Archive for September, 2013

Betty Grable

Posted in Inglewood Park Cemetery with tags , on September 26, 2013 by Cade

grable1December 18, 1916 – July 2, 1973

I had a professor in college who would constantly – and without prompting – tell us: “Betty Grable had the best legs I have ever seen.” Well, this one’s for you, Dr. Wright!

Elizabeth Ruth Grable was an actress, singer and dancer who was a fixture in the hey dey of the American film musical. Her looks, and yes, her legs, made her a very poplular star. In fact, she was Farrah Fawcett some 30 years before Farrah ever donned that red swimsuit. A pin-up photo of Betty in a bathing suit (see the photo on the vase on her grave below) became an icon and one of the most recognizable photos of the World War II era. The movie studio she was under contract with insured her gams for $1,000,000 with Lloyds of London. This was serious business.

Beyond the legs, Grable was a likable “bombshell-next-door” type on the screen. She struggled in B-Movies for the early part of her career before deciding to quit altogether. Luckily, she was convinced to sign with 20th Century Fox…where she went on to make her biggest successes with costars such as Marilyn Monroe, Cesar Romero and Jack Lemmon. Eventually, though, she began to be passed over for coveted roles and decided to walk away for good this time.  18 years after her last starring role, Betty died of lung cancer at the relatively young age of 56.


Inglewood Park Cemetery – Inglewood, CA

Specific Location

Mausoleum of the Golden West, Sanctuary of Dawn, Crypt A78; Enter the mausoleum’s “Cenotaph” (right) entrance, turn right when you enter, then immediately left, walk to the 2rd corridor and turn right into the Sanctuary of Faith, continue straight down this corridor until it turns into the Sanctuary of Dawn, once you enter the Sanctuary of Dawn, Betty and her mom are buried on your right, about halfway down, 3rd row up from the floor.



Ed Sullivan

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags on September 26, 2013 by Cade

sullivan1September 28, 1901 – October 13, 1974

“Ed does nothing, but he does it better than anyone else in television.”
– Alan King

Edward Vincent Sullivan wasn’t a terribly talented man. He couldn’t really act.  Or sing. He was a decent writer, apparently, but who isn’t? Yet, somehow, he managed to change the face of the entertainment world forever. Rising through the ranks as a newspaper columnist, a radio entertainment commentator and ultimately, a television variety show host, Sullivan found a niche – something he didn’t have to be particularly great at, just good enough – and turned the world on its ear. His variety show, Toast of the Town, went on to become The Ed Sullivan Show and famously showcased new talent to audiences across the country. His show brought American audiences legendary performances by The Rolling Stones, Elvis, The Jackson 5, Richard Pryor, The Temptations, George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, The Supremes, and, of course…The Beatles.  Ed may have done nothing, but his ability to do it gave us some of the most memorable moments in television history.

Ed died of esophageal cancer in 1974. He did not know he had it. His family did, but chose not to tell him. Not cool, family. Not cool.


Ferncliff Cemetery – Hartsdale, NY

Specific Location

Ferncliff Mausoleum, Unit 8, Alcove G, Crypt 122; Enter the mausoleum’s main entrance, Turn left, right, left, left then right to enter Unit 8, continue down, past Joan Crawford, until you dead end at a wall of crypts (get it? dead end?), Ed is buried to your right, 2 rows up, next to the elevator.


Isabel Sanford

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags on September 26, 2013 by Cade

sanford1August 29, 1917 – July 9, 2004

Eloise Gwendolyn Sanford wanted to be an actress. Her mother forbade it. But, that didn’t stop her. Sanford, now going by “Isabel,” pursued acting anyway and eventually found herself in Hollywood. After landing a supporting role in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? opposite Tracy and Hepburn, she was cast in the role that would change her life and define her career. For fourteen years (and a few more times after the fact – ’cause…money) Isabel played Louise “Weezy” Jefferson alongside Sherman Hemsley’s George in Norman Lear’s immensely popular TV show All in the Family and the eventual, eponymous spin-off, The Jeffersons. Her work on The Jeffersons earned her 5 Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, a first for any African American actress. Her post-Jeffersons career saw her (and sometimes Sherman, as well) guest starring on a number of television shows. Sanford died of “natural causes” following a year or so of deteriorating health stemming from surgery on her neck. I will not make a joke about her “moving on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky.” That’s just too easy.


Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, CA

Specific Location

Courts of Remembrance; On the northern interior wall of the northeastern-most section, there are two “squares” of darker marble crypts, Isabel’s crypt is in the left “square” in the bottom-left corner (2nd row up). One space to the right and one row below Morey Amsterdam.


Cesar Romero

Posted in Inglewood Park Cemetery with tags on September 26, 2013 by Cade

romero1February 15, 1907 – January 1, 1994

Known to some as The Cisco Kid, to others as Falcon Crest‘s Peter Stavros, and almost universally as The Joker from the 1960’s Batman television series, Cesar Romero was everywhere for a good number of years.  His other credits included Freddie Prinze’s absent father on Chico and the Man and a slew of Latin lover roles. Romero was also a dancer and comedian and appeared in lighthearted musicals such as Springtime in the Rockies – with fellow Golden West resident, Betty Grable. But, it is likely The Joker for which he is most remembered. The toothy grin, white face paint and trademark cackle are pop-culture mainstays. Cesar, a lifelong “confirmed bachelor,” died on New Year’s Day in 1994.


Inglewood Park Cemetery – Inglewood, CA

Specific Location

Mausoleum of the Golden West, Alcove of Music, Niche 408; Enter the mausoleum’s “Cenotaph” (right) entrance, turn right when you enter, then immediately left, walk to the 3rd corridor and turn right into the Sanctuary of Reverence, then left into the Sanctuary of Dreams, Cesar’s ashes are in a harp-shaped receptacle in a glass case on your left.


e.e. cummings

Posted in Forest Hills Cemetery with tags , on September 25, 2013 by Cade

cummings1October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962

                   [cummings (edward estlin)
    poems prodigy age8harvard]                wrote plays also
                                modern style (syntax
              be damned)  ambulance corps, the great
war (spy?)
                                              hated war
                                              loved france

            personal tragedy


Forest Hills Cemetery – Boston, MA

Specific Location

Lot 748 Althaea Path, in section 6, Near the intersection of Hemlock Ave. and Althaea Path, near the wall (toward Cherry Ave); Near his wife’s family marker (Clarke)


Jim Henson

Posted in Cremated with tags , on September 24, 2013 by Cade

henson1September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990

I know. I know. How do you do a grave blog post about someone who doesn’t have a grave?  I don’t care. Jim Henson was/is my hero. Today would have been his 77th birthday. I’m gonna write about him.

James Maury Henson was a beloved entertainer, writer, producer and, of course…puppeteer. Henson first found his way onto television via 5-minute segments called Sam and Friends on a local Washington D.C. TV station. The puppets in Sam and Friends (including a lizard named Kermit that he created out of an old, green coat) were used very differently than any in the past. He experimented with movement techniques and used the camera frame to remove himself from the scene entirely – giving the puppets the central focus and allowing them to “live” all on their own. This was a departure from some of his childhood idols such as Edgar Bergen and became the style that would define his career – and change the art form forever.

Henson plied his trade and growing stable of characters (deemed by this point as “Muppets”) to commercials, mostly, throughout the 1960s. But, it was in 1969, when he was hired on to help with a children’s show called Sesame Street, that he was able to begin to share his gift with the world. He and his collaborators (Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Jerry Juhl, etc) created characters that are still as popular today as they were 40+ years ago.

Not wanting to be typecast as a “chlidren’s” entertainer, Henson and gang – via stints on a fledgling comedy show called Saturday Night Live – started taking their skits and Muppets to a more adult audience.  This led to primetime variety shows like The Muppet Show (starring Kermit the Frog,) holiday specials like Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, cartoons, and feature films like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and, of course, The Muppet Movie and its sequels.

Jim Henson became ill in May of 1990. The illness turned rather rapidly into septic shock and his hesitancy to go to the hospital (out of a desire to not bother people, not necessarily due to his Christian Science upbringing, for what it’s worth) aided in his deterioration.  The hospital was unable to stop the infection and Jim passed away on May 16th1 at the age of 53. He left behind a universe of characters and stories that continue to delight audiences of all ages today. Nowhere was it more evident how truly great of an impact he had on us and those around him than at his memorial service in 1990. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it.


Cremated – Ashes scattered over his ranch in New Mexico

1 – Incidentally, the exact same day that Sammy Davis, Jr. died.

Bruce Lee

Posted in Lake View Cemetery with tags on September 24, 2013 by Cade

lee3November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973

Perhaps the most famous martial artist of all-time, Bruce Lee transcended the physical art that made him famous and became a pop-culture phenomenon. The son of a Cantonese opera singer, Lee was born in San Francisco, spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong, and moved back to America with his father as a young man. He studied martial arts from the age of 13 and began teaching it in Seattle at 18.  He quickly gained a lot of attention within the tournament circles and drew significant criticism for teaching Chinese martial arts to non-Chinese people. Lee’s rise as a competitor caught the eye of television producers and he was cast as Kato in a short-lived Green Hornet series. This opened doors for Lee to eventually take on more roles. Though, he was frustrated with his limited success in the States, so he returned to Hong Kong where he received a very unexpected hero’s welcome. Lee went on to star in a number of international motion pictures including the martial arts classic Enter the Dragon. On July 20, 1973, during the filming of Game of Death, Lee suffered a cerebral edema – his 2nd in 3 months – due to a reaction to medication he had taken for a headache. The official cause of death was listed as “death by misadventure.” Which, if you ask me, sounds much more awesome than it actually was. What made Lee’s death even more interesting were the countless number of conspiracies that spiraled out in the years to follow.  To this day, he remains one of the 20th Century’s most recognizable icons.


Lake View Cemetery – Seattle, WA

Specific Location

Lot 276, Grave 3; There is a circle road at the top of the hill near the center of the cemetery; Bruce and Brandon Lee’s distinctive graves are just below the curb to the East of this circle.


Dominique Dunne

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags , on September 24, 2013 by Cade

dunne1November 23, 1959 – November 4, 1982

Not all Hollywood stories have happy endings.

Dominique Dunne was a rising star who had appeared in a number of television shows when her life was cut short by a jealous and possessive ex-boyfriend.  Dunne – the daughter of writer Dominick Dunne and sister of director/producer Griffin Dunne – appeared in the 1981 horror classic Poltergeist. This was to be her first and only feature film appearance.  She was cast in and was in rehearsals for a new mini-series, V, when she was attacked and strangled on her front porch by her estranged boyfriend. Dominique was declared brain dead and remained on life-support for several days following the attack.  She died 5 days later at just 22 years-old.  She was buried in Westwood Memorial Park, not far from where her Poltergeist co-star, Heather O’Rourke, would later be interred after also dying tragically.


Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles , CA

Specific Location

Section D, L-189; Near the south curb of the main lawn section


Miles Davis

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags , on September 23, 2013 by Cade

mdavis1May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991

I could go on and on about the impact that Miles Dewey Davis III had on not only jazz, but popular music in general.  I could list his accolades and triumphant successes like Milestones, Bitches Brew, On the Corner and his magnum opus, Kind of Blue.  I could talk about the Grammys. I could talk about the cocaine use, short temper and contentious relationships with the press, critics and fellow musicians (like fellow Hard-Bopper, Thelonious Monk).  But, why bother when we can both just sit and spend the next 9 1/2 minutes listening to this:


Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Alpine Plot;  On a point of land at the intersection of Heather Ave. and Fir Ave., Davis’ large black marker cannot be missed. Just across Heather Ave. from Duke Ellington.


Shelley Winters

Posted in Hillside Memorial Park with tags on September 23, 2013 by Cade

winters1August 18, 1920 – January 14, 2006

Shelley Winters (née Schrift) was an Academy Award winning actress who shook off the shackles of the overused blonde bombshell Hollywood stereotype and crafted herself a fine career that lasted for more than 50 years. Winters, from St. Louis, was best known for her film and television roles, as well as her many theatrical performances. She was, however, also an author and wrote a couple of autobiographies in which she did not hold back about her personal life. Shelley was married four times and had romantic relationships with many of the biggest names in entertainment, including Burt Lancaster, William Holden, Errol Flynn and Marlon Brando. That’s quite a (partial) list.  But, since I don’t want to get caught up in the whole celebrity gossip game, I’ll instead say that Shelley donated her Oscar for 1960’s The Diary of Anne Frank to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.  Not sure what purpose that served, but a good deed is a good deed.  So, nice job, Shelley.


Hillside Memorial Park – Culver City, CA

Specific Location

Hillside Slope, Block 11, Plot 358, grave 8; About 5 rows down from the road that runs to the south of the main mausoleum, Shelley’s grave marker is 10 spaces to the east of a tree.