Aspiring starlet Peg Entwistle jumped to her death from the “H” in the Hollywood sign in 1932. Has it been haunted ever since?
Megan Santos was jogging her usual path on the Griffith Trails, high above Los Angeles, on a night late last year, when she started to sneeze. She was overcome by what she described as a “weird feeling” and the overpowering scent of gardenias. The shivers were nothing compared to what came next.
“And then, there was this woman with blond hair and she seemed to be, like . . . walking on air,” Santos told VF Hollywood recently. “I immediately ran the other way.”
That woman, if you believe the stories, was Peg Entwistle—or, rather, the ghost of Peg Entwistle, an early-film starlet who leapt 45 feet to her death from the Hollywood sign’s “H” in 1932, and who some say has haunted the famous landmark ever since.
Like so many other actors of the Golden Era, Entwistle came to Hollywood looking for her big break. She was an up-and-coming actress on Broadway from the mid-1920s to the early 1930s, and she made the move to Los Angeles hoping to be the next screen siren of the decade. But Entwistle struggled to stand apart in Tinseltown, and she ended up out of work in a sea of pretty faces; her first big role, in David O. Selznick’s Thirteen Women, was cut from the final film.
So on the grim night of September 16, 1932, this beautiful Hollywood actress, stricken with grief and reportedly intoxicated, set off into the darkness. She hiked from her uncle’s home to the Hollywood sign (which then read “Hollywoodland”) and clambered up the rickety maintenance ladder to the top of the letter “H” before throwing herself to her death.
The next day, an unidentified female hiker found Peg’s body along with a single shoe, jacket, purse and suicide note which read: “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”
The ghost stories first appeared in the 1940s after the same “H” from which Entwistle jumped mysteriously toppled over, fueling the rumors that her ghost haunted the landmark. Nearly half a century later, in 1990, a young couple hiking the Griffith Park trails stopped dead in their tracks when a disoriented blond woman dressed in 1930s clothing vanished before their eyes. Apparently, the couple was completely unaware of Entwistle’s suicide.
Throughout the years, many Griffith Park Rangers have claimed to see “the ghost of the Hollywood sign,” especially on foggy nights. According to legend, the ghost is typically accompanied by the same smell of gardenias jogger Megan Santos said overcame her. It’s reportedly the scent of Entwistle’s favorite perfume.
The ghost story has gotten nods all over pop culture, including my own upcoming book, Hollywood Witch Hunter. The 2009 movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief made the “H” on the Hollywood sign the gate to Hades, and the 1998 movie City of Angels had angels standing on the sign. And Entwistle’s story has popped up on any number of television shows that specialize in ghost stories:
This post was written by Nadia Vella