Seeing Stars: Final Resting Places of the Stars


1847 14th Street,
Santa Monica, CA. / (310) 450-0781

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Woodlawn in Santa Monica is an old-fashioned cemetery, with a sea of large, tall headstones - a somewhat unusual sight here in Hollywood, where "lawn parks" are in the majority.

There are a number of celebrities buried here, including the actor who played Ingrid Bergman's husband in "Casablanca," the woman who portrayed "Granny" on "The Beverly Hillbillies," the man who played the boyfriend of "That Girl," and the actor who played the town drunk, "Otis," on "The Andy Griffith Show." And now there's Glenn Ford - one of Hollywood's best actors.

Although it's a relatively small park, celebrity graves can be difficult to find here if you don't know where to look. Fortunately, I've been there, done the legwork for you, and can tell you just where to go. (Click here to see a map of the grounds.)


Glenn FordOne of the biggest stars interred at Woodlawn is Glenn Ford (1916-2006). You'll find him in the large mausoleum building in the middle of the cemetery

According to Army Archerd, Mr. Ford decided to be buried in the Woodlawn mausoleum back in 1984, twenty two years before his death (at age 90). He even picked out his casket at the same time (along with his son, Peter Ford, from Glenn's marriage with actress Eleanor Powell.)

Glenn Ford may never have achieved superstar status, but his quiet, powerful acting style made him a Hollywood favorite in over 100 films. Often, he played the well-meaning everyman who was suddenly faced with challenging circumstances. He was the committed teacher in a dangerous urban school in 1955's "The Blackboard Jungle" (opposite a young Sidney Poitier as one of the troubled students). He was Eddie's father in the original "Courtship of Eddie's Father" (the movie that inspired the TV series). He was Clark's father, Jonathan Kent, in the 1978 hit "Superman" (with Christopher Reeves). But before that, in his younger days, he starred as the romantic lead in 1946's "Gilda" (opposite Rita Hayworth), and as the tough cop in the 1953 classic "The Big Heat", as well as in a number of notable Westerns. (I also  remember him in a thought-producing made-for-TV thriller, "The Brotherhood of the Bell".)

A local boy (his family moved to California when he was 8), Glenn Ford went to Santa Monica High as a youth, and worked in the stables up at the Will Rogers ranch. Which explains the choice of Woodlawn - a Santa Monica cemetery.

His crypt is located on the lower level of the mausoleum. When you enter the front doors of the mausoleum, walk straight back down the main hallway, and on your right you will see an elevator, as well as stairs.  Glenn FordPick your choice and go downstairs. When you come out of the elevator (or the stairs), there will be a side corridor right in front of you, running north/south (not the main east/west hallway). Glenn Ford is interred on the right (east) side of this corridor, in the second column of crypts (in from the main hallway), and three spaces up from the floor, at eye level.

His crypt was unmarked on my last visit, but Ron sent me this photo in 2012.




Also, in the same mausoleum, is the crypt of Irene Ryan (1902-1973), the actress who is best known as "Granny" on TV's "The Beverly Hillbillies".

Go in the mausoleum's main entrance (on the west side) and walk east down the main hallway until you come to a white statue of a woman. To your left will be a stained glass window of a red-orange sunburst. To your right will be a long corridor. Turn right, and walk south down the corridor.

As you walk, you will encounter four east-west corridors. Go all the way back (past a statue of a nude female angel) to the last corridor. Turn left (east) and walk east down this fourth corridor towards a stained glass window depicting a beautiful scene of mountains, a steam & a valley. Just as you pass through the last arched doorway, you'll find Irene Ryan's crypt on the left (north) wall, just nine spaces east of that last doorway. Her crypt is down on the bottom row.

Although Irene Ryan played an elderly woman on "The Beverly Hillbillies," she was actually only 59 when she started the show. She died just two years after the series finished filming. (See a map.)

(Click on the small marker photos for enlarged images.)




Harvey KormanReturn to the elevator, and go up to the second floor (the third, if you count the basement level).

Leaving the elevator, turn left, and walk down the second aisle on the right.  There, at the end of the right wall, near a window, you'll find the crypt of comic Harvey Korman (1902-1973).

It's in the bottom row, the second space out from the wall with the window.

Fans will know Harvey as a regular on the long-running "Carol Burnett Show", where, with a droll sense of humor, he often played straight man to the crazier antics of co-star Tim Conway and Carol herself on the popular musical-variety show.

But he also appeared as an actor in several Mel Brooks films (including the classic "Blazing Saddles"), and he did voice work on a number of animated shows (including "The Flintstones", where he provided the haughty voice of "The Great Gazoo").





Another TV celebrity buried in Woodlawn mausoleum is Hal Smith (1916-1994), who is best known as Mayberry's town drunk 'Otis Campbell' on TV's "The Andy Griffith Show." He also appeared in "Green Acres" and "Petticoat Junction" (a show Irene Ryan appeared on as well from time to time.)

And although most people probably don't know it, Harold "Hal" Smith also supplied the voices for many well-known cartoon characters, including 'Owl' in "Winnie the Pooh," 'Goofy' in "Mickey's Christmas Carol," 'Elmer Fudd' in a couple of 60's Warner Bros cartoons, and even Belle's horse, 'Philippe' in Disney's classic "Beauty & the Beast."

When you enter the mausoleum, just walk straight back to the rear of the main hallway, and you'll find his crypt on the left (north) side of the main hallway, just past the last side corridor, at about eye level.





To find the next two graves, go Doug McClureback outside and drive north on the road which goes past the front of the mausoleum to where the road ends at an east-west road. Turn left (west), and drive a short ways to where this road turns right (north.) Park and get out of the car. Walk straight west from the east-west road, along an open grassy mall with only a few graves on it (it runs between two sections filled with many headstones.) Go to the first big palm tree (slightly to the left). There, you'll find the grave of television actor Doug McClure (1935-1995), five rows east of the palm tree, to the northeast.

(Click on the photo above.)

Doug is probably best known as the young cowboy 'Trampas' in the popular 60's TV western series, "The Virginian" (he co-starred on the show with James Drury and Lee J. Cobb.)

He also starred in a variety of movies & TV shows, ranging from the serious drama "Roots" to the silly horror film "Humanoids From the Deep."  Younger viewers might best remember him as the bumbling 'Mayor Kyle Applegate' in the TV teen sitcom "Out Of This World." He died of lung cancer at age 59. (See a map.)




Paul HeireidFortunately, there is the grave of a major actor just a few yards away from Doug's grave. Turn around and walk back about ten paces east, then five paces left (north), and you will find the grave of Paul Henreid (1908-1992), located near a smaller tree and a bench.

The name may not immediately ring a bell to everyone, but those who have seen the classic film "Casablanca" will know him as 'Victor Laszlo', Ingrid Bergman's husband and Bogart's rival for her affections.

He was in other memorable films as well, such as "Now, Voyager" and "Of Human Bondage." Later in life, he directed such TV shows as "Maverick," "The Big Valley." and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Although born in Austria-Hungary, he died right here in Santa Monica. (See a map.)





Ted BessellTo find the next star's grave, get back in your car, and drive back past the front of the mausoleum, then turn left (east) and drive to the east end of the road. Park next to the wall of crypts (on your left) and get out of the car. Look to your right, and you'll see numerous old headstones. But notice that there is a low brick wall on this section's eastern edge, and that there is a strip of grass running north-south next to wall. There are only a few new graves on the grass here, but we're interested in one of them. Walk away from the mausoleum (south) and follow that low brick wall. Count the large trees by the wall as you go. When you come to the fifth tree, look down and you'll see the slightly oversized, shiny marble headstone belonging to actor Ted Bessell.

Ted Bessell's graveTed did a number of TV roles in his life (including that of 'Gomer Pyle's friend 'Frankie'), but he will always be best remembered for playing the likable 'Don Hollinger', the boyfriend of Marlo Thomas' character Anne Marie on the classic 60's TV sitcom "That Girl." On his marker it says "Daily Communicant." You may wonder what that means. A Roman Catholic, Ted considered being a priest when he was young. He didn't, but he remained devout, and received holy communion every day. (See a map.)




Barbara BillingsleyBehind (east of) the Mausoleum, you'll find the grave of Barbara Billingsley
(1915-2010), the actress who played 'June Cleaver', the mother of Theodore & Wally Cleaver in the popular sitcom "Leave It To Beaver".

The show ran from 1957 to 1963, and (to many) represented the idealized, white picket fence world of the '50's post-war era, when nuclear families were the norm, and most women were stay-at-home moms, raising the new Baby Boom generation in the suburbs.  And 'June Cleaver' was the ideal mom, warding off false compliments from 'Eddie Haskell' and always there when her kids needed her.

Later in life she did have a notable appearance in the 1980 farce "Airplane!", where she surprised people by playing a jive-speaking passenger.  But for the most part, she was always identified with that "Beaver" role, revisiting it for sequels to the series, and even doing 'June Cleaver' cameos on other sitcoms.Barbara Billingsley's grave

Her grave is located in Section 12, on a direct eastern line from the southeast corner of the mausoleum, about 2/3 of the way from the Mausoleum to the park's east edge (Pico Blvd).  That's actually on the far south side of Section 12 (where it abuts section 7).  Her flat lawn marker is located right next to a large, tall, black & white family maker with the name "Mortensen".  You can see a series of photos here, which will help you find the plot.





Audra LindleyAnother TV star buried at Woodlawn is Audra Lindley (1918-1997). Although you may not recognize the name, you know her as 'Mrs. Roper' on the hit 70's TV sitcom "Three's Company" and later on its spin-off show "The Ropers."

She starred on the show as 'Helen', the long-suffering, sexually-frustrated wife of landlord 'Stanley Roper' (played by Norman Fell, who is buried at Mount Sinai). Audra LindleyThe two died just one year apart.

She later played Phoebe's grandmother on "Friends," and Cybill Shepherd's mother on "Cybill."  She was cremated, but her ashes are here at Woodlawn, buried in an unmarked grave near her parents.




Leo CarrilloIf you drive just a short distance up the coast from Santa Monica, you will come to Leo Carrillo State Beach, which was named in honor of the actor buried here at Woodlawn.

Leo Carrillo (1881-1981) is probably best known for his portrayal of 'Pancho', the mischievous sidekick to "The Cisco Kid" in the popular TV series which ran from 1950-1956. But Carrillo starred in almost 100 productions over the years, ranging from "The Girl of the Golden West" (with Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy) to "Phantom of the Opera," usually playing Latin supporting roles.

What many people do not know is that Leo Carrillo was born into a wealthy family, which at one time owned Coronado Island in San Diego. A preservationist , he helped preserve Olvera Street in downtown L.A., as well as the L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia and the Hearst castle. He was the state's official "Ambassador of Good Will" and was referred to by the governor as "Mr. California." At one time, he also owned an Old-California style ranch in Carlsbad, which is now a registered historical landmark and a public park. His grave is located out by 14th Street in section 2.




Sally RideAlso on the lawn is the grave of astronaut Sally Ride (1951-2012), the first American woman in space.

Holding a PhD in physics, she was chosen as one of the crew aboard the Challenger space shuttle that launched on June 18, 1983.  As a mission specialist, she performed science experiments in space and helped deploy satellites.

She served on a similar Challenger mission in 1984, and was scheduled for a third mission, but was fortunate not to have been aboard the Sally RideChallenger on its tragic 1986 flight, when the shuttle exploded, killing everyone aboard.

After her time as an astronaut, Sally Ride taught at the University of California, and inspired generations of girls to pursue their interests in science and math.

Her grave is in Section 18, Lot 419, Grave E, near the corner fence, west of the mausoleum.





Jess UnruhFinally, there's a local political legend buried here as well. Jesse Unruh (1922-1987) was one of the most powerful people in the modern history of California politics.

He was the man who coined the phrase "Money is the mother's milk of politics."

From 1954 until his death in 1987, he served in various posts, including as a State Assemblyman, as Speaker of the Assembly, and as State Treasurer. (He lost a 1970 election bid for Governor to Ronald Reagan.)  He authored the historic Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959 as well as the pro-consumer Unruh Credit Regulation Act.

When Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968, Jess Unruh helped wrestle the gun from the hand of the assassin.




Getting there: Woodlawn is located in Santa Monica, just one mile east of the Santa Monica Place Mall, and just two blocks south of the Santa Monica Freeway.  From West L.A., take the Santa Monica (10) Freeway west to the Cloverfield Blvd. exit. Turn left (south) onto Cloverfield, go two blocks south to Pico Blvd. Turn right (west) on Pico, and go about six blocks west on Pico to 14th Street. Turn right (north) on 14th Street and you'll see the entrance to the park on your right (east) side. 

 




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