"The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine." ~ J.B.S. Haldane


Paranormal Curiosities

Talk Show Hosts - Regis Philbin


Regis Philbin is known as "the hardest working man in America". The Whaley House in San Diego is known as "the most haunted house in America". So what do the superlative pair have in common? The answer is Anna Whaley.

Who might be Anna Whaley? She is, or rather, was wife of Thomas Whaley who built Whaley House in 1856. Thomas was an entrepreneurial businessman who brought his bride to San Diego from New York in 1853. A number of partnerships and enterprises had been successful and he purchased a lot in the quarter called Old Town upon which he built a two-story Greek Revival home called "the handsomest and most convenient house within 150 miles." No expense was spared and the residence was furnished with rosewood and mahogany accessories, damask draperies and Brussels carpets. For the time and location it was considered by many to be the equivalent of opulent East Coast mansions.

In his quest to lavish the best money could buy upon his family, Whaley was undeterred by the fact that the lot had been used as a local gallows for some time. The large corner parcel was the well-known grim site of the unjust hanging of one "Yankee Jim" Robinson just a few years earlier. Accused of stealing a boat, James Robinson's trial had been a mockery, an exercise in mob justice. Severely beaten before his appearance before the magistrate, Robinson was barely conscious and was unable to offer any statement in his defense. A quick ruling brought a guilty verdict and without further ado, the condemned was hoisted in the back of a wagon where a rope was tossed over a tree limb and a noose knotted about his neck. When the makeshift scaffold was pulled from beneath him, the limb sagged under his weight and instead of a clean break, Yankee Jim slowly strangled, taking nearly twenty minutes to die.

Along with the house there was built an adjacent building from which Whaley ran a general store, and later the local courthouse was operated from it, as well as San Diego's first commercial theater. Despite success in business, Thomas and his family were plagued by personal tragedy. A young son, Thomas, Jr., died from scarlet fever soon after moving in; separate arsons destroyed two other stores Thomas owned; Whaley became estranged from a brother over scurrilous business practices; a daughter, Violet, committed suicide in the house after being unable to bear the shame and humiliation of a disastrous marriage; an eleven year-old child, Marion Reynolds, died there after accidentally ingesting rat poison. Some sources say the little girl was a great granddaughter of the Whaley family, while others maintain she was the child of one of the servants. Eventually due to New Town San Diego developing further from the Whaley residence, business fell off and they were forced to rent rooms to make ends meet. The reversals of fortune and the tragedies took their toll and Thomas died in 1890. Anna, his widow, passed away in the house in 1913, as well as a son, Francis, in 1914, and the last of the six Whaley children, Corinne, lived in the home until she died there in 1953.

So where does Regis Philbin fit into the story? Early in his career, at friend Hans Holzer's request, he and a crew from his show participated in and filmed a seance in the house after it had been converted into a museum. There had been numerous reports of unseen footsteps, unexplained noises, apparitions, locked doors and windows opening and burglar alarms going off, and Holzer being the ultimate ghost hunter, was determined to get to the heart of the matter. Since he was already scheduled to be a guest on Philbin's show, it was the ideal marriage of separate interests.

According to Holzer and famed psychic Sybil Leek, several spirits were successfully contacted during the evening, one being Yankee Jim Robinson, another a small child, possibly that of young Marion, and Anna Whaley. As corroboration of the events Regis recalls that night, "All of a sudden I noticed something on the wall. There was something filmy white, it looked like an apparition of some kind. I got so excited I couldn't restrain myself! I flipped on the [flash] light and nothing was there but a portrait of Anna Whaley, the long dead mistress of the house." When later questioned whether he really believed in the paranormal, Regis replied, "You know, a lot of people pooh-pooh it because they can't see it, but there was something going on in that house."

Several decades have passed since a psychic, a ghost hunter, a popular talk show personality and several spirits gathered for an evening in a haunted mansion, but it is proof that one never knows just who may end up being in the spotlight during an encounter within the strange world of PARANORMAL CURIOSITIES. 






















back to Paranormal Curiosities page

Read all of Janet's Parnormal Curiosities installations:

8/18/2009 Ann Boleyn

08/10/2009 Regis Philbin

07/31/2009 Walter Cronkite
07/20/2009 The Romanovs

07/13/2009  James Dean 

07/06/2009  Lord Byron

 06/28/2009  George Washington


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