Ghost of Lon Chaney once played a part in a City Councel controversy
by Allan R. Ellenberger
Would you believe that the ghost of actor Lon Chaney once played a prominent role in a heated controversy at the Los Angeles City Council? It’s true. It seems that Chaney’s ghost was reportedly seen sitting on a public bench at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Then in October 1942, Chaney’s bench disappeared and his ghost no longer was seen. Whether anything paranoral played a role in the mysterious disappearance of the bench are questions that councilman Norris Nelson was demanding.
The reputed visitation of the ghost was mentioned at a Council meeting by Nelson as he announced he was against granting permits to various businesses to place benches, painted with colored advertisments, on street corners or in the middle of the block.
The Lon Chaney Bench that Councilman Norris Nelson placed on the northeast corner of Hollywood and Vine where Chaney’s ghost was reportedly seen. Lon Chaney Jr. is at the far left.
Before he became a councilman, Nelson claimed that he put an ornamental iron bench on the northeast corner of Hollywood and Vine and there it remained for fifteen years (see photo above).
“Lon Chaney used to sit on that bench and wait for a bus when he was an extra boy,” declared Nelson. “When he became a star he used to drive by it and pick up poor devils who were still extras: after he died his ghost was reported seen sitting on the bench and finally a spot was reserved for the ghost and nobody ever sat in it.”
Nelson indicated that his bench was becoming famous when one morning, only a few weeks before, he noticed that it had vanished and in its place was another that had an advertisement for a certain brand of cigars that sold for two for 5 cents.
“No self-respecting ghost would sit on such a bench,” maintained the councilman. “I want my bench put back.”
Unfortunately the results of the City Councils decision was never made public. Evidently Norris failed in his attempts because benches with advertisements have been placed around Los Angeles ever since. Until recently, a bench still graced the northeast corner of Hollywood and Vine at the bus stop. Below is a recent photo of that corner – ghostless and benchless.
The northeast corner of Hollywood and Vine where the Lon Chaney bench once sat