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Joan's Haunted Brentwood Home
from Hollywood and the Supernatural (1990)
by Sherry Hansen-Steiger and Brad Steiger
Few actresses have rivaled Joan Crawford for star glamour and staying
power as one of Hollywood's top movie queens. Her stardom spanned an
amazing five decades and included such films as Our Dancing Daughters
(1928), Rain (1932), Johnny Guitar (1954), and her Academy Award-winning performance in Mildred Pierce (1945).
Joan Crawford epitomized the essence of the Hollywood rags-to-riches
story -- a poor shopgirl who, in the 1920s, becomes the very embodiment
of America's "flaming youth" and then transcends the role of "dancing
daughter" to emerge the heroine of America's favorite melodramas.
In 1978, Christina Crawford, Joan's adopted daughter, wrote Mommie
Dearest and shocked the United States with her heart-wrenching story
of what it was really like growing up with one of Hollywood's most
famous leading ladies. Mommie Dearest was on the New York Times best-seller list for forty-two weeks and was made into a 1981 film starring Faye Dunaway.
In 1989, we heard rumors of haunting manifestations in Joan Crawford's former home, and Christina seemed genuinely surprised that we
knew about the stories.
"Not many people know that the house I grew up in may be haunted. It
is not in print anywhere," she said.
When asked if there were manifestations or hauntings that she could
remember as a child living there, Christina recounted the following:
I have vivid memories of some things, but when you are severely
As a child, I was always told that I had an active and vivid
But as a child, I saw things in the house! There was, of course, no
Any time I would become extremely frightened and would get out of my
I used to have terrible nightmares and that kind of thing, but a lot
Christina told us that she had not been back to the house since she
was seventeen. "That was when I went to college [in 1956], at which
point, Crawford still owned the house."
Christina recalled her last day there:
I remember the woman who had taken care of me and my two younger
Many years after I had left, we met again. She was now an elderly
Christina had learned recently that the current owners of the house
had called in the Reverend Rosalyn Bruyere of the Healing Light
Center to work with the house:
Rosalyn described what she had seen in the house when she went there.
"As she was dying," Christina said, "Crawford opened her eyes and
said directly to the woman, 'Don't you dare ask God to help me!' ...and then she died." It was such arrogance, Christina said, that she
believes is a major part of the difficulty with the seemingly accursed house.
And that has nothing to do with me! So it would not surprise me in
My brother and I were absolutely terrified of her. In fact, there is
Later, we were able to contact the Reverend Rosalyn Bruyere of the
Healing Light Center, who kindly agreed to share her thoughts on the
manifestations in Joan Crawford's former home.
"It is true that the house was afflicted with spontaneous fires,
primarily in the wall behind where Joan Crawford's bed used to be.
However, I did not pick up that Joan Crawford's ghost was there."
The Reverend Bruyere expressed her opinion that the house had been
poisoned in some way before Crawford had moved into the place but
that the evil in the house had added to Joan's neuroses. The actress
had apparently built onto a pre-existing cottage in a very chaotic
"Nothing is where it should be," Rosalyn commented. "She added dining
rooms and hallways that led to other dining rooms. It all combines to
form an H-shaped house. Turn a corner and you're lost."
The noted healer, who in this case served as an exorcist to clear the
home, said that she found the haunting existing in levels.
"It was a place of conspicuous negativity. I called it an 'Astral
Central,' a gathering of spirits that were attracted to the negative
vibrations. People had been tied up and tortured in that house. I
picked up on gangland figures, corrupt politicians. There is an area
in the house where a child [not Christina] had been tortured and
molested. Terrible things went on in that house."
The Reverend felt that ghosts themselves were trying to burn the
"Once the Beverly Hills Fire Department spent four days there
attempting to solve the mystery of the spontaneous fires that would
break out on the walls," she said. "I feel the spirits were trying to
burn the house down to protect some horrible secret. There is something hidden there. I am certain that there are bodies buried in
She said that there had only been one recurrence in the house after
she had exorcised and cleared it. "The house had become an astral
dumping ground, but it seems clean now."
When we [authors
Brad and Sherry] visited the former Crawford home in the early 1990s, the current owners graciously allowed us to enter to
film a segment for an HBO special on haunted Hollywood. The couple
told us that they had experienced some mysterious pyrotechnic phenomena and had witnessed quite a number of apparitions of quite a
wide variety of entities in various parts of the home. The couple
said that the small cottage next to the swimming pool very often
seemed to be center of haunting phenomena.
We kept in touch with the couple for quite some time. It was not long
after we had filmed in the Crawford home that they decided to move.
We have no comment from them whether or not it was because of any
It would seem over the past decade that the once haunted mansion of
Joan Crawford has found peace, for we have heard of no further ghostly activity occurring in the home.