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.