Hillside Memorial Park is a stunning Jewish cemetery located in Culver City, California. Known for being home to Al Jolson’s elaborate tomb visible from the San Diego Freeway, the cemetery is also the final resting place of many other people of the Jewish faith who were notable in the film industry. The cemetery beautifully celebrates the faith through highly symbolic and inspiring art and architecture located throughout the cemetery.
Upon my first visit to Hillside, I arrived to find that the Jolson memorial was actually having some restoration work done. Since this was a bit out of the ordinary, but understandably necessary, I snapped a few photos and decided to come back on another trip.
Jolson memorial or not, the cemetery is still a location that is still moving to visit. The grounds here are gorgeous and it is interesting to appreciate the wide array of art and epitaphs located throughout the grounds.
Upon my return visit to Hillside, fortunately, I was able to visit the restored Jolson memorial. The memorial continues to be an iconic one for the cemetery and does appear as part of their branding today. In addition to visiting Jolson’s grave on my previous trip and more recent one, I was able to pay my respect to many other legends of the entertainment industry.
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.
(May 26, 1886 – October 23, 1950)
Born Asa Yoelson.An American singer, comedian, and actor. He was dubbed “The World’s Greatest Entertainer” at the peak of his career. His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized many songs that benefited from his “shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach.” In the 1920s, Jolson was America’s most famous and highest-paid entertainer.
Cyd Charisse & Tony Martin (married)
(March 8, 1922 – June 17, 2008)
Born Tula Ellice Finklea, known professionally as Cyd Charisse. An American dancer and actress.
Tony Martin (unmarked)
(December 25, 1913 – July 27, 2012)
Born Alvin Morris, known professionally as Tony Martin. An American actor and popular singer. His career spanned over seven decades, and he scored dozens of hits between the late-1930s and mid-1950s with songs such as “Walk Hand in Hand”, “Stranger in Paradise” and “I Get Ideas”. He was married to actress and dancer Cyd Charisse for 60 years, from 1948 until her death in 2008.
(June 19, 1897 – May 4, 1975)
Born Moses Harry Horwitz, known professionally as Moe Howard. An American actor and comedian, best known as the leader of the Three Stooges, the farce comedy team who starred in motion pictures and television for four decades. That group originally started out as Ted Healy and His Stooges, an act that toured the vaudeville circuit. Moe’s distinctive hairstyle came about when he was a boy and cut off his curls with a pair of scissors, producing a ragged shape approximating a bowl cut.
Irene Gladys Selznick (née Mayer)
(April 2, 1907 – October 10, 1990)
An American socialite and theatrical producer.
(September 12, 1901 – March 7, 1975)
A Canadian-American actor and comedian.
(July 12, 1908 – March 27, 2002)
Born Mendel Berlinger. An American comedian and actor. Berle’s career as an entertainer spanned over 80 years, first in silent films and on stage as a child actor, then in radio, movies, and television. As the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater (1948–55), he was the first major American television star and was known to millions of viewers as “Uncle Miltie” and “Mr. Television” during the first Golden Age of Television.
(January 31, 1892 – October 10, 1964)
Born Isidore Itzkowitz. was an American “illustrated song” performer, comedian, dancer, singer, actor, and songwriter. Familiar to Broadway, radio, movie, and early television audiences, this “Apostle of Pep” was regarded almost as a family member by millions because his top-rated radio shows revealed intimate stories and amusing anecdotes about his wife Ida and five daughters. Some of his hits include “Makin’ Whoopee”, “Ida”, “If You Knew Susie”, “Ma! He’s Makin’ Eyes at Me”, “Baby”, “Margie”, and “How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?” He also wrote a few songs, including “Merrily We Roll Along”, the Merrie Melodies Warner Bros. cartoon theme.
(August 21, 1906 – May 26, 1995)
Born Isadore “Friz” Freleng, often credited as I. Freleng. An American animator, cartoonist, director, producer, and composer known for his work at Warner Bros. Cartoons on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons.
(March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015)
Born Leonard Simon Nimoy. An American actor, film director, photographer, author, singer, and songwriter. He was known for playing Spock in the Star Trek franchise, a character he portrayed in television and film from a pilot episode shot in late 1964 to his final film performance in 2013.
Jack Benny & Mary Livingstone (married)
(February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974)
Born Benjamin Kubelsky. An American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, and violinist. Recognized as a leading 20th-century American entertainer, Benny often portrayed his character as a miser, who obliviously played his violin badly, and ridiculously claimed to be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age.
(22 June 1908 – 30 June 1983)
Born Sadya Marks, later known as Sadie Marks. An American radio comedian and actress. She was the wife and radio partner of comedian Jack Benny.
(September 26, 1937 – July 6, 2015)
Born Jerome Charles Weintraub. An American film producer, talent manager and actor whose television films won him three Emmys.
(January 31, 1937 – January 19, 2008)
An American actress and voice actress. Pleshette started her career in the theatre and began appearing in films in the late 1950s and later appeared in prominent films such as Rome Adventure (1962) and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). She later appeared in various television productions, often in guest roles, and played Emily Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show from 1972 until 1978, receiving several Emmy Award nominations for her work. She continued acting until 2004, which was four years before her death at age 70.
(October 31, 1936 – July 1, 1991)
Born Eugene Maurice Orowitz. An American actor, writer, director, and producer. He is known for his roles as Little Joe Cartwright in Bonanza (1959–1973), Charles Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie (1974–1983), and Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven (1984–1989). Landon appeared on the cover of TV Guide 22 times, second only to Lucille Ball.
(August 16, 1928 – August 10, 2013)
Born Edith Gormezano. An American singer who had hits on the pop and Latin pop charts. She sang solo and with her husband, Steve Lawrence, on albums, television, Broadway, and in Las Vegas. Eydie was a first cousin to renowned singer-songwriter-pianist Neil Sedaka.
Max Factor, Sr.
(September 15, 1877 – August 30, 1938)
Born Maksymilian Faktorowicz. A Polish businessman, beautician, entrepreneur, and inventor. As a founder of the cosmetics giant Max Factor & Company, he largely developed the modern cosmetics industry in the United States and popularized the term “make-up” in noun form based on the verb.
(February 29, 1916 – February 24, 1994)
Born Fannye Rose Shore. An American singer, actress, and television personality, and the top-charting female vocalist of the 1940s. She rose to prominence as a recording artist during the Big Band era. She achieved even greater success a decade later, in television, mainly as hostess of a series of variety programs for Chevrolet automobile company.
When visiting Culver City, I would strongly recommend a stroll through the peaceful grounds of Hillside Memorial Park.