My DVR recently* taped a Biography channel special called “The Haunting of Connie Stevens” as a suggestion. As a fan of Connie Stevens and a person with an interest in paranormal happenings and the so-called “evidence” of them, I decided to give it a watch.
(*It was “recently” when I wrote this. I drafted this over a year ago and forgot to post it. Oops!)
Connie Stevens is an actress and singer. She got her start in B-movies in the mid-1950s before expanding her career to bigger-budget pictures, television, the stage and music.
After getting a divorce, Connie Stevens moved into the former home of Olympic skater, gold medalist and Hollywood actress Sonja Henie. Henie had passed away and her husband was trying to sell the house. Connie fell in love with the place and took it though, as a single mother, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to afford it in the long term.
Both Connie and her two daughters report witnessing a number of strange occurrences in the house. Connie would hear odd sounds quite frequently, including music and slamming doors. Objects in the home would be moved or disappear for no logical reason.
Connie, knowing that the house was built by Sonja, began to attribute these strange happenings to her spirit, especially after an apparent encounter with an apparition of a woman. She believed that Sonja was attached to the home because she had loved it so much, having it designed by Paul Williams and immaculately decorating it herself.
Connie and her daughter, Joely, decided to appear on the series “The Haunting Of,” in which psychic medium Kim Russo would visit the home. Joely was not originally quite as convinced as Connie that Sonja was haunting the place, but she did acknowledge that there was some sort of presence in the house.
Of course, it’s very likely that this medium is fabricating everything she tells Connie and Joely. During the episode it often seems like she’s fishing for information and then regurgitating it back to them, or reciting little facts that she picked up from Wikipedia.
Still, the story of the house is nonetheless interesting. Sonja Henie was a fascinating figure in Hollywood history due to the controversy surrounding her friendships with high-ranking officials of the Nazi party, including Hitler himself. The fact that another starlet from a few decades later moved into the beautiful home Sonja built was reason enough to hook me into the episode.
The most interesting aspect of this episode is the tidbit of information we get about some of Sonja’s design decisions. On the top floor of the house, the walls are beautifully painted with a Norwegian fairytale story – a tribute to her past and her home country.
Much of Sonja’s actual life story is ignored in favor of shallow conclusions made by Kim Russo. Russo tells Connie immediately that there’s a dominant female presence in the house who wants to thank her for keeping up with the home so well. She sees Connie and Sonja as “kindred souls” and says that Sonja “picked” Connie as the new owner of the house, forcing the sequence of actions “from the other side” to ensure that Connie would become the new owner.
A random lady walking around a house and picking up on conversational cues is not enough to convince anyone that the Sonja Henie house is haunted (except maybe Connie and Joely, who seem to buy into the whole experience) and the information revealed in this episode is little more than a regurgitation of Connie’s “Celebrity Ghost Stories” episode a few years ago, but it’s always interesting to see how the lives of two Hollywood stars of different periods have intersected.
(Connie apparently put this home up for sale in December 2012, and it appears to still be for sale, so for any of you with pockets full of money, this is your chance to be haunted by Sonja Henie!)