If you live in Los Angeles there’s a strong possibility that you’ve driven past Post 43 of the American Legion. Located on Highland Avenue just north of Franklin and just off the 101, the fenced-in “Egyptian Revival Moroccan Deco”- styled building sits nestled in-between a senior-living home and a Best Western hotel. Maybe you’ve noticed it, or perhaps you were just busy on your way to Hollywood and Highland, or to see a show at the Pantages, and never really paid much attention. But, if you happen to be interested in Hollywood history, glamour and an old-fashioned ghost story or two, then the Hollywood American Legion is worth a closer look.
The organization known as the The American Legion was originally chartered in 1919. The idea had sprung from a group of war-weary veterans to create a patriotic veterans organization that would support veterans, servicemen and the community. Membership grew quickly and local posts sprung up around the country, including Post 43 in Hollywood, which opened at its current site in 1929 and featured an auditorium, ballroom, cabaret room, dressing rooms, library, museum, conference room, and an art-deco bar.
The Hollywood-based Post 43 not only served as a gathering place for “everyday” military folks, it also played host to numerous stars of old. During its heyday, the post served as a location for dances and live performances attended by members such as Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Mickey Rooney and Ronald Reagan.
From 1932-1963, the various movie studios used Post 43 as their site for “introducing” their newest starlets to the Hollywood community. Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Jayne Mansfield and Shirley Temple were among the up-and-coming starlets introduced here for the first time to various members of the Hollywood elite.
The location today is on the National Historic registry and still serves as a support post for veterans and their families. It is also is available as a venue space for meetings, parties and as a filming location. As an interesting side-note, our tour guide, general Manager Terry Duddy told us that the bar in the cabaret room was used in a pick-up scene for the movie, The Shining.
And now for those ghost stories we promised you earlier…
Hollywood’s American Legion Post 43 is reportedly haunted. While it’s unknown how many ghosts may haunt the halls here, Terry believes that the main ghost in residence is Marshall Wyatt, a well-loved former bar manager and Iwo Jima veteran who lived on site for 33 years. Marshall tragically fell to his death on the atrium stairs in 2000, and since then there have been numerous reports of unexplained activity that include disembodied voices and laughter, phantom applause in the auditorium, lights and tv’s turning off and on, and unexplained footsteps. Perhaps the most compelling story is that of a DJ who reported seeing an apparition in the cabaret room. Terry told us how the DJ had left his equipment behind after a holiday party. When he came back to get it at 2:00am, he encountered an older gentleman dressed as a waiter, but when he tried to speak to him, the man disappeared.
Check out a few more photos from our tour:
The Hollywood American Legion has been featured on a number of television shows for its haunted reputation. England’s “Most Haunted” series did an episode here and the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” series featured an investigation of the Legion in an episode on haunted Hollywood.
You can check out the “Most Haunted” episode here, In it, the team experienced a tv turning on and what seemed to be a pool ball that fell when they asked Marshall’s ghost if he could move it:
For more information on Post 43, you can visit their website: http://www.hollywoodpost43.org/