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“Do you believe in ghosts?” asks director William Castle in 13 Ghosts.
The King of Gimmicks’ haunted house story finds an average family living in their eccentric relative’s home after their own fortune takes a turn for the worse.
Keep the spooky fun going with some behind-the-scenes facts below.
1. It had a wink at The Wizard of Oz.
Margaret Hamilton is best known for her role as the Wicked Witch of the West in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. While the movie was well-received on its release and even nominated for Academy Awards, it didn’t have the beloved following that it has today. The film’s popularity surged thanks to re-releases in 1949 and 1955, a television airing in 1956, and Judy Garland’s success as an entertainer internationally. Casting Hamilton as a witch for 13 Ghosts (1960) was a fun nod to Oz.
2. The youngest star got top billing.
At 12 years old, child star Charles Herbert received top-billing over everyone else, including Martin Milner (later known for Route 66 and Adam-12). By this time, Herbert had appeared on television and in several films, including The Fly, Houseboat, and Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. “I loved that little boy. I was so happy I did that film because of him. He was so sweet and so genuine,” said Jo Morrow, who portrayed his sister. 13 Ghosts was his last feature film.
3. It features a famous house.
In the movie, the family stays at the “Cyrus Zorba House” which was actually the Winchester Mystery House in California. And boy, does that house have stories! Its owner, Sarah Winchester, was the heiress to the Winchester rifle company, and she began renovating the eight-room farmhouse in 1886. However, construction was still incomplete at the time of her death in 1922, more than thirty years later. Due to Sarah’s drive to continue renovation, several have been fascinated with the house and the alleged ghosts that haunt it. In 2018, Helen Mirren starred in a film about the story called Winchester.