The Ghost of Peg Enwistle


“Another one of the ghost stories I learned about Los Angeles, when I moved out here, was Peg Enwistle. From the story I heard, she killed herself by jumping off the H of the Hollywood sign. Now people say she haunts the area. I’ve read that joggers in the morning, they say they’ve see her ghost.”

When asked if she had ever seen anything while hiking up to the Hollywood sign, CR responded:

“I was with a group one morning and I swear I smelled gardenias. That’s what they say is her scent, because she wore gardenia scented perfume when she was alive. But, I was already aware of the myth, so it could have been a placebo.”


CR is a sixty year old acting teacher. Originally from Virginia, she moved to LA when she was eighteen and has lived in various areas of the San Fernando Valley.


The legend of Peg Enwistle lands itself in two primary taboos of American culture: the infeasibility of the American Dream and suicide. Both are considered uncomfortable topics for many Americans, which helps to spur ghost legends such as this one. The circumstances of Enwistle’s death, namely her lack of success as an actress despite her hard work, instils doubt into the traditional notion that one’s efforts will be rewarded with success. The idea that the Hollywood sign served as a symbol of failure that loomed over Enwistle’s head rather than a beacon of inspiration that we might fantasize it to be is a notion that disturbs us. There is a certain guilt felt collectively by society for imposing impossible standards and dreams onto its youth. For the consequence of these standards to then be the suicide of a young woman only compounds this guilt. As CR discusses, her physical presence remains, particularly as the scent of gardenias. We get the idea from legends such as this one that true rest cannot be achieved when one ends their own life.