Are you curious about LA’s legendary ghost stories but can’t bear the thought of riding around in a cheesy van with a sheared off roof? No? Then, here’s my guide to ghosting with some style.
Before it was the Celebrity Centre, the French-Normandy style castle on the corner of Franklin and Bronson was known as the Chateau Elysee. The Manor, as it was called in the 1930s, thrived as a residential hotel for famous actors like Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Clark Gable and Ginger Rogers. Rumors have always surrounded the mysterious origins of The Manor, built in 1928 by Arthur E. Harvey for the widow Eleanor Ince. Eleanor’s husband, director-producer Thomas Ince died of suspected heart failure while on board Oneida, the yacht of William Randolph Hearst in 1924. Hollywood gossip, however, suggested something much more sinister: a giant cover-up wherein Hearst accidentally shot Ince, mistaking him for Charlie Chaplin who had been putting the moves on Heart’s mistress, Marion Davies. Was The Manor built with Hearst hush money? The Ince family has long denied it but you should check it out for yourself. The Renaissance Restaurant allows you to experience the beauty of the building first hand, but be aware that any building tour you are offered will include a lot more than architecture.
Built in 1927 with funding from major industry players like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Louis B. Mayer, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has always been a celebrity favorite. The Spanish style hotel hosted the first ever Academy Awards in its ballroom in 1929. Check out The Spare Room, a “modern day gaming parlor” and sip handcrafted cocktails while bowling on a vintage lane. (Fight the urge to reenact the final scene of There Will Be Blood.) Be sure to glance in all mirrors, as the ghost of Marilyn Monroe, a former guest, has been spotted peering out of one in the foyer. Don’t miss the famous pool, painted by David Hockney in 1987, and look for the ghost of Humphrey Bogart who reportedly haunts the Tropicana Bar.
This gorgeous Art Deco theater built in 1930 by Scottish architect Benjamin Marcus Priteca remains one of Los Angeles’s architectural gems. Take a spin around the lobby and soak in the spectacular details or go see a show and listen for the singing ghost! In 1932 an aspiring actress mysteriously died in the mezzanine during a musical performance. The spot where she died was vandalized in the 1990s. Soon thereafter, the staff and theatre patrons reported hearing a girl singing in the mezzanine, even when the theater was empty. Stage microphones have even picked up the sound of her singing from the balcony along with the musicals on stage.
Now a residential building, the Alexandria Hotel opened to great acclaim in 1906. It was designed by LA architect John Parkinson who also built Union Station, City Hall and the Coliseum. In its heyday, the hotel hosted Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, William Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. Take in the faded splendor of this LA landmark and grab a bite at Top Chef winner Ilan Hall’s restaurant, The Gorbals, which is curiously hidden away inside the lobby. After dinner, take the staircase behind the security guard and check out the ballroom upstairs–it never fails to disappoint. If you encounter a woman dressed in black Victorian morning garb, fear not, she’s known to walk these halls looking for something she never seems to find.
Did you know that Los Angeles has its very own Pet Cemetery? Would you believe that it has been open and operating since 1928? Bereaved pet owners can bury their beloved friends in this Calabasas cemetery which is open to the public daily. Stroll the rolling green lawn and look for the graves of celebrity pets like “Petey” from The Little Rascals or screen star Rudolph Valentino’s dog “Kabar.”