Seeing Stars: Final Resting Places of the Stars

Part VI
6300 Forest Lawn Drive,
Los Angeles, CA. / (323) 254-7251 or (818) 984-1711

[This is a multi-page article. Click here to go to page one.]

It's time to move on to another part of the park, to find "America's Favorite Family".

From the Court of Liberty, you'll need to drive west, to the "Revelation" section.

TV audiences have always enjoyed sitcoms revolving around idealized, All-American families: think "The Cosby Show " (1984-1992), "The Brady Bunch" (1969-1974), "Father Knows Best" (1954-1960) and "Leave It To Beaver" (1957-1963).

But "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" preceded them all, and outlasted them all. It ran for a whopping 14 years - from 1952 to 1966. The gentle sitcom featured the Nelsons, made up of easy-goin' father Ozzie Nelson (a former bandleader in real life), his real wife (a singer in Ozzie's band), Harriet Nelson, and their two actual sons, Ricky & David.

America watched the Nelsons grow up. By the time the show ended, the youngest (Ricky Nelson), who was just 12 when the show started, was 26 years old, and as a singer, had already become a teenage heartthrob, burnt up the charts, and had seen his popularity start to wane.

To find the Nelsons, from the Court of Liberty area, drive farther to the west, to the "Revelation." section (refer to the map they give you at the main gate). Just go to the intersection of Evergreen Drive and Crystal Lane, where the "Murmuring Trees" section forms a narrow peninsula that juts to the west. Stop at the very western tip of this peninsula.

But it requires a hike up a steep hillside, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone with heart problems.

The Nelsons are buried on the steep hillside directly across Evergreen Drive from this tip. Walk straight up (south) this hillside, 13 rows up (two rows past a large tree), and you'll find the graves the graves of Ozzie & Harriet, side by side. (A round marker in the grass near their graves reads 3540).

To find singer Ricky Nelson's (1940-1985) grave, just go two rows up and two markers to the left (east) of Ozzie's.

After growing up on his parents' TV show, Ricky tried his hand at rock 'n' roll (to impress a girl) and became a major teen idol. He began recording in the late 1950's and peaked in the early '60s, scoring numerous chart hits such as "Hello, Mary Lou," "Travelin' Man" and "Fools Rush In".

At the time, Ricky was a sort of "safe" Elvis Presley, a trusted boy-next-door who helped rock 'n'  roll gain acceptance with a more conservative, suburban audience.

In his later years, he had a comeback of sorts with the 1972 hit, "Garden Party".

Alas, Ricky joined the long list of rock stars who died young, when, in 1985, he lost his life in a tragic plane crash.

His headstone reads:  "Eric Hilliard Nelson". (Hilliard was Harriet's maiden name.)

[Click here to see a general map of the park.]

In the same general vicinity is the grave of the legendary baseball manager, Leo Durocher (1905-1991), who became known for the expression "Nice guys finish last" (even though that was a misquote of what he really said at the time).

Nicknamed "Leo the Lip", Durocher spent 20 years as a National League manager, and won 2,008 games, for a .540 winning percentage. His teams (the Dodgers, Giants & Cubs) made it into the World Series three times: 1941, 1951 & 1954, (when his Giants won the Series), and Leo made it into the Hall of Fame. He was married for a while to actress Laraine Day, who starred in Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent". (Laraine is also buried here at FLHH, in the Revelation section, Lot 3310, Space 4, which sounds like it should be very close to Leo's).

Leo's grave is hard to find. It's listed as being in the Hillside section, lot 3311, space 2. But it's only about 350 feet southeast of the Nelsons' graves, on the same slope. It's 14 rows up from the curb (just one row lower than the Nelsons), and 3 rows up from a tall tree with a large knot on its SE side (four rows, if you count the row at the tree). The tree itself is 11 rows up from the curb.

To the east one section, in the "Morning Light" section, is 'Uncle Joe' from the 1960's rural sitcom "Petticoat Junction," Edgar Buchanan (1903-1979), located in grave #7780. I'm told his grave is way up near at the top of the hill, in the 2nd row from the very top

In the same section, in grave #8034, is George Stevens (1904-1975), the director of "Giant," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "Gunga Din" and "The Diary of Anne Frank".

(Be warned that the hillsides in these two sections are very steep and difficult to climb. Exercise reasonable caution.)

OK next, we're heading to the grave of Jack Soo (1917-1979), the actor who played the role of 'Detective Nick Yemana', in the hit '70s sitcom "Barney Miller".

With his droll, deadpan delivery, Soo fit well into the show's ensemble cast at the fictional New York 12th precinct police station, playing the laid-back 'Nick', who made terrible coffee every day. But he died of cancer before the show ended its run. I don't know how much truth there is to it, but the story is told that Jack's last words (spoken to "Barney Miller" star Hal Linden), were "It must have been the coffee."

Before "Barney Miller", Jack had the role of 'Sammy' in the 1961 movie musical, "Flower Drum Song".

Unfortunately, Jack's grave is very hard to find, because it's in the middle of a large lawn (the Eternal Love section, space 3980), with no clear landmarks to guide you. But I'll do my best to describe how to find it.

Take Evergreen Drive back down the hill (northeast), back towards the main entrance, and keep an eye out for a white church, called the Church of the Hills (not the Old North Church near the Court of Freedom) on your left (west) side.

When you see the church, park on Evergreen drive, with the front of the church facing you (but far away across the lawn). On the other side of Evergreen Drive, you'll see a white statue of a woman with her arms raised in an odd position. Get out and walk from that statue towards the front of the church.  As you near the center of the big lawn in between, you'll see a relatively small tree near the center of the lawn. Go to the tree. You'll find Jack's grave two rows to the right (northeast) of the tree, and three or four spaces farther back (southeast) from the church.

(Click on the small photo of the church to the left to see a larger image.  You may want to print it out and use it as a comparison reference when you get there.)

But be warned, instead of his worn, bronze marker reading "Jack Soo", it bears his original name, Goro Suzuki (with "Jack Soo" printed below it in smaller letters). During WW2, Japanese Americans were persecuted because we were at war with Japan (Soo's family ended up in a detention camp). So, many Japanese changed their names to sound Chinese. Hence, Suzuki was shortened to Soo.

OK, it's time to find some of the more difficult lawn graves near the park entrance...

Continue the virtual tour of Forest Lawn Hollywood


One more page to go, as we discover the graves of
Gene Autry, Jack Webb, Roy Disney, Dorothy Lamour and more...

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