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CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

Restless spirits

Tinseltown is full of ghostly tales of screen legends with busy afterlives. Here are three who 'visit' old haunts.

October 31, 2011|Susan King
  • Does Marilyn Monroe haunt the Hollywood Roosevelt?
Does Marilyn Monroe haunt the Hollywood Roosevelt? (Matty Zimmerman / Associated…)

Hollywood legends never die, they just become ghosts.

Or at least that's what some believe.

Reported ghost sightings of celebrities at their old homes or former haunts date to the silent era. That spirited chapter of Hollywood continues today on websites, in books such as "Ghosts of Hollywood" by Marla Brooks and "Ghost Hunter's Guide to Los Angeles" by Jeff Dwyer, and countless paranormal investigation series on cable television, including SyFy's "Ghost Hunters" and Biography's "Celebrity Ghost Stories," which features stars talking about their close encounters of a spirited kind.

It's all become part of the lure, mystique and glamour of Hollywood. Nonbelievers may scoff, but the locations where these supposed hauntings have taken place have been quick to publicize the fact. So in the spirit of Halloween, here's a look at three of Tinseltown's most enduring "apparitions." All three died tragically young, which has fueled the stories of restless spirits.

Rudolph Valentino

The Italian-born silent heartthrob of 1921's "The Sheik" and 1926's "Son of the Sheik" died at age 31 in New York City on Aug. 23, 1926. Though his career was short-lived, his afterlife has endured for 85 years. In fact, according to Hollywood ghost lore, Valentino is one of the busiest spirits in Hollywood; even the ghost of his beloved Great Dane, Kabar, who died three years after his master, has been known to lick hands of those who pass his grave at the L.A. Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, November 01, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
Ghost movies: An Oct. 31 Calendar photo package that accompanied the Classic Hollywood column and highlighted three ghost movies listed Ruth Warrick as a costar of the 1944 film "The Uninvited." It was Ruth Hussey who appeared in that film with Ray Milland and Gail Russell.

Valentino supposedly haunted his Beverly Hills mansion, Falcon Lair, which was bulldozed in 2006. According to ex-wife Natacha Rambova, who maintained that she was in contact with him in the afterlife, Valentino refused to believe he was dead, so he wouldn't leave the premises, visiting the corridors, his bedroom and his stables. Veteran actor Harry Carey claimed to have come into contact with Valentino's ghost after he bought the mansion.

His ghost also supposedly has appeared at a vintage Hollywood apartment complex named Valentino Place that was the site of a speak-easy the actor frequented. Other locations where the ghost of Valentino has been "spotted" include a beach house in Oxnard that was his home during the filming of "The Sheik," a room at the Santa Maria Inn on the Central Coast and the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood.

Valentino is buried in a crypt at Hollywood Forever, and his ghost supposedly has been spotted next door at Paramount, where the actor used to work. According to reports by security guards and others on the lot, Valentino "visits" the studio dressed all in white in his "Sheik" costume.

Marilyn Monroe

The sex symbol, who died tragically in 1962 at age 36 of an overdose of sleeping pills, also tends to make "appearances" in multiple locations, including frequent visits to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the ghost of many a star has been said to appear. Monroe's reflection has often been reported appearing in a full-length mirror that used to grace her cabana, Suite 246. The mirror is now near the elevators in the historical hotel's lower level. And fans believe that a supposed ghost floating above her crypt at Westwood Memorial Park belongs to her.

Montgomery Clift

The four-time Oscar-nominated actor, who died in 1966 at age 45, stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt during the production of "From Here to Eternity," the Oscar-winning best picture for 1953. He must have enjoyed the digs, because he still is staying there, according to paranormal investigators.

Clift rented Room 928 for three months in 1952 and was known to pace up and down the hallway reciting his lines and also practicing the bugle for his role as the ill-fated Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt in the adaptation of James Jones' novel. Some guests say they have heard the sound of a bugle in the hallway; other visitors staying on the ninth floor have gone so far as to check out in the middle of the night, complaining of loud noises emanating from Clift's room -- the really eerie thing was that no one was staying in Clift's room on those occasions.

susan.king@latimes.com

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Here are three of the most spine-tingling movies Hollywood has produced over the decades.

'The Uninvited'

Ray Milland, Gail Russell and Ruth Warrick star in this atmospheric 1944 haunted house thriller.

'The Haunting'

Robert Wise directed this 1963 terrifying ghost tale without a ghost in sight, starring Julie Harris.

'The Innocents'

Deborah Kerr plays a prim governess who believes her charges are possessed by evil spirits in this 1961 version of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw."

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