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Dracula’s and Depp’s Undying Domain: 1486 North Sweetzer, West Hollywood

[IMG:L]Gothca! This exotic mansion in West Hollywood only looks like the perfect haunting grounds for all kinds of ghosts, ghouls and even vampires, so much so that even today local legends insist that it was the home of film’s original bloodsucker Bela Lugosi, but Dracula never actually hung his cape there.

Built by a mining magnate in 1927 and dubbed “Mt. Kalmia” (after a mountain laurel), the extravagant four-acre estate resembled a Bavarian castle imported straight from Transylvania, complete with battlements and rounded turrets and towers, seven bedrooms, a Louis XVI drawing room and interiors designed to mimic the terraced grounds so there were a dozen different levels.

[IMG:R]After the owner died in 1937 it became a popular rental spot for parties for celebrities’ children, before passing through several residents, including Howard Hughes’ shadowy right-hand man Noah Dietrich, Motown Records impresario Berry Gordy and high-powered divorce lawyer Marvin Michelson. Each had spooky enough reputations, but were hardly nosferatu, yet the estate would become forever known as “Dracula’s Castle” after decades of not-so-accurate Hollywood tour guides convinced wide-eyed tourists that Lugosi lived there (the actor actually lived more modestly in various homes throughout Hollywood during his career).

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Perhaps believing–and besotted with–the notion that Mt. Kalmia really once was Lugosi’s lair, actor Johnny Depp purchased the palatial estate in 1995 shortly after playing the giddy schlock filmmaker Ed Wood, a close friend of Lugosi (played by Martin Landau) in the actor’s declining years—and it was a short drive down Sunset to Depp’s nightclub, the Viper Room.

[IMG:L]Depp lived there for several years until relocating to Europe full-time (apparently the home’s faux-Euro vibe was not enough, even by Hollywood standards) but he still holds the keys to the castle, and frequently loans it out to friends: in 2007 his Pirates of the Caribbean co-star Orlando Bloom moved in. So even if it never served as a vampiric palace, it makes a fitting stronghold for spectral buccaneers.

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