Forest Lawn Glendale is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous! I have heard this before, of course, but this is one of those times where words don’t do it justice. Founded in 1906, the memorial park is famous for its vast collection of sculpture and art, as well as for being one of the first cemeteries to not allow upright headstones, giving the park a smoother look and appeal.
There truly is no other cemetery like it, not that I have ever seen in my life. Of the five we visited, this was the first one (for obvious reasons) and we said later on that we shouldn’t have visited it first since it made all the other cemeteries pale in comparison!
The history here is just incredible. The people who are buried here, were married here, had their funerals here, visited here…
It could not have been a more picturesque day when we visited. It was the kind of weather you associate with southern California–72 degrees, sunny, blue skies with few clouds. The only sounds we heard while we walked around the lawn were birds chirping. Separated into sections with names like Vesperland, Graceland (and, the saddest of all, a heart-shaped section called Babyland that was all infant graves), the grounds are pristine and well groomed.
This place is gigantic; over 300 acres and an estimated quarter of a million people are buried on the property. If you ever find yourself here, make sure you know who you are looking for and where; Forest Lawn is not a cemetery where you can just wander around and find celebrities. From the top of the hill by the Great Mausoleum it looked like the rows and rows of graves went on forever.
Despite signs, we got lost trying to find our way out when we went to leave–it is just that massive. There are more celebrities buried here than in any one place in the world, or so I am told. So please do forgive me if I didn’t visit one of your favorite people that is buried here, as it is we spent nearly four hours roaming around!
We had to give up on finding Carole Lombard’s brother Stuart Peters. The only instruction we had was that he was on Sunrise Slope outside the Great Mausoleum and his plot number. Well, the plots aren’t numbered on the ground at all and after a very long time strolling and reading every tombstone one by one, we had to move on. But Stuart is here….somewhere.
The one grave that stands out on Sunrise Slope is that of comedian Joe E. Brown.
Jimmy Stewart has a great view on the top of a hill, next to his beloved wife, Gloria (sunflower courtesy of yours truly). I thought her epitaph was really touching. Especially since Jimmy never got over her death and his last words were “I’m going to see Gloria now.”
Actress Merle Oberon, who briefly dated Clark right before he started dating Carole, is buried here, tucked away in a quaint little section called the Garden of Rememberance.
Not too far from here is the Wee Kirk o’ Heather chapel. Many people have been married here, including Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman. Notably in Clark Gable history, Jean Harlow’s funeral was held here on June 9, 1937. Clark and Carole attended, as well as many Hollywood luminaries. Clark served as one of the pallbearers.
A short drive to another part of the park…
Clark’s longtime friend Robert Taylor’s cremated remains are here in the Garden of Honor, very inconspicuous in the wall in a section called Columbarium of the Evening Star.
Taylor was a pallbearer at Clark’s funeral. Taylor’s widow, Ursula Theiss, died last year and is reportedly in there with him, but is currently unmarked.
Legendary Spencer Tracy, a friend who co-starred with Clark in Test Pilot and San Francisco, is buried here in his own private garden with a marker that simply says “Tracy.” He was also a pallbearer at Clark’s funeral.
Nearby is also the private garden of Walt Disney.
Looming just beyond these gardens is the Freedom Mausoleum– the newer, lesser-known, but still beautiful mausoleum.
Interred here is Clark’s co-star in San Francisco and a singing legend, Jeanette MacDonald, who shares her spot with her actor husband, Gene Raymond. Gene co-starred with Carole Lombard in Brief Moment and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Speaking of singing legends, you can see above them is the final resting place of Nat King Cole.
We struck out on the lawn with Carole’s brother Stuart, but had better luck in the mausoleum finding Carole’s other brother, Frederic:
Coming tomorrow: The conclusion of my Hollywood blog posts brings the Great Mausoleum–final resting place of Clark and Carole, and also the Church of the Recessional, where both of their funerals were held.
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