Shirley MacLaine evidently brought more than her acting skills across the Pond when she joined the cast of “Downton Abbey.” (The Globe’s Sarah Rodman previews Season 3 here.) MacLaine, the Oscar-winning actress who plays socialite Martha Levinson, the American mother of Elizabeth McGovern’s Lady Cora, also brought her spirituality and told the New York Daily News that “Highclere was haunted and the pictures came off the wall.”
MacLaine said that the 400-year-old castle’s supernatural energy might be explained by artifacts from the tomb of King Tut that had once been stored in the castle. According to the New York Daily News, “In the early 1900s, the estate’s master, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon, bankrolled archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of Tut’s tomb and collected Egyptian antiquities throughout his life. Parts of the pharaoh’s tomb were transferred to Highclere after the Earl’s mysterious death — from a mosquito bite — just months after the discovery of Tut’s treasure just outside Cairo. His sudden death in Egypt sparked the legend of the mummy’s curse.”
MacLaine’s comment: “They had the tomb of King Tut in the basement.”
So, when you glue yourself to the TV Sunday night for the third season of the series, watch for falling pictures and other ghostly evidence.