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Ghosts of Hollywood Legends, Part 1

Still seeking the spotlight in the afterlife

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OURS IS A culture that "worships" celebrities. It's always a thrill when we spot a star of film, music or television in the flesh. Strangely, the excitement of celebrity spotting seems to continue even when they are no longer in the flesh, but in the spirit. It often makes news when the ghost of a celebrity -- especially a recently departed figure -- is sighted. Here is Part One of our series of reports about the ghosts of Hollywood legends that have been seen over the years.

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger was one of the most promising actors of his generation, having delivered impressive performances in such films as Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight, in which his portrayal of The Joker drew wide acclaim. He died in January, 2008 of what was ruled an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

Ghost: Actress Michelle Williams, his ex-fiancé, says she has seen Ledger's spirit on two occasions. The first time, she was awakened at night by eerie noises, then realized her bedroom furniture was being moved around. She saw a shadowy figure, which she admits scared her "half to death." In the second instance, she says the apparition was much more vivid and spoke, telling her he was sorry for not being able to help raise their daughter.

James Dean

James Dean
Although he only made a handful of films, Dean was one of the most influential young actors of the 1950s, forcefully depicting the angst of rebellious youth in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. In 1955, he was killed while recklessly driving his Porsche Spyder on a California road.

Ghost: Since the accident, there have been several reports of Dean's spectral Porsche speeding along the highway in the vicinity of his tragic death. More famously, there may be a haunting "curse" attached to the car itself. It may have begun before the accident when fellow actors, including Alec Guinness, warned Dean about the car, saying they had a bad feeling about it. Many other accidents and deaths have been documented in connection with the car.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley
NBC
He was called "The King of Rock 'n' Roll", having spun out dozens of #1 hit records, starring in popular teen-aimed films, and winning the hearts of millions around the world. Tragically, Elvis was consumed by his own fame and died in August, 1977 of a heart attack, possibly drug related.

Ghost: Despite the urban legend that Elvis faked his death and is still alive, his ghost has been reported in several locations, including his former home, Graceland in Memphis (now a tourist attraction) and at the Heartbreak Hotel on Elvis Presley Blvd. near Graceland. Elvis's ghost also has been spotted at the Nashville recording studios, where he made some early records, and at the Las Vegas Hilton, where the singer performed in his later years.

Orson Welles

Orson Welles
Orson Welles was one of the most brilliant, innovative and creative figures of theater, radio and film in the 1930s and '40s. His landmark film Citizen Kane (1941) still is considered by many critics to be one of the greatest films ever made. He died in 1985 of a heart attack at his Hollywood home at the age of 70.

Ghost: In his later years, Welles became an imposing figure, often appearing in his trademark black cape and wide-brimmed hat and puffing on a cigar. It's this figure that has been seen in his favorite restaurant, Sweet Lady Jane's in Los Angeles, sitting at the table were he usually dined. Accompanying the apparition, say the staff who have seen it, is the smell of Welles' brand of cigar and even the brandy that he enjoyed.

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