When I was planning my first trip to Los Angeles, I was eager to take Karie Bible’s walking tour at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, having followed her work and research on Rudolph Valentino’s legendary “Lady in Black.” I love to explore cemeteries for the art and architecture throughout the grounds, in addition to paying my respects to the many talents who have entertained myself and so many others through the filmographies they have left behind. Sometimes, looking for specific individuals and points of interest can be likened to the metaphor of searching for a needle in a haystack, so a guided tour with a well-researched historical context and a tour guide who is passionate about her work was completely ideal. Moreover, out of all the cemeteries in the Los Angeles area, I find that Hollywood Forever is the most welcoming to respectful tourists.
Bible’s tour meets near the flower shop and launches into a pleasant walk around the grounds. Visitors learn information about the range of ethnicities present in the cemeteries, burial and grave decoration traditions, and even some discussion of the cats and peacocks that live on the grounds. Bible also offers information about the history of the cemetery itself within the shade of the Cathedral Mausoleum and, of course, offers fascinating descriptions of the lives and accomplishments of the many notable individuals at rest there.
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 but, moreover, I want to encourage people to take Bible’s tour and enjoy the experience of learning about the history of the monuments and prominent figures here. The first set of photos was taken by me as I was on Bible’s tour and is by no means an exhaustive list of every individual included in the tour, as there is a very long list of notable individuals here.
Griffith Jenkins Griffith
(January 4, 1850 – July 6, 1919)
A Welsh industrialist and philanthropist. After amassing a significant fortune from a mining syndicate in the 1880s, Griffith donated 3,015 acres to the City of Los Angeles which became Griffith Park, and he bequeathed the money to build the park’s Greek Theatre and Griffith Observatory. Griffith’s legacy was marred by his notorious shooting of his wife in 1903, a crime for which he served two years in prison.
(December 11, 1922 – January 10, 2008)
Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi, known professionally as Maila Nurmi. A Finnish-American actress and television personality who created the campy 1950s character Vampira.
(May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006)
William Lyle Richardson, known professionally as Darren McGavin, was an American actor. He was known for his portrayals of worldly, often somewhat gruff characters.
(April 6, 1895 – September 6, 1988)
Harold G. “Hal” Rosson, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer who worked during the early and classical Hollywood cinema. He is best known for his work on the 1939 fantasy film The Wizard of Oz.
Cecil Blount DeMille
(August 12, 1881 – January 21, 1959)
An American filmmaker. Between 1914 and 1958, he made a total of 70 features, both silent and sound films. He is acknowledged as a founding father of the American cinema and the most commercially successful producer-director in film history. His films were distinguished by their epic scale and by his cinematic showmanship. His silent films were more diverse in genre, among which included social dramas, comedies, Westerns, farces, morality plays, and historical pageants.
Janet Gaynor & Adrian (married)
(October 6, 1906 – September 14, 1984)
Born Laura Augusta Gainor. An American film, stage and television actress and painter.
Adrian Adolph Greenburg
(March 3, 1903 – September 13, 1959)
Widely known as Adrian. An American costume designer whose most famous costumes were for The Wizard of Oz and hundreds of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films between 1928 and 1941. He was usually credited onscreen with the phrase “Gowns by Adrian”. Early in his career he chose the professional name Gilbert Adrian, a combination of his father’s forename and his own.
Jayne Mansfield (cenotaph)
(April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967)
Born Vera Jayne Palmer. An American film, theater, and television actress. She was also a nightclub entertainer, a singer, and one of the early Playboy Playmates. She was a major Hollywood sex symbol during the 1950s and early 1960s, while under contract at 20th Century Fox. She was also known for her well-publicized personal life and publicity stunts, such as wardrobe malfunctions.
(July 7, 1895 – September 9, 1921)
An American model and silent film actress. She worked mostly in small bit parts, and is best known for her death after attending a party with actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, who was accused of complicity in her death, though ultimately exonerated.
(April 13, 1923 – September 25, 2005)
Donald James Yarmy , known professionally as Don Adams, was an American actor, comedian and director. In his five decades on television, he was best known as Maxwell Smart (Agent 86) in the television situation comedy Get Smart (1965–70, 1995), which he also sometimes directed and wrote. Adams won three consecutive Emmy Awards for his performance in the series (1967–69). Adams also provided the voices for the animated series Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963–66) and Inspector Gadget(1983–86) as well as several revivals and spin-offs of the latter in the 1990s.
(September 24, 1913 – May 25, 2014)
Born Umberto Alexander Valentino. An American actor of film and television and popular music and jazz singer-songwriter, known for his baritone voice.
(6 August 1865 – 28 August 1928)
Born Hannah Harriet Pedlingham Hill, stage name Lily Harley. An English actress, singer and dancer who performed in British music halls from the age of 16. Chaplin was the mother of Charlie Chaplin and his two half-brothers, the actor Sydney Chaplin and the film director Wheeler Dryden and grandmother of musician Spencer Dryden. As a result of mental illness, now thought to be caused by syphilis, she was unable to continue performing from the mid-1890s. In 1921, she was relocated by her son Charlie to California, where she was cared for in a house in the San Fernando Valley until her death in August 1928.
Marion Davies and Arthur Lake (related by marriage)
Marion Cecilia Davies
(January 3, 1897 – September 22, 1961)
Born Marion Cecilia Elizabeth Brooklyn Douras; was an American film actress, producer, screenwriter, and philanthropist.
(April 17, 1905 – January 9, 1987)
Born Arthur Silverlake Jr., was an American actor known best for bringing Dagwood Bumstead, the bumbling husband of Blondie, to life in film, radio and television.
(May 5, 1914 – November 15, 1958)
Tyrone Edmund Power III was an American film, stage and radio actor. From the 1930s to the 1950s, Power appeared in dozens of films, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads. His better-known films include The Mark of Zorro, Marie Antoinette, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes, Witness for the Prosecution, The Black Rose, and Captain from Castile. Power’s own favorite film among those that he starred in was Nightmare Alley.
(April 4, 1916 – November 27, 1990)
An American stage, film and television actor best known for playing Darrin Stephens’ boss Larry Tate on the 1964–72 ABC situation comedy Bewitched.
(May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926)
Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella, known professionally as Rudolph Valentino, was an Italian actor based in the United States who starred in several well-known silent films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik. He was an early pop icon, and a sex symbol of the 1920s, who was known in Hollywood as the “Latin lover” or simply as “Valentino”. His premature death at the age of 31 caused mass hysteria among his fans and further propelled his status as a cultural film icon.
(28 September 1916 – 14 January 1977)
Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch was an English-Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as crazed television anchorman Howard Beale in the film Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and a Best Actor award from the Golden Globes.
(November 21, 1912 – February 11, 1982)
Eleanor Torrey Powell was an American dancer and actress. Best remembered for her tap dance numbers in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s, Powell began studying ballet aged six and began dancing at nightclubs in Atlantic City before she was a teenager. From the age of sixteen, she began studying tap and started appearing in musical revues on Broadway, before making her Hollywood debut as a featured dancer in the movie George White’s Scandals (1935). She was known as one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s top dancing stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood in a series of musical vehicles tailored especially for her talents, such as Born to Dance (1936), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) and Rosalie (1937). In 1965, she was named the World’s Greatest Tap Dancer by the Dance Masters of America.
(26 June 1904 – 23 March 1964)
Born László Löwenstein. A Hungarian-born American character actor of Jewish descent. Lorre began his stage career in Vienna before moving to Germany where he worked first on the stage, then in film in Berlin in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Lorre caused an international sensation in the German film M (1931), directed by Fritz Lang, in which he portrayed a serial killer who preys on little girls.
(September 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014)
Born Joseph Yule Jr. An American actor, vaudevillian, comedian, producer and radio personality. In a career spanning nine decades and continuing until shortly before his death, he appeared in more than 300 films and was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era.
Note: At the time the photo was taken in October 2018, the Hollywood sign was visible from his gravesite.
(November 17, 1933 – September 1, 1945)
A female Cairn Terrier performer who appeared in 16 different movies, most famously as Toto in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939). It was her only credited role, though she was credited not as Terry but as Toto. She was owned and trained by Carl Spitz.
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.
(May 23, 1883 – December 12, 1939)
Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman was an American actor, screenwriter, director, and producer. He was best known for his swashbuckling roles in silent films including The Thief of Bagdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro but spent the early part of his career making comedies.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr
(December 9, 1909 – May 7, 2000)
An American actor and producer, and a decorated naval officer of World War II. He is best known for starring in such films as The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Gunga Din (1939) and The Corsican Brothers (1941). He was the son of actor Douglas Fairbanks and was once married to Joan Crawford.
Johnny Ramone (cenotaph)
(October 8, 1948 – September 15, 2004)
John William Cummings , known professionally as Johnny Ramone, was an American guitarist and songwriter, best known for being the guitarist for the punk rock band the Ramones. He was a founding member of the band, and remained a member throughout their entire career.
Hattie McDaniel (cenotaph)
(June 10, 1893 – October 26, 1952)
An American stage actress, professional singer-songwriter, and comedian. She is best known for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Academy Award won by an African American entertainer.
(September 15, 1907 – August 8, 2004)
Vina Fay Wray was an American actress most noted for starring as Ann Darrow in the 1933 film King Kong. Through an acting career that spanned nearly six decades, Wray attained international recognition as an actress in horror films. She has been dubbed one of the first “scream queens”.
Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer
(August 8, 1927 – January 21, 1959)
Carl Dean Switzer was an American singer, child actor, dog breeder and guide. He was best known for his role as Alfalfa in the short subjects series Our Gang.
(May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989)
Melvin Jerome Blanc was an American voice actor and radio personality. After beginning his over-60-year career performing in radio, he became known for his work in animation as the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, the Tasmanian Devil, and many of the other characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical cartoons during the golden age of American animation. He voiced all of the major male Warner Bros. cartoon characters except for Elmer Fudd, whose voice was provided by fellow radio personality Arthur Q. Bryan, although Blanc later voiced Fudd, as well, after Bryan’s death.
(July 25, 1923 – July 22, 2008)
An American actress and comedian, who appeared in film, television, and theatre. She was best known for her iconic role as Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls from 1985 to 1992, which won her an Emmy and a Golden Globe, on The Golden Palace from 1992 to 1993, and on Empty Nest from 1993 to 1995.
(June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969)
Born Frances Ethel Gumm. An American actress, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian. During a career that spanned 45 years, she attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage. Respected for her versatility, she received a juvenile Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Special Tony Award. Garland was the first woman to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for her live recording Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961).
April 2019 Update: I returned to Hollywood Forever during the time of the April 2019 TCM Film Festival and spent some time there apart from the tour. I revisited may of the sites seen on the tour but also spent some time tracking down other points of interest, while taking in the serenity of the grounds.
I revisited the Fairbanks gravesite and was able to cross into the section and get a closer look at the inscription there.
I also revisited Marion Davies, Arthur Lake, Tyrone Power, Terry, Mickey Rooney, and Eleanor Powell while there.
However, I was able to also locate some individuals who I did not see on the tour, which included the following:
Barbara La Marr
(July 28, 1896 – January 30, 1926)
Born Reatha Dale Watson. An American film actress and screenwriter who appeared in 27 films during her career between 1920 and 1926. La Marr was also noted by the media for her beauty, dubbed as the “Girl Who Is Too Beautiful,” as well as her tumultuous personal life.
(June 29, 1901 – March 6, 1967)
Nelson Ackerman Eddy was an American singer and actor who appeared in 19 musical films during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as in opera and on the concert stage, radio, television, and in nightclubs. A classically trained baritone, he is best remembered for the eight films in which he costarred with soprano Jeanette MacDonald. He was one of the first “crossover” stars, a superstar appealing both to shrieking bobbysoxers and opera purists, and in his heyday, he was the highest-paid singer in the world.
Natalie, Norma, and Constance Talmadge (sisters)
(April 29, 1896 – June 19, 1969)
An American silent film actress who was best known as the wife of Buster Keaton, and sister of her movie star siblings, Norma and Constance Talmadge. She retired from acting in 1923.
(May 2, 1894 – December 24, 1957)
Norma Marie Talmadge was an American actress and film producer of the silent era. A major box-office draw for more than a decade, her career reached a peak in the early 1920s, when she ranked among the most popular idols of the American screen.
(April 19, 1898 – November 23, 1973)
Constance Alice Talmadge was an American silent film star. She was the sister of actresses Norma and Natalie Talmadge.
(February 23, 1889 – January 6, 1949)
Victor Lonzo Fleming was an American film director, cinematographer, and producer. His most popular films were The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind (both of 1939), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director. Fleming has those same two films listed in the top 10 of the American Film Institute’s 2007 AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list.
(November 8, 1931 – June 13, 1979)
Darla Jean Hood was an American child actress, best known as the leading lady in the Our Gang series from 1935 to 1941.
Maps available here.