- “Master Gracey laid to rest. No mourning please at his request.”
- ―Master Gracey's tombstone[src]
Master Gracey's tombstone was one of the original tombstones installed in the family plot of the Haunted Mansions in Walt Disney World and Disneyland as a tribute to Imagineer Yale Gracey who was responsible for practically all of the illusions found within the ride. The association of him being referred to as "Master" Gracey lead the majority of cast members and guests to presume of him having been the master of the Haunted Mansion, however, it was originally intended for the title to just imply his character was too young to have been referred to as a Mister. This misinterpretation was widespread through the cast-member made unofficial backstory to the Haunted Mansion called The Ghost Gallery which also combined his character with that of the Dorian Grey inspired Aging Man portrait found in the foyer. This story went on to inspire licensed spin-off comic books, the plot of the 2003 movie adaptation, and even alter the canon of the ride itself. Due to the popularity of this interpretation of the mansion's lore, Disney made Master Gracey's prominence in the Haunted Mansion as well as his association with the Aging Man, a form of canon within the franchise and several references to the Mansion's legal name being Gracey Manor, can be found in the parks.
In 1881, while hosting a masquerade in his mansion Master Gracey discovers that his fiancée, Elizabeth Henshaw, has written a suicide note. Desperate, he searches for her throughout the mansion before it is too late. Unfortunately, on the stroke of midnight, Master Gracey discovers the lifeless body of Elizabeth in the library. Depressed and heartbroken, he hangs himself shortly afterward.
122 years later, Master Gracey believes that Elizabeth has been reincarnated in Sara Evers, the wife of Jim Evers. He lures the Evers family in his estate and tries to make Sara remember who she really was before this life. However, Sara starts to get scared after she sees all of the ghosts in her surroundings. She locks herself in her room and finds Ramsley the butler who blackmails her that if she doesn't marry Master Gracey, her children would die. Reluctantly, she agrees and wears the wedding dress Elizabeth was supposed to wear that day. During the wedding ceremony, Ramsley poisons Sara's drink with iocane powder so that she will die and return as a ghost and end the curse. Jim and his children storm in and hand Master Gracey the real letter Elizabeth wrote before she died.
It is revealed that she never intended to kill herself but that she always loved him and would happily marry him. It is also revealed that Ramsley is the one who wrote the suicide note and that he killed her by giving her a poisoned drink. The reason he did this was because he feared that Master Gracey would abandon his home and heritage all for love. Master Gracey, shocked and furious by the truth, confronts him.
However, Ramsley summons evil spirits to kill the group, but this backfires when a fiery dragon emerges from the fireplace and drags Ramsley to damnation for fifty years for his actions. Sara succumbs to the poison, but a ghost orb arrives and possesses her body, revealing itself to be Elizabeth's ghost. Elizabeth and Master Gracey kiss, and Sara is revived. In gratitude and seeking redemption, Master Gracey gives the Evers the deed to the house, allowing them to do what they want with it as long as they remain happy. The ghosts all depart the mansion and move on to Heaven.
The Ghost Gallery
Master Gracey is the most prominent character in the Ghost Gallery storyline which was created by Disney World Haunted Mansion Cast-Members in order to give the ride more backstory. Although non-cannon and having several inconsistencies, the storyline inspired many story elements that would later be incorporated into comics, the 2003 film, merchandise, and even the ride itself. Most notably, this was the first recorded example of Master Gracey and the Ghost Host being incorrectly combined into the same character.
In this version of the story, Master Gracey was once a mortal man named Master George Gracey Jr. who was born in 1890 to George Gracey Sr. (based on George Hightower) and Mary Gracey (who was based on elderly Constance Hatchaway). Throughout his youth, George Jr. was sent to high-end boarding schools by his distant mother and as such he never really knew his father. George Jr. finally moved back into the mansion after his father was murdered by his mother and his mother fled the country, leaving George Jr. as the Lord and Master of the Mansion. Obsessed with death, George used his wealth and power to obtain occult artifacts and relics from ancient religions while also often travelling to circuses in order to meet mediums and clairvoyants. It was at one of these circuses where George met a tightrope walker named Lillian O'Malley (the Ghost Gallery's version of the Tightrope Walker) who he fell in love with and became engaged to. However, behind Lillian's back, George was having an affair with his personal clairvoyant Madame Leota, who he had impregnated with a daughter that Leota had named Little Leota. In 1937, Lillian had tragically died during a tightrope performance when her tightrope snapped and sent her falling into the jaws of a hungry alligator, which only added to George's madness and obsession with the supernatural. By 1941, George had wasted away the majority of the Gracey fortune in his pursuit of the occult, prompting him to marry an incredibly wealthy 16 year old orphan named Emily Cavenaugh (the Ghost Gallery's version of the Attic Bride). However once again on the night of their wedding, tragedy struck when Emily was found dead inside of large chest in the attic, having apparently suffocated to death leading George to shut himself off from the outside world with no-one but his mistress Madame Leota and his illegitimate daughter Little Leota who would die a couple years later. By 1943, George had learned that Madame Leota was responsible for the deaths of both of his brides, which lead Leota to become enraged and try to trap George's soul in her crystal ball so he could be hers forever. Faced with no other options, George hung himself before Leota could bind his soul, resulting in her own soul become trapped in the crystal ball. Following this, George's ghost became the Ghost Host of the Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion (SLG Comics)
Following the lead of the Ghost Gallery, the Ghost Host and Master Gracey are once again combined in the SLG Comics, although this time they also incorporate elements from the unused Captain Gore backstory, creating the composite character of Captain William Gracey. This version of the character was once the first mate of a merchant ship called the Pomono during the early 19th century, which was being captained by a man named Captain Randall Pace (the comics' version of the Hatbox Ghost) who was an overly stubborn and determined man that often put the well being of himself and his crew aside to meet deadlines on time. Captain Pace's actions lead William to become so enraged that he lead a mutiny in which he murdered the captain be decapitating him with his cutlass and taking over the ship and it's crew under the alias of Captain Blood, becoming a pirate and killing any of the ship' crew that refused to join him. Years later, William retired in New Orleans where he became haunted by the ghosts of the victims of his mutiny, who were apparently being lead by the ghost of Captain Randall Pace. In an effort to silence them, William hired a Romani clairvoyant woman named Madame Leota to perform rituals that would aid in silencing the spirits of the manor. Leota however was in love with William and made several efforts to romance him only to have her advances rebuffed by the former pirate who was in love with a beautiful woman named Emily DeClaire (the comics' version of the Attic Bride), a woman who Leota came to hate. Due to this hatred on William's wedding day to Emily, Leota chose to perform a séance to summon the ghost of Captain Randall Pace and order him to murder Emily before the wedding while she was looking for something old, something borrowed and something blue in the Mansion's attic. Following the discovery of Leota's betrayal, William barged into her Séance chamber while she was still conducting her rituals and strangled her to death for having been responsible for the death of his bride. After this murder, William decides to end his life and he goes to the manor's cupola where he commits suicide by hanging himself to death.
As a ghost, William is unable to properly materialize in any location that is not the Stretching Room so he is rendered a disembodied spirit until the Mansion finally acquired 1000 ghosts and his corpse falls to the floor properly and finally manifests as a ghostly version of Gracey.
The Haunted Mansion (Disneyland & Walt Disney World)
In the attraction, Master Gracey's tombstone can be found in the family plot with a fresh rose placed atop of it every morning by cast members. In the Magic Kingdom, Gracey's portrait can be seen in the mansion's foyer slowly aging and decomposing until it resembles nothing more than a corpse while in Disneyland his portrait appears in the Changing Portrait Corridor replacing that of Ms. April December and appearing along with paintings of Medusa, the Flying Dutchman, the WereCat and Edward the Black Prince.
- A common misconception popularized by the Ghost Gallery which is abundant in the Mansion's spin-off adaptions is that Master Gracey is the same character as the Ghost Host, however, they are entirely separate characters.
- Every morning a red rose is placed on Master Gracey's tombstone, this was likely started during the 1980s as a form of mourning Yale Gracey after he had been murdered along with his wife.