Seeing Stars: Churches of the Stars..

11967 Sunset Boulevard,
Brentwood, CA. / (310) 476-7403

In the posh hillside community of Brentwood, on Sunset Boulevard (just west of the San Diego Freeway) is the parish of St. Martin of Tours Catholic church. It's a handsome Moorish-style church, with impressive statues out front, a fairly modern interior, and a congregation which contains more than a few Hollywood celebrities.

The church is the home parish to the many Catholic stars who live in Brentwood, and has been the site of numerous celebrity weddings, funerals and baptisms. Back in 1951, for instance, actor Tyrone Power had his infant daughter (Romina Francesca) baptized at St. Martins.

In 1994, the church was the site of the funeral of O.J. Simpson's former wife, Nicole Simpson, who was brutally murdered outside her nearby condo in Brentwood. When O.J. Simpson and his children attended the funeral services (shortly before he was arrested and charged with her murder), the press caused a mob scene outside the church.

On March 9, 1994, the funeral for comic actor John Candy was held at St. Martin of Tours. Those in attendance for the service included Tom Hanks, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Jim Belushi, Rhea Perlman, Mariel Hemingway, Ed Harris and Dan Aykroyd (who delivered the eulogy). Candy was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

The August 1998 funeral of Pulitzer prize-winning sports columnist Jim Murray was also held at St. Martin. In addition to numerous sports figures (such as Mike Tyson), the funeral was also attended by Peter Falk, Dabney Coleman and Red Buttons. (He was also buried at Holy Cross.)

In August of 2002, the world said farewell to another sports legend, the voice of the L.A. Lakers for 42 years, announcer Chick Hearn, in a funeral Mass held at St. Martin's, presided over by Cardinal Roger Mahoney. Following the third Laker championship in a row, Chick was so popular that the service was broadcast live on most L.A. TV stations.

Actor Jack Nicholson, always in the front row at the Lakers games, was present. Delivering eulogies at at Chick's funeral were Lakers Magic Johnson, Rick Fox and Jerry West; in attendance were other basketball greats, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Norm Nixon, James Worthy, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley & John Wooden, as well as the Mayor, the Governor and Dodgers announcer Vin Scully. (Chick, too, was buried at Holy Cross.)

And in July of 2012, Sylvester Stallone held the funeral for his son (Sage) at St. Martin's.

Getting there: To reach St. Martin's, take the San Diego (405) Freeway to the Sunset Boulevard exit, and head west about one mile (before Bundy Drive). The church will be on your right (north) side.

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Copyright  2015-Gary Wayne
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