Seeing Stars: Final Resting Places of the Stars

Part V
(formerly "Hollywood Memorial Park")
6000 Santa Monica Boulevard,
Hollywood, CA. / (213) 469-1181

[This is page five of a six-page article. Click here to go to page one.]

Just a few rows away from Jayne Mansfield (to the northeast) is the grave of actress Janet Gaynor (1906-1984), who was the very first actress to win an Academy Award, back in 1927.

She may be best remembered for her starring role in the 1937 version of "A Star is Born."

You can also find her footprints in the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

(Click here to see a map of the lake area.)

Next is one of the world's most famous directors, Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959), the man who shot the first full-length movie in Hollywood ("The Squaw Man"), founded nearby Paramount Pictures, and went on to make such classics as "The Ten Commandments," "King of Kings" and "The Greatest Show on Earth."

He even played himself in a Hollywood classic, "Sunset Blvd." You will remember that movie's final line, in which a crazed Gloria Swanson descends the stairs, proclaiming "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!"

His large tomb, containing two matching stone sarcophagi, is easy to spot. From Janet Gaynor's grave, just walk northeast. DeMille's tomb is out near the street curb.

Now, walk around the far north bend of the lake, past the statue of an angel holding up a cross, to the lake's west side, and you'll find grave of John Huston (1906-1987), farther out near the road. (I'm told that there is now a large bush of yellow flowers growing at his grave.)

Huston was the veteran director who gave us such classics as "The Maltese Falcon," "The African Queen" and "Prizzi's Honor."

Huston was portrayed by Clint Eastwood in the 1990 film "White Hunter, Black Heart."

His headstone has gold lettering and is surrounded by small flowers and plants.

Walk a little farther south from Huston's grave, right next to a small tree by the road, and you can find the grave of character actor Adolphe Menjou (1890-1963), who was voted "the best-dressed man in America" nine times.

Incidentally, he appeared with Janet Gaynor in 1937's "A Star is Born," (he played the studio boss to her aspiring actress role,) as well as in dozens of other films, from "The Sheik" (1921) to "Pollyanna." (1960).

          (Click here to see a map of the lake area.)

Back around to the south side of the lake, right across the street from the Fairbanks pool, is the belated memorial to actress Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952), the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award.

She won for Best Supporting Actress, for playng "Mammy" in the 1939 classic "Gone With the Wind."

It was Hattie's last wish to be buried in a white casket at Hollywood Forever, next to her fellow stars. But back in those days, racist laws prohibited burying black people in "white cemeteries."  So instead, Hattie was buried over in Rosedale Cemetery.

But some 47 years after her death, the new owners of Hollywood Forever did their best to right that wrong. Hattie's family didn't want to move her remains at this late date, so the cemetery did the next best thing - they've built a memorial to Hattie, on the lawn overlooking the lake.

You can't miss it - it's the large pink stone pillar between the curb and the lake, across from the Fairbanks grave.

Most of the stars buried at Hollywood Forever reached their zenith in the 1920's, 30's & 40's. But there are a few newer names here as well.

Closer to the road, and a few steps to the west, you can't miss the large statue of a young man playing an electric guitar. This is the memorial (a cenotaph) to Johnny Ramone (1948-2004), the guitarist and founding member of "The Ramones".

The definitive American punk rock group, the Ramones (along with groups like The Clash and the Sex Pistols) stripped rock & roll down to its basic four chords and sped up the beat. Unlike other punk bands that disappeared after a season or two, the Ramones began in 1974 and lasted until 1996. Loud and fast. The turned out a string of songs like "Blitzkrieg Bop" ("Hey! Ho! Let's Go!") and contributed to movies such as "Steven King's Pet Semetary" and "Rock and Roll High School".

Johnny was cremated, but his ashes aren't here - yet.  They were given to his wife, who reportedly plans to have both of their remains interred at the statue after her death.

The memorial stands between the lake and the Fairbanks memorial.

Chris Cornell's graveSoutheast of the Hattie McDaniel and Johnny Ramon monuments is the grave of yet another recent rock legend who died tragically: Chris Cornell (1964-2017) the lead singer of both Soundgarden and Audioslave.

His best-known song may have been "Black Hole Sun".

A victim of depression since an early age, Chris committed suicide by hanging, in his room at the MGM Grand in Detroit.

Near these monuments is another life-size statue, this one depicting young actor Anton Yelchin (1989-2016), who was just coming into stardom, reprising the role of 'Ensign Chekov' in the reboot of the "Star Trek" movie franchise. 

He had made three Trek films so far (the original 2009 "Star Trek", its sequel, "Star Trek: Into Darkness", and "Star Trek: Beyond", when he was killed in a tragic accident, at age 27.

Anton died at his home, when he parked his car on his sloping driveway, only to have it roll backwards and crush him against the front gate.

His funeral at Hollywood Forever was attended by actress  Jennifer Lawrence (who starred with him in the 2011 movie, "Like Crazy"), "Star Trek" castmates Simon Pegg ('Bones'), Zoe Saldana ('Uhura'), and Trek director J.J. Abrams, as well as Jon Voight (who starred with him in a short film).

The statue is located right at the lake's edge, north from Mickey Rooney's wall, and east of both the Johnny Ramone statue and the Hattie McDaniel monument.

From the Johnny Ramone statue, look up and to your left (northwest) a little, and you'll see a small white bench not far from the lake edge. There's a small tree growing behind the bench. Walk over to the bench, look down, and you'll find the modest grave of one of Hollywood's true legends, Fay Wray (1907-2004).

Is there anyone who doesn't remember the original B&W, 1933 version of "King Kong", where the monster ape carries the screaming girl in his hairy fist, up the side of Manhattan's Empire State Building, swatting at the bi-planes that attempt to shoot him down?

 "King Kong" was remade in the 70's, and again in 2005, but the original film will always remain a classic for the ages.

The girl held in the giant gorilla's fist, the "beauty that killed the beast", was none other than Fay Wray.

She had made 50 other films before "Kong", starting with silent movies, and made another 40+ afterwards, ending in 1980 with TV's "Gideon's Trumpet" - but she will always be remembered as the girl in "King Kong".

She lived to be almost 97 years old.  (She was offered the role of "Old Rose" in "Titanic", but declined it.

Just a little to the east of the Hattie McDaniel memorial, near the curb across from the Cathedral mausoleum, you should notice the large, white double tomb of Harry Cohn (1891-1958), the movie mogul who founded Columbia Pictures. He picked this spot himself, because it was close to his old studio. (The tomb is just to the east of the Cutts family mausoleum).

A few steps away, you'll find the simple grave of singer-actor Nelson Eddy (1901-1967) (Lot 89), who starred in all those M-G-M musicals with Jeanette MacDonald, such as "Rose Marie," "Naughty Marietta" and "New Moon."

He also had his footprints immortalized in the cement outside of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

His grave is located near the edge of the lawn, just across the street (north) from the entrance to the Hollywood Cathedral Mausoleum. The marker simply reads: "Nelson Eddy. June 29, 1901 - March 6, 1967". To find it, locate the small curbside marker that says "Section 8 " (near the fork in the road outside the mausoleum). Just to the north of this marker you will see what looks like a small rose garden, with two thin cypress trees. Nelson Eddy's marker is nestled up against the edging stones that border the north side of this small garden area, four markers to the west of a large palm tree, and just a few yards southeast of the two twin cypress trees.

 [ Update: as of 2015, Nelson's grave has changed a lot since I shot this photo.  The flowers are gone, for instance, as are the edging stones.  I will update the photo the next time I visit the park. ]

(Click here to read about Jeanette's grave.)

In between Nelson Eddy and Harry Cohn is the grave of composer Walter Jurmann (1903-1971), who wrote the lyrics for the hit song "San Francisco," as well as for the Marx Bros' "A Day at the Races" and "A Night at the Opera." His grave is about 10 spaces to the right (west) of Nelson, and one row up.

Now it's time to conclude our virtual tour with a look at a few celebrity graves that I found just recently - although one of them is the earliest star of them all...


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