Mental Floss

7 Famous People Who Became Famous Ghosts

Danny Gallagher
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Death doesn't spell the end of your time in the spotlight. Sometimes it's just the beginning. Take Michael Jackson, for example. His body was still warm when millions of depressed fans claimed to spot his ghost roaming the halls of Neverland Ranch during a CNN special. But Jackson is far from the first celebrity to be the subject of ghost rumors.

1. Marilyn Monroe

The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood is known for two types of sightings: big Hollywood stars and free roaming spirits. The most famous of these uninvited guests is the former blonde bombshell herself, who got her first job by posing on the pool's diving board for a suntan commercial and frequently stayed in a room of the hotel that her ghost allegedly haunts. Guests can even peer into the full-length mirror that former guests and staff members claim to have seen an image of a beautiful young blonde woman who spoke to them and then suddenly disappeared.

2. Orson Welles

The acclaimed and embattled movie director's love of food and drink were well known. During his younger days as an ambitious classic theater director, a regular meal could include as much as two steaks, two loaded baked potatoes, an entire pineapple, three servings of pistachio ice cream and an entire bottle of scotch. That hunger is so strong that not even a massive coronary could kill it. Employees of the Sweetlady Jane Bakery on Melrose Avenue have reported seeing a large man dressed in black sitting in a corner of the restaurant and smelling the sweet scents of cigar smoke and brandy. The location of the bakery was once the Ma Maison restaurant, a French style restaurant where Welles often ate before he passed away. That probably explains why they went out of business.

3. John Lennon

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4. George Reeves

The first man to give a physical presence to the legendary Superman died under very mysterious circumstances. The appearance of his ghost has only raised those suspicions. Multiple sightings have been reported from the Benedict Canyon Drive home where he died in 1959 from an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. Visitors to the home have either reported hearing strange gunshots and screams or seeing a full apparition of Reeves in his Superman costume.

5. Lon Chaney

The original master of monsters and makeup terrorized the minds, hearts and underpants of moviegoers. You can probably imagine how horrific seeing his ghost might be. His spirit is said to haunt a soundstage on the Universal Studios Hollywood lot where workers have reported hearing footsteps and seeing a caped man running through the catwalks. The stage was used to film part of the opera scenes for Chaney's iconic Phantom of the Opera, and still stands because several mysterious accidents have prevented the studio from fully dismantling it.

6. Rudolph Valentino

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7. Abraham Lincoln

Several former presidents and first ladies have been allegedly seen roaming the halls of the White House in spirit form, but Lincoln definitely has the most residency points. Guests, dignitaries and even members of the White House staff have spotted him. Probably the most famous meeting involves former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Churchill had drawn himself a hot bath, and when he emerged from the tub with nothing but a lit cigar, he spotted the former president staring at him. Churchill remarked, "Good evening Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage." The ghost smiled and disappeared. From then on, Churchill refused to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, reporter, humorist and ghostbuster living in Texas. He can be found on the web at dannygallagher.net, on MySpace and on Twitter.

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