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April 25, 2009

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

My mom is a grief counselor & chaplain for a hospice service, and my dad runs the only Catholic cemetery in his state. Needless to say, they're comfortable with end-of-life planning. My parents have bought their gravesites in their home state of IL, and I even have a picture of my mother lying (alive) on the ground atop her plot. When my folks came out to visit me, it was actually because my dad had a professional conference in Anaheim. We married my love of old Hollywood with my folks' professional backgrounds, and spent a couple hours one afternoon exploring Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Hollywood Forever abuts the Paramount lot, and is the oldest cemetery in Hollywood, established in 1899. Just inside the gates is a florist shop that also carries books and maps on the history of the cemetery. The most interesting book had the background on over 100 famous residents of the cemetery, but it was almost twenty bucks. We went with the $5 place-mat map, and spent the day exploring on our own. So I can't give you a great deal of history of the place, but I do have a link to a site that lays out a sort of self-guided tour. As usual, click on any image in the post to enlarge.

My mom and I both had cameras, so dad took the map, and was circling the stones that he'd located. I found a bunch of icons:
Johnny Ramone

Hattie McDaniel

Fay Wray

John Huston

Cecil B. DeMille

Jayne Mansfield

Janet Gaynor

Apart from the graves, the grounds were beautiful, peaceful, and breathtaking.

There's a lovely lake in the area where most of the iconic people are located. The waterfowl were colorful and really entertaining. There was even a loon!

Do you have a favorite place to go for peaceful contemplation? Have you ever explored a local graveyard? Tell me about your experiences in a comment below.

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