Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In Search of Marilyn and Other Dead Celebrities

I grew up across the road from a cemetery and was always in there riding my bike or walking my dog. Many times I'd be roaming the graveyard as the sun disappeared and shadows came to life. Some people say a cemetery after dark is scary, eerie. I find it exciting.

I have always been a little macabre. Maybe it's from watching all those episodes of "The Addams Family." Cousin Itt, Grandmama, and Thing were my favorites. Can you imagine all the fun you'd have if you had an extra hand? Creepy, kooky and all together ooky!

Ghosts totally fascinate me. I look for them everywhere, and in Hollywood celebrity ghosts are lurking in the most unusual places.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is ripe with ghosts. There is a dark-framed mirror that hangs in the lower level elevator landing where people claim to have seen the reflection of Marilyn Monroe (that mirror used to hang in her room at the hotel).

A friend and I sat by that mirror one night waiting for Miss Candle in the Wind to appear. I've never been a Marilyn fan but was curious to see her ghost. We played all sorts of tricks to get her attention. We pretended not to be watching and quickly glanced to see if she was watching us. We even sang a chorus of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend." Still nothing. After more than an hour we gave up.

In the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt, the same room where the first Academy Awards were held, there is a "cold spot" (about 30 inches in diameter) that is supposedly 10 degrees colder than the rest of the room. Psychics believe it's a man wearing black. Maybe it's a Best-Supporting Actor nominee who lost and refuses to leave until he wins the coveted award? Maybe John Edwards could channel him and let him know the awards are now held across the street.

I scoured every inch of the Blossom Room that night and nothing, nada, no cold spot for me. All I got was sweaty.

Did you know that Lon Chaney had been seen sitting on a bus bench on the corner of Hollywood and Vine? Legend has it that once the bench was removed, Chaney never returned.

Did you know that the ghost of Orson Welles has been seen sitting at his favorite table at Sweet Lady Jane's Restaurant? When he's there the scent of cigars and brandy permeate the air. I wonder if it might be the scent of a maple pecan pie that's been left in the oven a bit too long.

The ghost of magician Harry Houdini is rumored to roam the hallways of his former Hollywood Hills home on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. And the ghost of TV's "Superman" George Reeves haunts a Benedict Canyon Drive home where he was found dead from a gunshot. His death was ruled a suicide, but many believe it was murder. Maybe Reeves is there to tell us the ghastly truth?

Ghosts, ghosts, and more ghosts. Sometime soon I hope to visit the Hollywood Park Memorial Cemetery. Lots of celebrities are buried there including Charlie Chaplin Jr., Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks. Actress Virginia Rappe, who died in a huge silent era murderous scandal, is buried there and many report hearing the sound of sobbing near her grave. That I've got to hear!

Shortly after my night at the Roosevelt I had an urge to dye my hair platinum blond, which I did to disastrous results. Later that week I went to a friend's birthday party and found myself purring a seductive "Happy Birthday to You." People just stared at me, scared. To this day no one will mention "the incident."

Do you think Marilyn somehow appeared to them through me? Had she seen me in the mirror and decided to play a little ghost trick? Do I need an emergency session with a psychic, an exorcist, or a therapist?

Though I've since dyed my hair back to brown, I've now become obsessed with America's favorite buxom blonde.

Maybe next Halloween I'll go as Marilyn...

(This article was originally printed in my monthly column in Canyon News.)

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