Archive for June, 2013

Sonny Bono

Posted in Desert Memorial Park with tags on June 21, 2013 by Cade


February 16, 1935 – January 5, 1998

Salvatore “Sonny” Bono was good at a lot of things.  He was a pretty good singer. He was a much better songwriter, entertainer and producer, though.  This was evidenced by the massive popularity of his 1960’s and ’70’s pop duo, Sonny and Cher. While Cher may have gotten most of the attention and had an arguably better career, it was Sonny who goofily smiled and quietly wrote all of their huge hits. He was a good actor and funnyman. Sonny and Cher had their own TV shows – mostly of the variety genre – and he enjoyed post-S&C success on television and in films like Airplane II and Hairspray. He was even a decent politician. In 1988, he was elected as mayor of Palm Springs, California.  He later went on to serve in the United States Congress for 3 years.  He was, however, not that great of a skier. That’s not exactly fair.  He may very well have been a fine skier.  But on January 5th, 1998, he could have done a better job.  As it were, on that afternoon, he veered off the slopes, hit a tree and died.  A bad week for skiing.  And a bad week for man who had had a pretty good life.


Desert Memorial Park – Cathedral City, CA

Specific Location

Section B-35, #294; At the north end (back) of the cemetery, on the southwest edge of a large niche garden.



Gene Autry

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , on June 20, 2013 by Cade


September 29, 1907 – October 2, 1998

  • The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
  • He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
  • He must always tell the truth.
  • He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
  • He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
  • He must help people in distress.
  • He must be a good worker.
  • He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
  • He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
  • The Cowboy is a patriot.

Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code. Replace the words “The Cowboy” with “Gene Autry” and you begin to get the picture of what kind of man he was.  If that’s not enough, his headstone clarifies it with the following list:

  • American Hero
  • Philanthropist
  • Patriot and Veteran
  • Movie Star
  • Singer
  • Composer
  • Baseball Fan and Owner
  • 33rd Degree Mason
  • Media Entrepreneur
  • Loving Husband
  • Gentleman

So, there you have it. Gene Autry was awesome. He also wrote some of the most famous Christmas songs of all time just for good measure.


Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, CA

Specific Location

Sheltering Hills, Grave 1048; To the right (southwest) as you enter the park, Gene’s lawn grave is 6 rows in front of and 5 spaces to the left of a white statue with the name “WONG” on it.


Spencer Tracy

Posted in Forest Lawn Glendale with tags on June 17, 2013 by Cade


April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967

Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (real name) was a fixture in the so-called “Golden Age” of Hollywood. The Milwaukee-born actor was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor nine times. He won twice. His onscreen partnership with Katharine Hepburn as well as their “private” decades-long affair made for, perhaps, the biggest Hollywood romance of the 20th century. The pair made 9 movies together and shared a 26 year relationship despite Tracy still being married to his estranged wife, Louise.  Ah, but it’s Hollywood. Who cares?  What’s important is that Spencer Tracy is routinely mentioned in conversations about the greatest actors of all time.  His early career saw success, but no acclaim, on stage and for Fox studios.  It wasn’t until he signed with MGM in 1935 that his fame and career skyrocketed.  He made over 70 films during his life and drank quite a bit of alcohol while making them. He also suffered from depression.  Spencer nearly died a couple of times in his final years, but it wasn’t until 17 days after he wrapped shooting on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? that Spencer Tracy finally died of a massive heart attack while making some tea.  Officially, he was found by his housekeeper the next morning. Unofficially, Hepburn said he looked like he was just glad to be done with life.  Not that she was there with him or anything.


Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Glendale, CA

Specific Location

Garden of Everlasting Peace; Enter the garden from in front of the Freedom Mausoleum, Spencer is buried immediately on your right in a small walled-in plot.


Peggy Lee

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags , , , on June 17, 2013 by Cade


May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002

Peggy Lee (born Norma Deloris Egstrom) was a popular vocalist, actress and songwriter known for her hit recordings “Fever” and “Why Don’t You Do Right” (made famous by Jessica Rabbit) among others.  She was also a prolific lyricist and songwriter having written dozens of songs for many top composers and musicians.  Lee spent several years as the singer in Benny Goodman‘s orchestra.  She also wrote songs for – and voiced four characters in – the Disney classic animated film Lady and the Tramp and is said to be the inspiration for the Muppet, Miss Piggy. Throughout her long career, she earned 3 Grammys and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Pete Kelly’s Blues.  The Academy, however, apparently didn’t care too much for her. Lee was also an early adopter of the Rock and Roll movement and often worked with younger artists to aid with their careers.  Despite health issues, Peggy continued to perform even in later life. She died from complications of diabetes at the age of  81.  She is one of at least 3 people in this blog to be buried in a bench.


Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

In the Garden of Serenity section at the south end of the park there are two fountains, as you enter the garden, the fountain on your left (to the east) has a marble bench on the other side of it, Peggy’s ashes are interred in this bench.


Stan Laurel

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , on June 14, 2013 by Cade


June 16, 1890 – February 23, 1965

On October 2, 1910 an English ocean liner named Cairnrona arrived in Quebec after a 10-day journey from Southampton. History and the way of the world at the time would indicate that this was no special ship or voyage.  That is, except for the fact that the vessel carried a troupe of comedians headed for America which included Charlie Chaplin and a 20 year-old man named Stanley Jefferson.  Jefferson would eventually change his name to Laurel and America was about to laugh…a lot.  But as impressive of a pairing as Chaplin and Laurel were on that same ship, it was Stan’s later partnership with another comedian that would make him a legend.

Stan Laurel first worked with Oliver Hardy on the 1921 silent film The Lucky Dog, but it wasn’t until both were under contract with Hal Roach in 1926 that the two were matched up as a team.  That team became one of the greatest comedy double acts of all time making over 120 short and feature films in both silent and talking formats. After 30 years together, Oliver died in 1957 and Stan withdrew from performing – partially to do with reverence to his partner, but also to do with his own failing health. Throughout his final years, Stan Laurel was still very warm and receptive toward his fans and friends. His phone number was publicly listed and he would routinely talk to strangers who called him up. He suffered a heart attack in February of 1965 and died four days later.  Ever the comedian, his final words to his nurse were that he would like to be skiing at that moment. When she responded that she didn’t know he was a skier, he simply said “I’m not. But I’d rather be doing that than this.”


Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, CA

Specific Location

Court of Liberty, Lot 910; From the large George Washington statue, go up the steps on the main sidewalk (south) into the second level of gardens, Stan’s grave is marked on a stone wall just to the right of the main sidewalk.


Édith Piaf

Posted in Père Lachaise Cemetery with tags , on June 13, 2013 by Cade


December 19, 1915 – October 11, 1963

“Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for.” – Édith Piaf

Édith Giovanna Gassion was raised in a brothel in Normandy, France. Things got better from there…slowly.  She joined her father as a street peformer at the age of 14 and began singing for money on the outskirts of Paris. She fell in love, continued to sing on the streets and had a daughter. She was a terrible mother. Her daughter died at the age of 2 in the hotel where they were living.  It gets better, it really does. At the age of 19, Édith was discovered by a Paris nightclub owner and began singing “professionally” in said nightclub.  The owner, of course, was promptly murdered, but not before Édith was able to record a couple of songs and begin making decisions for herself. Under new management, she began performing as Édith Piaf (piaf means “sparrow” in case you were wondering) and eventually went on to become one of France’s greatest performers.  She was romantically involved with actor Yves Montand, boxer Marcel Cerdan (who died in a plane crash, naturally) and just about everybody else that she ever met. Her life was not a joyride, but she made the best of it. That is, until the liver cancer caught up with her. Her hits included “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” “Hymne à l’amour” and, what would become an unofficial Parisian anthem, “La Vie en Rose.” The latter of which is also the name of a really great movie about her life.  Check it out.


Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, FRANCE

Specific Location

Division 97; The easternmost section in the cemetery, Édith’s grave is just on the east side of Ave. Transversale No.3 roughly halfway between Ave. Patchold and Ave. Circulaire.


Hillel Slovak

Posted in Mt. Sinai Memorial Park with tags on June 13, 2013 by Cade


April 13, 1962 – June 25, 1988

Hillel Slovak was a founding member and the original guitarist for the legendary Los Angeles-based rock band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Slovak met vocalist Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea (Michael Balzary) in high school and formed the band with drummer, Jack Irons, for a one-time gig that turned into a steady, and very popular presence in the L.A. music scene.  The line up recorded two albums – “Freaky Styley” and “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” – all while battling severe addiction to drugs, most notably, cocaine and heroin.  Slovak and Kiedis tried to sober up using each other as support, but the withdrawals proved to be too much and Slovak died of a heroin overdose at the age of 26 while separated from the band.  There was very little contact with friends and family in the weeks leading up to his death and police did not discover him in his apartment until days later.  The remaining members of the band were shaken to the core by Slovak’s death. Irons quit and Kiedis continued to struggle with drugs for years before finally going straight.  In 2012, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, including Hillel Slovak, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Mt. Sinai Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, CA

Specific Location

Maimonides 26, L-4613, space 1; On the south side of King David Drive, directly across the street from a service road, about 4-5 rows up from the curb, a row behind and 5 spaces to the left (east) of a large tree.


Suzanne Pleshette

Posted in Hillside Memorial Park with tags , on June 11, 2013 by Cade


January 31, 1937 – January 19, 2008

Prior to her star-making role as Emily Hartley opposite Bob Newhart in the classic television sitcom The Bob Newhart Show,  Suzanne Pleshette was an established stage and film actress.  She appeared on Broadway in Compulsion and The Miracle Worker and in such classic films as The Geisha Boy and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.  But, it was the Newhart Show that brought her biggest fame and critical acclaim (3 Emmy nominations).  Pleshette went on to a lengthy string of guest starring roles and voice over work.  She was married 3 times, including to the costar of a different Bob Newhart project, Newhart, Tom Poston.  In her later years, Pleshette battled (successfully) lung cancer, but ultimately suffered from too many pulmonary ailments. She died of respiratory failure in her home just before her 71st birthday.


Hillside Memorial Park – Culver City, CA

Specific Location

Garden of Abraham, Plot 12, Grave 7; In the small lawn space on the right side immediately in front of the mausoleum, near the curb and next to a small bench, just a few spaces away from husband, Tom Poston.


Bob Ross

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (FL) with tags on June 11, 2013 by Cade


October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995

If television artist Bob Ross wasn’t the nicest guy in the world then I want nothing to do with the world.  Ross turned a love of painting and a lightning-fast technique known as “wet-on-wet” to soothe and entertain public television audiences for more than a decade.  In 1983, the former U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant turned from the loud yelling of the military to the quiet encouragement of painting a “happy little” landscape in real time on PBS.  His show, The Joy of Painting, was wildly popular due to the minimal tools required and oft-repeated techniques. But, of course, the main attraction was Ross’ calming and eternally-optimistic demeanor and he became something of a pop-culture icon by the time his show went off the air in 1994.  It was his health that forced the show to end. Ross died of lymphoma just a few months after his final show aired.  He was 52.


Woodlawn Cemetery – Gotha, FL

Specific Location

Toward the back of the cemetery is a large statue featuring the Holy family in front of 3 arches, Bob is buried near the road in this section in front of this statue, just next to a tree.


Telly Savalas

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags on June 8, 2013 by Cade


January 21, 1922 – January 22, 1994

Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas was probably best know as the lollipop-chomping title character in the popular CBS drama Kojak Of course, he did a lot of other things, including co-starring roles in The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes and – as supervillain, Ernst Blofeld – in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He also was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance opposite Burt Lancaster in The Birdman of Alcatraz.  Telly continued to work into his 70’s and didn’t stop even when he was diagnosed with bladder and prostate cancer.  He died of the disease just one day after his 72nd birthday.  The outpouring of support for Telly after his death was a great example of, although he often played tough guy roles, just how gentle and beloved he was.

As Kojak would say: Who loves ya, baby?


Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, CA

Specific Location

Court of Liberty, Lot 1281; Walk past the central statue of George Washington, up (south) to the next/second section of the Court, Turn left at the sidewalk (when you see Stan Laurel), continue walking east into the last garden area before the road, immediately upon entering this section, turn to the left and Telly’s grave is in the second family plot from the sidewalk.