The Magic Castle in Hollywood is a world famous landmark. This beautiful mansion is a private club for magicians. Entrance to the club is only available to members and their guests. I first entered the club as the guest of member who also happened to be one of the managers. Eventually, I auditioned and became a member. I also spent a year working there as a manager. Having spent as much time up there as I have up there, I cannot say that the place is haunted, but I can say that some spooky things have happened there.
The first ghost most people encounter at the Magic Castle is Irma. Irma plays piano. If you’re nice to her, she will play your requests. She tends to apparate sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 most evenings and hangs around until midnight or a bit after. Irma is also capable of carrying on conversations by playing musical answers to questions. I met Irma on my first or second visit to the Magic Castle, and we hit it off immediately. We’ve been friends ever since.
Upstairs in the Magic Castle is a room where seances are conducted. The Magic Castle has a medium who usually performs the seances though a number of members are able to do so. While the attempt at the Magic Castle has generally been to reach Harry Houdini, rumors are that contact has been made with others. One of the written instructions for the managers when closing up the seance room is to say “Good night, Harry. Good night, Bess.” before locking the room. When I worked as a manager, I never failed to wish Harry and Bess goodnight. After all, they were paying me to do it.
As you wander through the hallways, you will hear other members talk a magician who was performing at the Castle, and who passed away between his second and third show. Then there is the story of a magician who passed away and the next night his framed picture was knocked to the floor. Then there is the gentleman who always sat at the same seat in the bar. The night he passed away, the lights burned out in the area around his seat.
The building that is the Magic Castle is over 100 years old and has certainly had time to become haunted. Though I’ve seen and heard the other ghosts, there is one that most folks do not hear about. While working as a manager, I often had to close the house up. While being alone in a large building and turning off lights as you go can create a spooky atmosphere, I never felt nervous about doing this. The truth was, there was always at least someone from security or food service who would be up in the office so the house wasn’t empty.
There were nights while closing up that I felt there was someone else in the house. It happened rarely. It was never threatening. It wasn’t about a cold spot or a draft location which I might have written off to big drafty building. I sometimes experienced it in the lobby. Sometimes I felt it in the Close-Up Gallery, walking up the stairs, by the Owl bar, and in the dining rooms. I felt it sometimes climbing the stairs to the offices. I never felt it by the Palace, the Parlour or down in the Inner Circle.
The first time I felt it, I had just checked the front door and was coming back through the lobby. As I entered the main bar area, I felt someone standing behind me. I turned to look and saw no one. I wrote it off to my own imagination. I had the experience once again a couple of weeks later. This was a very clear sensation. It wasn’t someone sneaking up on me. It was just someone standing next to me. It wasn’t scary or malevolent. It was simply persistent. Even when I turned to look and could not see anyone, I could not shake the feeling someone was there.
I did ask Irma (who has been around the Castle much longer than I have) if she knew of other ghosts in the place. She told me she did not know. Then she began to play the theme from the television show The Munsters.
The strangest encounter I had was with a someone I could not see who held my hand the way a small child might. I was walking through a dimly lit room when I had the distinct feeling of a child grabbing my left hand. I looked down to make sure, and saw no one. I remember saying, “it’s okay. I’m with you.” By the time I entered the hallway, the hand had let go of mine.
As a magician, I’m on the look out for tricks. I know how others in my trade use their skills to create things that seem real. I also know that the mind can play tricks on us. I also know that Hamlet got it right. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamnt of in your philosophy.” There are things out there that defy explanation. Was mine a ghostly encounter? Irma wasn’t sure if there were other ghosts in the house. I’m reluctant to say what or who was there with me on those nights in the Magic Castle.