Posts Tagged ‘Elke Sommer’

I was thinking it was time for a good ghost story. I was tossing around some ideas in my head when I recalled something I’d seen on TV as a child. Of course we didn’t have any Discovery Channel back then, but the program was definitely a documentary type. It featured haunted houses and the people who lived in them. I remember the narrator talked with a family who lived in a house in which a rocking chair rocked with no one sitting in it. That felt a little hokey so I wasn’t spooked. It was when the narrator interviewed a person I recognized that I scooted to the edge of my seat.

Sommer and Sellers in "A Shot in the Dark" (1964)

Sommer and Sellers in "A Shot in the Dark" (1964)

It was the beautiful, blonde, and sexy Hollywood actress Elke Sommer (b.1940). She was familiar to me because she had played the voluptuous maid Maria opposite Peter Sellers in the second Pink Panther movie, “A Shot in the Dark” (1964), which ReadersDigest.com names as one of the top funniest 50 films of all times. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Sellers) trails after Maria whom he suspects of committing multiple murders, one of which is in a nudist camp.There’s a hilarious scene of Maria and Clouseau fleeing through Paris naked.a-shot-in-the-dark-movie-poster

Anyway, Elke and her husband Hollywood columnist and Bogart’s best friend Joe Hyams (1923-2009) lived in Benedict Canyon in North Beverly Hills. They claimed that a ghost was living in their house. My husband Tom also remembers seeing the same show when he was young.  “They (Elke and Joe) had a ghost in their dining room,” he recalled. “The chairs would move around at night. They would put marks on the floor below the chairs before they went to bed, then, the next morning, they’d look, and the chairs wouldn’t be standing on the marks anymore. The chairs would be all over the place.”

In the middle of the night, Elke and Joe would wake up to what sounded like a dinner party going on downstairs in the dining room, hearing voices, chairs scooting, glasses tinkling, and silverware clanging. Yet they would go downstairs and no one would be there. Elke said, “Things would move all the time and it would be very noisy and (it was) the usual poltergeist nonsense, you know.” (1) The ghost was described as being a middle-aged man wearing a white shirt. (2)

After battling the spirits with no relief, they called in some help, contacting the Parapsychological Institute at UCLA. When Life photographer Allan Grant arrived at the house to take some pictures, he was a sceptic – but not so when he left. He said:

Something happened that spooked me. On one roll of film that I shot in a particular room where they first spotted the ghost there were about four or five frames of film that were progressively fogged down to the end of the frame, giving it a ghostlike appearance, especially (of) Joe Hyams, who was in the shot. When that was processed and I took a look at it, I thought, there’s no way that would happen…in the center of a roll…something else had happened that I couldn’t explain and I’ve spent years as a photographer and that had never happened to me before….Something did happen in that house. (1)

The haunting continued. A mysterious fire erupted one night. Fortunately, Joe and Elke were able to get out through a window. Shortly thereafter, they moved out of the house permanently. (1) Joe Hyams wrote a book about it called The Day I Gave Up the Ghost. Evidently, though, the ghost didn’t give up. The “severely haunted house” at 2633 Benedict Canyon “was bought and sold more than seventeen times since Sommers vacated it, and many have reported ghostly phenomena.” (3)

(1) youtube interview: “Actress Elke Sommer with a Poltergeist.”
(2) California Paranormal Travel Guide.
(3) Ghosts of Hollywood: Celebrities Who Have Seen Ghosts. http://paranormal.about.com/cs/trueghoststories/a/aa022304_3.htm

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