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|Halloween is my favorite day
of the year. Even over Christmas. You get to dress up AND get
candy - how can you beat that?
There are many different ideas of how our Halloween customs first started. One such belief is that spirits of the dead would rise on the 31st of October, searching for living bodies to possess for a chance to live again. Fearing this, the people would dress as ghouls and ghosts to either scare off these spirits -- or perhaps convince them that they too were looking for fresh bodies to inhabit.
My personal favorite Halloween custom is to visit the graves of some of my favorite celebrities, hoping maybe that their spirits will make contact. If you're not lucky enough to receive a visitor from beyond, you can always go for the next best thing...visit one of them.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery, formerly known as Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, is the final resting-place of many celebrities.
In this park you will find the grave of a Hollywood legend that went by a single name, Adrian. He was the chief costume designer for such films as "Romeo and Juliet," "The Wizard of Oz," "Ziegfeld Girl," and "The Philadelphia Story." Next to his plot you will find the grave of his wife, actress Janet Gaynor. She was the first to win the Academy Award in the Best Actress category in 1928.
Also resting in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is Douglas Fairbanks <sigh>. He was once the perfect specimen of the American man. Fairbanks gained popularity with his devil-may-care swash-buckling adventures. Along with Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, Fairbanks founded United Artists. Best loved for his roles in "Robin Hood," "The Three Musketeers," "The Mark of Zorro," and "The Private Life of Don Juan," Douglas Fairbanks died in his sleep in December of 1939.
John Huston had a legendary career in Hollywood as an actor, writer, and director - that spanned over 50 years. He created many classics, including "The Maltese Falcon," "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "Key Largo," and "The African Queen." He died in 1987. I was surprised to see such a modest marker for such a Hollywood giant.
Once begging for coins on the streets of Paris, Rudolph Valentino became the dark, and smoldering epitome of female lust. He sent chills down the spines of hoards of gasping women in films such as "Blood and Sand" and "Monsieur Beaucaire," and the ladies fainted in the aisles when "The Sheik" came to the theater. His sudden death of a perforated ulcer in 1926 caused hysterical women to come close to rioting. For years after his death his fan clubs glorified him as they did during his hay-day. Many have heard stories of the legendary Woman in Black who put flowers on his grave every year on the anniversary of his death.
Mel Blanc was the amazing voice talent behind many cartoon characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble, and Captain Caveman. He was also cast as the speaking voice of Gideon the cat in Disney's "Pinocchio" - but, in the end, only a few hiccups from his entire performance were used. Mel Blanc's grave is located in Hollywood Forever's Jewish section, which, incidentally, also features the grave of mobster Bugsy Siegel.
Peter Lorre is one of my all time favorite character actors, having been featured in such memorable films as "Casablanca," "The Maltese Falcon," and - of course - Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." He died in 1964 and is entombed in Hollywood Forever's Cathedral Mausoleum.
Cecil B. DeMille is generally acknowledged as the man who, more than anyone else, helped Hollywood become the film making capital of the world. He was a master showman, responsible for the epic productions "The Greatest Show on Earth," "The Ten Commandments," "The King of Kings," and "Cleopatra." DeMille's gravesite at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is as epic as his films were.
Hollywood Forever is just one of many cemeteries in the area where Hollywood's finest are buried.
If you wish to visit the grave of Marilyn Monroe, go to the Westwood Village Memorial Park. Eventually, Hugh Hefner will be moving into Marilyn's neighborhood; he paid an estimated $25,000 to reserve the plot next to her. Not far from Marilyn's marker you will find the graves of the two girls from "Poltergeist" movies, Dominique Dunne and Heather O'Rourke. Also buried here are Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, Donna Reed, Roy Orbison and Truman Capote.
It's easy to get lost in a cemetery as large as Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood, but I'm sure you will enjoy the beautiful grounds. The gravesites of Lucille Ball, Gene Roddenberry, Liberace and Stan Laurel, are just a few of the beloved personalities that are buried here.
Walt Disney died on December 15th, 1966, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank -- across the street from his studio. In spite of the rumors, Walt was not cryogenically frozen after his death. He was cremated and his ashes were entombed at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.
A very modest tablet in a very secluded area of Forest Lawn Glendale marks the internment of Walt's ashes -- as well as the remains of his wife, Lillian, and his son-in-law, Robert Brown. There is also a memorial plaque here for Walt's daughter, Sharon.
Employees of the cemeteries do not always divulge the location of celebrity's plots. Refer to our sidebar for more information. Also, please remember that you are visiting the grave of someone's mother, father, or child, and that there are many graveside services being held in these cemeteries every day. Please show the proper amount of respect - one courtesy you may wish to observe is to avoid walking directly on top of the gravesite - instead choosing a path between plots.
Hollywood Forever, the final resting place of many celebrities, is located at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, between Bronson and Van Ness. Public visiting hours are 8am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Maps are available for a small fee in the main office - be sure to stop by. Their phone number is 323 469 1181 for more information.
Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary, the site of Marilyn Monroe's crypt and many others, can be found at 1218 Glendon Avenue in Westwood. The driveway entrance, which is a bit tricky to find, is between an office building and a parking structure. Visiting hours for the public are 8am to 7 pm, 7 days a week - although I understand they close an hour earlier during the winter, so be sure to call for more information. Their number is 310 474 1579.
Forest Lawn Hollywood is located at 6300 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles. It can be seen from the Ventura Freeway, near the intersection of the 5 and the 134, and is adjacent to the Los Angeles Zoo. Forest Lawn Glendale is found at 1712 S. Glendale Avenue. Both facilities share a phone number for more information: 800 204 3131.
For complete details on finding Walt Disney's gravesite at Forest Lawn Glendale, check out the Urban Legends Reference Pages. Their site is filled with wonderful history and trivia, from Disney... and everywhere else. We also are extremely grateful to snopes.com for permission to use their picture of the Disney memorial tablet.
There are two fascinating books you may find at your local library that will give you more information on the final legacies of celebrities, and their burial sites:
"Wills of the Rich & Famous" by Herbert E. Nass details the final wishes of many famous people, including where they were laid to rest.
"Permanent Californians: An Illustrated Guide to the Cemeteries of California" by Judi Culbertson and Tom Randall features maps and descriptions of many celebrity graves, including those at Forest Lawn Hollywood and Glendale.
Links above pop up new windows at Amazon for these titles, or you can look for both of these books at your local library or bookstore.
...And tell 'em Destiny sent you.
Please feel free to email me at DestinyELaw@aol.com
I can't guarantee a response... but I'd still love to hear from you!
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