Holy Cross Cemetery

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Holy Cross Cemetery is a well-manicured Catholic cemetery located in Culver City, California. It is the resting place of many Catholic entertainers from Hollywood’s Golden Age, with many prominent burials being situated near the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto area. In addition to beautiful statuary art throughout the grounds, it is also home to a stunning mausoleum.

This article does not offer a full overview of each individual located here; rather, it is a “walk” through the grounds from my perspective, highlighting places and people of interest to me. At this point, I have not paid my respects to all of the individuals here and this list is far from exhaustive in covering the notable individuals here.

The group of notable individuals profiled first is located closest to the Grotto. The Grotto area has a memorial altar, statuary art, and a small pond. For the record, I almost always encounter an animal that is enjoying the little pond area, so I like to peek in there.

Rita Hayworth
(October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987)
Born Margarita Carmen Cansino. An American actress and dancer. She achieved fame during the 1940s as one of the era’s top stars, appearing in 61 films over 37 years. The press coined the term “The Love Goddess” to describe Hayworth after she had become the most glamorous screen idol of the 1940s. She was the top pin-up girl for GIs during World War II.

Jack Haley
(August 10, 1897 – June 6, 1979)
Born John Joseph Haley Jr. An American vaudevillian, actor, comedian, radio host, singer and dancer, best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man and his farmhand counterpart “Hickory” in the classic 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.

Jack Haley, Jr.
(October 25, 1933 – April 21, 2001)
Born John Joseph Haley III. An American film director, producer and writer, twice winner of the Emmy Award.

Bing Crosby
(May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977)
Born Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby Jr. An American singer and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses from 1931 to 1954. His early career coincided with recording innovations that allowed him to develop an intimate singing style that influenced many male singers who followed him, including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, and Dean MartinYank magazine said that he was “the person who had done the most for the morale of overseas servicemen” during World War II.

Bela Lugosi
(20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956)
Born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó, better known as Bela Lugosi. A Hungarian-American actor best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film and for his roles in other horror films.

Moving a bit farther from the art in the Grotto section, visitors will find the following markers:

Sharon Tate
(January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969)
Also known as Sharon Marie Tate Polanski. An American actress and model. During the 1960s, she played small television roles before appearing in films and was regularly featured in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl. After receiving positive reviews for her comedic and dramatic acting performances, Tate was hailed as one of Hollywood’s most promising newcomers.

Charles Boyer
(28 August 1899 – 26 August 1978)
A French-American actor who appeared in more than 80 films between 1920 and 1976. After receiving an education in drama, Boyer started on the stage, but he found his success in American films during the 1930s. His memorable performances were among the era’s most highly praised, in romantic dramas such as The Garden of Allah (1936), Algiers (1938), and Love Affair (1939), as well as the mystery-thriller Gaslight (1944). He received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actor.

ZaSu Pitts
(January 3, 1894 – June 7, 1963)
Born Eliza Susan Pitts. An American actress who starred in many silent dramas, including Erich von Stroheim’s epic silent film Greed, and comedies, transitioning successfully to mostly comedy films with the advent of sound films.

Jimmy Durante
(February 10, 1893 – January 29, 1980)
Born James Francis Durante. An American singer, pianist, comedian, and actor. His distinctive clipped gravelly speech, Lower East Side Manhattan accent, comic language-butchery, jazz-influenced songs, and prominent nose helped make him one of America’s most familiar and popular personalities of the 1920s through the 1970s. He often referred to his nose as the schnozzola (Italianization of the American Yiddish slang word schnoz “big nose”), and the word became his nickname.

Moving father into the cemetery and into different sections, visitors will also locate the resting places of the following entertainers:

Ann Miller
(April 12, 1923 – January 22, 2004)
Born Johnnie Lucille Collier, known professionally as Ann Miller. An American dancer, singer, and actress. She is best remembered for her work in the Classical Hollywood cinema musicals of the 1940s and 1950s.

Loretta Young
(January 6, 1913 – August 12, 2000)
Born Gretchen Young. An American actress. Starting as a child actress, she had a long and varied career in film from 1917 to 1953. She won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the 1947 film The Farmer’s Daughter, and received an Oscar nomination for her role in Come to the Stable in 1949. Young moved to the relatively new medium of television, where she had a dramatic anthology series, The Loretta Young Show, from 1953 to 1961. The series earned three Emmy Awards, and was re-run successfully on daytime TV and later in syndication. In the 1980s, Young returned to the small screen and won a Golden Globe for her role in Christmas Eve in 1986.

Rosalind Russell
(June 4, 1907 – November 28, 1976)
Born Catherine Rosalind Russell. An American actress, comedian, screenwriter and singer, known for her role as fast-talking newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson in the Howard Hawks screwball comedy His Girl Friday (1940), as well as for her portrayals of Mame Dennis in Auntie Mame (1958) and Rose in Gypsy (1962). A noted comedian, she won all five Golden Globes for which she was nominated. Russell won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1953 for her portrayal of Ruth in the Broadway show Wonderful Town (a musical based on the film My Sister Eileen, in which she also starred). She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress four times throughout her career.

Dennis Day
(May 21, 1916 – June 22, 1988)
Born Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty. An American singer, radio, television and film personality and comedian of Irish descent.

The mausoleum area is also worth visiting, as it houses a stunning chapel. The different alcoves in the building also have lovely stained glass art that casts beautiful coloring on the marble inside.

The following individuals are at rest in the mausoleum:

Ray Bolger
(January 10, 1904 – January 15, 1987)
Born Raymond Wallace Bolger. An American film and television actor, vaudevillian, singer, dancer (particularly of tap) and stage performer (particularly musical theatre) who started in the silent film era. He was a major Broadway performer in the 1930s and beyond (see below). He is best known for his role as the Scarecrow and his Kansas counterpart farm worker “Hunk” in MGM’s classic The Wizard of Oz (1939) and the villainous Barnaby in Walt Disney’s musical fantasy Babes in Toyland. He was also the host of his eponymous television show, The Ray Bolger Show.

June Haver & Fred MacMurray (married)

June Haver
(June 10, 1926 – July 4, 2005)
Born June Stovenour. An American film actress, singer, and dancer. Once groomed by 20th Century Fox to be “the next Betty Grable”, Haver appeared in a string of musicals, but she never achieved Grable’s popularity. Haver’s second husband was the actor Fred MacMurray, whom she married after she retired from show business.

Fred MacMurray
(August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991)
Born Frederick Martin MacMurray. An American actor and singer who appeared in more than 100 films and a successful television series during a career that spanned nearly a half-century, from 1930 to the 1970s.

Overall, a respectful visit to Holy Cross Culver City, located near the old MGM Studios, is a serene escape from the otherwise busy atmosphere of the city.

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About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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2 Responses to Holy Cross Cemetery

  1. This place looks beautiful! :O Thanks for all these infos Annette. When are you coming to Stockholm, hometown of Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman? 🙂

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