Monday, September 1, 2014

Lucille Ball’s Ghost

Lucille Ball started her acting career in the movies as a “glamour girl.” Films such as, Ziegfeld Follies in 1946 showcased her beauty.

However, it was her role as Lucy Ricardo in the hit television series I Love Lucy that aired from 1951-56 that she created with her husband Desi Arnaz that highlighted her natural physical ability and genius for comedy. This show made her a huge star.

Episodes from all 3-television sitcoms that Lucille Ball starred in are still shown in syndication around the world--which is a tribute to her talent.

When Lucille Ball died during surgery on April 26, 1989, at the age of 77, she was still living in her home located at 100 North Roxbury Dive in Beverly Hills, California.

Lucille purchased this home when she was married to her first husband Desi Arnaz.

House as it looked when Lucille Ball lived there.
Subsequent owners of this house have reported a number of strange happenings. It is felt Lucille Ball’s ghost haunts the home.

Most of the activity occurs in the attic. It is stated some items that once belonged to this beloved television star remain in boxes in this room.

Lucille‘s ghost is said to be playful but seldom intrusive. It appears she hangs around because she loves her old home.

Her ghost is sometimes impulsive. One recent owner of the Roxbury home stated that her ghost spends a lot of time rearranging furniture and boxes that are stored in the attic.

She has never physically damaged anything but a variety of noises have been reported emulating from the attic. One witness claimed she heard the sounds of a party going on upstairs.

Another witness, a family member of the owners stated she heard the I Love Lucy theme song playing softly in the attic--she heard this song on more than one occasion.

Ball’s presence has always been accepted as being a natural part of the home. When it was suggested to the owner that an exorcism should be performed he stated he could never do that to “Lucy.”

What home looks like today.
The home was put up for sale in 2010.

Lucille Ball’s ghost is also said to haunt the Hart building at Paramount Studios. This studio was once Desilu Studios-- where the I Love Lucy show was produced.

Night watchmen at this studio have reported seeing her spirit in this building’s upper floors. Her present is always surrounded by the scent of a flowery perfume.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rudolph Valentino and the Lady in Black

Many have heard of the Lady in Black who was seen at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

It was here where a mysterious woman wearing all black was seen placing a bouquet of red roses by Rudolph Valentino’s tomb each year on the anniversary of his death.

But what most do not know is when this woman died it didn’t prevent her from returning to Valentino’s tomb.

Ditra Flame

Ditra Flame’s mother was a good friend of Rudolph Valentino a silent screen star and America’s first sex symbol.

Rudolph Valentino
Ditra Flame * and Valentino became friends when she was a young child. She was sickly and spent many days confined to a hospital bed.

Her mother devastated by her daughter’s condition encouraged Valentino to visit Ditra in the hospital.

He did exactly this. Each time Valentino would visit Detri he would bring a single red rose. After giving her the rose he would sit by her bedside, talk to her and hold her hand.

Ditra loved how Valentino’s smelled of cologne and the tobacco he smoked. As Ditra grew up she never forget Valentino’s kindness or a promise she made to the actor.

During one visit Valentino had said to Flame, “If I die before you do, please come and stay with me. I don’t want to be alone either, promise you will come and talk to me.”

As it turned out Valentino did die before Ditra. He passed when he was only 31 years old. I wrote about Valentino’s tragic death and where his ghost is seen in another post here.

*  Ditra’s last name Flame is pronounced with two syllables “Fla--may.”

Lady in Black

Ditra was heartbroken when Valentino died. She remembered her promise and was determined to keep her word.

Starting in 1926, Flame went to Hollywood Memorial, dressed all in black. She placed red roses at Valentino’s tomb.

Ditra Flame in Aug. of 1953
For years, Flame returned to the cemetery grief-stricken holding red roses and wearing all black on the anniversary of Valentino’s death. Her visits started to attract media attention.

By 1947 this attention annoyed Ditra so much she finally stepped forward and told her story. She hoped this would allow her some peace but she was mistaken.

In 1954, with a media circus surrounding her visit, Flame decided she would not return the next year.

In 1977, minus her black garb but still holding red roses, she returned once more.

Ditra Flame died in 1984, her tombstone in San Jacinto, California simply reads, “Lady in Black.”

Several women wearing black in recent years have continued to visit Valentino’s grave to place red roses but Ditra Flame’s ghost has been seen kneeling at his tomb since her death.

Flame’s Ghost

Witnesses have reported after seeing her ghost there are always fresh red roses in the wall vases that mark Valentino’s tomb.

Here is one 1st person account.

Joan drove to meet a friend for lunch in Los Angeles. Her friend cancelled but not wanting to return to her home in the San Fernando Valley during rush hour she decided to explore Hollywood.

On impulse she drove to Hollywood Forever Cemetery, she had heard several stars were buried there.

Once in the cemetery she made her way to the Cathedral Mausoleum. She wanted to see the final resting place of Rudolph Valentino.

When she entered she found the marble filled hall was deserted. Despite being alone she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching her.

Rudolph Valentino Tomb
She walked down the hall and found Valentino’s name on a plaque. The two vases that hung on either side were empty. For some reason this made her feel sad. She ran her hands across the raised letters and turned to leave.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw a dark shadow but as she glanced to the side it disappeared. She stopped to see if she could hear footfalls but all was quiet.

Becoming afraid she proceeded toward the entrance but stopped when she saw the shadow once more. As it brushed passed her she felt it push her arm.

Again, when she looked nothing was there.

Mausoleum Hallway,
arrow points to tomb
Curiosity overtook her fear and she headed back toward Valentino’s tomb. The vases that had been empty now both held long-stemmed roses.

Not believing what she was seeing she reached out to touch one of them to confirm it was real.

When she returned home she did some research and discovered others had seen a phantom mourner at Valentino’s tomb--they felt this was the ghost of Ditra Flame.

It left her wondering, was the shadow she had seen and felt Ditra? Was she the one who left the roses? 

Here are photos taken while Ditra was still alive of other women pretending to be the real Lady in Black.

Click to enlarge.

Friday, August 29, 2014

England’s Haunted Wymering Manor

This manor house, the oldest in Portsmouth, England, has more than its fair share of ghosts and legends.

The original Wymering Manor house dates back to 1042. One of the first owners of the manor was King Edward the Confessor. Then after the Battle of Hastings it fell into the hands of King William the Conqueror who retained it until 1084.

The oldest parts of the current manor house date back to the 16th century. Over the centuries it has had many owners and has been continuously renovated. Modern suburbs surround Wymering today.

Ghostly activity has been reported in the house for several centuries. Because of this, several U.K. paranormal groups have investigated it.

Here are just a few of the ghost stories that are told by people who have owned or stayed at Wymering.

A Cousin Returns

One owner, Thomas Parr was awakened one night to see the apparition of his cousin standing at the foot of his bed. She happily chatted with him about various members of their family that were deceased.

Before she faded away she fondly told him goodbye and mentioned that the family was getting ready to greet their Aunt Em. The following morning Parr received a telegram that his Aunt Em had died during the night.

One elderly relative that visited Parr at Wymering had an irrational fear the manor would be “invaded by burglars” so she kept her bedroom door locked as she slept.

One morning she awoke and was surprised to see her door unlocked and wide open.

Singing Nuns

Another owner of Wymering, Leonard Metcalf who died in 1958 reported several strange occurrences while living at the manor.

On several occasions he saw a group of nuns crossing the manor’s hall. He watched as they chanted to the clear sound of music. At the time, he did not know that the Sisterhood of St. Mary of Virgin had visited the house in the mid 1800s.

Metcalf’s bedroom in the house is known as the “Panelled Room.” This room is considered the creepiest room in the manor. One day while standing at a washbasin Metcalf felt a hand on his shoulder when he spun around no one was there.

Others who have stayed or just visited the room all report they become anxious and wanted to leave immediately.

A couple that lived in the manor also used this room as their bedroom. They stated they often felt fearful.

The Bleeding Nun

Attic Room
One ghost that has been seen for centuries is another nun. She is seen in the hallway outside the attic bedroom, which is directly above the “Panelled Room.”

It is said her hands drip blood as she stares down the narrow staircase that leads to the attic.

Reckless Roddy

Wymering’s most infamous legend involves Sir Roderick of Portchester.

Newlyweds were staying at the manor when the husband was called away unexpectedly. Reckless Roddy hearing the bride was left alone, went to Wymering to try and seduce her.

The husband returned earlier than expected and chased Reckless Roddy from the home. As he tried to mount his horse the husband killed him.

The legend states whenever a newly married couple stays at Wymering they can hear Reckless Roddy’s horse galloping down the lane.

Leonard Metcalf stated that shortly after his marriage following WWll he and his wife were awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of this horse galloping away.

Sir Francis Austin

Another ghost seen at Wymering is the distinguished Naval officer who was the brother of novelist Jane Austin.

Sir Francis is buried at the nearby Wymering Parish Churchyard. Many witnesses over the years have claimed he haunts the old manor.

One paranormal group states they recorded a video of a tall man they think might be Austin.

Sir Francis Austin

Investigation Results

Various paranormal groups that have investigated Wymering report sightings of apparitions of both men and women descending the manor’s staircases.

Light anomalies have been photographed and cold spots are felt. One video captured what looks like a monk standing by one window.

One investigator reported being slapped on the chest.

Others have recorded disembodied voices, singing, and a piano playing--there is no piano in the manor house today.

A baby has been heard crying and the sounds of children laughing have been recorded.

Poltergeist activity has also been reported.

One group claims there are at least 18 ghosts at Wymering.

The manor has sat unused since 2006. It is up for sale for $600,000.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

San Diego's El Campo Santo Cemetery

This haunting is the result of old graves being disturbed.

El Campo Santos Cemetery, 1888.

In 1849 in San Diego, California the Catholic Church established a cemetery called “El Campo Santo”--The Holy Field. It was used through 1880.

This cemetery was placed in the area that would one day be San Diego’s historic Old Town. It is located just a couple of blocks from the Whaley House--which I wrote about here.

This cemetery eventually had 477 graves. Several of the founding fathers of San Diego are buried at El Campo.

Today this cemetery is only a quarter of its original size. As the city grew part of the cemeteries’ land was claimed for new development, which included: roads, buildings and homes.

With this expansion some graves were moved, unfortunately others were not.

In 1894 a horse-drawn streetcar was built through part of the cemetery, which later became San Diego Avenue. In 1942, this road was paved over leaving many graves under the street, sidewalk and buildings.

In former posts, here and here I mention it is never a good idea to build over existing graves. This often results in problems for the living.

A Renovation

In 1933, the San Diego Historical Society renovated this old graveyard. From one historic photo and varies descriptions they endeavored to accurately restore the cemetery.

An adobe brick wall was built around what remains of the cemetery. Markers were reset--only 6 of the original broken iron and wooden paling enclosures remained.

It was at this time that the surrounding businesses and homes started to officially report that the area was haunted.

In 1993, equipment that uses radar to penetrate underground determined that there are at least 20 graves under San Diego Avenue.

Just outside the El Campo Santo’s front gate there are small brass circular plaques that read “Grave Site” embedded in to the sidewalk and street. Just above the street is a plaque that reads:

“Remembering the more than 20 men, women and children who lie buried beneath San Diego Avenue.”

Ironically, only one person--a state Assembly member--was deemed worthy enough to be exhumed and re-buried within the cemetery walls.

Another 13 graves, mostly of children were found under the pavement on Linwood Street.

Restless Souls

For years, businesses and residents in the Old Town area that surrounds this old cemetery have reported poltergeist activity.

This activity is always described as “annoying.” Most often people report problems with their electricity. Lights, appliances and alarm systems often malfunction.

Many people who have visited and walked through El Campo report feeling freezing cold spots. Others that park their cars in front of the graveyard report they will not start when they return.

People that live and work in the area also report seeing a variety of apparitions within and outside the cemetery walls.

Sometimes these ghosts are mistaken for costumed actors promoting a local business.

Ghosts are seen gliding across the graves in the cemetery and groups of entities have been seen standing near the cemetery's walls.

Many of these ghosts are only seen from the waist up. When approached they disappear quickly.

One specific ghost that has been seen on several occasions is that of a gravedigger.

Many ghosts reported are described as Native American or Hispanic, which fits with the history of San Diego’s Old Town.

A Joint Effort

In the 1990s, during a three-year period, the activity became so pronounced that local residents and businesses came together and paid for an exorcism of the graveyard and surrounding area.

This settled the activity down but it is said apparitions are still seen--especially the gravedigger and a group of ghost children.

El Campos Santos Cemetery is a California Historic Landmark. It is located at the 2400 block of San Diego Avenue. Two notable interments at this graveyard are:

James W. Robinson known as Yankee Jim--died in 1852. He was a French Canadian Western Outlaw who was sentenced to death by hanging for stealing the only rowboat in San Diego Bay. He is thought to haunt Whaley House.

Antonio Garra who died in 1852. He was a Native American chief sentenced to death for organizing an Indian confederation to drive Americans out of California. He was executed at his gravesite, by a firing squad consisting of 12 men. It is believed he is buried underneath what is now San Diego Avenue.