Hollywood Pantages Theater
There is a guardian male spirit presence on duty.
The spirit of a wanna-be singer gets her chance!
This truly grand theater, named after Alexander Pantages, is a glorious Art-Deco masterpiece, one of the most beautiful theaters in the world. The ceilings are breathtaking, and the inside decorum was created by highly skilled craftsmen.
Like most old-style theaters, it has a gigantic lobby, with a fan-vaulted area measuring one hundred and ten feet wide and sixty feet deep. The lobby decor includes “zigzag geometric design in gold and henna shades.” It gets its light from enormous, elegant chandeliers. On each end of the lobby is a twenty foot wide staircase, with statues created in the Egyptian and Assyro-Babylonian style. One statue depicts a crew of film makers filming.
Downstairs (under the lobby) are the powder rooms and women’s lounge, decorated with “black patent leather walls and hung with beveled diametric shaped mirrors and a silver leaf ceiling.” Unfortunately, the Men’s lounge was lost to a renovation project to make theatre offices.
The auditorium is decorated in the Art Deco style in a grand, lavish way.
There are grand balconies, a large stage area, backstage dressing rooms and an orchestra pit. There are also offices on the upper floor, including a conference room.
The Pantages Theatre of Hollywood was the last theatre that Greek American vaudeville/film producer Alexander Pantages built as part of his eighty theatre circuit in the U.S. and in Canada. It cost $1.25 million to build (excluding theatrical and projection equipment, which was the most up-to-date available).
It opened on June 4th, 1930, with 2,812 seats. It was used as a stage and film theater, presenting short popular musical skits, in between full-length feature films. Because of the market crash in 1929, plans for ten floors of office space above the theater were discontinued.
Scandal struck when Pantages was accused of raping a seventeen-year-old dancer, Eunice Alice Pringle. William Randolph Hearst’s Los Angeles Examiner portrayed him as a cold foreigner, with Eunice as his innocent victim, dealing him a severe blow in the court of public opinion. Alexander was convicted, but he appealed, won another trial, and was found not guilty in 1931.
On re-examination, her story didn’t really make sense. It is suspected that Eunice was paid by Joseph Kennedy, who controlled RKO, to make a false claim against Alexander, who had turned down Joseph Kennedy’s first offer to buy his theaters. Alexander Pantages was also known to be gentleman, who would never engage in such behavior, contrary to the yellow journalism claims made against him by Hearst’s newspaper.
After Alexander was acquitted, he successfully fought Eunice’s suit against him. However, his reputation was still shot, and his finances took a huge hit, because he had to hire expensive lawyers to defend himself. He wound up selling his theaters in 1932 to RKO, at a much lower price than what he was first offered by Joseph Kennedy. Alexander retired, and focused on his race horses.
Because of the Great Depression, the Pantages Theatre became mainly a movie house, with an occasional musical act or event brought in to entertain patrons.
In 1949, it was acquired by Howard Hughes, as the crowning jewel of his national movie theater chain, RKO pictures, which he had bought. He renamed it, The RKO Pantages. Hughes had his offices on the second floor, with a door built that opened directly into the balcony. At first, Howard liked to go there in the dark, to think about business ideas. Later, he treated himself to all-day movie marathons. The seeds of his later mental illness were sown here at the Pantages.
Films, TV shows and videos have been made here as well over the years. Perhaps most famously the makers of THE JAZZ SINGER filmed the live concert portion of that film here. Occasionally, musical bands come to The Pantages as well, such as The Talking Heads, and Shakira.
The Pantages Theatre has been the favorite venue to host Hollywood’s cultural and musical events. Starting in 1953, it was where the Academy Awards Show was held and televised for ten years, running until the event needed a bigger venue.
In 1954, Hughes sold all of his stock in RKO and started down his path to being totally withdrawn from public life, which happened ten years later. In 1967, Pacific Theaters bought The Pantages Theater, which was a bit run down by this time. They did some renovation and restoration work to spruce up the old Dame, turning it back into a stage theatre as well. The Pantages Theatre closed as a movie house in January, 1977, and reopened as a stage theatre the following month, with the stage production of Bubbling Brown Sugar.
Much later they went into partnership with Nederlander Corporation to fully restore and renovate the interior of The Pantages Theatre. Walt Disney’s stage play, THE LION KING came there after Pacific and Nederlander agreed to a substantial 10 million dollar restoration and renovation effort in 2000.
THE LION KING and everything associated with it was a cultural phenomena and made a huge profit. The stage play was tremendously popular as well. Pacific and Nederlander Corporation would make their money back, and then some. The LION KING has had four different show runs at The Pantages, and is always a popular show.
The restoration/renovation project included cleaning and repairing all the Art-Deco artesian masterpiece artwork found on the ceiling, walls, and floors, restoring the lobby and replacing the missing chandeliers with “three huge Moderne frosted glass chandeliers hanging from three star-shaped domes.
The stage was also renovated to be a first-rate theater for Broadway touring companies. What was most welcomed by the Hollywood business community, however, was that the long neglected plans for 10 floors of office space were also completed, using Alexander’s original plans!
Hollywood rejoiced! They now had the best stage theatre for major stage productions on tour, and some much needed office space as well.
They were not the only ones who were celebrating. The spirits who inhabit this beloved theatre were also very happy indeed.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
When a beloved place is threatened by the living with theft, neglect or unpopular changes, spirits who are attached to it become active and defensive.
Activity jumped up a few levels after a break-in by vandals who damaged the balcony area. This incident upset the spirit people who stay here.
People who have to sell, leave or lose their favorite place on earth due to circumstances in their lives, sometimes choose to spend their afterlives in their favorite place in this world.
Alexander Pantages was falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit. After two trials, and a victory in court, he had gone through a good part of his fortune and needed money to pay his legal teams and then retire comfortably. He had to sell his theaters, including The Pantages, ending something he really enjoyed: owning and running his own theaters. I bet The Pantages was his favorite, built at the height of his wealth and being, among other things, the first glorious Art Deco theater ever constructed.
People who have their dreams cut short in this life due to unexpected death or misfortune sometimes try to continue living their dream. This is especially true for people who love to perform in the arts.
A wanna-be performer died too soon from an illness to see her dream come true.
People who have emotional ties to a structure that they love in this world, sometimes decide to spend their afterlife there, helping the living and watching over the building.
Howard Hughes loved the Pantages Theater, and enjoyed having his office there, being able to spend time in the balcony, to think, and watch movies.
Entity of Alexander Pantages
As a guardian presence, Alexander keeps a fatherly eye on the living on the main floor, probably like he used to do while alive, being the owner of his theaters.
During a stage performance in the theater, a life-like male apparition walks up an aisle as if to leave. When the ushers open the door for him, he melts into the air.
In 1994, after a long performance, a wardrobe lady was the last to leave the already darkened theater. As she made her way to the side exit, the lights along the aisles went out, leaving her in total darkness. Uh Oh!
She fell over something, became disoriented and couldn’t get to her feet, let alone find her way out. As she started to feel a little panicky, someone took her by her elbow and gently helped her up, and then proceeded to firmly guide her to the exit.
Relieved, the flustered woman opened up the exit door to let in some light.
She immediately turned to thank her rescuer, but no one was there. It happened too quickly for a living person to take off, and she heard no foot steps. It is theorized that perhaps this ghostly rescuer was Alexander Pantages himself, who was an all around gentleman in real life.
Entity of Howard Hughes
His apparition and presence is a common occurrence.
Howard Hughes stays on the second floor, enjoying his old office space, not seeming to mind that it is now a remodeled conference room.
In 1992, the Nederlander Corp. had their offices on the second floor. An executive assistant had some interesting personal experiences.
In his former office space, now a conference room, he felt an unseen presence, sometimes manifesting as cold spots, and a cool passing wind, when no source for it was available.
Twice she saw a very tall male apparition walk down the hall into his old office. She could hear sounds of Howard going about his business at his desk. She heard desk drawers being bumped, open and closed. Brass handles being clicked and rattled.
Howard still enjoys his time in the balcony, watching rehearsals and events.
Sometimes during a rehearsal on stage, a solid, life-like man is seen sitting in the back row of the balcony, watching them. When security goes up to evict the uninvited person, the man disappears.
Entity of a female wanna-be singer and performer
Since 1932, the sound of a female singer has been heard in the theatre auditorium, when the theatre was empty, dark and quiet, any time of the day or night.
In 1994, she gave her first public performance to the living. She showed her confidence in her talent by singing along with the cast of a musical, probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Her voice was inadvertently picked up by a microphone and heard publicly in front of a live audience.
Today, she still sings if the microphone is left on, before or after a performance.
Experience with an Intense Unknown Supervisor
During the restoration in 2000, an electrician and a painter quit after having an experience with an unknown, male spectral supervisor, concerned about the quality of their work.
He is thought to be either Howard Hughes, or Alexander Pantages. Perhaps, it could be someone else who supervised the building of the Pantages in 1929.
A painter was working on restoring the higher places of the theater auditorium that needs scaffolding to access. He reported that a man with a hat climbed down from the balcony to the scaffolding, walked around and stopped where the painter was working. He leaned over the painter’s shoulder to inspect his work. When the painter looked at him, and asked him what he wanted, the spectral inspector disappeared.
An electrician was inspecting the wiring, when he too had this spectral inspector also studying the wiring over his shoulder.
Most Probably so!
While no hard evidence has been caught, because paranormal investigations are not allowed, staff in the business suites and the Pantages Theatre, workmen, performers, directors and show personnel have all had experiences with the spectral gentlemen and the aspiring singer female entity who have chosen to spend their afterlife here. There is peace between the living, the resident spirits, and the theater productions, which continue on smoothly, making a profit for the owners, bringing work to performers, stage personnel, and theater personnel, and providing first class entertainment to the public.
People who work here and/or spend time in this beautiful theater don’t need any proof to know that these spirits love the Pantages Theater, each for their various reasons.
Paranormal investigation groups are not allowed in, perhaps because the owners already know they have these spirits and don’t want to upset them. An agitated spirit can upset their very profitable stage theatre business.
6233 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, California 90028
The Pantages Theatre can be found in the heart of historical Hollywood, near Hollywood Blvd. and Vine.
- History page on hollywoodpantages.com
- Pantages Theatre page on Wikipedia
- Pantages Theater page on cinematreasures.org
- “Pantages Theater’s Ghosts!” on Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles (ghoula.blogspot.com)
- R.K. Paranormal Facebook page
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr