Monday, December 12, 2011
In less than a week I'll be traveling home to Los Angeles for the first time in about nine months. I'm very excited to see my family and friends again, and just as excited to strike out and explore my city after dark. I want to highlight a few of the haunted sections of my city before I get home. This is just a taste of the weird that LA has to offer. We are home to Hollywood, after all. Let's get started!
What goes on here?
First on the list is the illustrious Griffith Park, a staple in the LA community and one of the biggest nature areas we have to offer. Home to the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles Zoo and Gene Autry Museum, the park started off as a ranch in the 1700's belonging to Vincente Feliz and family. It was bought in the 1880's by Griffith J. Griffith (you read that right), and turned into an Ostrich farm. Griffith hoped to lure people to Los Angeles County and make it prosper, but not very many moved to the area. One of the reasons is speculated to have been that the area was haunted by Felis himself. The park was donated by Griffith in 1896 to the city of Los Angeles. Since then it has sprouted two zoos (one now abandoned), a world-renowned Observatory, the Greek Theatre, famous Hollywood sign and many trails for running, hiking and picnicking. A rich history has contributed to many odd things happening in and around the park.
Before he died, Vincente Feliz bequeathed the majority of his wealth not to his family, but to a man called Don Antonio Coronel. It is not certain whether he did this of his own accord, or was manipulated, but either way, the land did not pass down to his children. After Feliz' death, his niece put a curse on the land, the lawyer and Coronel and proceeded to drop dead. After that, Coronel was shot dead, and his family suffered from disease and most of them perished from that and their huge loss of money.
Unfortunately most of the story isn't true, but there is no proof that a curse was not placed on Griffith Park. Many people have seen an apparition floating around the grounds that is said to be Feliz himself. Go out for a run at dusk and you just might catch a glimpse of the first owner of the park.
There is also the legend of the haunted picnic table. The legend says that on October 31, 1976 two lovers were crushed by a falling tree while they were.. ahem, gettin' down, if you know what I mean. It's not for certain if the place is actually haunted, but the legend still persists, so perhaps there are spooky voices, chills in the air and static on car radios.
(Griffith J. Griffith, or President Roosevelt?)
The second location is not far from the Park. It is the equally-famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery. A gorgeous, well-planned and frankly huge cemetery in the middle of Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood Forever is home to just about any and every celebrity. It boasts the graves of Douglas Fairbanks to Johnny Ramone. It's even home to Griffith J. Griffith.
One of the more famous graves, and subject of two hauntings, is that of Valentino. Valentino was a very successful silent film star, and often called the "latin lover" of cinema. He met an untimely death at age 31, however, suffering from appendicitis, and complications from its removal which lead to pleuritis. His female fans especially were devastated. One seems to be more hurt than all the others. Valentino is said to be visited on the anniversary of his death by a "lady in black." She walks through the cemetery, stops at his grave, and lays two long-stemmed roses in front of the headstone. It's reported she's seen every night, but I can't find much else on the topic.
Another fan of Valentino's still stops by to see his master long after death. It has been reported that Valentino's dog comes to the grave after dark every once in a while, still loyal to his owner from beyond the grave.
Clifton Webb, the original "Mr. Belvedere," is reported as strolling in the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum. People have witnessed the smell of cologne, cold drafts and low voices inside the mausoleum.
And last, but sure not least, is the ghost of Virginia Rappe. A young starlet, she had just signed a contract with "Fatty" Arbuckle when she died suddenly at age 26. Arbuckle was accused of rape, but found not guilty, but the trauma Rappe went through the night she died could give credence to the cold spot felt above her headstone, or the whispering voices some report.
There is so much more to LA, that this will become a multiple-parter. I hope you enjoyed part one, and will go experience some of these places for yourself! I recommend a jog through Griffith Park just before dusk, and then a trip over to Hollywood Forever to see if you can catch a glimpse of the Lady in Black.
As always, if you'd like to know more, click the links below!
(Info and pictures are credited to the websites below)
This is an incredible article on the history and corruption of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Check it out if you've got the time!