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Ghosts of Hollywood

Even after death, some Hollywood celebrities can't stop putting in appearances


Harry Houdini, 1912

Harry Houdini, 1912

FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

APPARENTLY, SOME MOVIE STARS didn't get enough attention from press and fans while they were alive. Their ghosts keep showing up, perhaps for one last performance. Hollywood is full of glamour, ambition, craziness, sordid tales - even talent. And while ghosts and other tales of the paranormal have always been great movie material, Tinseltown also has its own real-life ghost stories. There are many stars who are ghosts (including Marilyn Monroe, George Reeves and Ozzie Nelson), and many stars who have seen ghosts (including Nicholas Cage, Keanu Reeves, Richard Dreyfuss and Dan Aykroyd, among others). The envelope please...

Marilyn Monroe

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard is said to be the current residence of several ghosts of popular film stars. Marilyn Monroe, the glamorous and funny star of such pictures as Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, was a frequent guest of the Roosevelt at the height of her popularity. And although she died in her Brentwood home, her image has been seen on several occasions in a full-length mirror that once hung in her poolside suite. The mirror has been relocated to the hotel's lower level by the elevators.

Montgomery Clift

Another respected star who died before his time, Montgomery Clift, was a four-time Oscar nominated actor who is best known for his roles in A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity and Judgment at Nuremberg. His ghost has also been seen at the Roosevelt. According to some of the hotel's staff, Clift's spirit haunts room number 928. Clift stayed in that suite in 1953, pacing back and forth, memorizing his lines for From Here to Eternity. Loud, unexplained noises have been heard coming from the empty suite, and its phone is occasionally found mysteriously off the hook.

Perhaps it's fitting that the Hollywood Roosevelt should be the stirring place of celebrity ghosts since it was the site of the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. In fact, the Blossom Ballroom, where the ceremony was held, has an unexplained cold spot - a circular area measuring 30 inches in diameter that remains about 10 degrees colder than the rest of the room.

Harry Houdini

Houdini is best known as a magician and escape artist, of course, but at the height of his fame he was also drawn to Hollywood, where he made a handful of silent films from 1919 to 1923. With such titles as The Man from Beyond and Haldane of the Secret Service (which he also directed), the films were not regarded well enough to give him much of a Hollywood career. Houdini's interest in the occult was well known, and although he earned a reputation as a masterful debunker of séances, he earnestly sought contact with those who have passed on to the other side. Shortly before his death, Houdini made a pact with his wife Bess that if he could, he would return and make contact with her from the other side. Perhaps he truly has attempted to return. Some claim to have seen the ghost of the great Houdini walking around in the home he owned on Laurel Canyon Blvd. in the Hollywood Hills. Film historians Laurie Jacobson and Marc Wanamaker, in their book Hollywood Haunted, dispute this story, saying that "Houdini most likely never even set foot in the Laurel Canyon mansion he is said to haunt."

Clifton Webb

Clifton Webb was a very popular star of the 1940s and '50s, earning two Oscar nominations for his roles in Laura and The Razor's Edge. He may be best known for his portrayal of Mr. Belvedere in a series of films. It's not too often that a ghost haunts the place in which the person is buried, but this seems to be the case for Webb. His ghost has been seen at the Abbey of the Psalms, Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, where his body is interred. But it seems to be a restless spirit, as his ghost has also been encountered at his old home on Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills.

Thelma Todd

Thelma Todd was a hot young star in the 1930s. She was featured in a number of hit comedies with the likes of The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and Buster Keaton. But that all ended in 1935 when Todd was found dead in her car, which was parked above the café she owned on the Pacific Coast Highway. Strangely, her death was ruled an accidental suicide, but many suspected murder and a coverup by powerful Hollywood figures. The building that once housed the café is now owed by Paulist Productions, and employees have reportedly witnessed the starlet's ghost descending the stairs.

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