The Church of the Recessional

Continuing on in Forest Lawn Glendale…

Before we venture over to the Great Mausoleum, we have one important pitstop: The Church of the Recessional, where both Clark Gable and Carole Lombard’s funerals were held–Clark on November 19, 1960 and Carole (with her mother) on January 21, 1942.

Church of the Recessional, Clark Gable’s funeral

Church of the Recessional front doors

Church of the Recessional courtyard

Naturally, we tried to see inside but there wasn’t much to see through the windows and all the doors were locked. Here is a photo of the inside, from Forest Lawn’s website:

And now…onto the Great Mausoleum.  A place I have thought of often and had always hoped to visit.

It is absolutely gorgeous to behold in person.The building is huge beyond belief; I couldn’t even get it all in one picture.

Bird’s eye view of the Great Mausoleum in the 1940’s

The picture above is of the Memorial Terrace Entrance, where we entered. Yes, we did see the Holly Terrace Entrance, which has become well-known the past two years because of a certain King of Pop interred behind the doors. Holly Terrace was built on later and is on the other side of the building from the Memorial Terrace.

The inside was just as I had imagined it would be: absolutely gorgeous, pristine and very peaceful. We were in the only two people in the mausoleum at the time and it just felt so peaceful, there isn’t another word for it.

A recreation of the Last Supper Window is in the main hall. The only thing that interrupted the peacefulness of the mausoleum is the booming broadcast of the unveiling of this window every thirty minutes. I didn’t get a picture of the actual window, since I was busy elsewhere in here, but here is where they unveil it.

One of the mausoleum’s newest residents, Elizabeth Taylor, is still without a marker. But here she is, entombed under this huge angel, before you reach the Last Supper Window.

Clark Gable and Elizabeth Taylor

Clark Gable and Elizabeth Taylor

Past Elizabeth’s final resting place and to the right is a beautiful hallway called the Sanctuary of Benediction.

On the right are many long plots, with  William Powell’s parents and actress Marie Dressler among the residents.

Clark Gable and Marie Dressler

Clark Gable and Marie Dressler

Across from them are very impressive rooms that house Sid Grauman (of Grauman’s Chinese Theater) and famed comedian Red Skelton.

Red Skelton

The very last room on the left hand side is for Jean Harlow, Clark’s close friend and co-star in The Secret Six, Red Dust, Hold Your Man, China Seas, Wife vs. Secretary and Saratoga, who died in 1937 at age 26.

Clark Gable and Jean Harlow

She is entombed in the middle of three plots with the simple inscription, “Our Baby.” Her mother was also placed in the room, although unmarked. The third space shall remain empty.

At the end of the hall, past a gate, is the room for Irving Thalberg, MGM’s “wonder boy” producer. Irving was the one who gave Clark a shot at the studio and guided him into some of his most well-known roles, such as Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty. He died at age 37 in 1936.

Irving Thalberg and Clark Gable

Irving Thalberg and Clark Gable

Irving’s inscription reads “My Sweetheart Forever,” from his wife, actress Norma Shearer, who is entombed above him, marked “Norma Arrouge,” her second husband’s name.


Norma starred with Clark in Strange Interlude, Idiot’s Delight, and she was the one he smacked around in his star-making turn in A Free Soul.

Clark Gable and Norma Shearer

Clark Gable and Norma Shearer

Irving’s parents Henrietta and William are also in this room, along with his sister, Sylvia.

Now we leave the Sanctuary of Benediction and go back out into the main chapel and into a section called “Columbarium of Prayer.” There are two hallways in the section, the one to the left being “Sanctuary of Trust,” the final resting place for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.

At the end of the hall on the left side, is a room for David Selznick, legendary producer of Gone with the Wind, among his other distinct projects. His actress wife Jennifer Jones and their daughter Mary Jennifer are also entombed in this room.

David Selznick, Mary Jennifer Selznick, Jennifer Jones

David Selznick, Mary Jennifer Selznick, Jennifer Jones

Forest Lawn Glendale

Forest Lawn GlendaleForest Lawn Glendale

To reach the Selznicks, you would have to walk past a simple marble bench.

It is here, on the right hand side across from the bench, that Clark Gable rests for all eternity, next to Carole Lombard.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Carole’s mother Elizabeth Peters, who perished with her in the plane crash, is on the other side of Carole.

Elizabeth Peters and Carole Lombard

Clark’s widow, Kathleen “Kay” Williams Gable, is one row down and to the left of him, on the very bottom row.

Clark Gable and Kay Williams

Clark Gable and Kay Williams

I wish I could put into words what it meant to me to stand in front of Clark and Carole’s bronze nameplates and to put flowers in their empty vases. But it’s just a bit hard to express, it was very emotional for me. What I can say is that when I left the mausoleum for some reason I had a renewed sense of purpose for what this site can be.

That wraps up my adventures in Hollywood. Thank you to everyone for “tagging along”!