Hollywood Museum’s Exclusive, Premiere Celebrity Séance, Almost as Soothing as it is Spooky!

Photo by William Kidston; Courtesy of The Hollywood Museum (L-R_ Armik Davoodianes, Lee Purcell, Linda Purl, Ruta Lee, Donelle Dadigan, Freda Payne, Michael Learned, Suzanne Marquez, and Dee Dee Sorvino

“Just woke up from a dream wherein she was in this marble building so large that when you entered it, you could hear quiet murmurings of the breeze blowing through it, and echoey voices/moans of spirits past, and they all sounded like they were in a spiral, such that the noise was circular–Like through a funnel…and Harrison Ford was there, along with Grace Kelly, a bunch of (East) Indian people playing Chess, and a fat, green bird named Brennan… No joke!!!”

As was writ a status update penned (via keyboard) many years ago on Facebook:  The Hollywood Museum’s perspective séance on the night of October 20th 2022, felt much like that – at least at the outset, and for varying parts, minus the fat bird, Grace Kelly, Harrison Ford or any random Chess Players…

Yes, the Hollywood Museum charted new territory on the night in question by embarking on a rare event never before explored in the History of the LA Beat’s coverage, at least not this incarnation.

Hosted by Hollywood Museum President, and Founder Donelle Dadigan, the post-twilight ritual featured the presence of both celebs, and awaited celebrity spirits alike. Though, as to whether the spirits were there in actuality, or…well…in—spirit–remains to be seen – Pending the next few paragraphs anyway…

Photo Courtesy of The Hollywood Museum

Former home to make-up luminary Max Factor, and all manner of classic Hollywood celebs in search of their signature look, the Marble-Clad, Hollywood Regency style, Art Deco Max Factor building-turned-Hollywood Museum has ostensibly boasted sightings of various famous phantoms in the form of Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Judy Garland, and the man himself: Max Factor! So, the undertaking in question made for many-a-lung exhibiting bated breath, incumbent upon who may or may not arrive!

Celebrities of the current kind/flesh and blood human variety in attendance, not just as guests, but participants in the ceremony included:

Emmy Award winning Television and Radio personality DeeDee Sorvino, Lee Purcell, best known for her role as Beth Brant in Valley Girl and the film Kids vs Monsters, to speak nothing of being a 2 time Emmy Nominee to boot!, Grammy Award winning artist Freda Payne; best known for her hit songs Band of Gold and Can’t Take that Away from Me – Looking almost no different than she did in the 70s (like, really, when did she last age?!?), KCBS News Anchor, and coverer of many-a human interest/entertainment story: Suzanne Marques, Linda Purl of  Murder, She Wrote, Happy Days, The Office, Matlock, and Emmy Winning Paranormal series, After Forever – Look, she’s just done everything and is amazing—Okay?!?, the equally impressive Michael Learned of The Waltons fame, along with the terrifyingly timely Ryan Murphy’s DAHMER: Monster, The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, And, last but certainly not least, the ever distinguished-but-down-to earth, arresting, and incomparable Ruta Lee, star of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Funny Face!

The Medium whose skills on which we would be relying for the night’s spiritual relations: Armik Davoodianes, one of the most sought-after mediums in the business.

Photo by William Kidston; Courtesy of The Hollywood Museum

So as to deter any etheric interference, attendance was limited, and sparse. Moreover, any and all, electronic equipment was strictly prohibited. Stored in the “Marilyn Monroe Closet” just off the museum lobby, observers and participants alike, were then led down to the basement of the Hollywood Museum i.e. former speak easy, now dubbed The Dungeon of Doom. While certain pieces seemed to have been removed from the main entry thoroughfare for observant seating purposes, on the other side of the wall, the basement waxed ever abundant with classic horror film memorabilia from the likes of Van Helsing, Underworld, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Chucky, The Exorcist, The Walking Dead, and IT, as well as the original jail cell set of The Silence of the Lambs, to name a few. Moreover, a nice spread of wines, breads and cheese was just a stone’s throw away pending all post summoning celebration!

After being led silently down to the dungeon on stairs featuring standard lighting, the basement itself was pitch black aside for some LED candles adorning the perimeter of the makeshift seating area on the floor. Behind bars resembling Hannibal Lecter’s prison cell, sat the divining table. On it were also candles, albeit of the real world, old school fire spitting variety. In short, the etheric staging area was essentially distinguished between candles that could really extinguish vs. NOT, along with bars, as though to ironically protect the earthly voyeurs (i.e. “the press”) from spirits, or the keep the voyeurs (again, “the press”) away from the spirits and celestially stroked celebrities alike. Such is the life of — The Press nowadays… ~sigh~

In preparation—or rather non-preparation to preserve all purity and spontaneity– the Medium was neither told who would be sitting around the table, nor in which room the séance would occur.

Photo by William Kidston: Courtesy of The Hollywood Museum (L-R) Freda Payne, Ruta Lee, and Donelle Dadigan

As the observers waited, sans any electronic devices, bereft of the option to make any kind of noise, including the proverbial “Ooooh” sound just to set the ghostly tone, is the point at which the slight approximation of subtle, echoing, spiraling voices emanating through a marble building effect commenced its either real or imaginary emulation, reminiscent of the aforementioned dream.

To render things slightly more disorienting, though not bothersomely so, we could only see half the participants in the evening’s ritual.

“Do you want some water?”  enticingly queried Dadigan as all participating celebrities waited around the table in anticipation of the medium’s impending arrival.

“Not sure I liked the sound of that,” came a seemingly disembodied male’s voice with a distinctly American accent, followed immediately by a Kool Aid joke. Though mysteriously once the ceremony commenced the American male and his voice were nowhere to be heard or witnessed thereafter… Hmmm…

Upon arrival, Armik Davoodianes Introduced himself as simply Armik, of Armenian descent, stating that most spirits actually move on.  It is only those who have questions, or matters of extended concern who linger; and that while the celebrity circle could make requests, if he saw that person as a still picture in his mind, it meant said summoned spirit had moved on.

Evocative appeals were then made, namely: Johnny Grant (Hollywood’s beloved former Mayor)– several times– Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Paul, (the only Paul the LA Beat could mentally conjure was that of Paul McCartney, and unless something had happened betwixt leaving the house and arriving at the Museum, one couldn’t even begin to fathom the unthinkable!) Max Factor then rounded out the final set of requests!

As the ceremony commenced, all in participation and observation waited in blinding silence for what seemed like the span of a Robert Altman take. Uncertain if it was the mind playing tricks, the memory of the dream within the endless marble building, or fantastical audio artifacts of an attempted summoning, what sounded subtly like rushing traffic could be heard, along with rumbling guttural utterances, light, innocent, echoed voices of spirits past… and then the actualized gurgling & whooshing of water through ceiling pipes (undeniably the 4D real world flushing of an upstairs toilet.)  Until the final grounding moment, one might have even considered the experience relaxing-to-meditative, followed by roughly five more minutes of silence.

“Usually happens quicker in the movies” quipped Ruta Lee, to frozen ghost-style ice breaking laughter. “But don’t we all look pretty!?”

It was at this point, after asking if anybody knew a “Tony” to no recognition, that Amrik abandoned the attempt at summoning foregone celebrities and turned his attention to psychic readings of each woman in the room, or rather cell…

From here on out, the entire table was addressed one by one and the terms “High Priestess” and “Goddess energy”, bestowed. And considering this group of women, it is easy to see why!

Photo by William Kidston; Courtesy of The Hollywood Museum; (L-R) Dee Dee Sorvino, Donelle Dadigan, Armik Davoodianes, and Linda Purl

Standard and not-so-standard questions were then asked by the medium, “Do you have a partner?”

And then some more random questions to surprisingly affirmative answers:

-“Your son, did he hurt his leg?”

-“If you haven’t gone, you need to go to India.
-“I’ve been to India!”

Michael Learned was declared “an old soul.”
“Well, I have a lot of baggage,” she confessed to all too knowing laughter.

Paul, it sadly turns out, was someone’s beloved deceased husband whose heart and soul were posthumously at the Museum, after which his wife recounted the touching story of how much she loved him, and still had all his shoes.

“Who works with the numbers?” he specifically asked one subject.
“I do,” the subject responded in impressed fashion.

Rounding out the questions regarding life, the universe and everything, encompassed those revolving around lost jewelry.

“Your jewelry– do you have cleaning crew…? Not to accuse any of them of taking it… No, you put it in a closet somewhere out if their way when they were coming over.”

“You have 2 sons?” The Medium asked another actress.

“No 3”.

“Why do I see one as being separate, or different from the others?”

“Well they’re all different…”

The cryptic exchange of which fueled another mystery for another time…

Authentic or not? You decide. While the fact that no spirits were summoned was hardly the result anyone anticipated or hoped for, the adjacent actuality that it didn’t happen also presumably indicates it wasn’t forced, and the Medium was not doing it for the sake of any sort of superfluous showmanship. And why would one fudge the truth about nothing? It would essentially be the Seinfeld episode of all prevarications. And in this instance, nothing plus nothing actually sorta cancels  each other out to really make something!

Regardless, all in all an interesting and unprecedented evening at the Hollywood Museum.

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Jennifer K. Hugus

About Jennifer K. Hugus

Jennifer K. Hugus was born at a very young age. At an even earlier age, she just knew she would one day write for the LA Beat! Having grown up in Massachusetts, France, and Denmark, she is a noted fan of Asian Cuisine. She studied ballet at the Royal Danish Ballet Theatre and acting at U.S.C. in their prestigious BFA drama program. She also makes her own jewelry out of paints and canvas when she isn’t working on writing absurdist plays and comparatively mainstream screenplays. Jennifer would like to be a KID when she grows up!
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