Imagine if you will, three famous Hollywood horror movies tied together with one origin. One about a power-tool wielding madman, one about a cannibal and one about a man with mommy issues. They are, perhaps, three of the greatest horror movies ever created by the horror masterminds of Hollywood and they were each inspired by the real life horror of one man.
Hollywood lacks for ghost stories and legends the way it lacks for superhero movies and sequels: There’s the strange case of the John Belushi-haunted Chateau Marmont. There’s the strange case of the Rudolph Valentino-haunted Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There’s the strange (and sad) case of the suicidal-starlet-haunted Hollywood sign.
And then there’s Hollywood Boulevard.
If you had only one day, or one hour, to go ghost hunting in the capital of filmdom, then you could do worse — and might not do better — than to stake out this main drag in the 90028. On an annotated map of supposed paranormal activity at the website Creepy Los Angeles, a roughly 1.5-mile stretch of the boulevard, from the famed intersection of Hollywood and Vine to the less-heralded crossing of Hollywood and Sierra Bonita, is dotted with five reported ghostings, the highest concentration in all of Los Angeles County per the site’s accounting, not including the various reported ghostings from the nearby side streets.
And so on a Tuesday the week before Halloween, you walk the walk, up and down Hollywood Boulevard. By the end of it, you’ll be convinced: It’s haunted, all right.
In 1897 the beautiful Belleview Biltmore Hotel was erected overlooking Old Clearwater Bay by the famous Florida developer, Henry Plant. Mr. Plant’s influence is still felt throughout Florida; Plant City was named to honor him, the onion-domed, riverfront University of Tampa was originally built by Henry Plant as another grand hotel, and Morton Plant Hospital (named for Henry’s son) still provides state of the art healthcare for Florida residents. But of all Henry Plant’s contributions to Florida history, the one that holds a special place in my heart is the Belleview Biltmore.
In the “Roaring 20’s” there came to be built in the affluent Miami suburb of Coral Gables, a grand hotel called The Biltmore. This oasis of elegance in tropical South Florida is as pink as the flamingos that once graced the grounds. The sparkling pool which sits like a blue topaz set amongst emerald greenery was once the world’s largest. The highest society graced the ballroom, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, members of the Vanderbilt family, Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, and countless other society and Hollywood darlings. But also attracted to the Biltmore was a seedier selection of clientele. Al Capone and many other gangsters and criminals were drawn to the hotel, perhaps in search of a gentility that they would never be able to achieve on their own.