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A breezy tour through "haunted' Hollywood

Murder. Mystery. Scandal.

Three words Tinseltown is familiar with. During my three-week stay in California for the TV Press Tour last fall, I decided to cover another type of tour: the Haunted Hollywood Tour.

During the 2{-hour excursion, I would see some of Hollywood's most actively haunted sites! Hear the true stories of the town's darkest secrets!

I check out the tour's cheeky ad. It promises visits to the graveyard of the stars, the hotel where John Belushi spent his last night, and the site of the Manson family murders.

Here are the more memorable moments of my tour.

5:58 p.m.: I'm standing near Warren Beatty. Okay, I'm really standing near Warren Beatty's hand and footprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, as I wait for the fun to begin. While waiting, I'm thinking, "Gee, Warren has mighty small hands and feet."

6:04 p.m.: Brian Sapir, our cheery tour guide, arrives. "Are you going to be . . . haunted?" he asks us in his best deep, scary, voice. Not everyone is thrilled. "Don't scare him," chirps one snooty woman as she clutches a young boy's hand. Aw, get a grip, lady.

6:13 p.m.: Fourteen of us board a cramped white van with tinted windows. Some pop song is on the radio. The driver changes stations. Now Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick are crooning That's What Friends Are For. The station is switched again. An old Cameo jam is playing. I tap my feet, bob my head. I'm in '80s heaven. Once again, the driver changes the station. I don't like our driver.

6:19 p.m.: Our driver leaves the van. Sapir replaces him. Silently, I cheer. "Is anyone brave enough to sit in the front seat?" he asks. I volunteer. "Kevin is the co-pilot," Sapir says. "Everybody put your hands together for Kevin."

I get a smattering of applause. Tough crowd; I curse them all under my breath.

6:22 p.m.: Before pulling out, Sapir gives us a final warning. "This tour," he says, "is not for the faint of heart." This guy really gets into his gig.

6:53 p.m.: We arrive at Westwood Memorial Cemetery, the final resting place for such stars as Jack Lemmon, Carroll O'Connor, Natalie Wood, Walter Matthau, and where crypts sell for a whopping $80,000.

"You okay?" Sapir asks one woman. "You look like you're going to faint." No, she doesn't. But Sapir is good at playing up the corny, this-is-so-scary hype.

6:58 p.m.: We get to Marilyn Monroe's crypt. We're told a surveillance camera is pointed at the site at all times because vandals have attempted to break in. Sapir asks us to hold hands so we can pay homage to Marilyn and feel her spirit. An impatient kid giggles. Sapir shoots him a piercing look that scares the kid more than if Marilyn herself had walked out of the crypt.

Sapir is serious: "Notice how a cool breeze wafted over our heads when we were holding hands," he says.

For the record, I felt no breeze. I did, however, have visions of Marilyn dressed in a sexy dress that was seductively blowing up over her head.

7:07 p.m.: I want to get to know our guide better. I ask Sapir how many tours he's done today. "Four," he says. "And it's killing me. One haunted tour a day is enough."

7:18 p.m.: Sapir is telling us about the curse placed on Jayne Mansfield's house. "Engelbert Humperdinck had to tear down the home due to the fact so many people living here had so many horrible things happen to them," he says.

Like? A kid who lived there with his family died joyriding. Mamma Cass died in London. Ringo Starr painted the house white only to see it turn back to peach months later. "In five years, 11 people have lived in the home and they all had fatal doooooooms," Sapir says.

7:32 p.m.: We pass George Reeves' old house. Reeves, of course, ws the title character in the 1950s TV series Superman and committed suicide in 1959 by shooting himself in the head. Some think, however, Reeves was murdered.

Sapir says Reeves' spirit haunts the house. "He was seen in the window as Superman a year after his death," he says. No one seems impressed.

7:35 p.m.: Rudolph Valentino's house is the next stop. The handsome heartthrob died in the house in 1926 under mysterious circumstances. The house was eventually bought by R.J. Reynolds, whose daughter was poisoned in the same house by the butler, with whom she was having an affair. The butler also ended up dead.

"You can almost hear the screams," Sapir deadpans.

Maybe my hearing is bad.

7:38 p.m.: The one place I do feel chills is the site of the grisly 1969 Manson family murders. A kid takes pictures. Sapir gooses him. I keep staring at the site where a pregnant Sharon Tate was butchered and I wonder what the victims' final minutes were like.

7:39 p.m.: Why are we at Tom Cruise's house? Last time I checked, the toothy actor was very much alive. His house is way up in the Hollywood Hills. "For such a short guy, he has such a big house," Sapir cracks.

8:02 p.m.: I'm getting tired. It's been a long day. Sapir is telling us a story about how Lon Chaney's ghost haunts a bus stop at Hollywood and Vine. I'm wondering, "What should I order for room service tonight?"

8:05 p.m.: Is that Michael Myers from Halloween? Oh, God! I've been around Sapir too long. No, the famous masked killer is nowhere to be found, but I am looking at the Los Angeles house where John Carpenter filmed some exteriors for his 1978 horror classic.

8:18 p.m.: My stomach growled . . . loudly.

8:28 p.m.: We're near the end. I'm inside the legendary Roosevelt Hotel. It's dark, quiet and has a creepy Gothic look. I feel like I'm in The Shining. Sapir tells us about Max Baer Sr.'s death from a heart attack on the way to the hotel bar. He asks us to stick out our hands over the railing. "Do you feel it? Sometimes you feel a cool breeze."

What's up with this guy and cool breezes?

8:32 p.m.: Sapir is about to take us to the hotel's "creepiest" room: Room 928. Montgomery Cliff, a notorious chain-smoker, stayed in that room for several months while shooting From Here to Eternity. Sapir says the faint smell of cigarette smoke remains in the air despite the fact no smoking is allowed on the floor. Voices have been heard, Cliff rehearsing his lines, I'm told. Sounds fascinating.

But I'm exhausted. I leave the tour, haunted only by hunger.

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