Archive for November, 2013

George M. Cohan

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags on November 20, 2013 by Cade

cohan1July 3, 1878 – November 5, 1942

George Michael Cohan was – to put it simply (and to steal mercilessly from many before me) – “the man who owned Broadway.” The son of Irish Catholic performers, Cohan grew up on stage as a member of the family vaudeville act, The Four Cohans. At an early age, he began writing his own skits…and then his own songs. Fast forward a few years and little George had over 300 songs to his credit, including classics like “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “Over There.” In addition to being a prolific songwriter and performer (he appeared in more than 30 Broadway shows – most of which he wrote himself,) he was also instrumental in the development of the modern book musical. When all was said and done, George M. Cohan left a footprint on American theatre that will never be wiped out. A musical, George M!, was later written about his life and he was famously portrayed by James Cagney in the biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942 – the same year he died of abdominal cancer. In 1959, a statue of Cohan was erected in the heart of New York’s Times Square.


Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Butternut Plot, Lot 13841; The Cohan mausoleum is right on Park Ave. at the northern edge of this section. NOTE: Cohan’s business partner, Sam Harris, is buried in the mausoleum next door to the Cohans.



Malcolm X

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags on November 20, 2013 by Cade

x1May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965

Malcolm X was a controversial religious and civil rights activist during the tumultuous American 1950’s and ’60’s. A leader in the Nation of Islam, Malcolm – also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz – rose to prominence as the very public face of the very outspoken group. His views on race relations were seen by many as inflammatory and racist in their own ways. The Nation of Islam’s belief in black supremacy and the the “white devil” did little to quell the controversy. In 1964, he split from the Nation and converted to Sunni Islam. The split was contentious and he received a number of death threats for his repudiation of the Nation’s teachings. On February 21, 1965, while addressing a crowd in a New York City ballroom, three men rushed Malcolm on stage and shot him more than a dozen times, killing him. His assassination and legacy sparked a number of African American movements for decades to follow and he is often cited as one of the most influential African Americans in American history.


Ferncliff Cemetery – Hartsdale, NY

Specific Location

Pinewood B, Grave 150; In the semi-circular Pinewood section at the eastern end of the park, Malcolm and his wife are buried a couple of rows in from the northern road, their marker faces south.


Ulysses S. Grant

Posted in Grant National Memorial with tags , on November 19, 2013 by Cade

grant1April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885

You know you’ve had an eventful life when being the President of the United States is the SECOND most famous thing for which you are known. Ulysses S. Grant was – of course – the commanding officer of the Union Army that accepted Robert E. Lee’s surrender to end the U.S. Civil War. Three years following the end of the war, Grant was elected as the 18th U.S. President. His presidency was full of successes and of failures. No real surprise considering the state of the country at the time. During his time in office, the last of the Confederate states were restored into the union. He was also instrumental in the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed the right to vote of (male) citizens, regardless of race. Remembered by some as a beloved symbol of the nation and by others as one of the most corrupt Presidents of all time, he certainly covered a lot of ground. Grant spent his final years traveling the world and writing his memoirs. He died of esophageal cancer at the age of 63. 1.5 million people attended his New York City funeral.


General Grant National Memorial – New York, NY

Specific Location

On the lower level of the main vestibule, central to the monument.


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Posted in Arlington National Cemetery with tags , on November 19, 2013 by Cade

kennedyoJuly 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis skyrocketed to international attention as the glamorous wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. However, in the years after JFK’s assassination, Jackie did not fade away and maintained a relatively high profile. In 1968, she married shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, and became – now, no longer entitled to Secret Service protection – a popular target for photographers and paparazzi. After Onassis died in 1975, Jackie committed herself to personal work. She worked as an editor and spent a lot of time campaigning for the preservation of historic landmarks and architecture. Throughout her life, she was a leading icon in fashion often setting trends both intentionally and unintentionally. In 1994, “Jackie O” contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and died a few months later in a New York hospital at the age of 64.


Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, VA

kennedy - sept 2003

Specific Location

Section 45 Grid U-35; If you can walk and read, you’ll have no trouble locating the large stone garden where John and Jackie Kennedy are buried. If the signs pointing to their location don’t help, you can always follow the crowds.


James Coburn

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags , on November 18, 2013 by Cade

coburn1August 31, 1928 – November 18, 2002

Best known for “tough guy” roles throughout his 45 year career, Academy Award winner, James Harrison Coburn III, was the epitome of cool. His huge, toothy grin was unmistakable and his hip demeanor was more “Rat Pack” than ruffian – despite his ominous presence on both the large and small screens. He is probably best remembered for his many roles in westerns and other action films. He appeared alongside fellow screen-toughies Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Coburn suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for much of his later years. This limited the amount of work he was able to do.  Though, it seemed to bring out the best in him as he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in 1998’s Affliction. He died 2002 of a heart attack in his home at the age of 74.


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 right (to the west) has a marble bench on the other side of it, James’ ashes are interred in this bench. It’s exactly opposite of Peggy Lee‘s bench.


Lawrence Welk

Posted in Holy Cross Cemetery with tags , on November 9, 2013 by Cade

welk1March 11, 1903 – May 17, 1992

“A one and a two . . . “

Lawrence Welk may be the most famous accordion player of all time.

He’s probably the most famous German-speaking accordion player of all time.

And, he’s MOST DEFINITELY the most famous German-speaking accordion player of all time from North Dakota.

Born in predominantly (entirely?) German-speaking, Strasburg, ND, Welk led a big band on small-time tours around the country until he finally settled in Los Angeles. In L.A., he parlayed his wholesome, folksy persona and music into a very successful, very G-rated variety show. The Lawrence Welk Show ran for 27 years and featured all the bubbles and awesome fashion one would imagine. Beyond the “Champagne Music,” Welk was a savvy businessman who was involved in successful real estate and restaurant ventures and even a few U.S. patents. At the age of 89, shortly after retiring from public appearances, Lawrence Welk died in his home of pneumonia.


Holy Cross Cemetery – Culver City, CA

Specific Location

Section Y, T9, 110; In the lawn section immediately to the southeast of the mausoleum, Lawrence is buried 9 rows up from the southeastern curb, in direct line with a white statue of St. Francis.


Minnie Riperton

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags on November 8, 2013 by Cade

riperton1November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979

Minnie Riperton rose to fame in the 1970’s as a singer-songwriter known mostly for her 1975 single “Lovin’ You.” Riperton had a solid career as a solo artist, working with artists like Stevie Wonder and Muddy Waters and fronting a couple of differently-styled groups. She was most noted for her unique vocal quality, specifically her ability to sing quite clearly in even the highest registers. It’s unfair to call her a “one-hit wonder,” though, since the reason she likely never had another hit the size of “Lovin’ You” was her death from breast cancer at the young age of 31. Her battle with breast cancer was one of the first to be made public by a celebrity. Riperton’s daughter is Saturday Night Live alum, Maya Rudolph.


Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Section D, Center Lawn; 6 rows north of the southern road, about 12 spaces from the eastern curb, just a few spaces to the east of Carl Wilson.


Phog Allen

Posted in Oak Hill Cemetery with tags , , on November 5, 2013 by Cade

phog1November 18, 1885 – September 16, 1974

Forrest Clare Allen had many nicknames. To players he worked closely with, he was “Doc” (he was an osteopathic physician). To the larger, basketball community, he is the “Father of Basketball Coaching.” But, to most – including the legion of fans of his beloved Kansas Jayhawks – he is simply “Phog.”

Phog Allen played basketball for KU under the game’s inventor, James Naismith. He also lettered in baseball. He eventually coached both sports, along with the school’s football team. He even served as the university’s Athletic Director for nearly two decades. But it was as a basketball coach that he will always be remembered. His 50 year career influenced countless players and coaches including Hall of Famers Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Ralph Miller and Clyde Lovellette. His impact on the sport extended well outside of Lawrence, KS as well. He was a driving force in getting basketball included in the Summer Olympics and he even coached the U.S. team in Helsinki in 1952.

He was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959. The Jayhawks’ home arena since 1955 is named after Allen. Phog died at the age of 88 in Lawrence.


Oak Hill Cemetery – Lawrence, KS

Specific Location

Section 13; Enter the cemetery’s west gate, turn left at the first fork in the road and follow it around section 13 keeping right, just after you pass a small, triangular traffic island with a private mausoleum on your left, the Allen family marker will be on your right.


NOTE: Oak Hill Cemetery is directly across the street from Memorial Park Cemetery where Naismith is buried.

Gloria Foster

Posted in Kensico Cemetery with tags on November 4, 2013 by Cade

foster1November 15, 1933 – September 29, 2001

Sometimes, fame is just bookends. This was the case, to a degree, for the incredibly talented Gloria Foster. Foster made a splash in New York in 1963 for her Obie Award-winning performance in the Off-Broadway production of In White America. The show saw Foster portraying 27 different characters and wowed critics.  She continued a successful stage career appearing in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and other shows. She also appeared in a number of popular TV shows (The Cosby Show, The Mod Squad – the latter of which led to her marriage to Clarence “Linc” Williams III) and films (The Cool World, Leonard, Part 6 (oof)), but it was her role as the matronly and enigmatic Oracle in 1999’s mega-hit, The Matrix, that gave Foster her widest taste of fame. And, as fate would have it, that would be it for her. While filming the sequel to The Matrix in 2001, Foster died of complications from diabetes. She was 67.


Kensico Cemetery – Valhalla, NY

Specific Location

Section 188, Actors Fund Plot; Right near the road on the northern edge of the AF plot.