning staff, and the legend grew of the haunted Marilyn Monroe mirror. People started visiting the hotel just to see the mirror. It was taken from its original room and first hung by the elevators near rear parking on the lower level, then moved to the mezzanine level next to the gift shop. 

Monroe’s co-star in the film The Misfits, Montgomery Clift, has also been sighted - and heard - at the hotel. Clift died in 1966 at the age of 45 due to occlusive coronary artery disease. Clift stayed at the Roosevelt in Room 928 while he was filming From Here to Eternity, and apparently, chose to spend eternity there as well.

Clift was learning the bugle for the movie in the hotel, and it’s said that people still hear the phantom bugling to this day. Dozens of guests over the years have phoned the front desk of the Roosevelt to complain about incessant trumpeting on the 9th floor, with the sound even sometimes being traced to room 928...even when it’s unoccupied. Various guests actually staying in Room 928 have reported being touched by an unseen entity, feeling a cold breeze pass by in the corridor, or seeing shadowy forms in the hallway outside the room. 

The last weirdness at the Roosevelt I’ll cover is less a ghost and more a strange phenomenon. Back in the Blossom Ballroom, there is an area of space that always remains several degrees colder than the rest of the surrounding area. Now, if you’re not familiar with paranormal phenomena, a cold spot is thought to be a spirit manifesting. The spot in the Blossom Ballroom is a 30 inch diameter pillar of chilliness that remains even when there is no air conditioning or other ventilation turned on. The pillar of coldness is generally 10 degrees colder than any other spot in the room, which is also home to an apparition of a shadowy man in black. 

Let’s travel next to THE HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY! This cemetery is one of the oldest in Los Angeles and currently operates as a full-service cemetery, funeral home, crematory, and even cultural events center with regular screenings of movies and live music. A TON of famous people are buried here, it being the only cemetery within the Hollywood district, including George Harrison, Judy Garland, mobster Bugsy Siegel, and Johnny Ramone.

Another burial here is one of the great workhorse ghosts of Hollywood, Rudolph Valentino. Valentino was THE biggest male silent film actor of his time, and died tragically at the height of his fame in 1926 at the age of 31, of a series of medical maladies involving gastric ulcers and pleurisy. People FREAKED. THE. FUCK. OUT. It’s hard to compare it to anything of modern day. Maybe the most recent mass-mourning and publicized funeral we’ve seen in the pop culture sphere is Michael Jackson? But this was on another level. More than 100,000 people lined the streets of Manhattan to pay their respects at his funeral, with some fans smashing the windows of the funeral home to try and get in. An all-day riot erupted. Despondent fans committed or tried to commit suicide, including a London woman who drank poison while holding Valentino’s photo, 2 women who attempted suicide outside of the hospital where Valentino died, and a young man killed himself while lying on a bed covered with photos of Valentino.

Now, the interesting thing is Valentino probably doesn’t haunt this cemetery - but one of his mourners does. Each year on the anniversary of his death, a mysterious “Lady in Black” appeared at his tomb and left a single red rose. The identity of the original Lady in Black is disputed, but the most convincing claimant is Ditra Flame, who said that Valentino visited her in the hospital when she was deathly ill at age 14, bringing her a red rose. Valentino had apparently told Flame, “If I die before you do, please come and stay with me. I don’t want to be alone either, promise you will come and talk to me.” Flame said she kept up her annual visit for three decades, then abandoned the practice when multiple imitators and the media started showing up. Flame died in 1984, with her San Jacinto, CA tombstone reading, simply, “Lady in Black”. Now, multiple ladies in black have visited Valentino’s grave after her death, but it’s said that her actual ghost has been spotted as well. Apparently, after each of these sightings, there are always fresh red roses in the wall vases next to Valentino’s tomb, where there weren’t any before. One first-person account discusses seeing a shadowy figure lingering around the tomb that would disappear. Upon checking the entrance to the mausoleum, no one else was seen to be present. However, when returning to Valentino’s tomb, there were now fresh long-stemmed roses in each of the vases. 

Virginia Rappe is another tragic figure buried at Hollywood Forever, who even had co-starred with Rudolph Valentino in the film Over the Rhine. Her death caused the first massive Hollywood sex scandal and took down one of the biggest comedians of the silent film era. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle had just signed an insane-for-the-time-period contract of $1 Million with Paramount, and decided to celebrate with a wild weekend party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Long story short, because we’ll definitely talk about this case in the future, Rappe attended the party and days later died of a burst bladder and peritonitis. Maude Delmont, a shady character who had come to the party with Rappe, told police that Arbuckle had raped Virginia. Tabloids at the time had a field day, disgustingly insinuating at different times that Arbuckle’s enormous weight had ruptured Rappe’s bladder when he forced himself on her, or that Arbuckle...ugh...forced a piece of ice or some kind of glass bottle into...Rappe...to, uh, simulate sex. Christ.

Rappe’s ghost is not often seen near her grave, but more often, a disembodied woman’s crying is heard in the area, with no one else around to trace it to. She has, however, been seen a few times, weeping on her grave site. 


Back to Hoooooollllyyywooooood...and possibly the most iconic location in the area, THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN. Let’s see what our old friend Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures has to say about it…

[Intro clip - YT]

Oop, well, I’ve thought about it. So, you’ve definitely seen this sign before, 45 foot tall white block letters spelling out the word “Hollywood” on Hollywood Hills. The sign was erected in 1923 as temporary advertising for a real estate development, with the original sign reading HOLLYWOODLAND. Due to increasing recognition, the sign was left up, and has remained ever since, even though the “land” part was removed in 1949 to more reflect the area rather than the development. 

The sign brings us to the ghost of Millicent Lilian “Peg” Entwistle”. I don’t know how Peg is short for Millicent, but I digress. Entwistle was an up-and-coming theater actress when she ended up in Hollywood for a play in 1932. She had her only credited film role in the film Thirteen Women, a film which drew neither critical nor commercial success. She had been left on the cutting room floor of around a half-dozen other movies to that point.

On or about September 16th, 1932, Entwistle had had enough what she perceived to be a dead-end film career and a city that betrayed her and her dreams. In the ultimate symbolic gesture, she made her way up the southern slope of Mount Lee and climbed a workman’s ladder to the top of the H...and jumped. She was missing for two days until her body was found by a female hiker below the Hollwoodland sign, after finding Entwistle’s shoe, jacket, and purse, inside of which was a suicide note. The note, as published, read:

“I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”

Possibly the most tragic part? At about the time her body was found, a letter arrived at the home she was staying in from the Beverly Hills Playhouse offering Peg the lead role in their next production: She was to play the part of a young woman who commits suicide. 

During the Ghost Adventures “Haunted Hollywood” episode in 2015, a security officer in Griffith Park, where the Hollywood Sign is located, said that he’d seen a white mist-type apparition before, and that another officer who had been working there for over 20 years said quote “If you go on that trail at night you will see her sometime around midnight. They see it all the time.” There have been two reports of people seeing a woman jumping from the sign’s H, only for no body to be found after. Others have seen a woman in period clothing walking up the road to the sign. And those Ghost Adventures boys? They found black anomalies in a couple of photos of the sign, resembling an arm reaching out from behind the L. Also:

[YES audio]

So, there’s that.

The last major location we’ll tackle today is UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. Universal Studios Hollywood is both a film studio and theme park in LA. Universal City was opened in 1915 by Carl Laemmle, film producer and founder of Universal Pictures. There were tours of Universal Studios offered to the public since the very beginning, but the first attraction to open in a theme-park sense was War Lord Tower in 1965. 

Lon Chaney, known as “The Man with a Thousand Faces”, apparently took one of his signature roles with him to the grave. The actor portrayed the Phantom in the 1925 production “The Phantom of the Opera”, which kicked off the Universal Monsters horror universe. Chaney apparently loved the role, because in Stage 28, where the film was partially shot, he was spotted lurking around, including on the catwalks above the stage, still wearing his long black Phantom cape. The reports happened so often that Security Guards even stopped searching the soundstage when reports came in. Some crewmen attempting to work on the studio experienced mysterious, sometimes fatal, accidents, like an electrician that fell to his death from the catwalk. An episode of Knight Rider, titled “Fright Night”, even took inspiration from the haunting with a “Phantom of Stage 28” haunting the set of a modern-day Western. Sadly Stage 28 was demolished in 2016 to make way for future theme park expansions...I mean, it was a historical location with a historic ghost, but whatever...the march of commerce goes on. I wonder if Chaney’s ghost is still there, or if he’s moved on to greener pastures. 

Now, we can’t forget another fella with a cool nickname, the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Apparently the auteur and director of such classic thrillers as Psycho and The Birds haunts...the Shrek 4D attraction??

Ok, ok, so admittedly, this one doesn’t actually take place in Universal Hollywood but rather, Universal Orlando. However, I just couldn’t leave it off the list since it includes one of the most famous directors of all time! 

The blog Halloween Horror Nights Unofficial received reports that Hitch was haunting Shrek, so they reached out on Twitter to see if this was true. And apparently, it is! The Shrek 4D attraction was opened in the same building that featured Alfred Hitchcock: the Art of Making Movies. A fellow that worked there in 2006 said that two coworkers had run-ins with ol’ Alfred in the first theater, and doors shut on their own, lights shut off by themselves, etcetera. Other employees, who were current, also chimed in: “Yes, the place is literally haunted by Alfred. His spirit walks that soundstage and he is not happy the ogre replaced his beloved attraction… he weirdest experience I had was one evening we were waving the last group out the door and as I walked back the Pinocchio animatronic started to rapidly kick his legs and then it stopped. The room was deathly silent and then that, it was very strange.” Another employee posted in the Halloween Horror Nights group, “Just wanted to say if any if yall want an Alfred Hitchcock house just work at Shrek. Believe me he haunts the heck out of that place! Also the second theatre of Shrek has officially closed for the year and team members aren’t allowed in so the house construction in there has began! (It also didn’t make Alfred too happy.. he broke our first theatre in revenge the first day it went down). We have to say hi to Alfred every morning or he gets angry and stuff will go wrong. In the ride throughs in the morning there’s quite often a seat in the back row that will go down and when the show finishes it’ll go back. All the team members there know it.” 

I love the idea of Hitchcock being pissed off that his big attraction was shunted aside in favor of a Shrek ride. So pissed off that he came back FROM THE GRAVE to haunt it. We have a lot of thoughts about Hitch, don’t we, Sean? Actually, for more of them, you can subscribe to the podcast “You’re Missing Out” on any of your favorite podcatchers, which is hosted by two of my good friends from film school, Mike and Tom. We’re guesting on their Vertigo episode dropping in January, and you absolutely don’t want to miss it! 

So, those are the major location hauntings...but here are a few more fun stories I didn’t want to leave out.

-Actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld, in an interview on Live with Kelly & Ryan, discussed how she had an encounter when recording an album in what used to be Marilyn Monroe’s apartment. She saw a disembodied hand in front of her and felt a rush of cold air as she was starting to record a track, and later asked to hear it back. On the recording a rush of air can be heard at the same point Hailee had felt it earlier.

-Now, I mentioned Rudolph Valentino is a hard-working ghost, and it’s true. He’s seen all over town, from Paramount Studios to his old apartment to Hotel Alexandria to...well you get the point. But maybe the story of his cursed ring is the most fascinating. The story, as recounted on the Ripley’s website, goes like this: Valentino spotted the ring in the window of a San Francisco shop and it was love at first sight. The shopkeeper warned him that previous owners of the ring had been met with bad luck, but Valentino didn’t care. At the time, everything was coming up Rudy. But after purchasing the ring, things began to go wrong. He had a horrible flop with the film The Young Rajah and his career never fully recovered...and in 1926 he died while wearing the ring. 

So the ring was passed on to Valentino’s lover, Pola Negri. She fell ill and her acting career was cut short, until she gave the ring away to her friend, singer and actor Russ Columbo. Days after receiving the ring, Russ was shot in the head by accident at a friend’s house. The ring was bequeathed to Columbo’s best friend, Joe Casino, who locked it away for years in a display case. When he felt bold enough to wear the ring out, heeeee was killed when a truck hit his car. DEL Casino, Joe’s brother, inherited the ring next and was convinced that the curse was a lot of BS because he wore it without any issues. Then, a thief broke in and stole the ring, only to be killed by police as he was running away. But Del got the ring back and he was like, whatever, sucks to suck. So he gave the ring to film director Edward Small to be used in a movie about Valentino. Small gave the ring to actor Jack Dunn to wear in his portrayal of Rudolph. And Jack died two weeks later of blood poisoning from tularemia. Del got the ring back after this and was like ok, maybe I’ll take this seriously, now. He died of natural causes years later and his possessions passed into a bank vault in LA. During the ring’s presence in the bank, the bank itself was robbed twice and the ring was stolen a SECOND time...and for the second time, the thieves were shot dead during the ensuing police chase. The bank later, uh, burned down. Not sure where the ring is now, if it’s still in the bank after rebuilding or what. Some say Valentino’s ghost still searches for the ring, wanting to destroy it. Sadly but adorably, even Valentino’s DOG’s ghost has been seen, too - Kabar is said to still howl for his lost owner both at Falcon Lair, the mansion Valentino owned, and Los Angeles Pet Cemetery in Calabasas, where he was laid to rest.

-Last but certainly not least, we have a pair of doomed beauties - Jean Harlow and Sharon Tate. Harlow was yet another icon of the silver screen in the 20’s, known for her platinum blonde hair. Harlow’s husband, producer Paul Bern, was found dead of a gunshout wound in Harlow’s bedroom at their home in Benedict Canyon 2 months after they married. It was ruled a suicide, but there were a number of suspicious circumstances surrounding hte death, including 2 hours passing between the time the body was discovered and when the police were called to the scene. However, Harlow was apparently never accused of the crime. She died in 1937 at only 26, of kidney failure. Tate, as you may remember from our last episode, was an actress and the wife of director Roman Polanski, who was tragically murdered by the Manson Family in 1969.

So, where do these two lives intersect, then? Well, Harlow’s home in Benedict Canyon was purchased by celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring in 1966, who at the time was dating Sharon Tate. One evening, Tate insisted, she saw the ghostly specter of a man that seemed to be looking for something as it wandered throughout their bedroom. Tate ran past the apparition to the stairs, only to see something sitting hunched over at the foot of the stairwell. When she got a better look, she couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman, only that the head was cocked to one side, eyes wide open, with a deep gash slitting open its throat. When Tate recalled the ghastly scene for Sebring the next day, she insisted the apparition was Paul Bern, though she had no idea what the thing at the bottom of the stairs was. Sebring and Tate were both killed during the Helter Skelter murders at Tate’s rented home on Cielo Drive 3 years later, with Tate losing her life at the end of a knife. Was what she saw in 1966 a chilling premonition of the bloody fate to come?


So Sean, what do you think? Does the tragedy that tends to surround the biggest lives in Hollywood make a city full of ghosts an inevitability?


We’re headed to the BIZARRE BAZAAR! This week, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources helicopter was counting big horn sheep in southeastern Utah when they spotted a strange object and landed to check it. Once there, they discovered a nearly 12 foot high metal monolith, which had somehow found its way to the middle of this remote area of federal lands. The Utah Department of Public Safety says it has no idea where this object came from, and intrepid researchers on Google Earth found that it must’ve been placed sometime between summer 2015 and fall 2016. In a jokey nod to how the monolith resembles the giant structure from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Utah DPS stated “It is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you’re from.” As of now there’s no obvious clue as to who left the monolith, and no one has yet come forward to take credit.


That’s it for this episode of Ain’t It Scary with Sean and Carrie! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @aintitscary, and check out our website at aintitscary.com. And please, subscribe to the show and throw us a 5-star review on iTunes...we’ll be forever grateful.

See you next Thursday! 


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