Seeing Stars: Final Resting Places of the Stars


4471 Lincoln Ave,
Cypress, CA./ (714) 828-3131

This Forest Lawn park out in Cypress (near the L.A./Orange County border) is tiny compared with its larger and more famous siblings in Glendale and Hollywood Hills.

Only four Hollywood celebrities have been buried here. Two are pop singers who made the Billboard Top-40 charts; both died before their time. And the most famous one has since been moved to another park.

When you drive into Forest Lawn Cypress, you will see a massive mosaic by John La Farge, called "The Ascension" ; it is 30-feet wide, 28-feet high, and is composed of more than a million tiny pieces of Venetian glass (called "tessere"). Nearby is a charming reproduction of the 1741 "Patrick Henry" church in Virginia.


[Click on the small photos to see enlarged images.]

The most famous star buried here was singer Karen Carpenter (1950-1983), who, with her brother Richard, made up the pop duo "The Carpenters"; they sold 60 million albums and had 16 consecutive Top 20 hits during the years 1970-1975, including "Close to You," "Top of the World," and "We've Only Just Begun." Karen met an untimely death in 1983, at age 32, due to complications of the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Her life was dramatized in the 1988 TV-movie "The Karen Carpenter Story."

Her large, marble tomb (which she shares with both her father and mother) was in a beautiful enclosed mausoleum located just to the west of the massive mosaic, "The Ascension."

The Carpenter tomb was easy to find. Here are directions: First drive into the west side of the park grounds until you spot the mammoth mosaic of "The Ascension" (see the above photo - you can't miss it). Get out of your car and face this huge mosaic; just behind "The Ascension" are two enclosed mausoleum buildings, one to your right (east) and one to your left (west). Enter the hallway to your left. Immediately after you enter, turn left down the first small hallway you come to - called "The Sanctuary of Compassion." Karen Carpenter's tomb was the massive, altar-like sarcophagus located at the south end of this short hallway, beneath a large painting of the Madonna & Child.

The attractive indoor mausoleum is illuminated by skylights; its hallways lined with rich marble, decorated with handsome white religious statues, and filled with the sound of soft music. (Click here to see a map of the grounds.)

Update: Unfortunately, in late 2003, Karen's body was moved to a new cemetery, and a distant one at that. Now she and her parents were moved by her brother Richard to Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, on the far west side of the San Fernando Valley (some 60 miles away from Cypress). Her body is located in a new, brown marble, stand-alone mausoleum bearing the Carpenter name at the top. It's the same cemetery where singer Harry Nilsson is buried, as well as comic book legend Jack Kirby, L.A. newsman Clete Roberts and Ron Goldman (the other victim in the O.J. Simpson murder case).



The other celebrity singer buried at Forest Lawn Cypress is pioneer rock 'n' roller Eddie Cochran (1938-1960), buried in the Abiding Faith section, plot #2996. Eddie's most popular song was "Summertime Blues," which he recorded in 1958 (best known for the line "...There ain't no cure for the summertime blues! "). The song reached #8 on the Billboard Top 40.

Eddie Cochran was only 22 years old when he was killed in a London traffic accident. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1967, and he was portrayed in the movie "The Buddy Holly Story" (1978) by actor Jerry Zaremba. Eddie Cochran appeared in three movies, including the 1956 comedy "The Girl Can't Help It" with Jayne Mansfield. The same taxi accident that killed Eddie also injured rocker Gene Vincent, who had hit the Top Ten himself with "Be-Bop-A-Lula (She's my Baby)." Ironically, both Gene Vincent and Jane Mansfield also died young. Jayne was killed in a 1967 auto accident at the age of 34, and Gene died in 1971 from an ulcer hemorrhage, at age 36. (Click here to hear Eddie sing.)

It's fairly easy to find find Eddie's grave. From the park's main entrance, just drive west through the gates and park on that road so that your car is alligned with the large "Ascension" mural to the far north (your right). Now to your left (south) you will see a white statue of a mother, her child and a baby. Eddie's grave is about 12 spaces to the left (east) of this statue and about six rows behind it (to the south). Eddie's marker is quite large (with an engraving of him on it playing a guitar), so just look for a large bronze marker. (Click here to see a map of the grounds.)


Next, there's Ken Maynard (1895-1973). Forgotten by many of the younger generation, Maynard was one of the leading cowboy movie stars of his time, starring in numerous 1930's Westerns such as "Trail Drive" and "Tombstone Canyon." In fact Gene Autry got his start in a Maynard film, "In Old Santa Fe." His grave is located in space 1, lot 2840, in the churchyard (the marker reads "Kenneth Maynard.")

This was a hard marker to find, since the Churchyard is big. To find it, from Eddie Cochran's location, drive forward (west) and make a right turn (north) at the next corner. Park just around the corner. The area to your left (west) is the Churchyard. You'll note that its curb curves inward a few yards north of the corner. Ken Maynard's marker is located about four markers in (west) from the curb, and about four markers down (south) from the north curved curb. Better yet, just click here to see a map of the grounds


Finally, if you were a fan of "The New Mickey Mouse Club," which aired on Saturday mornings during the late 1970's, you'll probably remember Angel Florez (1963-1995), a happy, enthusiastic 13-year-old Mouseketeer with a flair for comedy. Half Mexican-American and half Apache, Angel was born in Hawaiian Gardens, a small town just a mile west of this park. A singer & dancer, he got his break after auditioning for a role in a Disneyland parade. (One of his fellow Mousketeers on that show was Lisa Whelchel, who went on to play 'Blair' on the sitcom "The Facts of Life." Fortunately, Lisa is still with us.)

Alas, like most of the stars at this Cypress park, Angel left us at a young age. He died of AIDS on April 25, 1995, at age 31.

To find Angel's grave, from the large Ascension mural (near Karen Carpenter), drive northeast until you come to the first main road ("Guardian") where you can turn left (north). Make a left here. You will see a wall-like hedge in front of you. Park near this hedge, on the right (east) side of the road, where you'll find a few steps leading down to the "Everlasting Hope" section. Angel's grave is the first row in from the curb, about five markers south from these steps.



(Click here to see a map of the grounds.)



Hours: Daily: 9 AM - 5 PM

Getting there: Forest Lawn Cypress is located near the western Orange County/L.A. border, just a few minutes north of Los Alamitos race track, and about three miles southwest of Knott's Berry Farm. / From the 605 Freeway, take the Carson Street offramp, and go east (about one mile, Carson Street is re-named Lincoln Avenue to the east) to the park, which will be on your left (north) side, just past Bloomfield Street.






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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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