Celebrity & Infamous Ghosts of America

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard vintage postcard.

“What the average man calls Death, I believe to be merely the beginning of Life itself. We simply live beyond the shell. We emerge from out of its narrow confines like a chrysalis. Why call it Death? Or, if we give it the name Death, why surround it with dark fears and sick imaginings? I am not afraid of the Unknown.”
— From Rudolph Valentino’s diary.

After living in the limelight with attention from the press and fans, some of our nation’s famous and infamous celebrities are seemingly not ready to move on. So, if you never had the opportunity to meet them in real life, according to these tales, you might still catch a glimpse of them as they continue to haunt the places of their pasts.

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball – When Lucille Ball died during surgery on April 26, 1989, at the age of 77, she was still living in her home at 1000 North Roxbury Drive. Since her death, she is said to have remained in the home that experienced several strange happenings. New owners tell of unexplained broken windows, loud voices from an empty attic, and furniture and other objects moving inside the house.

Bonnie and Clyde – This pair of notorious outlaws of the 1930s were finally tracked down and killed on May 23, 1934, outside of Arcadia, Louisiana. Their bullet-ridden car was then towed into town with their bodies still in the vehicle. Today, a marker stands at the site where they died and is said to be haunted by the pair. Photographs taken of the marker often come out with ghostly forms.

Aaron Burr – Burr was the third Vice President under Thomas Jefferson, but he is not known so much for that as he is for a duel with Alexander Hamilton. After killing Hamilton in the duel, Burr was placed on trial for treason but was acquitted. Today, Burr is said to haunt the One If By Land, Two If By Sea Restaurant in New York City. Located in what was once Burr’s carriage house at 17 Barrow Street. Both visitors and staff alike have observed dishes that fly of their own accord and have had chairs pulled out from under them by unseen hands. Also said to haunt the restaurant is Burr’s daughter, Theodosia Burr Alston, who vanished off the coast of North Carolina en route to visit her father in New York.

Al Capone – The notorious Chicago gangster who led the city’s illegal activities during the Prohibition era has been rumored to haunt a couple of locations. He is said to appear when people are disrespectful while visiting his family plot at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. Also, at Alcatraz, where Capone was one of the first inmates, spectral banjo music was often heard inside his old cell.

Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney, Sr. – Remembered primarily as the pioneer actor of horror films during the silent film era, Chaney died in 1930. Today, his spirit is said to haunt Sound Stage 28 at Universal Studios. This stage was used for the film Phantom of the Opera, and Chaney’s caped spirit has been seen running along the catwalks above the stage. Other phenomena reported here include lights that turn on and off and doors that open and close by themselves.

Montgomery Clift – A famous film star of the 1950s and ’60s, Montgomery Clift was a four-time Oscar-nominated actor best known for his roles in A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity and Judgment at Nuremberg. His spirit is often seen at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Room 928. Here, he spent three months in 1953, where he was known to pace back and forth, memorizing his lines for From Here to Eternity. Today, unexplained loud noises are often heard coming from the otherwise empty suite, the phone is continually found to be off the hook, and unexplainable cold spots are felt in the room. Others sensed the actor’s presence, and reportedly, one guest felt an invisible hand patting her shoulder.

Joan Crawford – From silent star to camp queen, Joan Crawford’s film career spanned some 45 years. Her former home, the Crawford House, is said to be haunted by her spirit and many others. Though the house has been exorcised many times, these ghosts refuse to leave.

James Dean

James Dean

James Dean – While no actual reports have been made of Dean’s spirit, a fascinating legend persists of a curse on his beloved Porsche Spyder. Dean, the famous fresh-faced Hollywood star of the early 1950s, was known to live in the “fast lane.” He paid for it with his life when he was killed in a head-on collision on September 30, 1955. Dean purchased the car with the intent to race it; however, he never got the chance, as just weeks after its purchase, he died in the vehicle. Afterward, anyone who came in contact with the car or its parts began to suffer injuries and death until the vehicle finally mysteriously disappeared.

Redd Foxx – The famous star of the long-running “Sanford & Son” television series has been known to haunt Stage 31 at Paramount Studios, where he died of a heart attack. At the studio, people have heard him laughing at the jokes and claim he just hangs around. The comedian is often known to haunt his former home in Las Vegas. After a terrible battle with the IRS, he lost the home when the IRS forced the sale.

The new owner reportedly saw Foxx’s apparition walking around in a bathrobe. Other strange occurrences included lights that turned on and off by themselves and a sliding glass door constantly opening of its own accord. Today, the building houses offices for Nevada Aqua Air Systems. Continuing to have trouble with the sliding door, they finally replaced it with a wooden swinging door. However, this didn’t stop the door from opening with invisible hands.

Benjamin Franklin – Instrumental in laying the government’s foundation when the United States was first established, Franklin was also known for his work as a writer, inventor, philosopher, and scientist. Today, Franklin is said to haunt the Philosophical Society’s library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some people have even reported that the Philosophical Society’s statue of Franklin has been seen dancing along the streets.

Clark Gable – One of the biggest box office stars during the 1930s and 1940s, Clark Gable and his wife, Carole Lombard, are said to haunt the Oatman Hotel in Oatman, Arizona. After they married, they spent their honeymoon at the Oatman Hotel in Kingman.

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow – The phrase “blonde bombshell” was coined for Jean Harlow during her short career in Hollywood. In 1932, she married MGM studio executive Paul Bern, who was said to have beaten her viciously. Bern killed committed suicide the same year in their upstairs bedroom. After appearing in three dozen films between 1927 and 1937, her career was cut short when she died at the age of 26 of kidney failure. Though kidney failure is partially attributed to a childhood illness, some say it was made worse by the frequent beatings she suffered at the hands of Bern. Harlow and Bern have been seen numerous times in the mansion they once called home.

Harry Houdini – Though Houdini didn’t believe in spiritualism, his ghost is said to haunt several locations. A magic show is held at Jacki Gaughan’s Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas. It is a tribute to Houdini’s talents as an escape artist and magician. Staff believes the showroom is haunted by a ghost who likes to play pranks and move items around. Many of these people think the ghost is none other than Houdini himself, perhaps lingering to ensure they are “doing it right.” The most common place where Houdini has been sighted is the property where his mansion once stood in Laurel Canyon. Though destroyed by fire in 1959, many people have allegedly seen his apparition lurking about the old property.

Thomas Ince – He was considered one of the visionary pioneers of American movies. Ince was one of the most respected directors of the silent film era. He was a co-founder of Culver Studios, which would later become MGM. In 1924, he died of heart failure but remained at the lot that was once Culver Studios.

Andrew Jackson – Jackson was the seventh President of the United States, serving from 1829 to 1837. After his death, he was heard stomping and swearing in the Rose Room of the White House by none other than Mary Todd Lincoln.

Frank James at Farm

Frank James “merchandised” his past right up until the time he died. Here, he stands at 70 before the gate of the Jesse James Farm, where curious spectators could pay 50¢ to see the farm and, for just a little more money, could even buy pebbles from Jesse’s grave.

Jesse James – Jesse James was initially buried at the family farm in Kearney, Missouri; however, his body was later moved to the Mount Olivet Cemetery in town to be buried next to his wife. Though his remains are no longer at the farm, many believe he has never left. All kinds of strange events continually occur at the farm, such as doors that slam closed by themselves, lights that move inside and outside the property buildings, and an overwhelming sense that an unearthly presence lingers. Others report hearing the sounds of pounding hooves, muffled shots, and cries reminiscent of the area’s history, dating back to events of the Civil War. More …

Thomas Jefferson – The third President of the United States, from 1801 to 1809, was known to retire to the Oval Office on numerous occasions to relax and play the violin. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of the sounds of those ghostly strings coming from the Oval Office.

Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum – Black Jack was the only train robber ever hanged for this crime in the State of New Mexico. Known to be a charming man, he was also a renowned road agent, making off with loot from the steam engines of the day. Today, this Old West outlaw is said to haunt one of his favorite hideout caves near Folsom, New Mexico. More ...

In the Civil War, Robert E. Lee– Confederate General, led several successful battles before his surrender at the Appomattox Court House in April 1865. Today, his spirit has regressed to a four-year-old child where he has been spied playing in the yard of his childhood home in Alexandria, Virginia. Said to be a playful spirit, he is known to play pranks like ringing the doorbell and moving objects within the house. His giggles are often heard throughout the house. Sometimes, he is seen with a ghostly black dog and the spirits of two young girls, who are thought to be his sisters.

John Lennon – This former Beatle is said to haunt The Dakota building at 1 West 72nd Street in New York City, where he was shot to death.

Liberace – Known for his incredible piano-playing skills, charisma, and diamonds, Liberace died of AIDs in 1987. According to numerous reports, the entertainer’s spirit has taken up residence at Carluccio’s Tivoli Gardens. Liberace once owned the restaurant just a few blocks from the Las Vegas Strip. Liberace had his private lounge next to the dining room, where he entertained close friends. From here, he sometimes slipped into the main dining room to tinkle the piano keys to the delight of unsuspecting diners. Today, staff and guests alike believe that the flamboyant pianist has never left, as there are numerous reports of electrical surges, bottles that tip over for no reason, and ladies’ restroom stalls that lock and unlock themselves. On one occasion, the electricity went off and would not come back on until someone realized it was Liberace’s birthday. After they wished him a happy one, the lights inexplicably came back on. Some report seeing his spirit outside the windows.

Abraham Lincoln – The most often spied spirit of all of our American Presidents, Lincoln was known to believe in the supernatural. President Lincoln is known to haunt the White House and several sites in SpringfieldIllinois, where his political career began. Famous occupants of the White House, including President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Grace Coolidge, reported seeing a tall, gaunt figure in several rooms of the residence. Others who have been walking by the White House have reported seeing a shadow of Lincoln’s dimensions in the window of the Oval Office, where the president often stood gazing at the Potomac River during the days of the Civil War. Lincoln’s spirit is most often linked to his tomb at Oakridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Over the years, several stories have been told by tourists and staff members of experiencing uncomfortable feelings and hearing phantom footsteps, whispers, muffled voices, and weeping. Lincoln has also been reported to have been seen walking the streets surrounding Springfield’s original courthouse and the hallways of his former home. Others have reported seeing the ghost of Mary Lincoln at their old home located at 413 South Eighth Street.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard – Carole Lombard was one of Hollywood’s top comedy actresses in the 1930s. She married Clark Gable in 1939, and the pair were said to have one of Hollywood’s ideal marriages. However, their love was cut short when Lombard was killed in a plane crash just three years later. Her spirit has been seen near the suite she shared with Clark Gable at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Both she and her beloved husband, Gable, allegedly also haunt the Oatman Hotel in Oatman, Arizona, where they spent their honeymoon.

Marilyn Monroe – This glamorous film star of the 1950s slipped into a coma caused by an overdose of sleeping pills on August 4, 1962. She never woke up and was pronounced dead the next day. Today, her ghostly spirit is known to haunt the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. At the height of her popularity, she often stayed at the hotel, where her image is seen in a full-length mirror that once hung in her poolside suite. It now hangs in the lobby, where people see her image reflected in the glass. Her ghost has also been spotted hovering near her tomb at Westwood Memorial Cemetery in Los AngelesCalifornia. Lastly, she is also said to haunt the house where she took the fatal dose of sleeping pills. According to psychics, Marilyn has relayed to them that her death was not a suicide but an accident.

Ozzie Nelson – Bandleader Ozzie married Harriet in 1935. In 1944, they started The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet on radio, which later switched to television in a run that would stretch to twenty-two years: eight on radio and fourteen on television. In 1941, the couple purchased a house where they lived for the next 40 years. When their popular sitcom was aired on television, beginning in 1852, the exterior of the television house was modeled on the real-life Nelson home. Subsequent owners believe that Ozzie’s ghost continues to remain in his beloved home, as unseen hands open and close doors, turn on faucets, and lights turn on and off by themselves in otherwise empty rooms. One owner even tells a story that “someone” got fresh with her during the night when her blankets were pulled back, and she felt someone kissing her neck and breasts.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley – Just as flamboyant in death as he was in life, the legendary singer continues to haunt his beloved home in Memphis. A white-sequined Elvis has been seen by stagehands at the Las Vegas Hilton, where he often performed in the early 1970s. He has also been “seen” in a rambling old building off Nashville’s Music Row. At one time, the building housed the recording studios of RCA in the 1950s, and it was here that Elvis recorded his breakthrough 1956 hit single, Heartbreak Hotel. Though RCA is no longer there, the building houses a TV production studio that produces music-related programs. According to people who have worked there, something strange happens whenever Elvis’ name is mentioned, such as ladders falling, lights blowing out, and unexplained noises coming through the sound system. A white-sequined Elvis has reportedly been spotted by stagehands at this hotel where he performed in the early 1970s.

George Reeves – The star of the 1950s television series Superman, committed suicide in 1959 by shooting himself in the head. Though due to be married in just three days, Reeves was despondent at his stalled career when he had become so type-casted as Superman that he couldn’t find other parts. Today, he allegedly still appears in his old bedroom, fully outfitted in his Superman costume, before slowly fading away.

Betsy Ross – Credited with sewing the first American flag, Ross continues to lurk within her old home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ross, who is buried on the property, has often been seen crying while sitting at the foot of the bed in her former home.

Bugsy Siegel, American Mobster

Bugsy Siegel, American Mobster

Bugsy Siegel – One of the most colorful of Las Vegas’ underworld figures, Bugsy is often attributed to envisioning the sparkling city that Las Vegas is today. While there were several small gambling spots in Las Vegas, there was nothing like the Flamingo Hilton that Siegel opened in 1946. But, the Flamingo cost the mob millions to build and took much longer than anticipated. Sure that Bugsy was skimming from them, they had him killed in his girlfriend’s mansion in Beverly Hills. On June 20, 1947, he was sitting in the living room when two shots came through the front window, hitting him in the head. Today, Siegel is known to haunt the mansion. Witnesses have reported seeing the apparition of a man running and ducking across the house’s living room, only to disappear as suddenly as he came. He also lurks about the Flamingo Hotel, appearing smartly dressed in a smoking jacket with a broad smile on his handsome face. He is often seen in the presidential suite at the hotel, which had been his home for many years. He has also been spied in and around the rose garden or the wedding chapel area.

Dylan Thomas – Dylan Thomas, a Welsh poet and writer, drank 18 shots of scotch in the White Horse Tavern in New York City in 1953. Afterward, as you can imagine, he collapsed and died. Today, his spirit is said to return to the scene time after time, where he rotates his favorite corner table like he used to do when he was alive. The White Horse Tavern is at 567 Hudson Street at West 11th Street in New York City.

Thelma Todd – A famous young star in the 1930s, Todd was featured in several hit comedies with The Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy. She opened Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Café during her stardom and lived in a luxurious apartment above the restaurant. In 1935, her success ended untimely when she was found in her car at the garage of the Sidewalk Café. Killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, her death was ruled an accidental suicide. Today, the building that once housed the café near the ocean on Roosevelt Highway is owned by Paulist Productions. Employees have reported Todd’s ghostly image descending the stairs.

Mark Twain – Popular American humorist, novelist, writer, and lecturer, Twain once lived in downtown New York at 14 West 10th Street (near Fifth Avenue) between 1900 and 1901. Today, his spirit allegedly haunts the building’s stairwell.

Clifton Webb – A famous star in the 1940s and ’50s, Webb is best known for portraying Mr. Belvedere in a series of films. He died of heart disease at the age of 76. During his life, he never married and shared his home with his mother until she died, who he said visited him nightly. He was known to tell his friends at this time that he, too, would haunt the house after his death. True to his word, his ghost has been seen at parties, standing in the library, uttering his favorite phrase, “Well, well, well…” A lifelong chain-smoker, non-smokers have awakened in the house covered with ashes. He also is said to not like women sitting in his old armchair, which begins to bounce and make noise when a female sits in it. Webb has also been spied at the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum in the Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, where his body is interred.

Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino – Rudolph Valentino was one of the greatest romantic idols of Hollywood’s silent movie era. His career, however, was cut short when he died at the age of 31 from complications of an ulcer. Immediately after his death, the “Latin Lover” began to haunt his home grounds of Hollywood and, to this day, is said to be its most active ghost. Valentino has been spotted in several places, often in his former mansion – the Falcon’s Lair. Here, his image has been seen in the hallways, in his old bedroom, peering from a window on the second floor, and in the stables. After seeing Valentino petting his favorite horse, one stable worker promptly quit his job and never returned. He has also been spied at his beach house in Oxnard and the Santa Maria Inn in Santa Maria Inn, where he has been known to knock on the door and recline on the bed continuously. The Sheik’s shimmering form has also been seen floating among the costume department at Paramount Studios and roaming the catwalks above Studio Five. Lastly, he has also been sighted near his resting place in the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Memorial Park.

John Wayne – The old “Duke” himself has been seen on his old yacht, the Wild Goose. When psychics investigated the ghost, they felt that Wayne wasn’t “trapped” here but rather just returned to one of his favorite places.

Orson Welles – Considered one of Hollywood’s greatest directors and a fine writer, actor, and producer, Welles died of a heart attack in Hollywood, California, at age 70 on October 10, 1985. A man who loved to eat, his spirit continues to be seen at Sweet Lady Jane’s Restaurant, known for its great food and exquisite desserts. Both customers and staff have reported seeing Welles’ caped apparition sitting at his favorite table. Additionally, the smell of his favorite brandy and cigars often accompanies these sightings.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated January 2024.

Also See:

Ghost Stories

What Makes a Ghost

Ghostly Definitions

Ghostly Facts