1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90802
Year Docked: 1967 - still operating
Hollywoodland: Unsolved (S01E10)
Haunted Hollywood Hotels
By Ansley Gordon
Murder, scandal, infidelity, drugs and secrets. If only these walls could talk.
Welcome to the Halloween bonus episode of Hollywoodland: Unsolved: ‘Hollywood’s Most Haunted Hotels’. I’m your host Ansley.
I must warn you that this episode may be frightening to listeners under the at of 13 so listener digression is advised.
Hollywood is a city build on history, glamor and scandal. With so many iconic monuments so accessible, I love learning about the different histories of the places I visit on a daily basis. What I have learned is not only that Los Angeles have some of the most gorgeous hotels, but boy oh boy, do they have quite scandalous histories. So in the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to give you a tour of the some of Hollywood’s most iconic (and haunted) hotels.
Let’s start with the Hollywood Roosevelt. With a booming history and gorgeous architecture, the Roosevelt Hotel is one of the most recognizable spots in Hollywood. Located almost directly across from the Chinese theatre on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this haunted Hollywood hotel was built in 1926 and named after President Roosevelt. It is the oldest continually operating Los Angeles Hotel and just got a major facelift in recent years. Located at the 7000 Block of Hollywood Blvd, the Roosevelt Hotel cost $2.5 million ($34.5 million today) to complete and opened on May 15, 1927.
Entering the hotel through large double doors on Hollywood Boulevard across the street from the iconic Chinese Theater, guests are immediately greeted with a rich Spanish-style two story lobby, hand-painted beams, large sitting area and bar. The room is dark and has a moody but upscale feel. It is a stark contrast to the vintage Hollywood glamor the outdoor pool boasts.
The hotel had 300 rooms and suites, multiple ball and conference rooms, as well as all of the modern amenities (bars and nightclubs, rooftop deck, wifi and even babysitting services).
Some of the hotels famous guests include Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable. The first Academy awards were held at the Roosevelt in 1929 and the hotel became known for hosting many celeb parties and premiers (I was just there for the Marshall premier earlier this month). Rooms at this iconic Hollywood Hotel start at about $300 and boast a gorgeous “you-should-be-seen-here” pool with Tropicana Pool Side Bar.
People claim the ghost of movie star Cliff Montgomery still walk the halls of the Roosevelt and has even been heard practicing his trumpet and walking the 9th floor. Another ghost that’s said to haunt the Roosevelt is Marilyn Monroe. She frequented the hotel in her modeling days and it’s said that she did her very first modeling shoot at the pool of the hotel. Guests claim to have seen her in a number of mirrors through the hotel, specifically in suite 1200 – her old room. There are also stories of security guards seeing “guests” enjoying themselves in the pool on security cameras – but when the tapes are watched back – no one is there. (http://bit.ly/2zAPrK4)
Moving from Hollywood to West Hollywood – let’s look another notable haunted Hollywood Hotel is the Chateau Marmount. Converted into a hotel in the 1930’s (http://bit.ly/2y2cGPi) this gorgeous castle-like structure is still a well-known spot full of Hollywood glamor. Famously know for banning Lindsay Lohan in 2012 (http://dailym.ai/2xUNCKP) this is probably one of the most infamous Hollywood Hotels. Located off of the glamorous Sunset Strip, the Chateau Marmot didn’t originally open as a hotel, but as LA’s first earthquake proof apartment building. It was converted into a hotel in the 30’s and has remained operating as one since. This hotel has a reputation full of misbehavior and scandal with head of Colombia pictures, Harry Cohen, telling two young stars “if you must get in trouble, do it at the chateau marmont.” Rooms at the Chateau start at just over $550.
As far as hauntings go - John Belushi of Saturday Night Live who famously overdosed in Bungalow 3 is said to haunt the halls of the Chateau Marmont. According to a report by the Travel Channel QUOTE “The most notorious incident occurred in 1999, when a family temporarily moved into Bungalow 3 while their house was being renovated. The family’s 2-year old son was often found laughing and giggling by himself. When asked what he was laughing at, he would respond, "The funny man." When his mother was leafing through a book of celebrity guests of Chateau Marmont, the boy pointed to John Belushi and exclaimed, "The funny man!"” END QUOTE (http://bit.ly/1KL3I4j) oohhhhhh! Creepy.
Head back to Hollywood – just a few blocks away from the Roosevelt Hotel is Another apartment building turned hotel. The Knickerbocker. Well, apartment turned hotel turned assisted living center, I should say. Located in the heart of Hollywood at 1714 Ivar Avenue, the building opened as apartments in 1925 and then was opened as a hotel in 1929. The knickerbocker was said to have hosted a number of celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Joe DeMaggio as well as being the backdrop to Frances Farmer’s famous dramatic arrest. Harry Houdini’s widow did her tenth séance to contact the dead magician on the rooftop of the then-hotel on Halloween night in 1936.
Another tragedy to strike the Knickerbocker happened in 1962 when MGM costume designer Irene Gibbs checked into a room under a false name and attempted to slit her wrists. When that failed to end her life, she then jumped to her death out of a 14th floor window. Allegedly her body was found on top of a hotel awning later that night. Yikes.
According to a Curbed Los Angeles article QUOTE “It's alleged that Monroe stuck around post-mortem and haunts the the ladies' room; the bar is taken by the ghost of Rudolph Valentino. A maintenance worker told The Hollywood Reporter last year that a woman who threw herself off the roof also continues to haunt the Knickerbocker (since converted to senior apartments). "Many have seen her. When I work in the basement, shadows go by and doors close and open by themselves." He might have been referring to dress-designer-to-the-stars Irene (aka Mrs. Irene Gibbons), who threw herself off the eleventh floor of the building in 1962, according to an Los Angeles Times report from November 16 of that year. Who's not haunting the Knickerbocker? Harry Houdini. His wife tried for a decade to contact him via an annual séance on the roof, but he never made an appearance.” END QUOTE (http://bit.ly/2y2cGPi)
As the ‘60’s rolled on and Hollywood began to detreated, the Knickerbocker followed suit and and soon closed its doors as a hotel. It not stands as an assisted living center about a block away from the Capital Records building in Hollywood.
Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles stands The Melliniman Biltmore Hotel. The Biltmore Hotel has seen as many celebrities as it has scandals - you might remember it as being the place where Elizabeth Short was last scene. It has held the Oscars, democratic national conventions, premiers, underground nightclubs and is home to a number of mysterious circumstances. Located at 506 S Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, this Los Angeles landmark as 683 guest rooms, a historical pool and spa, full gym and large workspace with multiple meeting rooms and multiple dining options. Built in 1921 the hotel cost over 10 million dollars to construct (http://bit.ly/1AYbDce).
The hotel is still in operation today and is designated as a historical-cultural landmark.
When researching the hotel, one of the tops hits I got on google was a trip adviser review with the title “haunted” with 5 exclamation marks. I have to read it to you because it is so interesting – QUOTE “I stayed here for 1st time in mid September. I chose it for the charm and knew going in that the building would be old and not updated based on reading reviews. It was not the cleanest but it wasn’t filthy either and was not the run of the mill hotel. Stayed 4 nights. Felt creepy the minute I got there. 3rd night woke with bed shaking and saw blue orb size of a basketball and a dark cloud above my bed which hovered there for 15 minutes. I was alone and scared and so began to pray. I have never seen a ghost or anything of the sort before in my life. Found out later the place has reputation of being haunted. That weekend I also found out that they had a convention of people who seek to locate demons and ghosts so maybe they brought them in. This experience has changed me. I still feel fear as I know these things now exist.The food and the service was excellent. Walls thin and could hear EVERYTHING outside. Not peaceful and quite at all as hear everything downtown as if windows were open.”
Thank you Sue B for that insightful review – I will make sure to go for dinner, but not stay the night!
Now let’s move to West LA – the Beverly hills hotel and the Hotel Bel Air. Both exude luxury and have histories full of Hollywood gossip.
According to the website for the Beverly Hills Hotel QUOTE “Like Hollywood itself, the history of The Beverly Hills Hotel is a 20th-century tale of glamour, riches and romance. The celebrity hotel in Los Angeles was built in 1912, before there was even a city called Beverly Hills. Hoping to ignite a land rush, developer Burton Green, President of the Rodeo Land and Water Company, bought land once owned by the Mexican government in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains.” End Quote. (http://bit.ly/2gCoA94) Rooms at the Beverly Hills Hotel start at about $600 bucks (yikes) and the palm-leaf-and-pink style of the hotel has made it as famous as some of its guests.
While this hotel isn’t haunted (per se), it has been the backdrop for a number of Hollywood parties, meltdowns and movie shoots. Celebrity citing’s are a norm there and the décor is iconic.
As one journalist at the New York Post put it “The Beverly Hills hotel is where you go to be seen, the Hotel Bel Air is where you got to hide out.” (http://nyp.st/1jVWvWB)
Another notable Westside Los Angeles hotel is the luxurious Hotel Bel Air. According to the Huffington Post the hotel sits on 18 acres in Bel Air and QUOTE “developer Joseph Drown envisioned a coral-hued oasis, an “elegant pastoral hotel hideaway” complete with pool, Spanish Colonial architecture, lush gardens, a lake to go with them and swans to go with that.” END QUOTE
As with its sister hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, there isn’t much on the scandals that have happened at the Hotel Bel Air (they want to keep up their this-is-a-place-where-secrets-stay reputation). Rooms start at about 500 bucks at this secluded star-studded hotel and the hotel features a luxury gym, fancy restaurants and gorgeous foliage around the grounds.
Entering this oasis through lush gardens – this hotel is the epitome of luxury with. As far as sandals go – Misha Barton pulled a bit of a Li-Lo when her credit card was denied at the Hotel Bel Air and she was kicked out. Whoops. This is also the spot where the nanny that had an affair with Ben Affleck hid after the scandal broke – not a bad place to be held up, if you ask me.
I want to add one bonus haunted Hollywood Hotel that is not quite in Hollywood, but is definitely a hotel and is definitely haunted. The Queen Mary. (I added this one after the map was finished, so it’s not on there – but I wanted to share it with you guys).
Built in the 1930’s, the Queen Mary is a massive ship docked in the Long Beach Harbor. I recently stayed there for a film festival (for two night) and everyone who worked on the ship had multiple haunting stories.
The massive ship with 3 black and red steam funnels, is about 1.5 times the size of the titanic and was a very active ship until it locked in the Long Beach Harbor in the 60’s. It’s last voyage was from Southampton on Halloween 1967 to Long Beach, CA where it is still docked today. The massive ship features multiple ballrooms, restaurants and bars. The ship is known to be haunted and event does Paranormal Ship Walks and Dining with the Spirit.
This place is so haunted there is a whole site dedicated to the “Queen Mary Ghost Cam” (I had to close the browser because the images were freaking me out! But I will put the link in the show notes to you guys can see it - http://bit.ly/2gzBHHT) The ship is massive and so old that there are all kinds of unexplained noises and creaking. While we were there
According to a website on the hauntings QUOTE “During her 60-year history, the Queen Mary was the site of 49 reported deaths, so there are plenty of potential spirits to haunt her hallways. Reported hauntings include a young crewman in the engine room, swimmers in the first-class pool, a man in black, and a woman in blue. In the Hotel Queen Mary, Room B340 is said to be one of the most haunted places on the ship.” (http://bit.ly/2le0uX9)
While we were there we learned about room B340 – the most haunted room on the ship – and according to Curbed LA’s writeup on the Queen Mary there are a number of haunted spots on the ship. QUOTE “Ghosts have been spotted in the Queen Mary's engine room ("Door 13" has crushed a couple of people to death), in the first class swimming pool (unused for decades, women have been spotted in 1930s bathing suits wandering the decks; people have also seen a young girl with a teddy bear), the second class swimming pool (another little girl who's said to have drowned), the Queen's Salon (a young woman in evening dress), and several of the first-class state rooms (a 1930s man, as well as lights, water running, phones ringing), and the third-class children's playroom (a baby crying).” (http://bit.ly/2zOBYzi)
If you want more episode like this – based on Hollywood’s history and not as much on scandal – let me know! Tweet me at HollywoodlandPC or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As per usual, complete list of references is included in the show notes and on the website.
All elements of Hollywoodland: Unsolved are produced by me with graphics and maps by Brian Balzerini and music by my amazing father.
Sources: http://bit.ly/2zAPrK4 | http://bit.ly/2zDrmlE | http://bit.ly/2y2cGPi | http://dailym.ai/2xUNCKP | http://bit.ly/2y2cGPi | http://bit.ly/1AYbDce | http://bit.ly/2gCoA94 | http://nyp.st/1jVWvWB | http://bit.ly/2zOBYzi | http://bit.ly/1KL3I4j