Where to ‘spot’ Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, John Belushi, Jim Morrison, Rudolph Valentino and other legends.
If you’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough, you’ve probably seen a celebrity in the wild. But after a while, spotting celebrities can get a bit old. After all, they’re just like everybody else; they go to restaurants, stay in hotels and sometimes they continue to haunt their favorite places after they die. Given how many ghosts are said to haunt Los Angeles, it’s no surprise that many of them were famous in life. Here’s where to find a few spectral stars, including an animation legend who hangs out at a Los Feliz copy shop, a rockstar in the restroom of a local restaurant and two very busy sex symbols.
Downstairs in the Blossom Ballroom, the site of the first Academy Awards, there’s a purported cold spot — an area distinctly colder than the rest of the room, indicating ghostly activity — and two well-dressed ghosts who might have attended the ceremony.
In 2016, the Los Angeles Timesran an article about the Los Feliz building that housed Walt Disney’s first studio. Apparently, Extra Copy owner Marine Ter-Pogosyan is often asked if she has seen Disney’s ghost. Her response? “Yeah, every day I feel it … He is always here. And he is very happy.”
When not spending time in Los Feliz, Disney’s ghost reportedly visits his apartment over the Main Street Fire Station in Disneyland. According to the Orange County Register, Disneyland is full of spirits, including those of guests who’ve died at the park, like the teenager who died after trying to sneak into the park by climbing the Monorail track. He’s been seen running along the Monorail train at night. A few real ghosts are said to reside in the Haunted Mansion as well.
Peg Entwistle only made one film in Hollywood, but she’s an infamous part of Hollywood history. In September of 1932, a distraught Entwistle jumped to her death from the “H” of the Hollywood Sign. According to the Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles (GHOULA), Entwistle has been seen retracing her last steps. Before her death, Entwistle was last spotted at the Beachwood Cafe and patrons have reportedly seen her walk by on her way toward the Hollywood Sign.
It’s alleged that around 10 years after Entwistle’s death, a waitress at the cafe was cleaning up after closing and heard a tapping at the window. When she looked, it was Entwistle, wearing the white dress she died in, waving hello. Many hikers also say they’ve sighted a blonde woman in 1930s clothes, smelling of gardenias and “walking on air” near the Hollywood Sign.
Comedian John Belushi, known for his roles in “Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers” and as part of the original cast of “Saturday Night Live,” overdosed in Bungalow 3 at West Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont in 1982. Though it’s said he never checked out of the hotel.
The story goes that in 1999 a family was staying in Bungalow 3 and the family’s 2-year-old son kept laughing at what he only described as “the funny man.” Later, when his mother was looking at a book of some of the Chateau’s famous guests, the boy pointed at a photo of Belushi and declared, “The funny man!”
In his later years, the legendary actor-director-writer frequented the Melrose Avenue restaurant Ma Maison, where Wolfgang Puck first made a name for himself. Ma Maison closed in 1985, the same year Welles died, and the property is currently the home of Sweet Lady Jane Bakery. According to books like Jeff Dwyer’s “Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Los Angeles,” Welles still frequents his favorite booth. However, GHOULA points out that Sweet Lady Jane doesn’t have the same footprint as Ma Maison, so if Welles is still lurking he must have found a new place to sit.
The Marx Brothers’ master of deadpan used the building that now houses the Laugh Factory as his office — and it seems he’s still pulling pranks there. In 1995, owner Jamie Masada told the L.A. Timesabout how he once entered the club after hours to find candles on all the tables, the spotlight on and cigar smoke in the air. Even more shocking, one night Masada locked up the club after overseeing the replastering of a wall. When he opened the door in the morning, an embossed image of Groucho had appeared on the wall.
The Doors frontman and L.A. legend spent part of his creative years living and working in West Hollywood. The Doors recorded their 1971 album “L.A. Woman” at 8512 Santa Monica Blvd., a space they called “The Workshop” which now houses the restaurant Blackship. In 2010, reports surfaced that the space, then known as Mexico Restaurante Y Barra, was haunted by Morrison. Morrison’s spirit was said to manifest in the bathroom, as that was where the vocal booth for The Doors’ recording studio stood.
The property has changed hands a few times since the first report and there has been no further indication that Morrison has stuck around. But according to GHOULA, Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger believes Morrison’s ghost “is here for sure.”
Nicknamed “The Ice Cream Blonde,” Thelma Todd was an early Hollywood beauty who showed her funny side in movies like the Marx Brothers’ “Horse Feathers” and Laurel and Hardy’s “The Bohemian Girl.” In 1934, Todd opened a sidewalk cafe at 17575 Pacific Coast Highway. A year later, Todd was found dead in her car inside the garage of actress Jewel Carmen, near the cafe. While the death was ruled a possible suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, suspicion remains about the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death. Todd’s ghost has been seen inside the building and the stairs above it.
If you’re likely to meet one celebrity ghost, it’ll probably be that of Rudolph Valentino — he’s practically everywhere. The silent film star and early Hollywood sex symbol’s death at age 31 in 1926 sent fans into hysterics with a small riot breaking out at his New York funeral.
Valentino’s spirit was often seen at his Beverly Hills home, known as the Falcon’s Lair, until it was demolished in 2006. Following Valentino’s interment at Hollywood Memorial Park — now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery — a mysterious woman in black began visiting his grave, leaving roses on the anniversary of his death. While there’s some debate over who the original woman in black was, and there have been many imitators, it’s been reported that she still visits Valentino’s grave. Cemetery visitors have reported seeing a ghostly woman in black and hearing the sound of high heels walking in the mausoleum.
There have also been Valentino sightings at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, Musso & Frank Grill, the Alexandria Hotel and confusingly, at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Apartments, which is weird as the building didn’t open until three years after his death.
The coolest place to see Valentino’s ghost though is at Will Rogers Beach, where he’s said to appear riding on horseback with a rose between his teeth. If Valentino’s horse isn’t enough for you, his dog is said to haunt the L.A. Pet Cemetery in Calabasas!
The Celebrity Ghosts of Paramount Studios
We’re actually not done with Valentino. While he worked for Paramount, he never set foot on Paramount’s Melrose Avenue lot, as the studio was based at Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street during his time. Perhaps he’s still loyal to his studio contract because he’s been “seen” walking through the walls at Hollywood Forever into Paramount Studios. He’s also been spotted at Paramount’s Lemon Grove Gate and in the studio’s costume department.
If Valentino is haunting Paramount, he’s in good company: Comedian Redd Foxx is said to haunt Stage 31, where he died of a heart attack; child actress Heather O’Rourke has been seen in Stage 19, where she shot episodes of “Happy Days;” and Lucille Ball is said to still work at the studio’s Hart Building, where she worked when the studio was Desilu Productions.
While Halloween only happens once a year, it’s frightfully fun to know that in L.A. you can run into a celebrity specter during any season.