Seeing Stars: Final Resting Places of the Stars

Part II
11160 Stranwood Avenue,
Mission Hills, CA. / (818) 361-7387

Just a few rows away from June Marlowe, also in Section B, you'll find the grave of funnyman Jerry Colonna (1904-1986). Like Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong and Carmen Miranda, Jerry Colonna was one of those unforgettable characters from the Golden Age of Hollywood. If you ever saw him, you'll remember him - the walrus mustache, wild eyes and distinctive voice (that was often mimicked in Warner Bros. cartoons: "Greetings, Gate!") His characters always seemed just a little crazed...

In fact, Jerry did voices for quite a few animated films himself. He was the narrator for Disney's "Casey at the Bat" and voiced the 'March Hare' at the tea party in Disney's "Alice in Wonderland." He appeared in over 30 movies, including many of the Road pictures with Hope & Crosby. His friendship with Bob Hope continued off-screen - he was a familiar face on Hope's overseas shows to entertain U.S. troops. It's fitting that they are buried at the same cemetery.

To find his grave, starting at June Marlowe's marker, walk seven more rows north (13 rows in from the curb), then three spaces to the left (west.)

(Click here to see an interactive map of the park.)

Speaking of voices for Disney films, now we're going to find the grave of one of the most famous voices in animated films. That of Donald Duck himself.

Clarence ("Ducky") Nash (1904-1985) was discovered by Walt Disney when he was doing a duck impression on the radio in the early 1930's. For the next 50 years, 'Ducky' Nash did the voice of Donald Duck in over 180 animated films, from "The Wise Little Hen" (in 1934) to "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (in 1983.).

Drive ahead (east) past the next cross-road, almost to the east end of the cemetery, and park on the right (south) side of the street, near Section F. Here, you'll see a large statue of the Holy Family. To find Nash's grave, start at the statue. His grave is 13 spaces to the west of the statue and six rows north (towards the curb.) If you'd prefer to start at the curb, look for a water fountain shaped like a wooden log at the curb. Start here, then walk six rows in from the curb (south) and a few spaces to the left (east.) You can't miss the marker of Clarence & his wife - it features an image of Donald Duck and Daisy Duck holding hands.

(Click here to see an interactive map of the park.)

Actor Tommy Noonan (1921-1968) is misidentified by some as a member of the "Little Rascals." He was not. Tommy Noonan was a character actor from the 50's & 60's. He tended to play a somewhat nerdy, middle-aged businessman, yet he ended up acting with some of the Hollywood's biggest sex symbols of that era. He starred opposite Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," with Betty Grable in "How to Be Very Very Popular," and even made love on screen to a very bare Jayne Mansfield in "Promises! Promises!" back in 1964 (when that sort of thing just didn't happen on screen.) Some think his best role ever was as Judy Garland's friend, 'Danny', in the 1954 version of "A Star is Born."

His half-brother was actor John Ireland, with whom he starred in several films, including 1949's "I Shot Jesse James." Early on, he teamed up with Peter Marshall (who was later to host TV's "Hollywood Squares") as half of a successful comedy team called "Noonan & Marshall." The two had met when Ireland married Marshall's sister, actress Joanne Dru. Tommy Noonan died at age 46 of a brain tumor.

To find his grave (from Ducky Nash's), cross the street (north) back to section B. Check the curb numbers, and start between numbers 1100 and 1102. Now, just walk in (north) 21 rows from the curb.

I'm told that child actor Scotty Beckett (1929-1968), member of the "Our Gang" comedies, is buried nearby, He's supposed to be in block 3, lot 1099, which should be just to the east of Tommy Noonan. But on my last visit I was unable to track down his grave marker.

After his stint with the Rascals, he appeared in such movies as "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" (playing a young Jon Hall),  "King's Row" (playing a young Robert Cummings), "Heaven Can Wait" (playing a young Don Ameche) and "The Jolson Story" (as a young Al Jolson.) In the 1950's he moved to TV, playing 'Ranger Winky' in the space adventure series "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger."

In the 1960's, his career floundered, and he resorted to drugs & alcohol. He was found dead at his room at the Royal Palms Hotel, apparently of an overdose of barbiturates - at age 38.

Last, but certainly not least, is actor Chuck Connors (1921-1992), known to TV viewers as 'Lucas McCain': "The Rifleman." In fact, his grave marker carries a photo of him in that very role. But he was also in the TV series "Branded," the original movie version of "Flipper," "Old Yeller," "Move Over Darling," and played a despicable bad guy (Tom Moore) in the miniseries "Roots."

His grave is located far from the others, on the northwest side of the park. From the entrance, turn left at the first intersection, and drive down to the third and last section (Section J - a particularly large section, which runs almost the full the length of the park.) On the lawn here (towards the section's southwest end) you will see a white statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus (see the photo.) Walk across the lawn and stand facing this statue. Turn around and walk nine rows back (away) from the statue, and then go about five or six spaces to your left. Look for a black marker with his photo in the upper left corner.

(Click here to see an interactive map of the park.)

Also buried here at San Fernando is Carmen Dragon (1914-1984), renown conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, composer, movie score arranger, radio & TV personality, and father of both Daryl Dragon (of "The Captain & Tennille") & harpist Carmen E. Dragon.

To find his grave, go back to the first street, where you entered the cemetery - the one that runs past the flower shop and the mausoleums. Drive east to the very end of this street (past Ritchie Valens and William Bendix on your left), and park near the corner where it begins to turn to the right. The section to your right is Section A, and you'll find Carmen's grave right at this corner, just three spaces in (from the north curb) and three spaces up (from the east curb.).

There are other stars buried here at San Fernando, but I haven't tracked them down just yet.
One of them is :

Edward Arnold
(character actor, "The Devil and Daniel Webster". "Meet John Doe")
[ Reportedly in Section D, lot 132, southwest of the statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. ]


[This is page two of a two-page article. Click here to go to the first page.]

Hours: Daily: 8 AM - 6 PM. (Closes an hour earlier in the winter.)

Getting there: This park is located next to the Mission San Fernando. From West L.A., take the San Diego (405) Freeway through the Sepulveda pass into the Valley (about six miles), and then go about 8 more miles north on the 405 to the San Fernando Blvd exit. Turn right (east) on San Fernando, and go to the next stop light. Turn left (north) on Sepulveda Blvd, and go one block to Stranwood Avenue. Turn right (southeast) on Stranwood, and the park entrance will be on your left side (look for the small mission bell tower.)  

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