Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe may haunt the Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe

Are Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe forever tenants at the Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe?

Frank Sinatra’s cabin at the Cal Neva Hotel & Casino.

Frank Sinatra’s cabin at the Cal Neva Hotel & Casino.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

I went to the Cal Neva Resort, Spa and Casino in Crystal Bay in hopes of meeting the ghosts of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. This year’s Truckee Meadows Community College Ghost and Paranormal Conference will be held there, and RN&R photographer Lauren Randolph and I met paranormal researcher and historian Janice Oberding for an afternoon ghost hunt and to get a first-hand preview of the investigations she’ll be leading during the conference. Oberding is the author of a half-dozen books, like The Haunting of Las Vegas and Haunted Nevada. She’s a sweet, unassuming, grandmotherly type, and she gets a mischievous twinkle in her eyes when she describes people being shoved by ghosts.Jason Martinez, director of marketing and sales for the Cal Neva, joined us for the ghost hunt and provided additional historical and anecdotal information.The Cal Neva’s showroom is said to be haunted. Possibly haunted by the ghost of Frank Sinatra, who owned the place from 1960 and 1963. And possibly haunted by a strange Indian spirit. It has been the site of numerous séances and investigations, as well as odd and unusual happenings.

The most remarkable might be a photograph of a spooky specter taken on the showroom’s stage. A former food and beverage manager of the Cal Neva was walking across the stage and felt a sudden chill and an inexplicable desire to take a photograph with his cell phone. The photograph captured the ghostly apparition of what appears to be an Indian shaman in robes and beads.

Regardless whether the ghosts are real, the history of the place is palpable. For, Oberding, that’s the point. For her, the paranormal presence of a place is directly linked to the history of that place.

“Ghosts are history,” she says.

Other areas of the lodge are saturated with history—like the underground passageway used by Frank Sinatra from his private cabin to the backstage of the showroom, or the cabin where Marilyn Monroe stayed.Monroe’s and Sinatra’s cabins are quaint enough, and have fabulous views of the lake and posters of Marilyn Monroe, but they come across as little more than hotel rooms now.

A “ghost” backstage in the theater at the Cal Neva Hotel & Casino, taken with help from long exposure camera techniques.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

But on a previous trip to Monroe’s cabin with other paranormal investigators, Oberding remarked while looking at a picture of Monroe, “She wouldn’t have liked getting old.” An Electronic Voice Phenomena recorder—one of the primary tools of the paranormal investigator’s trade—captured a disembodied voice saying, “It’s not so.”

“It didn’t sound like Marilyn,” says Oberding, “but it was a woman’s voice.”

The hotel and casino claims the cabin was the site of a possible suicide attempt by Monroe and possibly the site of a secret rendezvous between her and Robert Kennedy. (Though tracking of Monroe and RFK’s schedules have shown that the two were never at Lake Tahoe at the same time.)

“We’re pretty sure they did meet here,” said Martinez, “but we’re not sure if it was just to talk … or a sexual thing.”

“I don’t think it was just to talk,” said Oberding.

During a previous visit to Sinatra’s cabin nearby, Oberding and a crowd of four or five other visitors witnessed a television remote move of its own accord. When we visited the room, I asked Oberding how we might inspire Sinatra’s ghost to make his presence known.“You might say something that you don’t think Frank would like …”“Like what?” I asked.

“Well … we could just ask nicely.” Then she politely asked Frank Sinatra’s ghost to move the remote. So there we were, in total silence, having a staring contest with an immobile television remote for a full 30 seconds. Finally, Lauren broke the silence by snapping a photo of the remote. We all let out sighs of relief.

“Personally I believe that Frank Sinatra is still here,” said Oberding, “because he loved this place. … Why would you hang out in a cemetery when you could come here and party? It just doesn’t make sense.”