USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Staircase’
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Irving Thalberg

“My name is Carol Dalah and this is the first ghost story that I am going to be sharing with you. Umm this story takes place in the mid 1970s when I was young around 12 years old and my family decided to purchase a home in Pacific Palisades, California. This house happened to be on Sunset Boulevard and the address is 13746 Sunset Boulevard, and today it is a historical monument. It happens to be umm or it happened to be the first historical home that was built in the Palisades even before Will Rogers estate was built. Umm the house was actually built by Irving Thalberg, who in the 1920s was Hollywood’s golden boy. He was a Brooklyn boy and he was also a very infamous womanizer. Umm during the ’20s umm early ’20s to mid ’20s, he was here in Hollywood making films and umm he was having an affair with a woman named Constance Talmadge, who was an actress. During this relationship, he happened to umm breakup with her and during this time of this period or breakup period he went ahead and married another actress named Norma Shearer. During their relationship, Irving Thalberg decided to build this love nest which happened to be our home umm for Constacne Talmadge. In 1928, this house on Sunset Boulevard was built and it was a love nest. The house consisted of 35 rooms and the estate in itself was actually about 5 blocks longs. Within the years, the property and the parcels were sold off. When we moved into the house, it was very strange to find rooms within rooms and secret compartments and a production room also on the side of the home. Irving Thalberg had his secret life hidden from Hollywood’s eyes. Within these barred walls and gates and with his lover Constance Talmadge, they had a child out of wedlock. Now, this little girl happened to pass away at the age of 5 in this home.
The day that we moved in to the home, I remember very clearly and vividly. We were handed the keys, well my father, was handed the keys from the realtor. And we walked through the house and my sister was walking up -into- from the master bedroom to this huge huge closet in vanity area. While she was walking, she sees this man in the distance. And, she called out to him thinking that this was my father. So she said “Dad! Dad!” and as he turned around, she realized that it wasn’t my father and he was as clear as you and me today. And he smiled at her and winked. And the man was dressed in such a beautiful silk suit with slicked back hair and I guess that was the first greeting that we were umm given by Irving Thalberg. At the time, we did not know who he was. It was discovered later on, when the house had a history of all the sightings and infamy that came with the house. Umm later on in that day, I was in my bedroom and I invited my friend over to stay. And this was much later in the evening. Again, the same day that my sister had seen the first sighting of Irving Thalberg. I went into the main stairway. The house had three stories and I had left my friend standing in the main stairway, because she needed some towels and some blankets and the next thing I know she was screaming hysterically and she completely turned pale. And I asked her what had happened and she had actually seen and witnessed a playback of how this love child had passed away, the love child again of Irving Thalberg and Constance Talmadge. She had told me that they were dressed for the evening and they started down the hallway. And they started to make their way down the grand staircase. In the middle of the staircase, there was a landing and this little girl had tripped from that landing to the bottom of the staircase and she tumbled and tumbled and hit her head. At that time. I guess, in her vision, umm it was marble. She hit her head and cracked her head open and she saw the whole scene right in front of her. Today, my friend is still not the same since that happening. Umm since then, I am sure there are many many stories that came with that. That was just the first day that we were in the house. It seemed also that the activity was much stronger coming in the summer months than the winter months for some reason. That is my first story and just a little bit of intrigue for you. Thank you for listening.”

Analysis:

This story focuses on Hollywood, which is a very haunted aspect of America. It really drives home the idea that people want to keep their public image clean and safe even though certain immoral or indecent actions are happening behind closed doors. These actions can haunt the person as in the case of this story with the child and the child’s death. Furthermore, the child passes away on the marble staircase. A staircase is liminal, because it is neither upstairs nor downstairs, but in the middle. This hidden story of Irving Thalberg also differentiates between the official history and the unofficial, or ghost history. In the public’s eyes, none of these events were supposed to happen, because his image is important.In the same way, that America does not like to discuss the Native Americans that were killed, Thalberg did not like to discuss his love affair. Both of these motifs appear in ghost stories though.

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