Tag Archives: Hollywood

231 – The Man Who Knew Too Much: UFOs, Conspiracies, and Murder

This week, there was a plethora of exciting UFO news (well, probably as exciting as we’re going to get until they finally land in our backyard) so we wanted to bring back one of our favorite guests, [Robbie Graham]. Robbie authored the fascinating and insightful book, Silver Screen Saucers as well as editing UFOs: Reframing The Debate, which is one of the most comprehensive looks at the subject of the last decade. Wendy and I talked with Robbie and Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com joins us again for the discussion.

Starting out, we had to talk to Robbie about what it was like being on the History Channel juggernaut, Ancient Aliens! He was on the latest episode and he told us what it was like being brought into the study of a millionaire’s home (to make it look a little more intellectual) as well as being remotely directed in London over the Internet from Los Angeles.

Robbie on Ancient Aliens

But just in the news this week, we had to discuss the new article about former Nevada senator Harry Reid coming out of retirement to lobby for more investigation into military reports of UFOs. Roll Call is not your normal UFO publication, it’s a political blog, so it’s always nice to see something weird in there. But why does Harry Reid care so much and why now? The best quote of the entire article is when he talks about Area 51.

“Oh sure, I’ve been to Area 51. I know Area 51. I don’t know if I should say many times, but lots and lots of times. I know Area 51 quite well, I know what they’ve done there,” said Reid. “I don’t know in recent years, of course, but I know what went on there.”

What went on there, Harry, for God’s sakes, what went on there?

But that brings up a bigger point, the existence of extraterrestrials is in the news more than ever. Since the New York Times article in 2017, aliens have snuck more and more in the news, from the latest fast radio bursts from space to the strange Rama-like space objet Oumuamua. And the go-to guy for astronomer credibility seems to be Harvard Professor, Avi Loeb. Now this guy is no slouch when it comes to academic credentials, but he sure is talking about aliens a lot. Is that because they’re getting us ready for disclosure?!

Party On Wayne

More likely, they’re just in it for the clicks. Those stories get shared more than any other and in a quickly shrinking media landscape, views mean money.

But another story that came out this week that I was particularly interested in was the official pronouncement this last week that conspiracy theorist Max Spiers who passed away in Poland mysteriously in 2016, actually died of a drug overdose.

Max Spiers
Max Spiers

It was a tragic end for a young guy (well, kinda young, I would be less than a month older than him, so it hits home for me) and the salacious news stories were filled with tales of cryptic messages sent to his mother and girlfriend in the UK as well as descriptions of him vomiting black bile before expiring. It didn’t help that his friends were telling people that extraterrestrials were mind controlling his behavior. I’m all for a good conspiracy theory and I fully understand that our government isn’t afraid to assassinate people but was a guy who talked about Nazi bases on the moon really getting too close to the truth?

Fascinatingly, that leads to a story from Robbie about how he once was paranoid about his phones being bugged and that he might have been being watched by the CIA while he was investigating another mysterious death, that of Hollywood screenwriter, Gary Devore. First of all, Devore wrote Timecop, the greatest of all Jean-Claude Van Damme films, so we all owe him at least a tiny bit of gratitude for that.

But in the mid-90s, Devore was working on a screenplay about the 1989 U.S. Invasion of Panama. That’s the one that was ordered by former CIA director, George H.W. Bush to capture former CIA operative Manuel Noriega.  My favorite part of the whole invasion (if one can have a favorite part of something that killed 23 US soldiers, 150 Panamanian soldiers, and over 500 Panamanian civilians) is that the U.S. military famously played “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister at an earsplitting volume outside the Vatican Embassy, where Noriega had holed up after being driven from the Capitol.

Could Dee Snider have been in the CIA as well?

While Devore disappeared in 1997, he was on his way to deliver a copy of his latest script, the one about the “real reason” for the  Panama invasion. He never made it and a year later they found his Ford Explorer at the bottom of a California aqueduct. His body was there, but strangely his hands and the script were both missing.

Robbie became obsessed with the case and along with his colleague, Dr. Matthew Alford, they authored an article in The Guardian newspaper talking about Hollywood and the CIA and specifically talking about Gary Devore. Was Robbie getting too close to the truth? Well, in 2012, CIA operative Chase Brandon, who knew Devore well  because he was the CIA liaison to Hollywood, wrote a book called The Cryptos Conundrum. It’s supposedly fiction, but he makes a lot of claims (particularly about Roswell) and in one of the  “fictional scenarios” makes up an investigative journalist who starts exposing too many of the CIA’s plans and then mysteriously suffers a fatal heart attack. The name of this fictional journalist? Robert Graham.

THAT’S $%^ING NUTS. You can read the passages right here in the Google Book version of The Cryptos Conundrum. It’s not really very subtle.

Alford went on to make a documentary about the case in 2014 called The Writer With No Hands.

And speaking of Hollywood, Scott’s favorite story this week is the upcoming 61st anniversary of the Black Dahlia murder, where poor Elizabeth Short was found naked, mutilated and cut in half. It became one of Tinseltown’s most famous and shocking unsolved cases. Los Angeles homicide detective Steve Hodel believes that the killer was his own father(!), Dr. George Hodel, and the new TNT series I Am The Night, will be based on Hodel’s theories. Steve Hodel has also implied that his father was the Zodiac Killer. Happy Father’s Day, yikes!

For this week’s song, we were thinking about the tragedy of Max Spiers’ death and also Robbie’s own story of possibly being surveilled by an intelligence agency while investigating a cover-up. Whether or not you believe in conspiracy theories, from Q Anon to secret supersoldiers, our intelligence agencies wield a scary amount of unchecked power. While a majority of their actions might be in the service of protecting us, is the truth worth getting in their crosshairs?

You wear the truth like a tattoo
You look over your shoulder is there someone right behind you?

Walking too close to the Left Hand Path
Living with a target on your back.

Whispers in the night are beckoning,
to a black magic reckoning,
hidden hands are pulling strings,
and watching everything.
Steer clear of the dangerous kind
a death warrant has been signed.
Don’t fall in love with
The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Just like in Catch-22
Just cuz you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not out for you.

Just what will you give up for the truth?
Even if it ends up killing you.

Whispers in the night are beckoning,
to a black magic reckoning,
hidden hands are pulling strings,
and watching everything.
Steer clear of the dangerous kind
a death warrant has been signed.
Don’t fall in love with
The Man Who Knew Too Much.

185 – The Oscar Love Curse: Legends and Lore of The Academy Awards

From Joan Crawford to Sandra Bullock, Bette Davis to Hilary Swank,  actresses who win Academy Awards are said to have been cursed in love shortly after. In fact, everyone from Forbes to National Public Radio to The Washington Post have talked about it.

For example, Emma Thompson wins Best Actress for Howard’s End in 1993 and by 1994, it’s revealed that Kenneth Branagh was fooling around with Helena Bonham-Carter on the set of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a year later. They’re divorced in 1995.

Reese Witherspoon wins for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk The Line in 2006, five months later she is divorced from her husband Ryan Philippe.

Renee Zellweger is dating Jack White (from The White Stripes) in 2004 and she wins Best Supporting Actress for Cold Mountain, several months later, they split up.

And those are just a few of the more modern examples. Hollywood breakups have been happening to Oscar winners since the Academy Awards started, but is there any truth to the “Oscar Love Curse”? And is it always women who are unlucky? What about the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor winners?

Hollywood Ghost Tour guide and WhatsYourGhostStory.com founder Scott Markus joins Wendy and I to get the facts behind the Oscar Love Curse and we also dish some more fun paranormal facts about Hollywood’s biggest night, The Academy Awards.

oscar love curse
1999 Gwyneth sure seemed happy, two months before her breakup with fellow Oscar winner, Ben Affleck

This week’s song is all about relationships collapsing and the feelings afterwards, it’s Sunspot’s ode to bitter breakups, “Eat Out My Heart”.

I’ve been waiting so long for you to call,
but now you’re finally here and I’m a wreck.
Worked out a little, even did my hair,
but I’m not the man I used to be back there.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up.

I dodged a bullet,
One or two since then,
You’re not the only one who still calls me up.
I’m still the jerkoff who listens to your problems,
I never told you all the times,
I’d wished you died in a car crash.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up, I hope your life sucks.

I’m eating out my heart.
I’m eating out my heart.

And I’m not happy for you,
That you’re a better person without me.
I’m so glad you decided to apologize,
When I’m too numb to care,
I’m just too numb to care.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up.

90 – Houdini & Doyle: The True Story Behind Their Paranormal Bromance

So, Wendy and I recorded this episode while on a trip to the sunny California Dream Factory and saw the previews for a show we’d talked about all the way back in Episode 36 – Paranormal Lit 101: Victorian Horror with Brian J. Showers. Houdini & Doyle is the show that turns the friendship between escape artist Harry Houdini and Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into a crime solving duo. We haven’t seen it yet, but we thought we’d talk about the real relationship between the two men, who were on very different sides of the Spiritualism equation in the 1920s.

For a fun little side note, we not only went back to visited with rock photographer Jimmy Steinfeldt, the Rock n’ Roll Lens (get his awesome book of rock photography here!) at his studio in Laurel Canyon . Fun fact, it was formerly the home of Gary Kurtz, a producer on Star Wars, but more importantly for us, producer on Return To Oz (which I’ve referenced in this podcast way too many times!)  So that was a nice little dose of extra nerdery for me.

And here’s the nice tribute to Prince that was on the Rock Walk at Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard.

Lovely tribute to #Prince at the Rock Walk.

A photo posted by sunspotmike (@sunspotmike) on

Spiritualism was the movement that grew to massive heights in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. With so many people dying in the American Civil War and the massive loss of life that occurred in the First World War, people were desperate for ways to contact their deceased loved ones. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of these, he was always interested in the supernatural, but became obsessed after losing his first wife in 1906 and his son shortly before the end of World War I.

doyle & houdini
Here’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with that smoking walrus look that was so hot at the turn of the century.

Spiritualist mediums would hold séances where spirit faces would appear, strange knocks and sounds would respond as answers to questions, ectoplasm would manifest seemingly from nowhere, fingerprints would show up on the table that weren’t from any of the attendees. The mediums said that they could talk to the dead and Conan Doyle ate it right up.

Houdini & Doyle
Houdini gonna getcha!

Harry Houdini was the most famous magician in the world and it wasn’t uncommon for performers like himself to claim that they had real supernatural powers. But when his beloved mother passed away, Harry was desperate to talk to her again. He attended séance after séance to try and find some evidence of the paranormal, of a connection to the afterlife. But he knew the stage and he knew sleight of hand, he knew how to trick people and he knew when he was being tricked. Houdini debunked every one of the mediums he came into contact with.

houdini & doyle
Peanut butter and chocolate, at last!

They met in New York City in 1920 when the author was doing a weeklong stint of speeches at Carnegie Hall about Spiritualism. Houdini found Conan Doyle an intelligent counterpoint to his skepticism and Doyle thought that Houdini had magical powers and that he was just covering up his supernatural abilities by saying it was all illusion. They even went on a little jaunt to Atlantic City together where in the swimming pool, Houdini amazed the old Scotsman with how long he could hold his breath underwater.

Eventually things started going south when Sir Arthur had his wife do a special medium session where she claimed to be able to contact Harry’s mother through automatic writing (that’s where spirits take over the hand of the writer or influence their subconscious to communicate with the living .) It went on for hours but Houdini was just disappointed in the end when the mother wrote in perfect English (she was Hungarian and knew very little of the language of their American adopted home) and also when she made no mention of it being her birthday on the day she made contact (a fact that only Houdini knew in the room.)

Their relationship continued to cool off when Houdini was on a special investigation panel for Scientific American and he debunked a medium named Mina “Margery” Crandon that Conan Doyle championed.

But even the world’s most famous escape artist couldn’t escape the Grim Reaper. He died  on Halloween in 1926. His wife Bess held a séance every year on the anniversary of his death until after ten years she quit, believing that she never got the special message that Harry promised to send her from the other side.

Because this episode really is about being desperate to know that there’s something   wanting to contact the loved ones who have gone before them, we thought that our track, “Viking Funeral” would be appropriate because it’s a tribute to those we’ve left behind.

To the dearly departed,
and all the human sacrifice,
and to all the broken hearted,
who never got to roll the dice.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.

For all the broken arrows,
who never hit the mark,
We’ll see you on the flambeaus,
as we sing dirges in the dark.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.
credits

40 – The Ghosts of Hollywood Boulevard: A Haunted Travelogue

Mike went on a trip last weekend to California and decided to go down the path of some well-known spirits while he was out there, he read an article that said that the ghosts of Hollywood Boulevard had the most haunts per capita of any place in Los Angeles, well, he just had to check it out.

Stop 1 – Hollywood And Vine

Photo May 15, 7 02 54 PM

Photo May 15, 7 02 35 PM

At this famous intersection, it’s said that the ghost of Lon Chaney (the original cinematic Phantom of The Opera) would wait by the bus for failed audition after failed audtion, and it’s sad that’s where continues to wait years after his death.

Photo May 15, 7 05 00 PM

Photo May 15, 7 03 04 PM

Stop 2 – Pantages Theatre

This famous theatre was built by billionaire/crazypants Howard Hughes, and he’s still said to roam the halls. However, Wendy thought the story of the lost wardrobe director who was guided through the darkness by an invisible hand to be even more chilling.

Photo May 15, 7 07 08 PM

Stop 3 – Hollywood and Highland

Photo May 15, 6 13 28 PM

Photo May 15, 6 13 31 PM

This strange Egyptian-themed outdoor mall is right next to the Kodak Theatre and the Loews Hotel, it’s the Hollywood when they tell people on American Idol that they’re “going to Hollywood”. It’s also the site of the old Hollywood Hotel, where the cinema’s first teenage heartthrob, Rudolph Valentino, is said to still haunt.

Photo May 15, 6 13 39 PM

Stop 4 – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Photo May 15, 7 30 02 PM

Probably the most famous theater in Los Angeles, this is the place where you see the stars put their hands in the concrete. There’s a vengeful ghost of a murdered actor who is said to prowl the theater and there’s the tale of Fritz (plus we mention a scary display from one of the theater’s spirits-in-residence.)

Stop 5 – Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Photo May 15, 7 32 54 PM

We take a step back to Hollywood’s more glamorous past with the Hollywood Roosevelt. Mike and Wendy tell a ridiculous story from the last time they visited there together, and then we talk about the spirits of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift who are said to still haunt the building.

Photo May 15, 8 13 21 PM

Photo May 15, 8 13 24 PM

Stop 6 – Griffith Park

Photo May 15, 12 56 42 PM

Photo May 15, 1 05 34 PM

Mike needed to do some hills to prepare for his upcoming marathon and decided to tackle the road to Griffith Observatory, a strange place indeed, not only cursed by a scorned heiress and is home to the spirit of a suicide, but is also the residence of a pair of lovers who were killed by a felled tree in the middle of the act itself!

Photo May 15, 12 48 17 PM

Photo May 15, 1 09 31 PM

Photo May 15, 1 07 57 PM

Stop 7 – The Seventh Veil

Photo May 16, 2 22 16 AM

Well, since Mike grew up as a monster Mötley Crüe fan, it only seemed right that he visit the famous gentlemen’s club that is said to have inspired their song, “Girls, Girls, Girls” (funny enough Mike didn’t realize that song was about a strip club until a few years ago, having listened to it for years he just thought it was about propositioning girls. Only when he was walking in Paris and stumbled across the Crazy Horse, did he realize, “Oh my god, Mötley Crüe was talking about a strip club!”)

But the name, “The Seventh Veil” not only comes from an Oscar-winning movie (with the always awesome James Mason!), it is also a biblical reference, one of the few gentlemen’s entertainment places to have such a pedigree!

Oscar Wilde, writer of The Picture of Dorian Gray as well as The Centerville Ghost (so he himself was no stranger to paranormal fiction!) wrote a play in Biblical times called Salomé, about the daughter-in-law of King Herod and introduced the concept of the Seventh Veil into his story. The girl performs the Dance of the Seven Veils (something of his complete invention, because the kind of dance is not mentioned in any of the histories) but it was based on the Middle Eastern dances where the girls had veils and Orientalism and Egyptology was very chic at the time – places like the the Oriental Theater and even Hollywood & Highland today were all about that early 20th century fascination with the Middle East!

Ghosts of Hollywood Boulevard Links

Encyclopedia Britannica on Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Haunting

Haunted Hollywood: Where the A-List Ghosts Hang Out, Joal Ryan, Yahoo! omg

The Ghosts and Monsters of the Cursed Griffith Park, Creepy LA

“Haunted Hollywood: 4. Howard Hughes & the Pantages Theater”, Encyclopedia Britannica Blog

This week’s song, “Spotlight” by Sunspot

She always did what what she was supposed to do,
she never cried, or complained.
But she never knew where she was going to,
if this was right, why was it so mundane?

Looking back was a bad dream,
of near misses and lost opportunities,
but when she picks up that mic at Friday Karaoke,
she’s finally who she wants to be.

Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey,
and not the drama of her life.
An American Idol that might be temporary,
She just wants her little place in the spotlight.

She always did what she was told to,
please and thank you, yessir and no ma’am,
but no one cared what she was going through,
work at this, study that, marry him, and don’t look back.

Cuz what she saw was a bad dream,
of near misses and lost opportunities,
but when she picks up that mic at Friday Karaoke,
she’s finally who she wants to be.

Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey,
and not the drama of her life.
An American Idol that might be temporary,
She just wants her little place in the spotlight.