Seeing Stars: Final Resting Places of the Stars


Part VII
6300 Forest Lawn Drive,
Los Angeles, CA. / (323) 254-7251 or (818) 984-1711





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We first looked at the Court of Remembrance and the Court of Liberty, because those spots contain numerous stars buried in a relatively small area - making it easier to find them.

But many stars are buried far from either of those Courts, on the various wide lawns that stretch across Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, and as such, their graves tend to be much more difficult to locate.

So, let's go back to the park's main entrance (where you first drove in) and find a few of the easier ones.


Just inside the main gate, in the "Sheltering Hills" section, is the first singing cowboy, Gene Autry (1907-1998).

He was discovered by none other than Will Rogers. From 1935 to 1953, Gene made hundreds of Western shorts, entertaining generations of kids with his guitar, six-shooters and his horse Champion. In the '50s, he moved to the airwaves, where he had a hit radio show called "Melody Ranch" that ran for 16 years, and a popular TV show that ran for five more.

He sold over 100 million records, including hit hit recordings of "Back in the Saddle Again," "South of the Border" and "Here Comes Santa Claus" (which Gene wrote himself after riding in the Hollywood Christmas Parade). His recording of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" alone has sold over 30 million copies. He is the only person with five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Later, his investments made him a multimillionaire who owned KTLA Studios in Hollywood, as well as the California Angels baseball team (now called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). Before his death, at a healthy 91, Gene established the Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

Gene Autry's is one of the few graves that is easy to find here.

Once you drive through the park's main gates, look to your right (west) , and stop at the first white statue you come to. (It will be a statue of a woman holding her child, and the words on the base read "S.F. Wong.")

Gene's grave (#1048) is located on the lawn, six rows down from that statue (east = back towards the street), and about five spaces to the right (north) of the statue. Gene's grave has a fairly large bronze marker, so it's not hard to spot. His first wife, Ina Mae Spivey, is buried next to him; they were married for for 48 years, from 1932 until her death in 1980.





Gene Autry's trusty sidekick in most of his early movies was a well-known character actor named Smiley Burnette (1911-1967). His role in Gene's adventures was one of pure comic-relief, playing a goofy character called "Frog Millhouse" (because of a gruff, deep voice he would sometimes affect in the role), who always had the brim of his hat pushed back, and who rode a white horse with a black ring around its eye. The two buckaroos worked together in over 80 movies.

In real life, he was also a composer, writing songs such as Gene's hit "Ridin' Down the Canyon." 1960's TV viewers might remember him as train engineer 'Charlie Pratt' on "Petticoat Junction."

Fans of the Autry films will be pleased to learn that 'Smiley' is buried near Gene, in the same Sheltering Hills section. From Gene's grave, drive southeast a short distance until you see a white statue of two small children (on the same right side of the road). Just behind (and to the right of) this statue is a tree. You'll find Smiley Burnette's grave (#266) below this tree, slightly to the right.





Starting from that same white statue of the two children, walk up (west) seven rows, then go left (south) about 10 spaces to grave #125. Here, you'll find the grave of Roy Disney (1893-1971), older brother of Walt Disney, and the financial genius behind the Disney empire. While Walt was the creative genius, and got most of the credit and publicity, Roy was the behind-the-scenes money man who made Walt's dreams a reality.

It was Roy who found the financing for Walt's grand schemes (such as Disneyland), including the savvy synergy of cross-merchandising Disney characters, TV shows, movies and parks that is still a money machine today. He spent much of his time trying to keep Walt's spending under control, because Walt's wonderful ideas were often also incredibly expensive.


Roy became Chairman of the Board at the Walt Disney Company (a title held later by Michael Eisner). His son, Roy E. Disney, serves as a consultant for the Disney company (you can see the Disney animation studio where he works from some areas of this park).

Roy's tale is told in a recent biography titled "Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire"





To the north of Gene Autry's grave is a curiosity of sorts: a grave marker for a living celebrity! Who? Game show host Bob Barker, long-time star of "The Price Is Right." The grave is empty - Bob is alive & well- but the marker is there and waiting - right next to the grave of Bob's late wife.

From Gene Autry's grave, go three rows up (towards the statue), and then go about 30 spaces to the right (north). The marker (#1538) contains his birth date and name, but the date of death is, of course, blank..







Not too far from Bob Barker's marker is is the simple grave of Jack Webb (1920-1982), who starred as 'Sgt. Joe Friday' in the original "Dragnet," probably the most successful police series in the history of TV.

His famous monotone delivery style ("Just the facts, ma'am...") was first featured on the radio version of "Dragnet" in 1949; the popular show moved to TV two years later.

Webb also produced the popular 70's shows: "Adam-12" and "Emergency" (two of the stars of "Emergency" are buried here, over in the Court of Remembrance).

Jack was a favorite of the LAPD, and he was one of their biggest supporters. After his death, they retired his badge number (714), named a police academy after him, and gave him a police burial with full honors.

(And who can forget his hilarious, deadpan skit with Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show", when they did a "Dragnet" spoof about a "kleptomaniac copping clean copper clappers".)

To find Jack's grave, from Bob Barker's marker, go two rows up and then go about 44 spaces to the right (north). He's in plot #1999.






Now, get back in your car and head down the main road to the next corner. Turn right and follow this same "Sheltering Hills" section around the curve.

You will notice that Forest Lawn disguises their curbside trash cans and watering stations to look like logs (fitting the "forest" theme). Stop at the second cement "log" after the turn.

Right at the curb, next to the log, you'll find the grave of Noah Beery Jr.

If you were a fan of "The Rockford Files" (starring James Garner as private eye 'Jim Rockford'), then you'll remember Noah in the role of Jim's good-natured dad, 'Rocky'. The show ran from 1974 to 1980.

(If the last name sounds familiar, it should: he was the nephew of actor Wallace Beery.)




Back in your car, follow this same road around the curve and up west, you'll pass a large, white seated statue on the left side of the road. Drive past it a ways and park on the right side.

Between two log-shaped watering stations (about the fifth one you'll encounter on this stretch of road), and just two or three spaces in from the right curb, you'll find grave #8313, belonging to actor Vic Tayback (1929-1990).

Vic played 'Mel', the grumpy owner of Mel's Diner, in the popular sitcom "Alice.", which ran from 1976 to 1985.

He also played the same role in the 1974 movie which inspired the TV show: "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore."

A familiar face, Vic Tayback appeared in over 50 films and guest-starred in countless TV shows. Fans of the original "Star Trek" series may remember him playing a mob boss in the gangster episode, "A Piece of the Action."





In the next section to the southeast, actress Dorothy Lamour (1914-1996) is buried on the grass, near the eastern curb in the large Enduring Faith section. Go to the northeast tip of this section (where Memorial Drive meets Crystal Lane), and note that there are several large Canary Island pine trees planted here. Count three trees back (southwest) from this corner, and Dorothy's grave is just a few markers northeast of the third tree, just two markers in from the eastern curb.

Dorothy began as a singer, moved into acting, and was somewhat typecast as a south-seas tropical beauty when she starred in "Jungle Princess", wearing a wraparound sarong that became her trademark. That led to other roles in "The Hurricane" and eventually to "The Road to Singapore", the first of seven very popular "road pictures" she made with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.






In the same "Enduring Faith" (but on the other side of the section, across from the Hillside section) is Marjorie Main (1890-1975), the feisty, down-to-earth character actress who starred with Wallace Beery in "Barnacle Bill" and as 'Ma Kettle' in all those "Ma & Pa Kettle" comedies. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1948 for her role as 'Ma Kettle' in "The Egg & I." (the film that started it all). Despite her lack of traditional good looks, Marjorie Main was one of the most popular actresses of her time. Her headstone reads "Mrs. Mary Tomlinson Krebs - 'Marjorie Main'," and is plot #2083.




Disney Studio (in Burbank) is nearby, and there are three people buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills who were related to the Walt Disney company. The first is Walt Disney's brother Roy Disney (see above); the second is Jimmie Dodd, the guitar-playing, mouse-ears-wearing host of the original "Mickey Mouse Club" show, and the third is Roy Williams, Jimmie's large-size co-host on the same MMC show. (Walt himself is buried at Forest Lawn Glendale.)

Other Hollywood legends buried on the lawns here at FLHH (but more difficult to locate) include: comic actor Godfrey Cambridge, singer Bobby Fuller (who gave us "I Fought the Law & the Law Won") , western sidekick Gabby Hayes, the exotic Sabu (from the original "Jungle Book"), and bandleader Horace Heidt.

    

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 Getting there: Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills shouldn't be confused with the other Forest Lawn in Glendale. This Forest Lawn is located at the foot of the hills overlooking Burbank, in the east San Fernando Valley, on the north side of Griffith Park, just a short drive east from Warner Brothers Studios, northeast of Universal Studios Hollywood, and west of the Los Angeles Zoo. / From Universal Studios, take Lankershim Boulevard north and bear right on Cahuenga Boulevard. Take Cahuenga north (about three quarters of a mile) to the Ventura (134) Freeway east. Go east on the 134 (about two miles) to the Forest Lawn Drive exit, and then go back west on Forest Lawn Drive (about a mile) to the park's main entrance - which will be on your left (south) side.  

 







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