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Haunted Los Angeles County

Miguel Leonis Adobe, Calabasas, 1960

Miguel Leonis Adobe, Calabasas, built 1844, 1960 photo (modified to nighttime). Courtesy of Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress.

Editor's Note: the Almanac includes the following as legend and folklore - not history. Although some elements in stories may indeed be historical fact, we are unable to verify accounts of paranormal activity. We offer these, along with other stories in Mysterious L.A., only as a part of the cultural fabric of Los Angeles County.

As in all urban areas, there are many locations throughout Los Angeles County that are reported to be locations of paranormal activity. Where there are people, there seem to be spirits of departed people who remain and hang around (or so we are told). Most of these "haunted" locations are privately owned residences and are inaccessible to the public. Here we highlight some of the more famous locations that are more or less open to the public.

Hollywood Park Memorial

Strange lights and sounds have been reported in the vicinity of the Abbey of the Psalms, a mausoleum in Hollywood Park Memorial Cemetery. The mausoleum is said to be haunted by a glowing specter thought to be the late actor Clifton Webb of the original Mr. Belvedere series. Webb died in 1966. He is also said to haunt his old house in the Hollywood Hills.

Source: Mysterious California by Mike Marinacci; Panpipes Press.

The Queen Mary

Lights flicker and doors slam on "G" deck - thought to be the location of the ship’s morgue. A ghost of a middle-aged woman in an old-style swimsuit dives into the empty ship’s swimming pool. A young woman in a mini-skirt paces around the pool area and disappears behind a pillar. Unknown sounds of shouting and splashing have been heard from the deserted poolside deck. A mysterious elegantly dressed woman in white has been seen around the salon’s piano. A ghostly ship’s officer has been seen walking near the ship’s bridge. Lights mysteriously turn on and off, dishes move and utensils vanish from a ship’s gallery where a cook was killed in a brawl when the ship ferried troops during World War II. A mysterious black-bearded man in coveralls has been seen riding the engine room escalator. The engine room seems to be the most haunted location on the ship. Ship’s staff and tour guides have reported strange sounds, chains dangling in mid-air and balls of light moving slowly across the walls. No "ghost" on the Queen Mary has yet been identified.

Tom Hennessy, the late Long Beach Press-Telegram columnist and ghost story skeptic, spent a night near the Queen Mary’s engine room to see for himself. Although he admitted that he could have been skittish and that his mind may have played tricks on him, he reported strange movements of objects, some sort of presence, noises and voices.

Source: Mysterious California by Mike Marinacci; Panpipes Press.

The Leonis Adobe in Calabasas

The Leonis Adobe is now a restored living house museum located in Calabasas. The original portion of the house was built in 1844 and stands today as one of the oldest and last remaining adobes in the San Fernando Valley. Miguel Leonis and his Indian wife, Espiritu, moved into the adobe sometime after acquiring it during the 1850s to 1860s. Miguel was a Basque immigrant who aggressively ranched much of what is now the western part of the San Fernando Valley. He acquired a bad reputation for harshly dealing with anyone believed to be intruding or squating on his land (much of which was actually legally in the public domain). He hauled them to court and jail or allegedly just shot them where he found them. Leonis became one of the most hated men in Los Angeles County. In 1889, Leonis died in a wagon accident, but it was rumored that he had actually been murdered. Under his will, his wife, Espiritu, was left with almost nothing. She was referred to only as his "faithful housekeeper" in the will. This forced her into a nasty, decade-long court fight with Miguel’s relatives over possession of the adobe and lands, trying to prove that she was actually married to Miguel. Litigation over the estate continuted until Espiritu's death in 1906. Her son from a previous marriage moved into the property and sold it sixteen years later in 1922. It was shortly thereafter, when non-Leonis family members moved into the property and began remodeling, that reports of strange and unexplanable noises and untraceable odors began to occur. Some claim to have seen and heard both male and female apparitions in the house and in the area, believed to be Miguel and Espiritu.

In 1962, when the Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Board was established, the adobe was the first site designated as a historic monument. It has been open to the public as a living history museum since 1966. In 1975, the property was listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

Source: Mysterious California by Mike Marinacci; Panpipes Press.

See another "Mysterious L.A." story for Leonis at The Monster of Elizabeth Lake?

The Hollywood Sign

On the night of September 16, 1932, Peg Entwistle, a pretty, 24-year-old aspiring actress from New York, climbed to the top of the letter H of the Hollywood sign (then spelling out "Hollywoodland") in the Hollywood Hills. Having fallen into despair and depression, after seeming to be unable to secure a sucessful acting career in Hollywood's film industry, she had spent the hours before drinking. From the top of the sign, she leapt to her death. The following morning, a hiker found her body, along with a suicide note. According to numerous reports, however, that was not the last of Entwistle to be seen. Since then, residents in the area, hikers and park rangers have reported seeing a women, wearing 1930s-style clothing, slowly and sadly wandering the vicinity. The figure vanishes when approached. Witnesses often reported the scent of gardenias afterwards, said to be Entwistle's preferred fragrance. The figure is believed to be that of Entwistle.

Source: The Ghost of the Hollywood Sign by Stephen Wagner.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, built in 1927, has been reported to be the scene of many ghostly experiences, especially around the time the hotel was refurbished and reopened in 1985 (some suggest the spirits were disturbed). Among the haunted locations in the hotel is room 928 where Montgomery Clift lived for three months while filming From Here to Eternity. There is also a mirror located in the lower level elevator landing where Marilyn Monroe’s sad-faced reflection has allegedly been seen. There were also reports of a cold spot in the Blossom Room that could not be traced to a draft or air conditioner. The reports of unusual events in 1985 became so numerous (such as phone calls from an unfinished room that had not yet had a phone installed), that the Security Manager began to keep a log.

Source: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The White Lady of Elysian Park
Also see: The White Lady of Elysian Park.