Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Ghostly Pantages Theater

Howard Hughes in 1940's

Howard Hughes was an American enigma. During the course of his life he made great wealth as an aviator, moviemaker, and inventor. But by the end of his life he had become an odd, sad recluse. Some state that he spent the happiest time of his life in Hollywood—this is why after his death he choose Hollywood to come back to…

Alexander Pantages
Hollywood’s last big glamorous movie house was befittingly named after Alexander Pantages, who created a powerful circuit of theatres across the western United States and Canada. The Hollywood Pantages Theater is the finest representation of art deco décor in the world. In 1949 when Howard Hughes bought RKO Pictures he acquired the Pantages national movie chain as part of the deal.

He set up offices, next to Alexander Pantages and his two sons, on the plush second floor of the Pantages theatre. But by the mid 1950s Hughes—a tyrannical, eccentric millionaire sold all his stock in Hollywood. It was just a short ten years later he went into seclusion from the public for the rest of his life. To this day footsteps are heard in the auditorium of the Pantages Theatre—people still argue whether it is Hughes or Pantages’ ghost who walks around in this area.

In 1967 the Pantages was restored to its original splendor when Pacific Theaters and Nederlander Corporation worked together to turn it into one of American’s premier houses for Broadway touring companies. In the early 1990s one executive assistant to the president of Nederlander Corporation, Karla Rubin, who has offices on the second floor of the theater stated she felt a presence in this area—especially in the conference room which used to house Hughes’s office.

Rubin often feels the temperature drop in this area. She states the offices become very cold even when the air conditioning is not on. She reports that she hears a lot of bumping and banging and that the brass handles on a desk drawers make a clicking sound as if they are being opened. She has felt a cold wind blow through the executive offices and has smelled cigarette smoke. She also has seen an apparition of a very tall man, whom she feels is Hughes, rounding the corner near were the door to Hughes’ office was before the building was remodeled. 

In the 1990s the theater was broken into and vandals damaged the upper balcony area. Tiffany Peterson who has been the house manager for many years states that after this happened the ghost upstairs became very upset. Peterson stated the activity on the second floor increased. Things were heard loudly banging around on a regular basis.

Depiction of Hughes at the end of his life.
Yet another ghost who resides at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre is believed to be a patron who died in the mezzanine in 1932 during a show. Peterson states this ghost started the legend of the “singing woman”. After this woman’s death people started to hear a woman singing when the auditorium was not in use. She is heard both during the day and at night after most have gone home.

Employees of the theatre over the years have developed a theory about why this ghost stays around. They feel that she probably was an aspiring singer when she attended the musical at the theatre in the 1930s. They state that even though she died she now lives out her dream of performing at the Pantages. Over the years she has become more and more confident, in fact recently during a live performance her voice was recorded on a stage microphone—the entire audience heard her singing.

The theatre’s wardrobe lady reported her recent encounter with the singing ghost. She stated that one night she was the last one to leave the theatre. As she walked through the darkened auditorium the emergency exit lights went out. Now in complete darkness she stumbled and fell. In the next moment someone helped her up and firmly guided her toward the door. As she opened this door letting in some light she turned to thank her rescuer but no one was there.

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