Image: Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera
John Springer Collection  /  CORBIS
Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif., has been tagged "Universal Horror" because of the series of scary movies produced there. Universal's Stage 28 was originally built for the production of the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney, who is said to wander the studio.
updated 10/30/2008 9:15:29 AM ET 2008-10-30T13:15:29

Hollywood is an excellent spot for ghost hunting.

From scorned starlets to personable pets, some of Tinseltown's most famous faces are still haunting the town, decades after their deaths.

Take Culver Studios, on West Washington Boulevard in Culver City, Calif. Stagehands have reported seeing a ghostly figure resembling Thomas Ince, the silent filmmaker and founder of the studio, roaming the catwalks. Ince supposedly died from indigestion on the yacht owned by newspaperman William Randolph Hearst. However, witnesses claim Hearst actually shot Ince in a case of mistaken identity. Legend has it that Hearst mistook Ince for comedian Charlie Chaplin who he was convinced was having an affair with his mistress, actress Marion Davies. Many suspect Ince haunts the Culver's hall, seeking revenge for his untimely death.

Laurie Jacobson, author of Hollywood Haunted: A Ghostly Tour of Filmland, explains that ghost stories are based on very human emotions. Ghosts acting on feelings like anger or deceit makes them even more frightening and real.

And, of course, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned murder to fashion a restless spirit.

The silent film actress Virginia Rappe is buried in the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the resting place for many stars of the silver screen. If you go near her grave, you may hear sounds of sobbing. Rappe was allegedly violently raped by the comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle at the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco in 1921. She died a few days later. Although Arbuckle was eventually acquitted of murder charges, the scandal ruined his career, and Rappe’s expressive spirit seems to remain in eternal turmoil.

Put a little pep in your step when you pass by Rappe's resting place. "People who were murdered are seeking revenge," warns Jacobson.

Other actors seemingly take their most famous roles with them. Consider Lon Chaney, the actor renowned as "The Man with a Thousand Faces." One of Chaney's signature roles was as the Phantom in Universal Studio's 1925 production of The Phantom of the Opera. And it seems that Chaney cannot let go of the part. Chaney has been spotted lurking around Stage 28, where the film was partially produced, wearing his black Phantom cape. It is said that crewman attempting to work on the studio have experienced mysterious — sometimes fatal — accidents.

Image: Hollywood Forever Cemetery
David Mcnew  /  Getty Images
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the resting (and haunting) place of many stars of the silver screen. One famous phantom is early 20th century newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst who is said to visit the grave of his mistress, Marion Davies.
Many struggling actors and actresses say they would die to become famous, and some of them actually do. Welsh actress Peg Entwistle moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s to find her fame in film. Unfortunately, Entwistle's career didn't exactly take off. Distressed, she climbed to the top of the "H" in Hollywood sign looming over the city and threw herself off, dying on impact.

After her death, Entwistle made national headlines as the "Hollywood Sign Girl." And Entwistle seems to enjoy her fame, dead or not. There have been many reports of a beautiful, but sad, blonde dressed in 1930s clothing wandering around the Hollywood sign.

Not every ghost story is ghastly. For a more cheerful apparition, visit the L.A. Pet Cemetery, the final resting spot for many famous furry friends. One of these is 1920s Italian actor Rudolph Valentino's Great Dane, Kabar. It is said if you walk by Kabar’s grave, you may receive a friendly lick from this spectral hound.

Searching for ghosts in Tinseltown will not only give you the heebie jeebies, but a bit of Hollywood history as well.

"The retelling of stories is very a powerful thing," says Jeff Belanger, author of Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. And storytelling is what Hollywood is all about.

© 2012

Photos: Haunted destinations

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  1. Bran Castle

    Bran Castle, Dracula's castle, in fog, Transylvania. (Gavin Quirke / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. The Myrtles Plantation

    Now a bed and breakfast, this antebellum estate northwest of Baton Rouge has been called "America's Most Haunted Home." Reported phenomena include an oil portrait whose features become animated, a "bloody handprint" on the adjacent wall, and doors that open and close by themselves. (Courtesy of The Myrtles Plantation) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Pfister Hotel

    Built in 1893, the Pfister is the most regal address in Milwaukee, Wis., having hosted every U.S. president since William McKinley and scores of celebrities. But rumors abound that late at night, the spirit of hotel founder Charles Pfister, who died in 1927, arrives to check in. Some guests report hearing strange noises and having paranormal experiences. (Morry Gash / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Alcatraz

    The former maximum security facility on an island in San Francisco Bay was once home to Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. It is no longer used as a prison, but visitors and tour guides have claimed to hear screams, slamming cell doors, and footsteps. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Amityville house

    The house at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York, gained infamy in a best-selling book and several movies. Former owners reported creaking noises, voices, the music of a full marching band in the middle of the night, foul odors, and a black, shapeless apparition. (Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Edinburgh Castle

    This ancient stronghold overlooking Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions. It is reputed to have many ghosts, including a drummer who only appears when the castle is about to be attacked, and a piper who disappeared in the tunnels underneath it. (Jonathan Smith  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Paris Catacombs

    In the 1800s, Paris’s cemeteries were coming dangerously close to being filled, so some bodies were moved to tunnels that had been dug beneath the city by workers quarrying for building materials. Bones and skulls are stacked up throughout the Catacombs, and visitors have reported strange voices. (Fred De Noyelle / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Hotel Chelsea

    A familiar haunt for artists and bohemians in the Chelsea district of New York City since it was built in 1883, the Hotel Chelsea still puts up guests today ... if they don’t mind sharing accommodations with the reputed ghosts of former residents Dylan Thomas, Eugene O’Neill, and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Eastern State Penitentiary

    Located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, this prison was designed to encourage solitude, supposedly helping prisoners open themselves up to God. But it is said that many went mad instead ... which may explain the eerie noises that have been reported since it closed. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Hotel del Coronado

    In 1892, a young woman checked into this luxury hotel on California’s San Diego Bay to meet her husband. He never arrived, and a few days later, she was found dead on the hotel steps. Since then, guests and staff have noticed the pale figure of a young lady in a black lace dress.... (Nathan Hughes) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Inverary Castle

    It is said that the ghost of a harpist who was hanged in 1644 for peeping at the lady of the house can be seen wandering this castle in western Scotland, and can be heard playing every day in its library. The castle is home to the 13th Duke of Argyll today, but sometimes opens its doors to brave visitors. (Graeme Cornwallis / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. New Orleans

    The Big Easy’s French Quarter is well-known to tourists for its hot jazz and spicy food. But New Orleans is also the historic center of voodoo traditions that African-Americans brought to Louisiana during the days of the slave trade. Although those customs were suppressed by slave owners, they linger on today. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Petzow Castle

    This 18th-century castle near Potsdam in eastern Germany is a hotel and restaurant today ... but its corridors harbor a dark history involving murderous barons. (Sven Kaestner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Forks, Washington

    Michael Gurling, right, of the Forks, Wash., Chamber of Commerce, talks about the bonfire location on a beach in LaPush, Wash., that is portrayed in Stephenie Meyer's wildly successful vampire-themed "Twilight" books and movies. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Point Hicks Lighthouse

    In 1947, the keeper of this historic lighthouse on the eastern coast of Australia mysteriously disappeared. Afterward, many visitors have claimed to hear his hobnail boots at night, and it’s said his ghost continues to keep the tower’s brass doorknobs polished to this day. (Oliver Strewe  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Salem, Massachusetts

    The location of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, dramatized in Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible,” is today a mix of important historical sites, New Age boutiques, and witch-kitsch attractions. The Salem Witch Museum claims to be the most visited one in town. (Ed Young / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Sleepy Hollow

    This picturesque village 30 miles north of New York City was immortalized in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Washington Irving’s classic tale of schoolteacher Ichabod Crane and the fearsome Headless Horseman. Irving implied that the apparition Ichabod saw was a fake, but a number of visitors also have claimed to see the Horseman, supposedly a Hessian trooper whose head was carried off by a cannonball during the Revolutionary War. (Susan Rosenthal / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Stanley Hotel

    This neoclassical hotel in Estes Park, Colo., was the real-life inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” It is named for Freelan O. Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, whose ghost has been reported visiting its billiard room and bar. Guests also complain about children playing in the hallways at night ... even when no children are checked in. (Rob Lee) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Tower of London

    The ghosts of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, just two of hundreds of victims executed on Tower Hill over the Tower of London's bloody 900-year history, are among many that have been seen in what is called England's most haunted building. Legend has it that in 1816, a guard died of fright after seeing an apparition of a bear approaching him. (Scott Barbour / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The White House

    America's most famous residence is the setting for a number of ghost stories, some of which have even made it onto the official White House Web site. The spirit of Abigail Adams supposedly continues to do laundry in the East Room, while the ghost of Dolley Madison has been reported looking down upon the Rose Garden. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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