Here at LMO we have a series of articles about celebrity homes from the past called “The Hollywood Ghosts Of…”, but they aren’t really about ghosts at all. This article is!
In this writeup, we’ll talk about the ghosts (some famous, some not) that haunt Tinseltown. These stories have intrigue (possibly murder), big stars, and fantastic settings.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this article is filled with great stories and Hollywood history people have come to expect from LMO. Every location has at least one connection to a Hollywood star from years past. Some have many.
Some of the big names you’ll find below include Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, John Belushi, and Marilyn Monroe. There are many more, but those should hopefully whet your paranormal appetites.
Let’s get started!
The Bern Harlow House (9820 Easton Dr)
Jean Harlow, Hollywood’s original Blonde Bombshell married MGM executive Paul Bern in 1932. Bern was 22 years older than Harlow and he bought her this house in Benedict Canyon as a wedding present.
According to reports, the marriage was a violent and tumultuous one, ending just months after it began.
Harlow decided to spend the night at her mother’s one evening. That night Bern’s body was found dead from a bullet wound by the butler. His body was drenched in Harlow’s favorite perfume.
The butler called MGM before calling the police, and Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg were the first 2 men to arrive on the scene. Thalberg found a suicide note that was not in Bern’s hand and he decided to dispose of the letter in order to protect Harlow. Howard Strickling, Head of PR at MGM convinced Mayer and Thalberg to turn the note over to the police, which they did.
The note read as follows:
Unfortunately, this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and wipe out my abject humiliation, I love you.
You understand last night was only a comedy.
At the edge of the swimming pool, a female bathing suit and 2 wine glasses were found. So was a spot of blood.
Harlow was never questioned in the death of her husband because she claimed to be “too hysterical” to be questioned by police.
In 1937, Harlow died of uremic poisoning caused by kidney failure. She was 26.
In the decades since, there have been sightings of ghosts at the Bern Harlow House. In the 1960s, Jay Sebring bought the house and was dating Sharon Tate at the time.
Tate was staying in Harlow’s bedroom which was the location Bern’s death. One night Bern’s ghost appeared in the room. He ignored her and wandered around the room and seemed to be searching for something.
“I saw this creepy little man. He looked like all the descriptions I had ever read of Paul Bern.”
Tate fled the room and began to go downstairs when she stopped in her tracks. She saw an apparition with the appearance of Sebring tied to the railing on the staircase. The spirit’s throat was slit and appeared to be struggling to stay alive as it bled to death.
In 1969, both Tate and Sebring were murdered by the Manson Family at 10050 Cielo Dr.
Musso And Frank (6667 Hollywood Blvd)
At 101 years old, Musso And Frank is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. Charlie Chaplin ate here frequently, always in Booth 1, which he liked because it had a window and he could look outside to check on his horse as well as those of his companions, such as Rudolph Valentino.
Chaplin’s spirit is said to not just haunt the restaurant, but specifically, Booth 1, where his spirit can be felt.
Another silent star is said to haunt this establishment, Rudolph Valentino who died at 31 from pleurisy.
It is said that sometimes a woman will go to the restroom in the back of the restaurant and see a good-looking man, wearing a white shirt, tan slacks, and a simple tie, hanging around the restroom door. They will exchange smiles before he vanishes into thin air. This spirit is believed to be Valentino.
To read more about Musso And Frank click here.
The Roosevelt Hotel (700 Hollywood Blvd)
Built in 1927, the Roosevelt Hotel is said to be the home of a few famous ghosts.
Marilyn Monroe lived here for 2 years and her ghost is said to haunt her old room, number 1200. She is also known to show up in the reflection of the mirror on the wall that has since been moved around the hotel.
Once when a maid was dusting this mirror, which was at the time hanging in the manager’s office, she saw the reflection of a sad, blonde woman. When she turned around to talk to her, the employee found no one living was there. Yet, when she looked back into the mirror, the blonde was still there. The mirror is sometimes on display in the lower elevator foyer
Montgomery Clift haunts room 928, which he lived in during the filming of From Here To Eternity. Apparently, his spirit likes to tap people who stay in this room on the shoulder. Also, strange bugle-like sounds can sometimes be heard emanating from the room. Clift practiced his bugle frequently while living in this hotel.
Carole Lombard’s ghost has been spotted floating on the top floor of the hotel. Lombard lived here with Clark Gable back in the 1930s in a penthouse that encompassed the top three floors.
The Oscars were held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt in the early days of the ceremony. Two male ghosts clad in tuxedos have been spotted in the room, but their identities have remained a mystery.
Universal Studios (100 Universal City Plaza)
The Man With A Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney shot many movies at Universal Studios. Arguably his most famous role was in The Phantom Of The Opera, which was shot at Stage 28 on the lot and is known as “The Phantom Stage”. It is this stage where Lon Chaney’s ghost is believed to have haunted for many years.
Staff members including electricians, carpenters, designers, art directors, and studio security guards have all claimed to have seen a man that looks like Chaney dressed in all black arrive in the building, and then suddenly vanish without a trace.
He was said to be fond of running along the catwalks, carrying a candelabra. It has also been reported that when the building was no longer in use at night, that lights could be seen flickering on and off and that doors would open and slam shut repeatedly.
Stage 28 was demolished in 2014.
Lucille Ball’s House (1000 N. Roxbury Dr)
Lucille Ball lived in this home for the last several decades of her life. After her death, her husband, Gary Morton sold the home. The new owners essentially replaced the entire exterior of the home with beige stucco, making it unrecognizable. They also destroyed the front garden making it into an expanded parking area.
A number of people have claimed that Ball still haunts this home. During the remodelling of the house by the new owners one of Ball’s friends claimed that he could see her ghost looking at him from her bedroom (the exterior wall was missing) as he drove past.
One of the owners of the house claims that her spirit frequently moves around boxes and items stored in the attic. Another member of that family stated that sometimes the music from I Love Lucy can be heard once in a while, coming from the attic as well.
To read more about the celebrity homes of Roxbury Dr. click here.
Paramount Pictures (5555 Melrose Ave)
Speaking of Lucille Ball, her ghost is also said to have shown up at the Hart Building (formerly Desilu Studios) on the Paramount Lot. Night watchmen have claimed to have seen her spirit in the building and have noticed the scent of flowery perfume in the air.
Another ghost that gets around is Rudolph Valentino, who also swings by Paramount’s lot. His spirit has been seen all over his old studio, most frequently in the costume department and the Melrose Gate. Most frequently, his phantasm has been seen walking through and disappearing into a wall on the north end of the property where Hollywood Forever Cemetery is situated on the other side of the wall. This is the location of Valentino’s tomb.
Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd)
Pantages Theatre is an art deco movie theatre that opened in 1930 on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. In 1949, Howard Hughes bought the theatre and moved his offices onto the second floor. Hughes renamed the theatre the RKO Pantages. The theatre has changed hands many times over the year since then and is now used for theatrical performances.
The spirit of Howard Hughes is said to haunt the second floor where his office once was. People have felt an unseen presence, sometimes manifesting as cold spots, and a cool passing wind, when the air was still without a hint of wind in the air. People have also heard the opening and closing of drawers in Hughes’ former office when it was not occupied.
Pickfair (1143 Summit Dr)
Pickfair was the home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Pickfair was known for its parties of lavish decadence in the 1920s. An invitation to one was the most sought-after in Hollywood.
It was possibly the most iconic celebrity home of all time. It was also said to be haunted by the spirit of a woman in the attic of the home.
In the early 30s rumors of Pickfair being haunted began to surface. In 1932 Fairbanks said:
“I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe Pickfair is haunted, though Mary is sure of it; I’m sure there is some explanation if we could find it, of the sounds we hear there.”
Pickford however did believe that the house was haunted by a spirit. She frequently told house guests this, which probably how the rumor spread in the first place.
In 1935 Pickford was interviewed by Lee Frank and she spoke of the ghost.
“I am a sound sleeper, but I could not sleep under these noises which sounded like the tramping of heavy feet. I sat up in bed and addressed myself to the ghost.
‘I wouldn’t treat you this way. It isn’t ladylike. I don’t expect you to treat me in this manner.’
The noises ceased.”
Pickford never saw the spirit but claimed that members of her household staff had.
“One day our cook, a practical, unemotional Swedish woman, ran out of the kitchen in terror, brandishing a knife, she declared she was pursuing a strange, dark woman whom she had seen in the kitchen.”
Years later, Pia Zadora bought the house and had it tore down. First, she claimed it was because of termites but years later she said it was because of the ghost of the woman in the attic. She had the house torn down and built a larger one in its place.
To read more about Pickfair click here.
Chateau Marmont (8221 Sunset Blvd)
The Chateau Marmont is a hotel on Sunset Boulevard. The hotel was designed by famed architects Arnold A. Weitzman and William Douglas Lee and completed in 1929. It was inspired by the Chateau d’Amboise, a royal retreat in the Loire Valley in France.
The hotel is known as a residence for celebrities. One such celebrity was John Belushi who died of a heroin overdose in Bungalow 3 in 1982.
In 1999, a family was staying in Bungalow 3 while their house was being renovated. The family’s 2-year old son was often seen laughing and chuckling to himself. When asked what he was laughing at, he would say, “The funny man.” When his mother was perusing a book of celebrity guests of Chateau Marmont, the boy pointed to John Belushi and exclaimed, “The funny man!”
We hope this piece satiated your appetite for Hollywood paranormal activity.
Tell us what you thought of these ghost stories in the comment section below.