One of the biggest stars of Hollywood, John Wayne (1907-1979), isn't buried in Hollywood, or even in Los Angeles county, for that matter. "The Duke" is buried in Newport Beach, out in Orange County, about 15 miles southeast of Disneyland. If you've ever been to the mall at Newport Fashion Island, you've been close to John Wayne's final resting place without even knowing it.
As a student and football player at U.S.C., young Marion Morrison began his career in show biz when cowboy star Tom Mix got him a job as a propman at 20th Century Fox, where he was discovered by John Ford, the man who would direct some of his best films.
He changed his name to John Wayne, and went on to star in countless Westerns at Republic Pictures, before hitting the big time with movies such as "Stagecoach" (1939), "Wake of the Red Witch" (1948), "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949), "The Quiet Man" (1952), "Hondo" (1953), "Rio Bravo" (1959), "The Searchers" (1956), "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), "Big Jake" (1971) and "True Grit." (1969, for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor).
But despite the Duke's clean-living image, it was an old-fashioned, All-American vice that finally killed him. John Wayne smoked five packs of cigarettes a day. When his health began to fail, he moved from his home in Beverly Hills to the fresh air of the Newport Bay near Balboa, where he liked to pilot his yacht, "The Wild Goose." He died of lung cancer in 1979, and was buried at Pacific View Memorial Park, just a few miles northeast of his island home. Pacific View lives up to its name.
It's no surprise that John Wayne would be buried in Orange County, the most Republican district in America. The conservative residents of this county admired the Duke so much that they named their international airport after him. In fact, John Wayne Airport is only about four miles away from Pacific View. They even erected a statue of John Wayne outside the airport.
Alas, John Wayne's relatives apparently feared grave robbers, because they chose to bury him in an unmarked grave at Pacific View. It remained without a marker for almost 20 years.
But the good news is that he finally has a headstone. And a very nice headstone it is, a bronze plaque featuring an image of Wayne astride a horse, near the Alamo.
To find the Duke's grave, enter the cemetery via the main gate, drive past the Court of Valor flags, and you'll reach a fork in the road. Go to the left, up the hill. Near the top of the hill, you'll see two almost identical outdoor mausoleums (called the "Lagunita Courts") on your right side. Park your car between these two mausoleums - between the "Lagunita Courts." (There will be two brown marble slabs upright near the curb, with the name "Barkouras" on both of them.) Now turn around (with your back to these mausoleums), and face the grassy slope on the other side of the street- you'll have a nice view of a local reservoir / lake. (Click on the photo above for a better view.)
Wayne is buried on this grassy slope below, called "Bayview Terrace."
Notice the largest tree in the area. Duke is buried just to the right of
this tree (when you're facing down the slope). Walk down the grassy slope,
exactly six rows of markers. John Wayne's grave is located five graves
north (right) of the big tree, and six rows down from the curb.
But that changed in February 2020, when basketball superstar Kobe Bryant (1978-2020)
was buried here.
Kobe was a long time resident of Newport, with a
home in nearby Pelican Crest, and was a member of Our Lady Queen of
Angels Catholic Church, where he attended Mass just hours before his
Kobe Bryant died at age 41, when, at around 9:50 AM, his helicopter slammed into the side of a mountain
in Calabasas, while it was flying in dense fog. The crash also
claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who is buried with
18-time All-Star played his entire professional career (spanning 20
years) with the Los Angeles Lakers, leading them to five NBA
championships. During his first eight seasons, he shared the spotlight with
teammate Shaquille O'Neal, and the team won three straight NBA
championships. After Kobe became the lone star of the Lakers in
2004, he set numerous records, including becoming the all-time
leading scorer in Lakers' franchise history.
Here is how to reach the grave:
After you enter the park, you will come to a fork in the road. Bear to the right. Continue driving east (keeping to the right) for about 1,000 feet, around a curve that goes up a small hill (and bends to the north and then the northwest).
Immediately after that small hill crests and starts heading back down, stop. On the curb, on the right side of the road, are painted the words "Catalina Vista".
Park here, get out, and on the right side of the road, you will see two low, stone posts, flanking a short stairway that leads down a few gentle steps to a curving sidewalk below. Walk down these steps, and Kobe's grave will be on you right side. It is surrounded by a low stone wall, with a black iron gate, and a small grass lawn.
The approximate GPS location is: 33.608396, -117.852865
(Right next to this plot, on its left side, is a small, family mausoleum bearing the name "Mann" above its door. That should help you be certain that you are in the right place.)
The headstone is unmarked as of this writing (mid-February 2020), but it should soon be inscribed, and (assuming this information is correct), will confirm that this is the final resting place of Kobe Bryant and his daughter.
Here is a Google Maps aerial photo with the grave location identified with a red marker.
Pacific View Memorial Park is located in Newport Beach, just a short distance
from Newport Fashion Island and Rogers Garden. / From the San Diego
(405) Freeway, take the MacArthur Boulevard exit. Go south on
MacArthur (past John Wayne Airport) about five miles, to San Joaquin Hills
Road. Turn left (southeast) on San Joaquin Hills Road, and go about half
a mile Marguerite Avenue. Turn left (north) up to the top of Marguerite,
then turn right (east) on Pacific View Drive, which leads into the cemetery.
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