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Monday, April 9, 2018

Southern California Vol. 18 - Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This is the sort of post that you expect people to put on their blogs in the fall, when the leaves are turning, the air is crisp and Halloween is right around the corner.  I could wait until then but in all honesty, I've never gone touring Hollywood cemeteries in the fall.  I've always gone in summer.  

Now, I know you're asking yourself, "Why would anyone tour a cemetery for fun?"

There's no good reason.  However, on some level if you're a big movie and/or music fan it just seems like a natural thing to do if you live right here anyway.  Also, I should note that when I have gone out looking for celebrity graves it's never been the one focal point of the day.  It's always been something that just kind of fit in with a bunch of other things I was doing up in L.A. at the time.

For instance, when my friend Will visited one time we did a one day blitzkrieg of Hollywood sights including the Walk of Fame, Kevin Smith's comic book store, Mel's Diner, Amoeba Records and we also just happened to stop at Hollywood Forever Cemetery to check out Johnny Ramones' grave.

And why wouldn't we?  It's friggin' awesome!  Plus, it just felt right to stop and pay respects to a man whose music changed both of our lives for the better.  The second song my daughter learned to sing after "Happy Birthday" was "Blitzkrieg Bop" (or as she called it, "The Hey Ho Song").

He's not the only Ramone buried here either. 

Douglas Colvin (AKA Dee Dee Ramone) is also buried in Hollywood Forever although his grave is not nearly as big and flashy.  

Hollywood Forever is my favorite cemetery to visit and not just because of the Ramones.  The most influential celebrity of my early years is a man whose face most people don't even know by sight.  They sure know his voice though.

Mel Blanc was the voice behind Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam and a host of others.  While he's not the most famous resident of Hollywood Forever, he arguably reached more people in his career than most of the others buried here.  

Back earlier in this series, we discussed Griffith Park.  The man who donated the land for it lies here.  

Griffith J. Griffith's stone and memorial dwarf pretty much everything around it and deservedly so.  After all, this is the man who stared down a curse and funded an observatory and science museum that has influenced generations of visitors.

Other memorials you may want to seek out while visiting include "Alfalfa" from the Little Rascals (Carl Switzer), Fay Wray, Douglas Fairbanks, Jayne Mansfield, Peter Lorre, Tyrone Power, Cecil B. Demille, Rudolph Valentino, John Huston and Hattie McDaniel (the first African American woman to win an Academy Award).

Finally, I'd like to mention one that I feel should get more love than it does.  It may not be as big and flashy as some of the other stones around it, but you have to admit that it captures a certain spirit.

Maila Nurmi is more famously known as Vampira.  She was a late night TV host in the L.A. area and beyond.  Her otherworldly performance in one of my favorite films, Plan 9 From Outer Space, is probably her most well known onscreen appearance.  That her gravestone bears her image is pretty damn awesome.

So if you're in the area and it's a nice day out, why not stop and take a stroll among some of your favorite stars.  If you want a decent resource as to where to find certain celebrity graves, check out this link at

Speaking of cemeteries, there's one in Ogden Wash that plays a pretty big role in my book, The Wash.  Why not pick up a copy for yourself at my Amazon Author's page.

See you next time!

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