New ‘American Horror Story’ Hotel has Truly Horrific Past
A history of tragedy at the Cecil Hotel
To the delight of those who enjoy deeply disturbing midweek television, the fifth season of American Horror Story premiered Wednesday. The latest installment in the AHS anthology is called “Hotel,” and features Lady Gaga as the owner of a fictionalized version of the very creepy Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
The phrase ‘stranger than fiction’ aptly describes the situation here, in that no matter how macabre the show’s plot, it can’t possibly compare to the chilling history of the real-life locale. Since its opening in 1927, the budget hotel has been the site of multiple murders, suicides, and ghost-sightings.
The show’s producers have embraced the troubled setting. “The hotel is obviously a character in the story; it feels that way when you’re filming,” Co-creator Ryan Murphy told Variety. “It’s very much alive in the story.”
Here’s a look at five of the most tragic events in the long, dark history of the Cecil Hotel:
1) Suicide of Pauline Otton
During the 1950s and ’60s, the Cecil earned a reputation as a place where people went to commit suicide. In one of many heartbreaking cases, Pauline Otton, 27, threw herself from the ninth story of the hotel after an argument with her estranged husband, Dewey. The tragedy doesn’t stop there: she landed on pedestrian George Gianinni, 65, and both died instantly.
2) Murder of Pidgeon Goldie
In 1964, “Pidgeon Goldie” Osgood, a popular feeder of birds in Pershing Square, was stabbed, raped, and murdered while staying at the Cecil. A man seen wearing bloodstained clothes in Pershing Square was arrested, but eventually released. The horrific murder remains unsolved.
3) Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez
The notorious serial killer Richard Ramirez, known as “The Night Stalker,” murdered 13 women while living on the top floor of the Cecil in 1985. Spending $14 a night for his stay, Ramirez managed to maintain a low profile, according to LA tour guide Richard Schave, by “dumping his bloody clothes in the dumpster at the end of his evening and going in the back entrance.”
4) “Nightstalker” copy-cat Jack Unterweger
After moving into the Cecil Hotel in 1991, Los Angeles crime journalist Jack Unterweger proceeded to murder three prostitutes, strangling them with their own bra straps. He committed suicide after facing convictions for several murders.
5) Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam
In 2013, after numerous guests complained of foul-tasting water coming from their sinks, a maintenance worker found the decomposed body of Elisa Lam at the bottom of the hotel’s water tank. The cause of Lam’s death remains unknown, though she can be seen acting strangely in an elevator just prior to her death. Security footage from the elevator spread across the web, followed by widespread assertions that she’d been possessed. AHS creators cite the hair-raising event as a major inspiration for the show’s upcoming season.
Feature image via slashfilm.com