Archive for the Cypress Hills Cemetery Category

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.


Cypress Hills Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY


Specific Location

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



Mae West

Posted in Cypress Hills Cemetery with tags on November 22, 2016 by Cade

west1August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980

“Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.” Night After Night (1932)

In her first scene in her first movie, Mae West made clear her contribution to Hollywood. This response to “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds.” said it all. Critics and censors be damned, Mae was going to say what she wanted, how she wanted.

Born in Brooklyn, Mary Jane West took the same, circuitous route through talent shows and vaudeville as many of her contemporaries. But she differed in that she made bawdy and sexy work for her advantage. And Broadway loved her for it. She appeared in revues and began writing her own plays that were pulsing with double entendre and risque humor. New York audiences ate it up. New York officials did not. She served 8 days in jail for “corrupting the morals of youth” and the media attention launched her bad girl persona straight toward Hollywood. She worked tirelessly to rewrite the parts that were given to her to accent her shtick. She was never going to be the leading lady, but she made the roles she was given immortal. But, alas, this was the 1930’s and the censors would NOT be damned. Her lines were often cut or altered. The things that made her famous became unsavory to the moral police and her career suffered. But, Mae West was many things and a quitter wasn’t one of them. She continued to work on stage (both legit and…not so), television, radio and movies. She recorded albums. She continued to write. She invested well. She was Mae West until the end. After suffering a pair of strokes in 1980, she passed away in her apartment building – which, incidentally, she purchased when the former owner complained about the company she was keeping – at the age of 87.


Cypress Hills Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY


Specific Location

Cypress Hills Abbey, Aisle EE, Section #2, Crypt 5; Enter the C.H. Abbey and go up to the second level. Turn right at the top of the stairs and the Wests are interred in the end cap of Aisle EE on the right. Mae is at the very top.


Jackie Robinson

Posted in Cypress Hills Cemetery with tags , , on November 18, 2016 by Cade

robinson5January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972

It would be incredibly easy to just speak of Jackie Robinson in the terms of his single most famous accomplishment: becoming the first black player in modern Major League Baseball. But, it would miss out on so much. For instance, Jack was a tremendously gifted ALL-AROUND athlete. He excelled in multiple sports through high school and eventually lettered in FOUR different sports while attending UCLA. He played semi-professional football until the U.S. was dragged into World War II in 1941. Because of the latter, he was drafted into the Army, but never saw combat due to a trumped-up court martial (he was ultimately acquitted). After the war, Robinson signed to play with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. He was immediately identified by a number of major league teams – some serious, some not so much – as a legitimate candidate to become the first black player in the majors. Ultimately, Brooklyn Dodgers owner, Branch Rickey, convinced Robinson to sign with the Dodgers’ minor league club. The controversy was swift and came from all sides. Several Negro Leaguers complained that Robinson wasn’t even the best black player (fair argument) and there was, of course, the obvious fall-out from pro-segregation folks. Despite Robinson’s sometimes fiery temperament, Rickey asked him to have “guts enough not to fight back.” It was this agreement that allowed Robinson to succeed in the minors and make his major league debut with the Dodgers on April 15, 1947. The floodgates of integration soon followed and the sport – and American culture at large – would never look the same. Jackie Robinson would play for the Dodgers for 10 years, playing in 6 World Series, earning an MVP award and, ultimately, becoming the first black inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Outside of baseball, Jack was a businessman, a civil rights activist and an anti-drug crusader. He died at the age of 53 of complications from diabetes and heart disease. He has since been honored and recognized more than any other player in the history of the game. In 1997, the MLB universally retired Robinson’s number “42” for all teams. April 15th of every season is now known as “Jackie Robinson Day.”


Cypress Hills Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY


Specific Location

Section 6, Lot P, Grave 8; At the intersection of Cypress Road and, well…Jackie Robinson Way. Across from the the Memorial Abbey.