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Chaplin's Ghost By The Sea


I never believed in the paranormal until I moved to Southern California two years ago and I heard the following story for the first time. Being the world's biggest skeptic I quickly dismissed it. However, some unexplainable curiosity kept drawing me back to it. I teach a psychology course at a local college. For fun, I gave my students an assignment to research what I had thought to be nothing more than an urban legend. What my students came up with left me absolutely dumbfounded. Not only did the story turn out to be legitimate, but there was more to it than I had originally thought. I had to see for myself.

I went to the Santa Monica library where they have an amazing archive of publications dating back to the early 20th century. To my surprise there was ample information about the death and it did finally put my skepticism to rest on the actual events that took place. There was however, still the matter of getting testimonials of the actual residents in the building. That was the easy part of my research. When I visited the building, I found the residents to be very friendly and very willing to talk about their own encounters with the ghost. It was almost as if they were relieved to finally have an audience. Someone to just listen. With no further ado, here is the story.

Charlie Chaplin used to own several of the large buildings that sit near and along the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles. In the day, these buildings were commonly used as bath houses and lodging for well-to-do vacationers. Today, these buildings have been converted to apartment buildings and are occupied by local artists, musicians, and other creative types that now inhabit Venice Beach. Incidentally these buildings cradle around the famous 26 Westminster Ave. It has been documented in print as well as Chaplin's films that during the early 1900's he did much of his filming in and around these properties on Westminster Avenue.

In 1915, during the filming of "By the Sea," Chaplin's body double mysteriously disappeared from the film set. Production was put on hold for three days and a full on man-hunt was instated. After turning up empty handed it was assumed that the long time friend of Chaplin's must have quit and left on his own recognizance. The studio that was financially backing the film was losing money. Under haste, Chaplin was forced to replace his body double and continue production of the film.

On the seventh day after the disappearance, Chaplin returned to his dressing room after a day of shooting. His dressing room was located in the basement of the now famous building, 26 Westminster Ave. It is documented that Chaplin, while accompanied by an entourage, entered the room to discover his body double and long time friend lying dead on the floor, arms and feet bound, soaking wet, and tangled in seaweed. The man appeared to have been deceased for several days. How he ended up on the floor of Chaplin's dressing room after missing for almost an entire week is still to this day a complete mystery.

The now inhabitants of the famous building claim to still hear strange noises emanating from the walls of someone walking through shallow water. Others have heard distant cries for help. In addition to the assortment of disturbing sounds, there have been several sightings of what appears to be a man bound by the hands and feet standing in luminous corners of the large building. Quite possibly the most blood curdling detail of all these sitings is what the man is seen wearing. He's dressed the same way he was the day he disappeared. A Chaplin-esque tuxedo coat with tails and the proverbial black derby hat.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, ProfessorCharles, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Cersed240 (2 stories) (26 posts)
8 years ago (2014-11-01)
I know it's been a couple years since you wrote this, but I find this extremely fascinating. I used to live in Historic Niles CA. Where Charlie Chaplin's Essanay Studio used to be. Thanks for the story.
Hellquin (15 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-10)
Oh wow, I'm a HUGE Charlie Chaplin fan, that is such an amazing story, thank you for sharing!
flamingschizoid (22 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-08)
Or it could be that old wicked William Randolf Hurst was trying to send a message to old charlie at the time! Lolol I mean everyone knows that old Charlie Beded every girl he could back then including William's mistress Marion Davias! Or it might have been some other jilted guy who wanted to send charlie a message. Hay you never know!

Last theory:

The killers might have thought the double was charlie and made a mistake and bumped the wrong guy. Again; you never know. 😆
jjinca (7 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-08)
Professor Charles,

Great story! I'm from Los Angeles, and may have to swing by that area to check it out. I agree with KimSouth and would love to hear the eyewitness accounts.

-JJ in CA
Javelina (4 stories) (3749 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-06)
This story seems vaguely familiar, although I could be mixing it up with the story about the sound stage where he used to film a lot of his movies. I do remember something about the hauntings there.
Nevertheless, this is a very interesting twist on the many Chaplin haunting stories. And you did a very good job of presenting it, I'll have to call home now and see what info I can drag out of my sisters. Thanks for sharing!
Vikstal (4 stories) (64 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-06)
This really sounds like an urban myth, especially when there's a famous person attached to it. Plus, this "I was a skeptic before this experience" talk kind of gives it away that the person really wasn't that skeptical in the first place and are trying to make their story to sound more credible. Now I am a skeptic and wouldn't believe anything in a rush.

Interesting story nevertheless. 😉
DARKNESS (3 stories) (2022 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
ProfessorCharles: What a great story I'm definitely going to have to look more into this, as I have never heard of this before. Google here I come! 😁

Thanks for sharing.

Petersspirit (4 stories) (144 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
Hello professorCharles,

I so enjoyed reading your sharing. Like the other posters I would love to read more about this. Imagine, having to haunt the earth as someone's double! I hope for this poor spirit that one day they find out who was responsible for his un timely death so he can find peace.

Lilady4 (7 stories) (427 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
What a wonderful story! (well, sad about how the guy died) And very interesting.
Love & Light, Rachel ❤
lynrinth (guest)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
Living in that building would give me the chills. *shivers* Then I would probably move out. Great story.
cosmogal926 (9 stories) (1223 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
Great story! I have never heard of this haunting either, but it is Fascinating like KimSouthO said 😁 Please tell us more and if they ever found out who murdered Chaplin's double. 😊
taz890 (12 stories) (1380 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
what an interesting post realy enjoyed this one thanks for posting and a great story to make a beleaver of you too.
Will have to look into this one and hope to find something online about it.
Sporky (1 stories) (17 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
I live in L.A. (born and raised) and have heard about this haunting too. Great story!
KimSouthO (27 stories) (1960 posts)
11 years ago (2011-04-05)
Fascinating! More, More! I would like to hear some of the eye witness accounts you have gotten. I have never heard this story. I am anxious to hear more!

God Bless!

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