Originally published May 23, 2013 at The Los Angeles Beat
Take me to the cemetery and “We’ll hear the dead people talk. They do talk there. They chatter like birds… but all they say is one word and that one word is ‘live.’ They say ‘live, live, live, live, live.’ It’s all they’ve learned, it’s the only advice they can give. Just live. Simple! A very simple instruction.” — Tennessee Williams (from his play Orpheus Descending)
With sprawling, well manicured lawns, nicely tended gardens, shade trees and more statuary then you shake a stick at, cemeteries can be magical places and do not have to be considered morbid. They are places of history, places of remembrance, places where you can “meet” your idols, even if they passed away a century before you were born. They are sacred places that will put you in touch with your mortality and may even give you a life affirming jolt. Time is priceless and we never know how much of it we have left. Visiting the graves of the multitude of celebrities we have buried in Los Angeles is a unique and somewhat surreal way to pay homage to our heroes. Below is a partial list of area cemeteries where some of the celebrated are buried. Finding the actual graves can be like detective work, but there are a few internet sites that are very helpful. The two websites that I have found best for celebrity grave hunting are www.findagrave.com and www.seeing-stars.com.
Inglewood Park Cemetery 720 E. Florence Avenue, Inglewood, CA.
Ray Charles, Etta James. Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Sugar Ray Robinson, Gypsy Rose Lee, T-Bone Walker, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, Richard Berry, Betty Grable, Cesar Romero, Billy Preston.
Pierce Bros Westwood Memorial Park 218 Glendon Avenue, Westwood, CA. (310) 474-1579
Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Farrah Fawcett, Natalie Wood, Roy Orbison (unmarked), Frank Zappa (unmarked), Carl Wilson, Dorothy Stratten, Truman Capote, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Burt Lancaster, Carroll O’Connor, Donna Reed, Eddie Albert, George C. Scott, Eva Gabor, Bob Crane, Richard Dawson, Jim Backus, Minnie Riperton, Buddy Rich, Billy Wilder.
Holy Cross Cemetery 5835 W. Slauson Avenue, Culver City, CA. (310) 670-7697
Bela Lugosi, Lawrence Welk, Sharon Tate, Bing Crosby, John Ford, Rita Hayworth, Louella Parsons, Darby Crash, John Candy, Rosalind Russell, Loretta Young, Chick Hearn, Ray Bolger, Fred MacMurray, Jimmy Durante, Mario Lanza, Ricardo Montalban.
San Fernando Mission Cemetery 11160 Stranwood Avenue,
Mission Hills, CA. (818) 361-7387
Ritchie Valens, Chuck Connors, Tommy Noonan, William Frawley. (Bob Hope used to be here, but was moved next door to the San Fernando Mission itself).
Forest Lawn Glendale 1712 S. Glendale Avenue, Glendale, CA.
Walt Disney, Michael Jackson*, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart*, Errol Flynn, Clara Bow, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Jean Harlow, Mary Pickford*, Spencer Tracy, George Burns, Lon Chaney, Ethel Waters, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Red Skelton, Ted Knight, Louis L’Amour, Frank L. Baum, Alan Ladd, Billy Barty, The Andrews Sisters, Theda Bara. (* These are behind locked gates.)
Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA.
(323) 254-7251 or (818) 984-171
Liberace, Ricky Nelson, Bette Davis, Freddie Prinze, Ronnie James Dio, Telly Savalas, Andy Gibb, Gene Autry, Julie London, Lou Rawls, David Carradine, Scatman Crothers, Michael Hutchence, Isabel Sanford, Sandra Dee, John Ritter, Buster Keaton, Jack Webb, Brittany Murphy, Tom Bosley, Dorothy L’Amour, Steve Allen, Arthur Lee, Bobby Fuller, Nicolette Larson.
Hollywood Forever 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, CA.
Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Vampira, Rudolph Valentino, Mel Blanc, Bugsy Siegel, Douglas Fairbanks, Woody Herman, Peter Lorre, Estelle Getty, Fay Wray, Janet Gaynor, David White, Iron Eyes Cody.
Hillside Memorial Park 6001 W. Centinela Avenue, Culver City, CA. (310) 641-0707
Milton Berle, Shelley Winters, Michael Landon, Jack Benny, Al Jolsen, Lorne Greene, Max Factor, Dinah Shore, Aaron Spelling, Nell Carter, Fritz Freleng, Moe Howard, Suzanne Pleshette, Mickey Cohen, Vic Morrow.