Have you ever thought about treating your date to a picnic in a cemetery? How about watching a movie in a graveyard after the sun goes down? This idea may sound like something you’d only find buried within the plot of The Blair Witch Project, but some may be surprised to discover that enjoying dinner and a movie on a cemetery lawn is what hundreds of Hollywood lovers do every summer. And there is only one cemetery in town where you’ll find a crowd filled with more cheers than tears on a warm Saturday night: Hollywood Forever.
The name of the cemetery says it all. Hollywood Forever, located behind the
Paramount Studios back lot, is the eternal home to many of the entertainment
industrys most influential celebrities and contributors. Even Harvey Wilcox,
the credited founder of the city name "Hollywood," is buried behind
the gates of Hollywood Forever. Although more than 400 notable Hollywood figures
can be found resting beneath the soil of this Los Angeles cemetery, there are
still many people who may not find the grounds of a celebrity-filled graveyard
to be the most desirable place to visit. But if your interests lie somewhere
near that of a film student or a history lover, then Hollywood Forever Cemetery
is the place to be.
You can find special events being held at the cemetery year round. The events
at Hollywood Forever are some of Los Angeles best kept secrets, so dont
expect to find billboards plastered around town giving you all the details.
Cinespia, a non-profit film company dedicated to "showing unusual films
in unusual places," sponsors one of the most popular underground events
held at the cemetery. During the summer of 2002, the organizations film
screening of the Alfred Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train brought in a
crowd of over 1,200 film buffs. Amazingly, the crowd was attracted without the
help of any advertising or promotions.
The classic films are screened on the open grass section of the cemetary called
Fairbanks Lawn, projected against a marble mausoleum. After claiming a spot
on the grass with your fold-up chair or spread out blanket, you can take a look
around to see several other viewers enjoying a film under the stars, amongst
the graves of those who once brought the big screen to life.
"We thought [Hollywood Forever Cemetery] would make a fun spot for a picnic
dinner, some cocktails and a movie," Cinespia founder John Wyatt told Flaunt
Magazine. "We get a lot of enjoyment out of bringing our friends great
movies that they probably have never heard of."
Cultural events are also popular, such as the Hispanic holiday known as Dia
De Los Muertos ("The Day of the Dead"). The ritual, which honors the
lives of the deceased, is acknowledged annually during the month of October
on the Hollywood Forever grounds. Last years event drew in a crowd of
more than 10,000 people who started celebrating lives in the late afternoon.
Candles were lit after the sun went down and the bulk of the crowd did not depart
until 11 p.m.
In addition to its low stress environment, Hollywood Forever is home to some
of the most innovative technology in the history of funeral homes worldwide.
"Forever Life Stories" is a digital database which features what creators
call a Library of Lives and puts history at your fingertips. The customized
virtual library allows anyone to originate their own life story or that of a
loved one with the help of Hollywood Forevers video editing staff. The
Library of Lives also provides visitors with access to the biographical documentaries,
filled with photos, video clips, documents such as letters from loved ones,
sound clips or even interviews featuring live footage of the deceased from throughout
Because many elements of history are often forgotten, it may come as shocking
news to find out that Hollywood did not get its famous reputation from modern-day
stars like Madonna, Britney Spears or Brad Pitt. Film and television show stars,
rock n roll, jazz and blues musicians, comedians, playboy models
and a countless number of other entertainers who have brought smiles to the
faces of many, have created legacies that Hollywood lovers hope will live on
forever. And due to the cemetery owners mission to make such legacies
immortal, you can easily find the life stories of over 1,100 individuals buried
at Hollywood Forever.
Notorious gangsters, Bugsy Siegal and Harry Cohn are buried at Hollywood Forever,
along with the multi-talented Monta Bell, who was a director, producer, actor,
writer and editor during the mid-20th century. Also, 10 years after directing
both film classics, Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz in 1939, director
Victor Fleming was laid to rest in the cemetery grounds.The cemetery even houses
a special shrine for the famous silent film star Rudolph Valentino, who died
at the young age of 31.
With its array of activities, its obvious that you can find things at
Hollywood Forever that you may never see featured in the average horror movies
depiction of a graveyard. Besides picnics and movies, weddings also take place
here, and seeing people jogging along the open trails or bikers riding through
the park-like grounds happens daily.
"The images of cemeteries are kept creepy. It makes people not want to
come back. We want to change that," says Hollywood Forevers Public
Relations Representative, Joe Sehee. "Death doesnt have to be such
a scary thing."
Hollywood Forever is located on 5970 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, behind
the Paramount Studios back lot. For more information, call 1-800-928-5150 or
OTHER CELEBRITY-STUDDED CEMETERIES:
Westwood Memorial Park
1218 Glendon Ave., Westwood
Dorothy Stratten (Playboy model murdered at age 20)
Richard Conte (The Godfather)
Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills
6300 Forest Lawn Dr., Los Angeles
Morey Amsterdam ("Dick Van Dyke Show")
George Raft (1932s Scarface)
McLean Stevenson ("M*A*S*H")
Forest Lawn, Glendale
1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale
Nat King Cole
Sammy Davis Jr.
Mount Sinai Memorial Park
5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Hollywood Hills
Mama Cass Elliot (Mamas and the Papas)
Norman Fell ("Threes Company")
Totie Fields ("Ed Sullivan Show")
Culture: Special Features [Hollywood Forever]
Hollywood Forever: Cemetery of the Future Protects Memories from the Past
By Talia Hassan
Article posted on 4/14/2005
This article has been viewed 3726 times.