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Hunting for a Haunting

Ghosts: The specters of dead children, actors and even Mafiosi are said to lurk about L.A.


In the mood for a haunting? Check out these local haunts, all investigated and certified as truly spooked by the International Society for Paranormal Research, a Los Angeles-based ghost expedition outfit, a la "Mission Impossible." The society's seven-member team uses high-tech equipment (such as a magnetometer that reads an electromagnetic field), psychics and clairvoyants to channel the spirits and learn about paranormal behavior. You don't have to believe in ghosts to check out the group's ghostly findings:

* The Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., Los Angeles.

Opened in 1906--and the site of the creation of United Artists by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and others--the hotel was once downtown's grandest and host to glamorous events. That could explain why the second-floor ballroom is said to be haunted by many dancers, including a very shy 17-year-old girl. In the original Charlie Chaplin suite on the 11th floor, an angry teenage male presence--not Chaplin's--rules. People get a "weird feeling" in the room and have seen his image, says Daena Smoller, an investigator and channeler with the research society. "All kinds of atmospheric fluctuations occur."

The 12th floor's suite was Rudolph Valentino's. "Every single time we have done an investigation there, someone in the group ends up having a channeling experience," Smoller says. "And it's always in the bedroom."

The basement, a maze of three tunnels, is haunted by Larry and Gus, both Mafioso and very communicative, Smoller says. "We get the impression that Gus was a hit man from the old Ciros nightclub days on Sunset, which is now the Comedy Store, also one of Gus' favorite haunts."

* The Comedy Store, 8433 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood

Four ghosts--two men and two women--are believed to roam the club. One of the guys is Gus, who does not get along with the other, a shy guy.

"Gus laughs hysterically, so being at the Comedy Store is perfect for him," Smoller says. "And he loves to touch women. If you feel a chill, he's probably touched you. He's very friendly."

One of the women is Ellen, in her 50s, with a mean disposition. She used to perform back-street abortions for the Mafia. The other female is a young woman who died during one of those abortions.

* Vogue Theatre, 6675 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

Six children and their teacher, Miss Elizabeth, are said to live here on the former grounds of the one-room Prospect Elementary School, which burned down at the turn of the century, killing the kids and their teacher.

The most communicative is Annabell Taylor, a happy 7-year-old. Another child, Michael, also 7, is mute and has manifested his little fist in the mist, his fingers signing rapidly. All the kids also have been reported playing and romping nearby, inside Mann's Chinese theater.

In 1936, the 800-seat Vogue opened and remained in operation until 1992. The image of a former projectionist named Fritz--a chubby older man with curly salt-and-pepper hair and small spectacles--has been seen walking past the projection room windows. And people have been known to have near "heart-stopping episodes," says Smoller, maybe because Fritz died of a heart attack in the projection room. He is protective of the equipment, including old reels.

"He's very lucid and knows he's a ghost," she says. "He's friendly most of the time--if you keep your hands in your pockets."

Another entity discovered at the Vogue is Danny, in his late 20s, dressed in overalls with greasy brown shoulder-length hair. He died of a heroin overdose about 10 years ago, and many a man has run screaming from the men's restroom, telling stories of being pushed while standing at a urinal.

* Stage 28 at Universal Studios, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City

For years, Stage 28, where "The Phantom of the Opera" was filmed with Lon Chaney Sr., has reportedly been haunted by Chaney, running on catwalks in a black cape. Wrong, says Larry Montz, parapsychologist and research society founder.

Earlier this month, he and the team conducted a six-hour investigation on the stage that still houses the original "Phantom" set, built in 1923. The team did, indeed, find it haunted.

But the ghost was that of a man with a real attitude. " 'I'm the one in charge here,' he seemed to be saying," Montz said." So he could be a producer or a director."

On Stage 28, the team also picked up on the spirit of a friendly 10- to 12-year-old girl, who may have died in the 1970s and whose name could be Janet. She has long, dark brown hair, giggles a lot and "haunts Universal Studios as a whole."

Several employees have reported seeing the little girl running through the grounds. Says Smoller, who channeled the little girl: "They've gone up to her and asked, 'Are you lost? Do you need help?' And then she disappears in front of them."

* Occidental Studios, 201 N. Occidental Blvd., Hollywood

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