Harry Houdini

Posted in Machpelah Cemetery with tags on February 15, 2017 by Cade

houdini1March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926

Harry Houdini (Erik Weisz) was a vaudeville escape artist and probably the most famous magician of all time. He got his start pulling card tricks and escaping from handcuffs in front of crowds in sideshows and eventually was able to entertain crowds across the country and Europe. As his reputation grew, so did his escapes. The handcuffs became more elaborate. Straight-jackets followed. Then padlocks, sealed wooden crates, milk cans, caskets, glass-cases full of water…whatever he could think of. Crowds flocked to see his death-defying escapes and his fame skyrocketed. Houdini was an intense protector of the art form of magic and spent a significant amount of energy debunking fake spiritualists and people who would tarnish the industry. In 1917, he became the president of the fledgling Society of American Magicians. Under his leadership, the society expanded to an impressive network of chapters in cities all over the country. He used his own resources to recruit talented magicians to join the fraternal organization. After an improbable career, Harry Houdini died rather abruptly at the age of 52 of an inflamed abdomen. Rumors around the cause of his condition swirled and ranged from “a college kid punched him” to appendicitis – all of which, appear to have happened and/or contributed. Either way, after continuing to perform in extreme pain for his last couple of shows, he was finally taken to a hospital in Detroit where he died a few days later.

 To this day, the S.A.M. continues to operate and a few key members are responsible for maintaining Houdini’s grave site – which has become a place of pilgrimage for many magicians.

Burial

Machpelah Cemetery – Queens, NY


 

Specific Location

Enter the gate from Cypress Hills St. and the Houdini plot is directly in front of you, just past the maintenance shed.

machpelah_houdini

Dr. Seuss

Posted in Cremated with tags , on February 7, 2017 by Cade

seuss1March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991

Theodor Seuss Geisel…was a writer of books.
And he wrote of wubwuzzles and bumblers and jooks.
Fancy made-up creations with stars and striped hats.
There were cats in those hats and little Who acrobats.
He made foxes in sockses, a grinch and a turtle.
With names like the Lorax and Horton and Yertle.
Fish of all colors and beetles that battled
In puddles in bottles on poodles with paddles.
Dr. Seuss gave us oodles of tales to adore.
And he made ham and eggs much more green than before.
More than 70 works, beloved and clever.
A talent so rare, it should go on forever.
Except when it can’t.
Because, sometimes, cancer.

Burial

Cremated – Dr. Seuss was cremated and his ashes were scattered. There is a memorial garden replete with statues of his famous characters in his native Springfield, MA.

   seuss2 seuss3

Stella Adler

Posted in Mount Carmel Cemetery (NY) with tags on January 30, 2017 by Cade

adler1February 10, 1901 – December 21, 1992

To those outside the acting profession or theater and film circles, Stella Adler may not be an instantly recognizable name, but within these groups, she is a titanic figure. Adler rose to fame from a small child in a prominent Yiddish acting family in New York City. Her onstage upbringing led her to Broadway, London, Paris and Hollywood. At an early age, she met renowned Russian director, Konstantin Stanislavski, and was immediately enthralled with his teachings and techniques. After joining the famed Group Theater in New York, Adler studied under Stanislavski for a brief time in France. At that point, the course of her career as an acting teacher was basically set in stone. She moved to Los Angeles and went on to teach fundamentals of characterization to the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Judy Garland, Harvey Keitel, Elizabeth Taylor, Lena Horne, Warren Beatty, Dolores del Rio, Martin Sheen…you get the idea. She was kind of a big deal.

She continued to act and direct on stage into her 60s and taught even beyond that. She passed away of heart failure in L.A. at the age of 91 leaving behind multiple acting schools and a legacy that changed the profession forever.

Burial

Mount Carmel Cemetery – Queens, NY

Specific Location

Section 1 (Old), Block F, Path 11, Lot 373, Grave 7; From the main road, take Path 11 in Block F all the way to the point where it turns sharply to the right. Stella is buried on the right side of the path just a few spots before this turn.

oldmtcarmel_adler

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Posted in Green-Wood Cemetery with tags , , on January 23, 2017 by Cade

basquiat1December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a significant neo-expressionist artist in the late-70s/early-80s New York City pop-cultural scene. Rising to notoriety as a street artist (he comprised half of the graffiti-art duo, SAMO), Basquiat eventually found a following in various galleries in Manhattan. His work consisted of both image and text, highly influenced by juxtaposition and dichotomy. Basquiat also created experimental music with his band, Gray (a nod to Gray’s Anatomy, the reference book that heavily influenced his work throughout his life – not the ABC television show that debuted 17 years after he died.) Through his art and music, he spoke out against institutionalized racism and power structures and made commentary on issues such as class struggle and heritage. Professionally, he collaborated with musicians like David Bowie and artists such as Andy Warhol. His relationship with Warhol was particularly important and when Warhol died in 1987, Basquiat – who was already deep into a herioin addiciton – spiraled into a depression that he never recovered from. He died of an overdose the following year at the age of 27.

Burial

Green-Wood Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

basquiat2

Specific Location

Section 176; Off of Sassafras Avenue in the cemetery’s Southern portion, Jean-Michel is buried in a double row of modest graves designated as “Lot 44603.” As you walk from Sassafras Ave. his grave is in the left row about 60 graves in (he is in grave 342).

green-wood_basquiat

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , on January 17, 2017 by Cade

fisher_reynolds2
October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016
April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016

Carrie Fisher was born into Hollywood royalty. Her father was crooner Eddie Fisher and her mother was actress and iconic girl-next-door, Debbie Reynolds. Onstage from the very beginning, she enjoyed a very successful career. She will forever be linked to her most indelible character, Princess Leia from the blockbuster Star Wars film franchise. But, she was more than a strong, rebellious princess. Fisher was a fearless comedic actor and writer. She wrote critically-acclaimed screenplays and novels and was for a time, the go-to “script doctor” in the industry. She overcame personal demons stemming from drug abuse and bi-polar disorder and always, always, kept her wit. She was a beloved icon who just happen to also play a beloved icon. On a flight from London to Los Angeles after Christmas in 2016, Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack. She was revived and taken to the hospital, but never recovered. After four days in intensive care, she was gone.

Mary Frances “Debbie” Reynolds won the title of Miss Burbank 1948 at the age of 16. Executives from MGM and Warner Bros. were in attendance and immediately snatched the young girl up. Her career exploded and, within a few  years, a breakout role opposite Gene Kelley and Donald O’Connor in Singin’ In The Rain made her a star. Many more movies followed. And TV shows. And records. And…whatever else she wanted to do. Her career spanned nearly 7 remarkable decades. All throughout, she adored her family. Despite a number of high-profile marriages/divorces/feuds-with-Elizabeth-Taylor, Debbie always loved her family. In the aftermath of her daughter’s sudden death, Debbie, herself, suffered a stroke at the age of 84 and died the following day. According to her son, her last words were “I want to be with Carrie.”

Hollywood can hardly script something so unbelievably tragic and yet so powerful.

Burial

Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, CA

Photo taken prior to burial

Photo taken prior to burial

Specific Location

Court of Remembrance, In the newest addition at the southeast corner of the CoR, Debbie and Carrie are interred together in the large, dark marble sarcophagus along the southeastern wall.

flhh_fisher-reynolds

 

Eubie Blake

Posted in Cypress Hills Cemetery with tags on January 10, 2017 by Cade

blake2February 7, 1887 – February 12, 1983

Jazz and ragtime pianist/composer, James Hubert “Eubie” Blake was, by all accounts, a naturally-gifted musician. He first exhibited his talent at a random music store organ at the age of five. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years, Blake wrote for vaudeville, Broadway, film and television. His hit songs such as “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and “Charleston Rag” became mainstays in popular music. He wrote the music for the 1921 Broadway musical Shuffle Along, which is notable as one of the first musicals written by, about and for the black community. Some 50 years later, the musical Eubie! was produced featuring a vast catalog of his music. Toward the end of his life, Blake was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and, to my knowledge, is the only person to ever appear on the vaudeville stage AND Saturday Night Live.

Burial

Cypress Hills Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

 

Specific Location

Section 11, St. Phillips; At the “T” intersection of Highland Way and Jennings Place.

cypresshills_blake

Henny Youngman

Posted in Mount Carmel Cemetery (NY) with tags on January 2, 2017 by Cade

youngman1March 16, 1906 – February 24, 1998

Henny Youngman was the “King of the One Liners.” As a comedian, Youngman worked tirelessly for 7 decades. His trademark routine – which involved a series of quick, one-liner jokes and violin interludes – made him a truly unique comedy legend. Known to play anywhere, anytime, for any amount of money, Youngman never let success alter him. He was a mainstay on TV shows like Laugh-In and appeared in classic films ranging from Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part 1 to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. His most famous joke “Take my wife…please.” was just one of many that were directed at his wife, Sadie. While the comedy poked fun at their relationship, the reality was much sweeter. He adored his wife. It’s said the only times he stopped performing were in the days following her death in 1987 and the final month he spent in the hospital. Youngman died of pneumonia at the age of 91.

Burial

Mount Carmel Cemetery – Queens, NY

Specific Location

Section 2 (New), Block 9, Section 11, Lot 45, Grave 1; Enter the new section’s main gate and follow the road to the left until you see a large family marker with the name HEYMAN on it on your left. Henny and his wife are buried just behind this marker.

newmtcarmel_youngman

Bert Lahr

Posted in Union Field Cemetery with tags , on December 27, 2016 by Cade

lahr1August 13, 1895 – December 4, 1967

Tony Award-winning comedian/actor, Bert Lahr, dropped out of school to join a vaudeville troupe. It was on the stage that he spent most of his career. But it was on film – one film, in particular – where he found his greatest and most notable success. Lahr brought his humor and bravado to the role of the Cowardly Lion in the classic The Wizard of Oz and generations have loved him for it.

Irving Lahrheim was New York through and through. He was born there. He died there. And he performed practically the entire time in between. He had a long, successful career on Broadway working alongside such greats as Flo Ziegfeld and Ethel Merman and notably originated the role of Estragon in the first American production of Waiting for Godot. He dabbled in film and television, but it was Oz that would be his biggest hit. Warned about Hollywood’s penchant for type-casting, Lahr famously responded, “Yeah, but how many parts are there for lions?”

Lahr died of cancer – which he didn’t know he had – at the age of 72, while filming his last movie, The Night They Raided Minksy’s.

Burial

Union Field Cemetery – Queens, NY

 

Specific Location

Follow the Main Road all the way to the back of the cemetery until it turns left (Central Ave.). Past the residential area, there will eventually be a series of numbered paths on your right. Take Path 5 and Bert’s family plot will be the fourth one on your right.

unionfield_lahr

Betty Comden

Posted in Mount Carmel Cemetery (NY) with tags , on December 19, 2016 by Cade

comden1May 3, 1917 – November 23, 2006

Dubbed “Miss Words” by her writing partner of more than 60 years, Adolph Green, Betty Comden contributed wit and brilliance to popular songs on the stage and screen for most of the 20th Century. The lyricist team of Comden and Green got their start as part of the Greenwich Village troupe The Revuers where they collaborated with other young artists like Judy Holliday and Leonard Bernstein. Along with Bernstein (whom they would work with many times), Comden and Green created their first Broadway musical, On The Town, in 1944. Betty would go on to work with Green in Hollywood, mostly for MGM Studios where they contributed songs to classic film musicals like The Band Wagon and Singin’ in the Rain. Back in New York, they worked with all the major Broadway composers to create – over the course of more than 40 years – quintessential shows like Wonderful Town, On The Twentieth Century and The Will Rogers Follies. The duo would frequently perform their own work in clubs and on stage and continued to write together the rest of their lives. Betty died in a New York hospital at the age of 89.

Burial

Mount Carmel Cemetery – Queens, NY

 

Specific Location

Section 1 (Old), Block D, Section 17, Lot 308, Grave 11; From the main road, locate Block D and Betty’s family plot (SADVORANSKY – COHEN – ALEXANDER) is just behind a large tree at the curb.

oldmtcarmel_comden

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

Posted in The Evergreens with tags , on December 12, 2016 by Cade

bojangles1May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson began his life as Luther Robinson in Richmond, VA where he learned to dance for pennies on the street. Busking led to bit parts and “picknaninny” roles in local minstrel shows. This led to predominantly-white vaudeville shows…and then he went to work.

Widely regarded for his tap dancing prowess and innovation, he busted through the racial barriers of his day at every level, eventually becoming one of the first black solo performers in vaudeville and, ultimately, making a name for himself on Broadway. Robinson became the first black headliner in Broadway history with 1940’s All In Fun. He jumped to Hollywood, famously appearing alongside Shirley Temple in four 20th Century Fox musicals. He became a de facto “ambassador” to the white community, a fact that led to quite a bit of controversy among both white and black communities. But, he continued on. An avid baseball fan, he co-founded the New York Black Yankees of the Negro National League.

Despite all of his success – he was the highest paid black performer of his time – Bojangles died broke in New York of heart failure at the age of 71. His legacy, however, was far richer. Entertainers like Ann Miller, Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. all credit Robinson with directly influencing their careers.

Burial

The Evergreens Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

Specific Location

Redemption 1; Prominently visible at the Southeast corner of the intersection of the Redemption, Ascension and Siloam sections.

evergreens_robinson