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Hollywood Forever, Part One

Hollywood Forever Cemetery # 1

[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_mausoleum-3-doorway-webcopy.jpg]2120mausoleum doorway - hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_saints-1-websopy.jpg]310carved marble saints within a mausoleum at hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_stained-glass-1-webcopy.jpg]260stained glass 3- color
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_valentino-grave-webcopy.jpg]190rudolph valentino's gravesite
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_bw-stained-glass-2-webcopy.jpg]160stained glass in mausoleum 1 - b&w
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_mausoleum-2-webcopy.jpg]150stained glass in mausoleum 2 - color
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_fairbanks-memorial-1-webcopy.jpg]170fairbanks memorial, hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_flower-urns-webcopy.jpg]150decorative urns at hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_johnny-ramone-color-webcopy.jpg]180johnny ramone gravesite, hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_hollywood-forever-2-webcopy.jpg]130perspective shot of hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_markers-shot-1-webcopy.jpg]110perspective shot 2 of hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_leave-your-mark-webcopy.jpg]100leave your mark
initials carved into an old tree at the fairbanks memorial, hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_mausoleum-4-webcopy.jpg]130mausoleum lights
antique lighting fixtures within a mausoleum at hollywood forever cemetery
[img src=http://danicawaters.com/wp-content/flagallery/hollywood-forever-cemetery-1/thumbs/thumbs_william-clark-mausoleum-webcopy.jpg]170william clark mausoleum, hollywood forever cemetery

It was a cloudy, late afternoon the first time I visited the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  I’d heard a little bit about it being the final resting place of many of Hollywood’s finest, including Rudolph Valentino, Tyrone Power, Douglas Fairbanks and his son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and of Cecil B. DeMille, who was basically the father of the whole Hollywood phenomenon.   I’ve seen my fair share  of cemeteries around the world.  I figured this one would be like all the others, just with famous names attached to the headstones.  I was wrong.  Additionally, what I thought would be a casual check off my long list of places I wanted to see while I live here in Los Angeles turned into a place I’ll return to again and again.  Oddly, the words spoken by the VooDoo doctor’s wife in Clint Eastwood‘s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil have been on constant replay in my head since I first visited Hollywood Forever:  “To understand the living, you got to commune with the dead“.

Maybe it’s the way the whole experience presented itself.  I was standing in what should have been a cold, silent mausoleum looking at Valentino’s burial chamber.  I was aware of music playing in the background; it was increasing in volume, and it definitely wasn’t somber.  Just as I snapped my first photo, I realized that what I was listening to was strains of Fleetwood Mac’s You Make Loving Fun. At Valentino’s resting place. ( “Hmmm…”  I thought to myself. ” I’ll bet he did, indeed!”)   The music thumped along as I walked back through the hallways;  by the time I got to the long line of marble saints in the entryway, the music had changed to the GorillazFeel Good Inc. I know I have a better than average imagination, but something inside of me  half expected the gargantuan marble saints to break from their pedestals and start groovin’ to the beat.

Back outside, we  realized that the music was coming from some sort of party in a wide open grassy space that lay between two mausoleums and backed up to Paramount Studios.  Folks in all sorts of artistically casual attire poured in, Frisbees were flying, and the full bar was flowing freely.  Someone was having a really healthy celebration of LIFE, right there where he/she was buried.   The music changed again, this time to James Blake’s Wilhelm Scream,  just as we reached the gravesite of Johnny Ramone. How fitting.

The Hollywood Forever grounds are extensive and extremely beautiful.  I can’t say they’re perfectly manicured; to the contrary, parts of the cemetery  had a slightly worn, neglected feel to them.  Studying a site map of the grounds, I recognized the obvious names, but couldn’t help but wonder at the hundreds of names I was completely unfamiliar with.  Who were these people?  What contribution did they make?  I hadn’t known then about the fantastic Interactive Site Map on Hollywood Forever’s website.  In what must have been a painstaking labor of love, Hollywood Forever has created a place in which, with a simple scroll of a mouse, you can click on the location of a grave and get, at the very least, a photo  and bio of the individual interred there.   It’s a fascinating glimpse into some of the personalities who shaped the Hollywood phenomenon and their experiences along the way,  and I strongly recommend visiting the website prior to a physical visit to the cemetery grounds.

Leaving the cemetery that day, I had a lingering feeling that I needed to go back.  It was something I couldn’t put my finger on, and it didn’t register until my second visit, the details of which I’ll save for my next post…

Posted May 6th, 2011.

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