Whether you believe in ghosts or not, when you add their mystique to the glamour of Hollywood, the combination is fascinating. Seeing other people believe in ghosts makes you want to believe too. Actors are artistic beings, very in-tune with emotions and feeling. If they sense a supernatural presence, they will tell the world with the utmost conviction.
This list is a collection of ghost theories and curses, taken from the set of the most well-known Hollywood films and TV shows. We’re just talking about the popular stuff here. There are dozens more examples of actors being spooked by spirits in films you’ve never heard of. The further you go back in history, like the RKO days or DesiLu, you’ll find even more tales, back when the belief in ghosts was more prevalent.
Although history may provide a stronger general acceptance of the spiritual realm, the topic is gaining traction once again. Reality TV shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures have gained audiences for years. Amateur YouTube clips provide eyewitness footage of the inexplicable. Meanwhile, pop fiction has fixated on zombies and medieval folklore. All of these examples help open our minds to the possibility that the supernatural world may still be as powerful as ever. Even the skeptics experience a little bit of doubt now and then.
15. Ghost Whisperer – Clothes-pulling Ghost
Here’s a TV show that’s not officially a sitcom, but pretty close…especially if you consider Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s dramatic acting skills to be laughable. The ghost on set is no joke, though. Many crew members have lost props and found them across the room. This is a professional setting here, folks. These people aren’t just misplacing stuff, it’s actually their job to organize props. Also, crew members, including J-Love, have felt a force pulling on their clothes. In one scene, J-Love felt a presence over her shoulder and claimed to have seen it on the monitor. The actress even told Ellen Degeneres about the spooky event on her talk show. The set was so infamously haunted that J-Love said some guest stars refused to star on the show.
14. The Passion Of The Christ – The Holy Ghost
Thou shalt not exploit religion for financial gain. That’s one of the ten commandments, right? Well, maybe it should be, to warn people not to mess with Bible stories in Hollywood. Perhaps the Holy Ghost or God’s own hand, reached down to try to stop this film, as there were so many accidents on set. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus, was injured several times. He dislocated his shoulder carrying the cross. During a whipping scene, he lost a chunk of real flesh off his back. He even caught pneumonia. But here’s the one that truly represents the hand of God—Caviezel was struck by lightning. No joke. He survived the incident, obviously, but his career hasn’t done much since. And Mel Gibson, the director, also had a career pitfall after the film. Nobody f*cks with the Jesus.
13. Dumb And Dumber – Flora & Grandpa Carrey’s Ghosts
Remember the bar scene in Dumb and Dumber? Or the scene at the end, with the big hotel staircase? Well, those scenes were filmed in the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. The Stanley was once visited by legendary author Stephen King and it inspired him to write The Shining. Carrey was a fan of the supernatural, and when he filmed the movie, he decided to spend the night in one of the hotel’s most haunted rooms. Carey didn’t get much sleep that night. In fact, he left the room around 4AM, claiming that his dead grandfather had paid him a visit. Original hotel owners, F.O. Stanley and his wife, Flora, have also been spotted in the creepy hotel. Mr. Stanley appears in the Billiards Room while Flora has been seen on this stairway and heard playing her piano in the middle of the night. Today, tours are offered and participants have claimed to witness wallpaper that looks like it’s melting and the faces of children in windows.
12. The Dark Night – Bob Kane’s Ghost
You may have heard of the curse of Batman. Of course, there was Heath Ledger’s untimely death. Also, there was the tragic movie theater shooting by James Holmes, the orange-haired lunatic idiot who thought he was the Joker. But, why weren’t there any curses with other Batman projects? Tim Burton’s Batman was pretty normal. And the old Batman sitcom with Adam West was supernaturally lackluster as well. So, what changed? Well, there’s another theory out there that tries to explain the difference and it’s pretty morbid. The creator of Batman, Bob Kane, died in 1998. Could he be the one behind the terrible curse? Since his death, Kane’s name has been dragged through the mud. All the credit has been given to Bill Finger, who allegedly wrote ninety percent of all vital Batman subjects, including the batcave, the batmobile, and the Joker. Kane is now seen as a ruthless businessman who exploited the true artist. Maybe Kane’s ghost is not so happy about that.
11. The Amityville Horror – The 3:15 Ghost
The Amityville Horror is one of the creepiest ghost stories ever. The story centers around a 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo, Jr. who murdered his family as they slept. DeFeo claimed he heard supernatural voices that made him do it. Then, when the Lutz family moved in 11 months later, the house was overcome with spirits. A film was originally made back in 1979, based on a book, and even then, there were supernatural things going on. When the star, James Brolin, read the script at his home, he got to the scary part and a loud noise came from inside his closet. For the 2005 remake, Kathy Lutz, the originator of the story, died at just 50 years old, one week into the shooting. And then, a dead body washed up onto the shore near the set. Cast and crew members started waking up at 3:15AM, which was the time DeFeo committed the murders. Ryan Reynolds, who starred in the remake, even admitted, “there was some weird stuff that happened.”
10. The Wizard Of Oz – Injury Curse
We have all seen this film at one point or another. It’s a Hollywood classic largely due to its fantastic use of both black and white and colored film. The film has inspired millions of high school plays and even the acclaimed Broadway production, Wicked. Most of us know the famous song “Over the Rainbow” by heart. As far as conspiracies go, many have heard of the “hanged munchkin” rumor, but that has been put to rest. The hanging scene in question was filmed before the munchkins even arrived on set. There are other curse theories though, since a lot of awful stuff happened. The original actor who played the Tin Man nearly died and had to be replaced, due to body paint poisoning. The original Dorothy, Jean Harlow, also died unexpectedly just before filming. Several of the flying monkeys fell from their piano wires and got injured. Even the Wicked Witch of the West was rushed to the hospital and had to take a break from filming after she accidentally caught on fire.
9. Ghost – The O’Rourke Ghost
This was a pretty corny movie about the afterlife, but there may have been a real supernatural presence on set. It’s a creepy tale that involves Paramount Studios Stage 19, where scenes from the film were shot. The sound stage has been around forever and even hosted such legendary films as Citizen Kane. The stage was also home to the sitcoms Happy Days and Wings. Workers from the stage have experienced inexplicable power outages and have heard laughter late at night. Some have claimed to witness a young girl running around in the catwalks above the stage. Many think that it’s the ghost of Heather O’Rourke. The Poltergeist actress died very young. She also starred in Happy Days. Close to the old studio is the infamous Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Nearby, on Paramount’s faux New York Street Set, one security guard claims to have met the ghost of Rudolph Valentino, who is buried there.
8. Friends – The Door Ghost
During the course of its run, Friends was shot on a few different Warner Brothers sets and many rumors circulate online about a ghost. Some say crew members have heard strange noises at night and others claim that doors on the set would inexplicably open and close while they’re filming. Many of these old Hollywood sets have been used and reused for many years, which can lead to a collection of spirits lurking about. One Hollywood tale concerns the ghost of Elise Drummond, a silent films star from nearly a hundred years ago. When the actress turned 32, she was declared “too old” for the business. Because of this, she hanged herself. Believers say she’s been roaming the studios of Hollywood ever since. Maybe she paid a visit to Monica’s apartment.
7. The Poltergeist – Death Curse
Here’s another scary movie that we know a ton about, but the facts are too creepy to ignore. There must have been some type of curse on this film because the cast members were affected so tragically. The older sister, played by Dominique Dunne, was murdered the year the film was released. She was strangled by her boyfriend at the age of 22. Even more famous was the untimely death of Heather O’Rourke, the little blonde girl who gets kidnapped by ghosts in the film. She died of a misdiagnosed intestinal disorder which led to septic shock and a heart attack, killing the actress at the tender age of 12. Her ghost is thought to haunt Hollywood sets to this day. An interesting bit of trivia is that Steven Spielberg, the writer and producer of Poltergeist, first considered Drew Barrymore for the role. He decided Drew wasn’t “angelic” enough and went with O’Rourke. Would Barrymore have died if the casting was different? We’ll never know.
6. Everybody Loves Raymond – Peeping Ghost
In this ghostly rumor, the evidence is largely based on a fan-created YouTube video. In the clip, we can see Robert, played by Brad Garrett, talking to his mom, played by Doris Roberts. Behind Robert, in the window, there is an undeniable face of a creepy ghost. With his big eyes and wide forehead, some believers thought the creature looked like the puppet from Saw, or maybe even an alien. Indeed, the ghost could have been any one of the numerous spirits that haunt Hollywood. This spirit could be related to the one that has been rumored to haunt the Friends set, since the Friends show used the same sound stage at one point. Perhaps, it was the ghost of Willie Beard, a Hollywood electrician of the 1960’s whose face was chopped off by the wind machine he was attempting to repair. His ghost has been spotted in various studios throughout tinsel town.
5. Introducing Dorothy Dandridge – Dottie’s Ghost
Here’s a lesser-known HBO bio-epic starring one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Halle Berry herself told Ebony Magazine that she was personally haunted during the shooting of Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Dandridge was a beautiful actress and singer who was the first woman of color to be nominated for an Oscar. While filming, Berry took one of Dandridge’s gowns home with her and it fit like a glove. But then, supernatural things began to happen. A sliding glass door was always open. A chair at her vanity room was constantly pushed out. And then, Halle said, “I was very protective of the gown and so I kept it in the den, covered in plastic. One day, I heard this crackling noise and I thought it was water boiling on the stove. When I looked in, I saw this tiny little baby doll dress floating in front of Dorothy’s gown. It freaked me out so much I just ran up to my bedroom and curled up in a ball. I was so hysterical,” Halle continued, “I ended up calling Geri (Dandridge’s closest friend). I asked her if she’d ever had anything like that happen to her. She said, ‘Honey, I talk to Dottie all the time, and if she is at your house, she means you no harm.’ I thought about it all night and decided that I was supposed to use the dress for inspiration, but the time had come to give it back.”
4. Behind The Candelabra – Liberace’s Ghost
Remember that HBO film that Matt Damon and Michael Douglas made about Liberace? Not many people saw it. Liberace was a musical child prodigy and a very flamboyant performer who became one of the highest paid entertainers of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Due to social norms of the time, he kept his homosexuality a secret, although many fans had a pretty idea what was going on. After he died of AIDS in 1987, a former lover wrote a memoir, upon which the movie was based. Some rumors still swirl about a chilling air that filled the set and carried the strong scent of a man’s perfume. Insiders say that while Douglas played the piano, he felt a caress on his shoulder, turned to look, and saw that nobody was there. TMZ paparazzi asked Damon about the rumors and he claimed they were false. The verdict is still out on Douglas.
3. Roseanne – Skipper’s Ghost
Here’s a supernatural rumor that never scared anyone to death, but was certainly very eerie. On the 1990’s classic sitcom, Roseanne, there was a specific set that never got any laughs. When they filmed the Wellman Factory scenes, the crowd hated all the jokes. Roseanne teased that the set must have been built on an Indian burial ground, cleverly referencing the plot of Poltergeist. Stranger still was when the factory set was struck and the kids’ bedroom was built. Still, the set garnered no laughter. Some conspiring fans began to look into the history of the set, trying to explain the curse, and found that the legendary sitcom Gilligan’s Island was once filmed there. Roseanne even spoofed the comedy in a 1995 episode. Coincidentally, Alan Hale Jr., who played the skipper on Gilligan, had just died. Maybe it was his ghost who decided that only his show would get the laughs on this stage. A few weeks ago, Roseanne was just green-lit for a reboot. Nearly the entire original cast will return to revive the show. Hopefully, they’ll get a different set.
2. The Matrix – Tragedy Curse
It’s a blessing that this film ended up doing as well as it did, because there were all sorts of “bad signs” that the production should have stopped. First was the death of the musician and budding actress Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash and was replaced. Then, the original Oracle, actress Gloria Foster died of diabetes. Soon after that, the effects studio in charge of the film’s production went under, costing millions. Then, Keanu Reeve‘s troubles began. His girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, gave birth to his stillborn child. Soon after that, Jennifer died in a car crash. And then Reeve’s sister had a serious leukaemia relapse. That’s just way too much stuff happening to be a coincidence. It’s beyond a little bad luck.
1. The Shining – Skiers & Plague Ghosts
Let’s not get setting confused with set location. The Overlook Hotel was based on the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, but the outdoor shots for the film were actually taken at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. The Timberline is known to be haunted. Visitors have spotted ghosts of skiers and hikers who have died on the nearby slopes of Mt. Hood. As for the interior shots, they were filmed at Elstree Studios in England, closer to where director, Stanley Kubrick, lived. However, that set also has ghosts. In 2005, the UK television show Most Haunted Live visited the studio and discovered the ghosts of Roman Legionnaires. They also claimed to have stumbled upon a family of black plague victims. Maybe these spirits had a hand in the fire that occurred during The Shining shoot. At the time, Kubrick just laughed at the ironic blaze, since The Overlook burned down in King’s novel.