Oakwood Memorial Park: Stars' Graves



Seeing Stars: Final Resting Places of the Stars

22600 Lassen Street,
Chatsworth, CA. / (818) 341-0344

Oakwood Memorial Park is located out in a particularly remote - almost rural - portion of the northwest San Fernando Valley, surrounded by rocky hills that used to serve as a colorful background to many Roy Rogers' movies

So it's surprising to find major stars buried there. But here they are!

At Oakwood, you'll find the graves of Hollywood's greatest dancer, Fred Astaire (1899-1987), plus his partner in all those RKO musicals, Ginger Rogers (1911-1995).

This dancing duo starred together in numerous movies from Hollywood's Golden Age, including "Top Hat," "Swing Time" and "Shall We Dance."

Fred also starred solo in films such as "Holiday Inn", "Easter Parade," "Daddy Long Legs" and "Funny Face," while Ginger struck out on her own in movies like "Magnificent Doll."

The two are not buried together.

You'll find Fred's grave in the Sequoia section (Section G, Lot 82, Space 4), near the center of the park.

From the park's main entrance, bear left and head northwest to the first intersection (see a map). Fred's grave is located near the southwest tip of the Sequoia section. Take a look at the map to get a general idea of the area we're talking about. If you make a right turn (northeast) at this intersection, then park, you will notice that from the main road down, there are two large trees on the left (northwest) edge of this offshoot road. Use the second tree down (on the left) as a landmark, then go down six rows (northwest) on the grass, then over about three spaces to your right (northeast).

Ginger, on the other hand, is buried in the Vale of Memory section (Section E, Lot 303, space 1), on the east side of the park.

To find her grave, when you first drive into the park, bear to the right (northeast) and go down to section E. Notice that there is a metal grate running across the road (causing a slight dip in the road.) Park near this grate. Ginger's grave is on the lawn on the left (northwest) side of the street (see a map). From the grate in the road, just walk back (southwest, towards the entrance) 2 1/2 rows. Then walk in on the grass about 15 or 16 spaces. Her grave is located between the second and third row up from the grate.

Not long ago, you would have found Col. Hogan himself of TV's "Hogan's Heroes," Bob Crane (1928-1978) buried nearby. He was murdered back in 1978 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (He was listed as "Robert Crane" on his headstone.)

You would have found his grave across the street from the fountains and mausoleum #2, near the the southwest corner of the Oak Knoll section (Lot 34B, Space 8). (see a map) His grave was located five rows down from the main road on the west, and about 13 rows in from the left (south) curb.

However, in 1999, they disinterred Bob and moved him to Pierce Bros Memorial Park in Westwood. His new grave in Westwood was unmarked until June of 2003, but it now has a beautiful new marker which includes photos of Bob and his wife..

Also here is actress Gloria Grahame (1923-1981), the pretty blonde who played Violet (the town vamp who borrows money from Jimmy Stewart to leave town) in the Christmas Classic "It's a Wonderful Life," as well as dozens of other roles in other films (such as Gloria in "Oklahoma").

She's buried in the far northwest section of the park, Pioneer, in a grave east of the Historic Church, near the Oakwood Drive (Lot 242, Space 8).

When you drive along this road at the top (western edge) of the park (see a map), you'll discover that there is a small wishing well garden on the west side of the road, north of the church. Gloria's grave is located on the lawn about halfway between the church and this wishing well, on the east side of the street (the same side as the church.) Her grave is only three rows in from the (east) curb. For a landmark, spot the only (log-shaped) trash can in this area (on the east side of the road.) From this trash can, walk about 13 spaces back towards the church (south), then go three rows down (east).

Also at Oakwood, you'll find actor Stephen Boyd (1928-1977), who starred in such films as "Fantastic Voyage," "Jumbo," "Fall of the Roman Empire," "The Oscar" and "The Bible."

But his most memorable role is probably from the 1959 epic "Ben-Hur." In the film, Boyd plays the key role of Charleton Heston's boyhood friend, 'Messala,' who returns to Jerusulem as the new Roman Tribune, and has his friend Heston shipped off in chains to die as a slave on a galley ship. He is also the one who races against Heston in the movie's climactic chariot race - and is killed in the process. (In fact, Steven Boyd has been immortalized in wax as 'Messala' (along with Charlton Heston) at the Movieland Wax Museum. (Click here to see a photo of that "Ben-Hur" exhibit.)

His crypt is located on the outside wall of a mausoleum, across the road from the the lawn where Bob Crane was buried (see a map). There are two mausoleums here (separated by a short lawn with statues of a woman and a lion.) When you stand at the curb, he is in the mausoleum to the left (south), Mausoleum #1, niche #257. His crypt is way up on the very top row, on the north wall (facing towards that middle lawn with the statues.) To be more exact, his crypt is at the very top-left corner when you're facing this wall. The twin markers on his crypt are small and difficult to read from below.

In 1998, cowboy star & famed trick roper Montie Montana (1910-1998) was buried at Oakwood. He appeared in western films with Tom Mix and John Wayne, including "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "Hud." But most people probably knew him best for his many appearances in the Pasadena Rose Parade and the Hollywood Christmas Parade, where Monty performed rope tricks as he rode on a pinto named Rex, which sported a silver saddle.

His most popular trick was roping members of the audience. He once roped President Dwight Eisenhower, during Ike's 1953 inaugural parade. (He said that the Secret Service bodyguards were not amused.)

Montie's grave is across the street from the old church, at the top of the slope. From the narrow church steps, facing north, count up seven rows and Montie's grave is there, number 128, four graves to the right of the cement marker which shows the section beginning with grave 124. The bronze maker bears a portrait of Montie and his name spelled out in rope.

Oakwood is a large cemetery, carved out of the rocky foothills of Chatsworth (next to the former site of Roy Rogers' old ranch.) It's very difficult to locate the stars' graves here without a map. Fortunately, the kind people who run Oakwood provide maps if you ask, so I'm passing it along to you (with a little editing on my part.) Just click here to see the map.

Getting there: Oakwood is located in a relatively remote section of the northwest San Fernando Valley, and can be difficult to reach. Take the San Diego (405) freeway into the Valley, to the Ventura Freeway. Head west on the Ventura Freeway to the Topanga Canyon Blvd. offramp. Go north on Topanga Canyon Blvd to Lassen Street. Turn left (west) on Lassen, and go to where Lassen stops at the cemetery gates.  

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