A hundred years prior, the coastal expanse of Malibu was known as the untamed "western edge" of Los Angeles. Situated between the Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean's embrace, Duke's foundation is steeped in the city's more turbulent tales — accompanied by an array of haunting legends. Originally, this coastal promontory housed the Las Flores Inn restaurant and its neighboring brothel, a haven for gambling and assorted indulgences catering to the visiting "east siders."
However, the landscape changed in 1944 when a passionate Greek immigrant, Chris “The Captain” Polos, acquired Las Flores Inn, transforming it into his masterpiece, The Sea Lion. With an unwavering commitment, The Captain oversaw the venue for four decades, eventually passing it onto the present proprietors of Duke's Malibu, with a singular caveat: he would remain as the chief overseer. Though The Captain passed away in 1986 at nearly a century old, many argue that his dedication transcends mortality.
Today, while Duke's primarily exudes a warm Hawaiian spirit, its staff often shares their personal experiences with the establishment's otherworldly inhabitants. Regular sightings include The Captain, meticulously overseeing his domain, as tangible as he was in life. A more ethereal female figure is also rumored to drift by the expansive 300-foot oceanfront pane or vigilantly monitor the women's restroom, ensuring gentlemanly intruders are kept at bay.
In tune with Duke's commitment to stellar hospitality, the local phantoms, as legend has it, maintain a friendly demeanor. Solitary patrons occasionally recount ghostly servers, attentively inquiring if there’s any further assistance required to enhance their dining experience.
Malibu's renowned hiking locales play host to one of its most chilling legends. Before Solstice Canyon's sprawling 1,000 acres became accessible to the public in 1988, they were the domain of prosperous Santa Monica merchant Fred Roberts. In 1952, alongside his wife Florence, Fred envisioned the "Tropical Terrace" — an exquisite mansion conceived by the esteemed architect Paul Williams, nestled amid verdant greenery and cascading waterfalls. Truly a haven even among the most opulent beach homes for sale in Malibu.
Fred's earthly journey concluded in 1976. A mere six years thereafter, ferocious Santa Ana breezes breathed life into a devastating inferno, reducing his architectural wonder to mere stone and ash. Yet, numerous hikers opine that Fred's essence might have chosen to remain. Close to the remnants of his once-grand abode, his lamenting spirit is occasionally perceived, manifesting as a fleeting blaze.
Mysterious cold spots, unsettling murmurs amidst rustling foliage, and other goosebump-inducing phenomena have been documented along the Solstice Canyon pathways. One particularly riveting tale that captivates paranormal enthusiasts is that of the "scorched apparition." Perhaps a casualty of the area's wildfires or the calamity at Tropical Terrace, her presence is said to be heralded by the distinct aroma of smoldering embers, evoking an eerie sensation in those nearby.
Saddle Peak Lodge:
Beyond the regular bustle of business, a serene hush envelops the famed Calabasas landmark in a way that words barely capture. Nestled amidst the untamed foothills of Malibu, it's a silence that echoes the rich tapestry of stories the place has witnessed.
The establishment's chronicles stretch back to the 1880s. Once a modest eatery and supply shop, it was a magnet for adventurers - cowboys, hunters, miners, and oil workers who paused here to replenish, sip the homemade “Hillbilly Elixir,” and exchange tales under the looming silhouette of Saddle Peak. With time, the locale transitioned into the summer haven of Crater Camp, and eventually a favored Hollywood retreat, gathering vivid anecdotes of life, love, and tragedy well into the 20th century.
In its current avatar, the Saddle Peak Lodge, celebrated as a top-tier restaurant, might seem petite behind its verdant veil. Yet, step inside, and one is greeted by a labyrinthine sprawl of rooms, each testament to its architectural evolution over a hundred years. With interiors enriched by wood and indigenous stone, the space is an ode to yesteryears, adorned with antiques, enigmatic art, lifelike taxidermy, and reputedly, regular spectral happenings.
Table 41, for instance, is occasionally occupied by a ghostly maiden with raven-black tresses. Legends also speak of a spirit, a jovial gambler who enjoys rearranging the liquor as he wanders. In the ladies' powder room, there are whispers of a mirror serving as a trap for a rather unpleasant past visitor, and many believe the entrance hall is a hotspot for ethereal activities.
Travelers in the Santa Monica Mountains should not only savor the Lodge's Michelin-acclaimed exotic dishes but also linger for a possible brush with the other side. On special nights, the fortuitous might even catch the distant laughter of Richard Burton and the glitterati of yore, as they playfully feed coyotes from the establishment’s secluded patios.
If you like many others are intrigued by some of Malibu’s most iconic historical landmarks like Saddle Peak Lodge, or are simply looking to explore other haunted properties for sale in Malibu, feel free to reach out to the top real estate agent in Malibu for a Ghostly Tour.
Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe:
Malibu's most celebrated phantom might well be Thelma Todd, a luminous Hollywood icon dubbed "The Ice Cream Blonde." From 1926 to 1935, she graced the silver screen in over 120 films, both full-length and shorts. In the sunlit months of 1934, she inaugurated a charming pavement café along the PCH, swiftly establishing it as an essential haunt for travelers and Tinseltown's elite.
Tragically, in December 1935, the world lost Todd when she was discovered lifeless in her automobile, parked ominously close to her beloved eatery, at the tender age of 29. Although the official verdict pointed to accidental carbon monoxide inhalation, those closest to her harbored doubts.
Now, almost a century later, the shadow of uncertainty continues to enshroud the circumstances of Todd’s demise, with murmurs of foul play lingering. Often likened to the iconic Marilyn Monroe of her time, some speculate that Todd's stardom might have drawn the darker elements of society, aiming to exploit her prominence for their own gains. Among the whispered theories, there's talk of a confrontation with the notorious Lucky Luciano. Keen on extending his underworld influence in L.A., Luciano may have envisioned Todd's star-studded café as a prime setting for a covert gaming den.
Given the abrupt end to her rising star, many believe that Todd’s spirit remains tethered to Malibu. Numerous accounts speak of sightings of her elegant apparition meandering near her namesake café's current site and ascending the outdoor steps to her erstwhile residence overhead.
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