Spooks, spirits and specters – the stuff of folklore and films for centuries. Don’t be afraid of this list, there are friendly ghosts and frightening spirits who are more famous in this life than in the afterlife. This list brings you the most famous fictional and non-fictional ghouls we love to scare us.
10. Casper McFadden
Everyone’s favorite friendly ghost was created in the late 1930s as a character in a story book, but was soon adapted into animation. Casper was created in the late 1930s by New York City native Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, the former devising the idea for the character and the latter providing illustrations.The New York-accented ghost was desperate to make friends after he got tired of scaring people all the time, much to the annoyance of his pesky uncles, The Ghostly Trio. The film adaptation in 1995 featured Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman.
9. The Ghost of the Seven Gables
The Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, or ‘The House of the Seven Gables’ in Salem, Massachusetts, was the birthplace of famous author Nathanial Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s ancestors presided over many of the witchcraft trials in 1692, and many say a hex was placed on the family – which inspired many of Hawthorne’s novels. It is believed that the grounds are haunted by Nathaniel and his son Julian, both cursed into walking the earth forever.
8. Jacob Marley
Marley, the deceased business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge, comes back at Christmas time to teach the protagonist some valuable life lessons, according to this Charles Dickens classic. Marley has appeared in many versions of this seasonal tale, played by Alec Guinness in the 1970s film, by Goofy in Mickey’s Christmas Carol and voiced by Nicholas Cage in the 2001 movie version.
7. Bloody Mary
Turn the lights out, spark a candle, stand in front of the mirror and say her name three times. This Western folklore declares that the image of Bloody Mary – said to be a mad widow, a bereaved mother or just a mad old hag – will appear in the reflection and in some variations, kill you violently or scratch your eyes out. A mainstream variation of this legend featured in the 1995 film Candyman.
6. The South Shields Poltergeist
In one of the most recent real-life ghost stories, this naughty Northern poltergeist caused a real media furor. In the summer of 2006 in Tyne and Wear, Newcastle, UK, two paranormal specialists, Michael J. Hallowell and Darren Ritson were called in to investigate some extremely eerie goings-on. In an intricately documented year-long period, the family and investigators reported ghostly silhouettes, taps pouring blood, death threats sent to mobile phones and bloody scratches appearing on skin. You can find out more in the book: The South Shields Poltergeist: One Family’s Fight Against an Invisible Intruder
5. The Brown Lady
This infamous ghost set the bench mark for ‘ghostly photographic evidence’ of the supernatural back in 1936. According to legend, this ghostly lady, who haunts Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England, is the spirit of Lady Townshend. The Lady of the manor was never allowed out of the house by her overbearing husband, Lord Charles Townshend in life, and so haunted the house in her death too.
4. Ghosts of the SS Watertown
Another famous photograph is the ‘proof’ that these nautical specters exist. The two ghosts in the picture are said to be two shipmates that were overcome by gas fumes whilst sailing toward the Panama Canal from New York City in December of 1924. Crew reported seeing the faces of their hapless shipmates in the water after they were buried at sea, and the Captain was quick to catch the phenomena on camera.
3. Abe Lincoln et al
Abraham Lincoln was renowned for his belief in the supernatural, so it was no surprise that his spirit appeared numerous times around the White House to prove his point. Residents and guests have reported knocks on doors, stomping down corridors and mooching round rooms. First ladies Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison, plus Andrew Jackson, David Burns and little Willie Lincoln are also reported to haunt the most famous house in America.
2. The Tombstone Ghosts
Tombstone, Arizona has been dubbed ‘The Town too Tough to Die’ due to its huge number of otherworldly residents. Such ghosts in this old mining town include the ones hanging around the Bird Cage Theatre, victims of the O.K Corral fights, such as Marshall Fred White, plus the various other cowboys and varmints – such as Virgil Earp – who were hung, shot, or deceased from disease in this historically violent town.
1. The Amityville Ghosts
In November 1974, Ronald DeFeo shot six members of his family dead at his home in Ocean Avenue, Amityville. In December the following year, the Lutz family moved in but left after just 28 days after reportedly being terrorized by banging noises, oozing green slime and sinister eyes peeking through the window. Their experiences inspired the novel ‘The Amityville Horrors’ and later, two films.