The Haunted History Of The Pickfair Estate

The Pickfair Estate was once the most lavish abode in Hollywood, and it was home to Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Pickford was an actress known as "America's Sweetheart," and Fairbanks, too, was a successful actor and producer. The couple wed in March 1920, and the Pickfair Estate was the groom's wedding gift to his lovely bride (via Pickfair). Fairbanks originally bought the estate in 1919 when it was a hunting lodge, and it was renovated into a luxurious mansion that sat on 15 acres of land. The home boasted frescoes, expensive artwork and furniture, and is also rumored to be the first private residence in Los Angeles to have a swimming pool.

Being two of the biggest stars of the early 20th century, Pickfair Estate — which had four floors and 22 rooms — was often the location of extravagant parties attended by well-known guests, such as Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Amelia Earhart, and Albert Einstein, just to name a few, per Cinema Scholars. Getting an invitation to a party at the Pickfair Estate was an honor, and as Life Magazine wrote at that time, the home was "a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House ... and much more fun."

Alleged hauntings at the estate

It was sometime in the 1930s when Mary Pickford said that she started having unexplained experiences in her lavish home. She would often tell her guests about the sounds that she heard coming from the attic. Pickford said that she was a heavy sleeper but often heard noises that kept her up at night. "I am a sound sleeper, but I could not sleep under these noises which sounded like the tramping of heavy feet. I sat up in bed and addressed myself to the ghost, 'I wouldn't treat you this way,' I said. 'It isn't ladylike. I don't expect to be treated in this manner.' The noises ceased," she told a columnist, as reported by Cinema Scholars.

Pickford wasn't the only one who had odd experiences. Their cook had also once run out of the kitchen after seeing what she described as a "dark woman". Likewise, a guest at the home also saw a "dark woman" that she didn't recognize, and when she attempted to speak to her, she vanished. Despite the allegations of ghost sightings from various individuals, Douglas Fairbanks believed that there was a simple explanation behind the occurrences. "I don't believe in ghosts. I don't believe Pickfair is haunted; though Mary is sure of it," he once said.

Pickfair Estate was sold

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks divorced in 1936, and Fairbanks died just three years later. Pickford resided at Pickfair Estate until her own death in 1979. No one lived at the property for a few years until it was sold to investor and businessman Jerry Buss in 1980, as reported by ATI. Minor renovations were done to the house to update it, and several events and fundraisers were held at the Pickfair Estate throughout the years.

The property was again sold in 1988 to singer Pia Zadora. Sometime in 1990, as Cinema Scholars noted, Zadora decided to demolish the home to build a new one. She faced backlash from the public, as she tore down one of the most iconic houses in Hollywood that had a rich history. However, Zadora insisted that it needed to be done because the house was heavily infested with termites and couldn't simply be restored. Years later, however, Zadora revealed the real reason why she had the house destroyed. "When we moved into the house it was beautiful, everything was perfect, it was a dream ... but weird things started to happen ... so my husband and I, after trying to figure out what to do, decided we were going to have the house razed."

The apparition of a woman

It was shortly after she and her family moved into Pickfair Estate that odd things started happening, according to Pia Zadora. She shared her story on the TV show "Celebrity Ghost Stories" wherein she recalled hearing her young daughter scream one night after saying that she saw the apparition of a woman laughing by her bed. Zadora said that she initially thought it was caused by her daughter's imagination or she was just adjusting to living in a new house, but she started experiencing things herself. She eventually sold Pickford Estate and said, "If I had a choice, I never would have torn down this old home. I loved this home, it had a history, it had a very important sense about it and you can deal with termites, and you can deal with plumbing issues, but you can't deal with the supernatural."

UNICOM Global — an IT company — purchased Pickfair Estate in 2005. Today, it's a Venetian style mansion that features a master suite, bedrooms, an indoor spa, a theater, and a gym (via Pickfair). The property offers sweeping views of Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains, and it is reportedly used as the company's executive meeting center.