According to marketers, calendar designers and the military-industrial-advertising complex, October is Halloween season. The folklore of many cultures teaches us that October 31st marks the time when the boundaries separating the known and unknown worlds are at their most permeable, permitting the interminging of the dead and the living, conscious and unconscious. LAist will be celebrating this season of all things magical, paranormal and strange by posting entries that reveal the creepier side of Los Angeles and Southern California.
Let's start with the infamous Knickerbocker Hotel at 1714 Ivar Avenue in Hollwood. One of the first luxury apartments to open in the area in the 1920s, it became a playground for the rich and famous. Now called "The Knickerbocker Apartments," the building seems a death magnet for Hollywood types. Filmmaker D.W. Griffith, a Knickerbocker resident, died of a stroke in the lobby in 1948. William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy," had a heart attack and died on the sidewalk outside of the hotel in 1966.
Irene Gibbons, a costume designer at MGM, had the most startling exit. As detailed in the Haunted Hollywood section of the online site, Ghosts of the Prarie: Travel Guide to the History and Haunting of America, "On November 15, Irene took a room at the Knickerbocker, checking in under an assumed name. She cut her wrists but when this did not prove to be immediately fatal, she jumped to her death from her window on the fourteenth floor. He body reportedly ended up on top of the hotel awning, where it was not discovered for several days."