Archive for October, 2013

Merv Griffin

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags on October 29, 2013 by Cade

griffin1July 6, 1925 – August 12, 2007

Mervyn Edward Griffin, Jr. began his long, successful career as a radio singer. After touring with an orchestra and eventually creating his own record label, Griffin was discovered in a nightclub and began acting in films. Though he appeared in a number of movies, he decided he would rather work in television, which he did for nearly 30 years. And, of course, by “work in television,” I mean he would make monumental contributions to its landscape. Not only did he host a number of successful talk shows, but he also created a producing empire that spawned stalwart game shows like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune and variety series like Dance Fever. In addition to creating Jeopardy!, he also penned its iconic theme song, so music was always there for him. A shrewd businessman as well, Griffin turned his entertainment company and various real estate ventures into a lot of money.  A lot of money. After a successful battle with prostate cancer in 1996, the disease returned for good 11 years later. In keeping with his association with all things television, Merv’s grave marker cheekily reads: “I Will Not Be Right Back After This Message.”


Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Rose Garden; Just south of the southern road in the park is a row of garden plots facing north, Merv is buried just one space to the west of the entrance to the Memorial Gardens, one space to the left of Farrah Fawcett.



Oscar Wilde

Posted in Père Lachaise Cemetery with tags , on October 26, 2013 by Cade

wilde1October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900

Ever hear the term “The Gay Nineties”? Well, the British counterpart to the American decade of decadence at the end of the 19th century was deemed the “Naughty Nineties.”

Enter Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish-born (you don’t say?) writer who was known for his wit and flamboyant personality. His literary masterworks include his lone novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray and his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest. But enough of the boring stuff…Wilde spent the first half of the so-called “Naughty Nineties” in London embroiled in an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. A fact the Douglas family was none too thrilled about. Wilde was publicly outed – practicing homosexuality was illegal at the time – and sentenced to 2 years of hard labor in prison. Prison life vastly disagreed with Wilde’s sense of aesthetics and art and all things opulent and his health rapidly declined. Upon his release, he fled to France where he lived out the rest of his brief life in exile. Ever witty, it was long rumored that his last words on his deathbed were “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has to go,” although it has been disputed whether it was his actual final utterance or not (the quote most certainly was said, just not right before he died.) Either way, the wallpaper won. Oscar Wilde died of cerebral meningitis at the age of 46.


Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, FRANCE


Specific Location

Division 89; Along the north side of Avenue Carette, Oscar’s large, graffiti-covered tomb is unmistakable.

UPDATE: …and now, apparently, behind some sort of Plexiglas shield. No fun, Père Lachaise, no fun at all.


George Harrison

Posted in Cremated with tags , , on October 26, 2013 by Cade

harrison1February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001

In 1958, at the age of 15, George Harrison auditioned – for the second time – for a band made up of local lads from his native Liverpool. Two years later, the band was known as The Beatles. Three years after that, they were launched into international stardom and the rest was, quite literally, history. George was the lead guitar player for the group and developed into a significant songwriter over his 12 years with the band. His songs and instrumental work began to expand to include Eastern influences – specifically Indian music, culture and religion. By the time The Beatles broke up in 1970, Harrison was on course for a very successful solo career. As an ex-Beatle, he released more than a dozen studio and live albums – several of which are certified Gold and/or Platinum. He later teamed up with Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty to form the group, the Traveling Wilburys, and record 2 albums.

George was an intensely private person and in his last years, he did what he could to suppress his battle with lung and brain cancer from the public. In 1999, he was attacked and stabbed multiple times by an intruder in his home. He survived, but less than two years later, the cancer got the best of him. He died at the age of 58.


Cremated – In keeping with the Eastern traditions he had embraced, George was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the Ganges River in India.

Danny Gans

Posted in Palm Valley View Memorial Park with tags , on October 25, 2013 by Cade

gans1October 25, 1956 – May 1, 2009

Dubbed “The Man of Many Voices,” Daniel Davies Gans was a comedian, singer and impressionist who gained a significant amout of fame in Las Vegas where he performed in his own shows for over a dozen years. Gans was known for his vocal impressions of many top celebrities and was named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year eleven straight times. Prior to entering show business, Danny played baseball in college and in the Chicago White Sox organization. He also appeared in a couple of movies, most notably the 1988 Kevin Costner classic, Bull Durham. In 2009, Danny Gans died of an adverse reaction to a medication he was taking. He was 52.


Palm Valley View Memorial Park – Las Vegas, NV

Specific Location

Meditation Columbarium; Enter this section (which is just south of the main parking lot) and there are two half-wall sized blocks of niches, Danny and his parents are interred on the back side of the right-hand block.



Satchel Paige

Posted in Forest Hill Cemetery (MO) with tags , , , on October 25, 2013 by Cade

paige1July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982

One of the most celebrated pitchers of the Negro Leagues, Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige dazzled crowds with his charismatic personality and wide array of pitches. In 1948, Paige became the oldest rookie to play in Major League Baseball when he started for the Cleveland Indians at the age of 42. His five year MLB career was impressive, especially for someone in his 40’s, but his 20+ years touring the country in the Negro Leagues and stints in Latin America were what built his legacy. A natural showman, Satchel was known to tell his infielders to sit down on the field while he struck out batter after batter. He was considered by many of his contemporaries to be one of the best pitchers of all time.

In his post-playing years, he dabbled in acting and politics. And, in 1971, Satchel Paige was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the first former Negro Leaguer to receive that honor.


Forest Hill Cemetery – Kansas City, MO

Specific Location

Toward the center of the southern section of the park is a small “island” of lawn surround by road, Satchel’s rather large marker dominates this island.


Carroll O’Connor

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

oconnor1August 2, 1924 – June 21, 2001

Being a bigot is easy.

Playing a bigot is hard.

Playing a bigot that is beloved by millions is the stuff of legend.

Carroll O’Connor did just that. He played abrasive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic…and somehow lovable, Archie Bunker for 13 years on Norman Lear’s landmark TV sitcom All in the Family. Prior to giving the world Archie, O’Connor was a gifted character actor who compiled an impressive roster of roles and appearances.  He broke out in 1970 opposite Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas in the World War II caper Kelly’s Heroes. But it was the debut of All in the Family in 1971 that made him a star. Five years after Family (by then known as Archie Bunker’s Place) went off the air, O’Connor returned to television, reprising Rod Steiger’s role in the TV adaptation of In the Heat of the Night. The stark difference in racial tone between Bunker and Heat‘s Gillespie was not lost on the public. In the end, he won 5 Emmys, a couple of Golden Globes and two NAACP Image Awards for his work on both shows. Much of the later years of his life were dedicated to education and legislation dealing with drug abuse. His son, Hugh, battled addiction and committed suicide in 1995. O’Connor was never able to fully move on from this tragedy but used it for as much good as he could. In June of 2001, Carroll died of a heart attack brought on from diabetes. The world lost a true legend in every sense of the word.


Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Photo credit: Lonnie DeCloedt

Photo credit: Lonnie DeCloedt1

Specific Location

Chapel Garden Estate; Directly to the East of the Chapel, there is a small garden with 6 family plots (3 on the North side, 3 on the South), Carroll is buried in the middle plot on the South side (between Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon).


1 – The last time I visited Westwood, there was a funeral reception going on right on the Chapel patio and I was unable to get a picture of Carroll’s marker. Next time.

Mary Frann

Posted in Holy Cross Cemetery with tags , on October 24, 2013 by Cade

frann1February 27, 1943 – September 23, 1998

Best remembered as Bob Newhart’s other TV wife, Mary Frann (born Mary Frances Luecke) was a former pageant girl from St. Louis who studied acting in college and forged a nice career for herself –  mainly in television. From 1974-1979, Frann appeared on the popular soap opera Days of our Lives. From there, she made appearances on many TV shows including Fantasy Island and WKRP in Cincinnati. But, it was in 1982 that she was cast in her most famous role; that of Joanna Loudon, the wife of innkeeper/author Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart) on Newhart. The show was a success and ran for 8 years on CBS. She continued to do side projects all throughout her time on Newhart but never really found that level of success outside of it.  In 1998, at the age of 55, Mary died suddenly in her sleep from a heart attack.


Holy Cross Cemetery – Culver City, CA

Note: Her headstone has been updated since this picture was taken.

Specific Location

Section CC-T 52 #58; 9 rows in front of a large statue of Jesus toward the middle of this section at the northern end of the park.


Bob Crane

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

crane1July 13, 1928 – June 29, 1978

Robert Crane was a disc jockey from Connecticut who forayed his love of music and radio to Los Angeles…and, eventually, to an acting career. He dabbled with guest spots on popular shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Donna Reed Show before he was catapulted to fame as the titular colonel on CBS’s Hogan’s Heroes. As Robert Hogan, Crane earned a couple of Emmy nominations and enjoyed the show’s very successful six-year run. Sometimes, happiness is short-lived.

After Heroes went off the air, Crane spent the better part of a decade touring the dinner theater circuit while occasionally popping up as a guest star on shows like The Love Boat and Police Woman. He also liked to make “personal” videos with ladies he met at bars. His career (and life) decline culminated in 1978 when he was found dead in his Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. He was bludgeoned to death, but no weapon was ever found and no one was ever convicted of the murder. A friend (and fellow “personal” filmmaker) was the primary suspect, but due to some pretty terrible investigative work, the crime remains unsolved to this day.

Bob was originally interred at Oakwood Memorial Park, but in 1999, his 2nd wife had him dug up and moved to Westwood – presumably in anticipation of the arrival of his Hogan’s Heroes co-star, Richard Dawson, some 13 years later. Not really.


Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Section D, Center Lawn; 4 or so rows South of the road (1 row south and 4 spaces to the east of Natalie Wood.)


Fred MacMurray

Posted in Holy Cross Cemetery (CA) with tags on October 24, 2013 by Cade

macmurray1August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991

Frederick Martin MacMurray’s nearly 50-year career was about as successful and varied as any you will find.  Throughout the 1930’s and ’40’s, MacMurray brought his talents from the stage to some of the most popular films of the era. He worked with everyone from Humphrey Bogart to Katharine Hepburn. His films with iconic director, Billy Wilder, (including the ultimate film noir Double Indemnity and the quintessential comedy The Apartment) became Hollywood classics. MacMurray later worked on a number of Disney live-action films like The Shaggy Dog and The Absent-Minded Professor while also landing what is possibly his most recognizable role (to folks under the age of 50 anyway): Steven Douglas, the father on the long-running TV sitcom My Three Sons.

A lot of things tried to kill Fred MacMurray over the years – throat cancer, leukemia, a stroke – but, in the end, it was pneumonia that finally got him. Still, pretty good run.


Holy Cross Cemetery – Culver City, CA

Specific Location

Main Mausoleum, Room 7, Crypt D1; Enter the mausoleum and turn to the right, proceed down this corridor which is lined with side rooms on either side, Room 7 is on your right (3rd one, I believe), Fred’s crypt is on your left as you look in the room, two spaces below John Candy.


Selma Diamond

Posted in Hillside Memorial Park with tags on October 22, 2013 by Cade

diamond1August 6, 1920 – May 13, 1985

Selma Diamond was a actress/comedy writer in both radio and television who spent more than three decades in the business. Her writing brought her to the staff of Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows as well as a number of other radio and TV programs. Diamond’s stint on Show was said to have been the inspiration for Rose Marie’s character, Sally, on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Later in her career, she made more and more appearances onscreen – both TV and film – culminating in her final role as bailiff Selma Hacker on NBC’s Night Court. After the show’s second season, Diamond, a chain smoker, died of lung cancer at the age of 64. She was replaced on the show by Florence Halop who, coincidentally, also died of lung cancer after one season. Don’t smoke, kids.


Hillside Memorial Park – Culver City, CA

Specific Location

Courts of the Book, Jacob, Wall I, Crypt 4004; Inside this enclosed garden section to the southeast of the mausoleum (accessible through a corridor from the Courts of the Book lawn section where Lorne Greene is buried) Selma is interred in the wall crypts on the northeast wall, 4 rows up and 5 spaces east of the entrance.