Within the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles there hides a dark and terrifying past. From serial killers to satanic murders and movie stars who continue to stun and amaze unwitting visitors long after their time on the big screen has ended. Los Angeles is called the city of Angels, but it’s also the city of devils, demons and ghosts too.
The following locations and their stories paint a tableau of eerie paranormal grime across the City of Angels, a veritable history of the haunted in the entertainment capital of the world.
1. The Cecil Hotel
The haunted Cecil Hotel has served as temporary home for no less than two serial killers: the legendary “Nightstalker” Richard Ramirez and Austrian Euro-ghoul Jack Unterweger. In 1985, Ramirez paid $14 a night to stay on the 14th floor of the Cecil, where he killed 14 people. Six years later, Unterweger murdered several prostitutes while living at the Cecil.
The Cecil Hotel was also the scene of a 1962 suicide, in which 27 year-old Pauline Otten jumped out of her window and landed on a pedestrian, killing both. Two years later, Goldie Osgood, known by some as the Pershing Square Pigeon Lady, was found raped and strangled at the Cecil. It is also widely rumored that Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, patronized the seedy hotel and the bar next door shortly before her notorious disappearance in 1947. Of course, this claim is also made of the Millenium Biltmore Hotel, which we will soon add to this list.
This legacy of brutal death and murder has resulted in the hotel becoming a notoriously massive hotspot for paranormal activity. Psychics and mediums from all over report that the Cecil Hotel and the entire area surrounding it is a dark tumultuous cauldron of haunted activity.
The most recent possible paranormal happening at the Cecil—which has been renamed Stay on Main—was the bizarre case of Elisa Lam, who was found dead inside a water tank on the hotel roof. Lam had stayed on the same floor as Ramirez stayed during his reign of terror; she can be seen on a surveillance tape from the night she died, wandering in and out of an elevator making strange occultish gestures.
2. 10050 Cielo Drive
On August 9, 1969, some of the most brutal serial murders in our collective memory took place, as Charles Manson and his ‘family’ murdered the pregnant Sharon Tate and several others at 10050 Cielo Drive. The house in Benedict Canyon was torn down and rebuilt but the current caretaker, David Oman, claims the spirits involved in the Manson murders—as well as spirits from ancient Indian burial ground—still linger here. In July 2004, Oman claims he woke at 2 a.m. to find “a full body apparition at the bottom of his bed pointing towards the driveway which leads to the murder site.” Oman helped produce a movie about his haunted home, House At the End of the Drive.
World-renowned parapsychologist Barry Taff says the location has the most consistent EMF readings of any of the 4,000 cases he’s investigated. This, he says, coupled with the area’s freakish geomagnetic disturbances, is the reason he refuses to go near the house ever again. It is, according to Taft, ‘the Mount Everest of haunted houses’ and ‘the Disneyland for the dead.’
3. Pasadena’s Suicide Bridge
The Colorado Street Bridge looks almost romantic with its curving sinuous path and ornate cast-iron lamp posts supporting multi-globed lamps. You’d hardly know that over 100 people have committed suicide plummeting from its 150 foot perch.
Where there are hundreds of deaths—particularly suicides—there are almost invariably reports of ghosts. Several spirits are said to haunt the Colorado Street bridge, including a man with wire rimmed glasses and a vanishing woman in a long flowing robe. Ghosts are said to walk the river bed below the bridge, too. Anomalous noises and sobbing sounds are heard and foggy shapes have been reported by passersby and homeless people alike. Even the animals are said to act peculiar.
One historical account maintains that during the bridge’s construction, a worker fell over the side and was left to die in agony as the wet concrete slowly hardened around him. Some say the ghost of this man is what causes the bridge to claim so many suicides.
4. The Hollywood Roosevelt
When Marilyn Monroe was first becoming a mega-star, she often stayed in Suite 1200 at the Hollywood Roosevelt. Since her death, many hotel residents and workers have reported seeing her ghostly visage appear and disappear in the full-length mirror featured in the hotel. Additionally, Montgomery Clift is said to haunt room 928, the room where he lived while shooting From Here to Eternity. Other psychics have reported channeling the spirits of Humphrey Bogart, Carmen Miranda, and Betty Grable and there’s a cold spot in the Blossom Room.
5. The Comedy Store
Before the world famous Comedy Store was an incubator for countless brilliant comedians, it was a mob hangout for Ciro’s in the 40s and 50s. Now it’s said to be haunted by “several hit men, as well as a woman who performed illegal abortions in the downstairs lounge and a woman who died getting one of those abortions.” There are at least five distinct ghost entities that have been reported at the Comedy Store, including one that is said to have heckled Sam Kinison. No joke.
Other instances of paranormal activity include extreme cold spots in the common room and weird reports by waitresses, who say tables will re-set silverware behind their backs and lights that are turned on are turned right back off. There is also the mysteriously inexistent Line 31, on which employees will receive calls from an unknown entity that is breathing heavily.
6. Grauman’s Chinese Theater
This theater is haunted by actor Victor Kilian, aka the Fernwood Flasher on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Reportedly, he stalks the forecourt, near where he was beaten to death in his home in 1979. The ghost is thought to be searching for his killer, which was either a man he invited home for a drink, or burglars.
7. The Silent Movie Theater
Now known as the Cinefamily, the Silent Movie Theatre is home to the ghosts of its first two owners. John Hampton opened the theater in 1942 and dedicated his life to preserving silent films … using toxic chemicals that eventually gave him cancer. Lawrence Austin reopened the theater after Hampton’s death in the early nineties; in 1997, he was fatally shot in the lobby in a plot concocted by his lover/projectionist. Hampton is said to haunt the upstairs lounge while Austin covers the lobby.
8. The Knickerbocker Hotel
Now a senior living facility, the Knickerbocker boasts hosting the ghosts of no less than 6 dead celebrities: Rudolph Valentino, Frances Farmer, DW Griffith, Harry Houdini, and Marilyn Monroe, who supposedly hangs out in the ladies’ room.
9. Pantages Theater
This theater in the historically haunted Victorian neighborhood of Angelino Heights may have two ghosts. First, a woman who died in the mezzanine in 1932 who is now frequently heard singing. The sound is so commonly heard that employees have developed a theory that it belongs to the spirit of an aspiring singer who watched shows at Pantages but died before she had a chance to realize her dream. Her voice has been picked up on microphone on stage and carried over the monitor during a live performance. Engineers actually picked up the voice of someone who was not visible on the stage.
The second ghost is none other than Howard Hughes. Hughes owned Pantages in 1949 and former employees and new building residents have reported seeing his visage for decades. Hughes is said to have greatly disliked cigarette smoke and for a time his ghost was often reported being seen when someone lit up a cigarette.
10. The Hollywood Sign
Morbidly distraught over her inability to “make it” in Hollywood, 24-year-old Peggy Entwistle jumped to her death from the Hollywood Sign’s “H” in 1932. Since then, hundreds of people have reported seeing a woman near the sign who looks eerily similar to young Entwistle and dressed in period clothes; some have even reported seeing the apparition of a woman falling from the H.
Do you have any suggestions for haunted spots that are more off the radar? Have you experienced any paranormal encounters at the locations discussed above?
This article was first published on The Ghost Diaries.
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