Marla Brooks,
Ghosts of Hollywood: The Show Still Goes On
(Schiffer, 2008)

Glancing down the table of contents, the reader gets the impression that this book is packed with ghostly encounters, but in truth, the author only gives personal accounts of a few places. For the most part, Marla Brooks recounts local legends of ghosts and hauntings, usually prefaced with "it is said." The actual information doesn't meet the buildup; often, she doesn't even cite other people's experiences but relies on what the legends are or alludes to "reports" of sightings.

The reader is told that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz sometimes haunt sound stage 2 at Hollywood Center Studios where they filmed I Love Lucy, but there is no description of the experience. Marilyn Monroe is reported to have appeared in the women's restroom in the All-Star Theater Cafe & Speakeasy, and so on.

Brooks titles one chapter "Hollywood's Ghostly Urban Legends" and prefaces the anecdotes with a definition of "urban legend." She says that there is often no way to prove or disprove urban legends but also states that some of them are true. (Would that not disqualify them as urban legends?) Also, Brooks is apparently not acquainted with, where she could learn the status of stories such as the mannequin that was really a corpse (true), Walt Disney's cryogenic state (false) and Jayne Mansfield's decapitation in an accident (also false).

Brooks provides addresses for most of the sites in the book, but her organization lacks the style and flair of Cape May Haunts, another title in the series. The anecdotes ramble and soon start to sound alike. If you're going to Hollywood, a copy might be worthwhile, but if you want a good group of ghost stories, try Cape May Haunts.

review by
Donna Scanlon

10 October 2009

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