To me, Forest Lawn Memorial Park–Glendale is the most notable cemetery to visit in the Los Angeles area. The original and current flagship location of the six cemeteries in their chain, this location is home to a vast amount of notable individuals and continues to host high-profile services to this day. Each year, over a million people visit. In addition to the fact that so many performers and writers whom I hold dear are at rest in this truly breathtaking location, the art, architecture, and lovely landscapes are sights that are inspiring to behold.
Knowing the history behind this cemetery, it is not surprising that I am so moved by it. Dr. Hubert Eaton, the cemetery’s manager in 1917, is credited as being the “Founder” of Forest Lawn Memorial Park, largely thanks for his innovations of establishing the memorial park plan. In doing so, he eliminated upright grave markers in favor of drawing focus to works, both original and replicated, of established artists. Eaton was an individual who believed in a joyful life after death but felt that cemeteries at the time were “unsightly, depressing stoneyards.” As a result, he wanted to create a cemetery that reflected optimistic beliefs that mirrored his own Christian faith, wishing that his cemetery would be “as unlike other cemeteries as sunshine is unlike darkness.” He wanted Forest Lawn Memorial to be “a great park devoid of misshapen monuments and other signs of earthly death, but filled with towering trees, sweeping lawns, splashing fountains, beautiful statuary, and […] memorial architecture.”
Thanks to his philosophy, the six Forest Lawn locations contain roughly 1,500 statues, with about 10% of them being reproductions of famous works of art. For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper was recreated in stained glass at the Glendale location, while full-sized reproductions of Michelangelo’s David and Moses also grace the grounds. In fact, this cemetery is the only place that contains a complete collection of replica Michelangelo’s sculptures which were made from castings taken from the originals. The marble used for them was sourced from the original quarries in Carrara, Italy.
Whereas some art in Forest Lawn is religious, others are more secular and patriotic. Glendale’s Court of Freedom, for example, houses the large mosaic of John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence in addition to a statue of George Washington. In the Hall of the Crucifixion, visitors will find a panoramic painting called The Crucifixion by Polish artist Jan Styka. It is the largest permanently mounted religious paining in the world, measuring 195 feet by 45 feet.
Furthermore, Forest Lawn–Glendale’s main gates are claimed to be the largest wrought iron gates in the world.
By 1957, the Forest Lawn Museum was established on the grounds, displaying a variety of art and artifacts while also hosting rotating art exhibits.
In addition to the stunning art work, Forest Lawn–Glendale has three non-denominational chapels, including The Little Church of the Flowers, The Wee Kirk o’ the Heather, and The Church Recessional, with each one being an exact replica of famous European churches.
The key architectural gem here, however, is the Great Mausoleum. Fashioned after Campo Santo in Genoa, Italy, it is one of the most highly sought after interment places within the cemetery. Only a portion of it is accessible to the general public, with a portion of it being the Court of Honor. Here, individuals are inducted as “Immortals” by Forest Lawn’s Council of Regents. The rest of the structure is private and only accessible to individuals who have a loved one interred there. This emphasis on privacy is not limited to the Great Mausoleum; there are many other private gardens throughout the cemetery that require a golden key, distributed only to property owners.
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 first group profiled features individuals who are at rest in outdoor areas.
(December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966)
Born Walter Elias Disney. An American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film producer, Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and an Emmy Award, among other honors. Several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Joe E. Brown
(July 28, 1891 – July 6, 1973)
Born Joseph Evans Brown. An American actor and comedian, remembered for his amiable screen persona, comic timing, and enormous elastic-mouth smile. He was one of the most popular American comedians in the 1930s and 1940s, with films like A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), Earthworm Tractors (1936), and Alibi Ike (1935). In his later career Brown starred in Some Like It Hot (1959), as Osgood Fielding III, in which he utters the famous punchline, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
(April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967)
Born Spencer Bonaventure Tracy. An American actor, noted for his natural performing style and versatility. One of the major stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Tracy won two Academy Awards for Best Actor from nine nominations, sharing the record for nominations in the category with Laurence Olivier.
(19 February 1911 – 23 November 1979)
Born Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson. A Eurasian actress who began her film career in British films as Anne Boleyn in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). After her success in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), she traveled to the United States to make films for Samuel Goldwyn. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Dark Angel (1935). A traffic collision in 1937 caused facial injuries that could have ended her career, but she recovered and remained active in film and television until 1973.
(20 June 1909 – 14 October 1959)
Born Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn. An Australian-born American actor during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Considered the natural successor to Douglas Fairbanks, he achieved worldwide fame for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films, as well as frequent partnerships with Olivia de Havilland. He was best known for his role as Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); his portrayal of the character was named by the American Film Institute as the 18th-greatest hero in American film history. His other famous roles included the eponymous lead in Captain Blood (1935), Major Geoffrey Vickers in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), as well as the heroes in a number of Westerns, such as Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940) and San Antonio (1945).
(4 February 1918 – 3 August 1995)
An English-American actress, singer, director, and producer. She is widely regarded as one of the most prominent, and one of the only, female filmmakers working during the 1950s in the Hollywood studio system. With her independent production company, she co-wrote and co-produced several social-message films and became the first woman to direct a film noir with The Hitch-Hiker in 1953.
L. Frank Baum
(May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919)
Born Lyman Frank Baum. An American author chiefly famous for his children’s books, particularly The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels. He wrote 14 novels in the Oz series, plus 41 other novels, 83 short stories, over 200 poems, and at least 42 scripts. He made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and the nascent medium of film; the 1939 adaptation of the first Oz book would become a landmark of 20th-century cinema. His works anticipated such century-later commonplaces as television, augmented reality, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high-risk and action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane’s Nieces at Work).
The following individuals are located in outdoor areas which are private.
Will Mastin, Sr.
(June 20, 1878 – March 14, 1979)
Mastin was the leader of the Will Mastin Trio, which included Sammy Davis Sr. and his son Sammy Davis Jr. Will Mastin was also the “uncle” of Sammy Davis Jr.. Sammy’s father Sammy Davis Sr. and Will were good friends.
Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sammy Davis, Sr. (father and son)
Sammy Davis, Jr.
(December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990)
Born Samuel George Davis Jr. An American singer, musician, dancer, actor, vaudevillian, comedian and activist known for his impressions of actors, musicians and other celebrities. At age three, Davis Jr. began his career in vaudeville with his father Sammy Davis Sr. and the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally.
Sammy Davis, Sr.
(December 12, 1900 – May 21, 1988)
Born Samuel George Davis Sr. An African-American dancer and the father of entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.
(November 14, 1904 – January 2, 1963)
Born Richard Ewing Powell. An American singer, actor, voice actor, film producer, film director and studio head. Though he came to stardom as a musical comedy performer, he showed versatility and successfully transformed into a hardboiled leading man starring in projects of a more dramatic nature. He was the first actor to portray the private detective Philip Marlowe on screen.
(December 25, 1899 – January 14, 1957)
Born Humphrey DeForest Bogart.An American film and theater actor. His performances in numerous films from the Classical Hollywood era made him a cultural icon. In 1999, the American Film Institute selected him as the greatest male star of classic American cinema.
Mary Pickford, Jack Pickford, and Lottie Pickford (siblings)
(April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979)
Born Gladys Louise Smith, known professionally as Mary Pickford. A Canadian-born American film actress and producer. With a career spanning 50 years, she was a co-founder of both the Pickford–Fairbanks Studio (along with Douglas Fairbanks) and, later, the United Artists film studio (with Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith), and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who present the yearly “Oscar” award ceremony.
(August 18, 1896 – January 3, 1933)
Born John Charles Smith. A Canadian-born American actor, film director and producer. He was the younger brother of actresses Mary and Lottie Pickford.
(June 9, 1893 – December 9, 1936)
Born Charlotte Smith. A Canadian-born silent film actress and socialite. She was the younger sister of fellow actress Mary Pickford and elder sister of actor Jack Pickford.
(September 16, 1893 – June 17, 1948)
An American theatrical producer, director, songwriter and composer.
The following individuals are located in the publicly accessible Freedom Mausoleum.
Jeanette MacDonald and Nat King Cole (neighboring crypts)
(June 18, 1903 – January 14, 1965)
Born Jeanette Anna MacDonald. An American singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier (The Love Parade, Love Me Tonight, The Merry Widow and One Hour With You) and Nelson Eddy (Naughty Marietta, Rose-Marie, and Maytime). During the 1930s and 1940s she starred in 29 feature films, four nominated for Best Picture Oscars (The Love Parade, One Hour with You, Naughty Marietta and San Francisco), and recorded extensively, earning three gold records. She later appeared in opera, concerts, radio, and television. MacDonald was one of the most influential sopranos of the 20th century, introducing opera to film-going audiences and inspiring a generation of singers.
Nat King Cole
(March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965)
Born Nathaniel Adams Coles, known professionally as Nat King Cole. An American jazz pianist and vocalist. He recorded over one hundred songs that became hits on the pop charts. His trio was the model for small jazz ensembles that followed. Cole also acted in films and on television and performed on Broadway. He was the first African American man to host an American television series.
(October 5, 1902 – January 24, 1975)
Born Louis Feinberg, known professionally as Larry Fine. An American actor, comedian, violinist, and boxer, who is best known as a member of the comedy act the Three Stooges.
(March 22, 1887 – October 11, 1961)
Born Leonard Joseph “Chico” Marx. An American comedian, musician, actor and film star. He was a member of the Marx Brothers (with Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, and Zeppo Marx). His persona in the act was that of a charming, uneducated but crafty con artist, seemingly of rural Italian origin, who wore shabby clothes and sported a curly-haired wig and Tyrolean hat. On screen, Chico is often in alliance with Harpo, usually as partners in crime, and is also frequently seen trying to con or outfox Groucho. Leonard was the oldest of the Marx Brothers to live past early childhood (first-born Manfred Marx had died in infancy). In addition to his work as a performer, he played an important role in the management and development of the act in its early years.
Clara Bow and Rex Bell (married)
(July 29, 1905 – September 27, 1965)
Born Clara Gordon Bow. An American actress who rose to stardom in silent film during the 1920s and successfully made the transition to “talkies” after 1927. Her appearance as a plucky shopgirl in the film It brought her global fame and the nickname “The It Girl”. Bow came to personify the Roaring Twenties and is described as its leading sex symbol.
(October 16, 1903 – July 4, 1962)
Born George Francis Beldam. An American actor and politician. He was a Western movie star married to actress Clara Bow, and the 21st Lieutenant Governor of Nevada.
(November 11, 1911 – died May 18, 2000)
An American television and radio producer and screenwriter who helped create some of early television’s most successful sitcoms as well as the technical wherewithal to save them on high-quality film for summer reruns and syndication. His most noticeable work was having helped develop the popular 1950’s CBS-TV sitcom series I Love Lucy, and The Burns and Allen Show. He also served as president of Filmways Productions, which produced the CBS-TV series as Mister Ed and The Beverly Hillbillies.
George Burns and Gracie Allen (married)
(January 20, 1896 – March 9, 1996)
Born Nathan Birnbaum. An American comedian, actor, singer, and writer. He was one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned vaudeville, radio, film and television. His arched eyebrow and cigar-smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three quarters of a century. He and his wife, Gracie Allen, appeared on radio, television, and film as the comedy duo Burns and Allen.
(July 26, 1895 – August 27, 1964)
Born Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen. An American vaudevillian and comedienne who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband George Burns, her straight man appearing with her on radio, television and film as the duo Burns and Allen.
The following individual is located in a public area of the Great Mausoleum.
(February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011)
Born Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor.A British-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s, and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She continued her career successfully into the 1960s, and remained a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend.
The following individuals are located in the private sections of the Great Mausoleum.
(October 9, 1906 – August 4, 1942)
Born Janette Clarinda Lov. An American actress, musician, and singer who came to prominence for her appearances in several Pathé Exchange and Universal Pictures films in the 1920s.
Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis (married)
(April 20, 1893 – March 8, 1971)
Born Harold Clayton Lloyd Sr. An American actor, comedian, and stunt performer who appeared in many silent comedy films.
(February 22, 1901 – August 18, 1969)
Born Mildred Hillary Davis. An American actress who appeared in many of Harold Lloyd’s classic silent comedies and eventually became his wife.
(August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)
Born Michael Joseph Jackson. An American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the “King of Pop”, he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest entertainers. Jackson’s contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Ed Wynn and Keenan Wynn (father and son)
(November 9, 1886 – June 19, 1966)
Born Isaiah Edwin Leopold, better known as Ed Wynn. An American actor and comedian, noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic actor.
(July 27, 1916 – October 14, 1986)
Born Francis Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn. An American character actor. His expressive face was his stock-in-trade; and though he rarely carried the lead role, he had prominent billing in most of his film and television roles.
(January 29, 1880 – December 25, 1946)
Born William Claude Dukenfield, better known as W. C. Fields. An American comedian, actor, juggler, and writer. Fields’ comic persona was a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist, who remained a sympathetic character despite his supposed contempt for children and dogs.
(November 11, 1904 – January 10, 1941)
An American 1930s-era vaudeville, radio and film comedian.
(January 9, 1870 – May 16, 1938)
Born Joseph Baermann Strauss. An American structural engineer of German descent, who revolutionized the design of bascule bridges. He was the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge.
William L. Wrigley, Jr.
(September 30, 1861 – January 26, 1932)
An American chewing gum industrialist. He was founder and eponym of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in 1891.
The Andrews Sisters (siblings)
The Andrews Sisters were an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters. Throughout their career, the sisters sold over 75 million records (the last official count released by MCA Records in the mid-1970s). After the death of Patty in 2013, the new recount of the group’s total sales was 90 million records sold worldwide, making them the best-selling female group of all time. Their 1941 hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” can be considered an early example of rhythm and blues or jump blues. Other songs closely associated with the Andrews Sisters include their first major hit, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You’re Grand)” (1937), “Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out the Barrel)” (1939), “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” (1940), “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)” (1942), and “Rum and Coca Cola” (1945), which helped introduce American audiences to calypso.
LaVerne Sophia Andrews
(July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967)
Maxene Anglyn Andrews
(January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995)
Patricia Marie “Patty” Andrews (cenotaph)
(February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013)
David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones; Mary Jennifer Selznick (married; daughter)
David O. Selznick
(May 10, 1902 – June 22, 1965)
An American film producer, screenwriter and film studio executive. He is best known for producing Gone with the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940), each earning him an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Jennifer Jones (alleged; unmarked)
(March 2, 1919 – December 17, 2009)
Born Phylis Lee Isley, also known as Jennifer Jones Simon. An American actress and mental health advocate. Over the course of her career that spanned over five decades, she was nominated for the Oscar five times, including one win for Best Actress, as well as a Golden Globe Award win for Best Actress in a Drama. Jones is among the youngest actresses to receive an Academy Award, having won on her 25th birthday.
Mary Jennifer Selznick
(August 12, 1954 – May 11, 1976)
Daughter of actress Jennifer Jones.
Mary jumped off of a 22nd story skyscraper, to her death in Los Angeles, California. This sparked interest in her mother for mental health issues.
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard (married)
(February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960)
Born William Clark Gable. An American film actor who is often referred to as “The King of Hollywood”. He began his career as an extra in Hollywood silent films between 1924 and 1926, and progressed to supporting roles with a few films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1930. He landed his first leading role in 1931 and was a leading man in more than 60 motion pictures in a wide variety of genres over the following three decades.
(October 6, 1908 – January 16, 1942)
Born Jane Alice Peters. An American film actress. She was particularly noted for her energetic, often off-beat roles in the screwball comedies of the 1930s. She was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s.
(July 18, 1913 – September 17, 1997)
Born Richard Bernard Eheart, professionally known as Red Skelton. An American comedy entertainer. He was best known for his national radio and television acts between 1937 and 1971, and as host of the television program The Red Skelton Show. He has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio and television, and also appeared in burlesque, vaudeville, films, nightclubs, and casinos, all while he pursued an entirely separate career as an artist.
(March 3, 1911 – June 7, 1937)
Born Harlean Harlow Carpenter. An American film actress and sex symbol of the 1930s. She was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Often nicknamed the “Blonde Bombshell” and the “Platinum Blonde,” she was popular for her “Laughing Vamp” movie persona.
Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer (married)
(May 30, 1899 – September 14, 1936)
BornIrving Grant Thalberg. An American film producer during the early years of motion pictures. He was called “The Boy Wonder” for his youth and ability to select scripts, choose actors, gather production staff, and make profitable films, including Grand Hotel, China Seas, Camille, Mutiny on the Bounty and The Good Earth. His films carved out an international market, “projecting a seductive image of American life brimming with vitality and rooted in democracy and personal freedom,” states biographer Roland Flamini.
(August 10, 1902 – June 12, 1983)
Born Edith Norma Shearer. A Canadian American actress and Hollywood star from 1925 through 1942. Shearer often played spunky, sexually liberated ingenues. She appeared in adaptations of Noël Coward, Eugene O’Neill, and William Shakespeare, and was the first person to be nominated five times for an Academy Award for acting, winning Best Actress for her performance in the 1930 film The Divorcee.
Forest Lawn–Glendale is a massive location in which many legends are at rest. It will take multiple visits to really do this location justice but a visit or stroll through the amazing grounds here is well worth the trip.