Actual Home Movies of the Hatbox Ghost – 1969

Who is the most famous ghost in the Haunted Mansion? Without doubt, the Hatbox Ghost, a ghoul who lived there for only a few days. Short, pasty and decapitated–one of the most frightening figures to ever take up residence in the attic. But for decades fans wondered if this ghost actually existed in the finished attraction. Had it been removed before the Mansion’s grand opening? And then four decades after opening day, DoomBuggies.Com posted the first photo of the Hatbox Ghost installed in the Mansion at Disneyland. And now, DHI comes limping into second place with some extremely rare home movie footage of dear, departed Hattie and his amazing hatbox. So rev up your DeLorean and journey with us back to the late 1960s. Footage of the Mansion (pre-opening) comes from 1968; Footage of the Mansion (newly opened, with its shiny, gilt sign) comes from 1969. And of course footage of Hattie in the attic is marked August, 1969. The footage from my own collection and the never-before-released reference photos from Paul’s collection.

– Todd J. Pierce

PS Make sure to join us over on our Facebook group for updates and further discussion. Link: DHI on Facebook.


  1. Bravo on a FANTASTIC bit of detective work and a great video to boot!!

  2. Thanks for referring to me as “Hattie.” It’s my preferred nickname. I tend to lose my head whenever someone calls me Gaylord, although I can afterlive with “Huet.”

    By the way, you left out my blog, MySpace page, Wiki listing and Twitter account. I’ve been a restless spirit.

    Good work, mortals. Your efforts are much appreciated.

  3. That HBG footage is amazing. You’ve come up with one of the holy grails for any Mansion historian. Thank you very much.

  4. By the way, two nitpicks (which I’ve also posted at the youtube site). The photo of the HBG in situ has been up on Doombuggies. com for years. It’s not something that just showed up in time for the 40th. Second, I may be mistaken, but I don’t think it was ever the case that “dozens” of people claimed to have seen the original figure in the ride. Quite the contrary, I believe that only a few made the claim, and there were many who questioned their claim.

    Incidentally, that blurry footage of the bride is, to my knowledge, the only extant photography of ol’ Beating Heart in her original position, so blurry as it is, it will be of special interest to Mansionheads.

  5. I just verified that the photo of the HBG at Doombuggies. com was put up on the site in October of 2001.

  6. A truly incredible find!

    By the way, it was very nice meeting you this evening!

  7. Hi Don / HBG2,

    Thanks for the comments. Also I’ve visited your blog many times and admire it greatly. I spent a good deal of time earlier this month looking at the Crump/Beauty comparison images. I’ve talked to Rolly a couple times about the influences of MOTW, so I was interested to see your screen shots.

    As for the date when the DB.Com image first appeared. In truth, I did not know it was as early as 2001. I knew it was before the 40th and probably a little before the Swinging Wake. In the video, I intended my comment (40 years) to be taken as a rough approximation of the date, suggesting that that a significant amount of time had passed–more or less in the same way that a person might say, You’re 40 minutes late for dinner–which could mean that the person was 36 minutes late or 43 minutes late. But you’re right, I certainly could’ve added modified that phrase to “about” 40 years for clarity.

    As for the number of people who claimed to see the figure…I certainly didn’t go back and count. But over the years I’ve been involved in discussion boards and discussion groups (back in the dark days of the web), and I have the impression that over 10 or so years, I’ve seen at least 25 people claim (on forums, webpages, blogs, etc.) to remember seeing a figure that they believed to be the HBG back in 1969. But this difference between “few” and “dozens” (meaning 25 or more) might be more of a quibble or more of a statement that, while back as a student, I wasted a lot of time on line checking out various forums and blogs. Again this number is meant as an estimate: I did not keep track of each individual post/forum/blog. But over the years, I saw a lot of forum topics on HBG, also a few other web posts. And that together–when totaled–my sense is that these equalled 25 or more. But regardless, the main point I was trying to make with the use of “dozens” was that there was enough people who remembered seeing the HBG as to make this assertion somewhat plausible.

    Anyway, I was stunned when I found the footage of the HBG. I was eating breakfast while watching old film on my computer. I saw the light pattern of the ballroom. I checked the box to see the Aug 1969 date, and then I got a little excited as I realized that there was a possibility that this film might contain some image of the HBG. And then, there he was. Also the context of the film would pretty clearly show this as a guest visit to the mansion, supporting earlier claims that the ghost was there for guests.

    Anyway. Thanks for the notes. I appreciate them.

  8. Nice to meet you, too, TokyoMagic!

  9. This is an amazing find, guys. Thanks for your work getting it out there.

    Did you spit out your cereal when you saw it?! Haha!

  10. I didn’t spit out my cereal. But I did take some screen shots and texted them immediately to a few friends, along with an incoherent message, asking, Guess what this is?

  11. Awesome. Thank you for sharing this, Todd and Paul. Nice to actually “see” the Ghost, even if just for a moment. Very well done!!

  12. Todd, is that the sum total of HM footage on that August 69 reel? Was there anything after the HBG? Just curious.

  13. Thank you for sharing! This video is fantastic!

  14. That was amazing. Makes me all the more sore about the fact that when we visited Disneyland for the first time in August of 1969, we were just five days shy of the HM opening. Whether they were letting some in to see it I don’t know… only that we could only peek in from outside and see a whole lot of nothing.

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