Since there is no real “starting point” so to speak for my trip, and we visited five cemeteries, I figured best to start with one of them….
I like graveyards. My husband says that’s weird. I don’t think it is–and thankfully I brought a friend along to Los Angeles who feels the same way.There is something peaceful about visiting them, something about seeing that even though they are gone, people still have a small space on this planet. And, besides, this is the closest I will ever get to all the classic film stars!
Hollywood Forever, originally titled Hollywood Memorial, was founded in 1899. It is typically the cemetery that people think of when they think of Hollywood cemeteries. Many movies and TV shows have been shot on its grounds, and the cemetery itself shows movies often, and fans bring picnic baskets and sit among the graves.
The cemetery seemed to have two different sides. One side, known as “Section 8” is around a beautiful pond filled with geese and surrounded by palm trees. While beautiful, I can’t say this section was altogether peaceful, as they were building a new mausoleum and the construction noise was loud enough to wake the dead!
There are so many celebrities surrounding the pond that I literally would turn around and find another one…and another one. Unfortuantely, even though I found several celebrities just by happening upon them, there were a few we couldn’t find no matter how many times we circled the pond: Fay Wray, Adolphe Menjou and Nelson Eddy. We tried. But onto who we could find, including Clark’s friends, co-stars, one of his wives and his father.
Marion Davies, buried in her own private little (locked–yes, we tried) building, under her family name of Douras. Marion, a friend (and maybe at one time fling) of Clark’s, co-starred with him in Polly of the Circus and Cain and Mabel.
Marion and Clark in Polly of the Circus
Of Clark’s five wives, four are buried in Los Angeles. And yes, I visited all four. Here’s his fourth wife, Sylvia Ashley, although she is buried under her fifth husband’s name, Djordjadze:
Sylvia and Clark
Sylvia’s plot, second from right:
The impressive memorial for the legendary Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (who was married to Sylvia Ashley before Clark was) and his son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (who was married to Joan Crawford while Clark was, ahem, seeing her):
Harry Cohn, who was the president of Columbia Pictures (as you can see, he is definitely not “resting in peace” at the moment).
Tyrone Power, a friend of Clark’s and a hearthrob in his own right:
Fashion designer Adrian and his actress wife, Janet Gaynor:
Legendary director Cecil B. DeMille:
A cenotaph placed near the water for Hattie McDaniel (“Mammy” from Gone with the Wind). Hattie had wanted to be buried at Hollywood Forever but at the time she died it was a “whites only” cemetery so she was interred at Rosedale Cemetery instead. In 1999, her family and the owner of Hollywood Forever righted this wrong by erecting this cenotaph.
After strolling the grounds, we headed to the other side of the cemetery, which seemed more unkempt and cluttered. Into the mausoleum we went, which was both inside and outside, to track some people down. It was quite a challenge but we were eventually successful…
Clark’s very close friend and director of Red Dust, Test Pilot and Gone with the Wind, among other masterpieces, Victor Fleming:
Down some winding hallways that made us glad that at least it wasn’t night…
…we found a small room that contained urns in gold cases all around the room. It is there we found William Henry Gable, Clark’s father. I have always thought it was strange that he was buried at Hollywood Forever. By the time he died in 1948, Carole was dead and buried at Forest Lawn Glendale, and Clark had bought the space next to her. So why did he bury his father at Hollywood Forever? But here he is:
Clark and his father
That was our visit to Hollywood Forever. We remembered it fondly, especially since it was the first–and one of the only–times we saw the Hollywood sign.