Archive for the Westwood Memorial Park Category

Brian Keith

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags on February 14, 2014 by Cade

keith1November 14, 1921 – June 24, 1997

Brain Keith began acting at the age of two. He appeared on stage, in dozens of television shows and scores of films. He is probably best known for his role in the original The Parent Trap and for his television shows Family Affair (opposite Sebastian Cabot – who is buried just across the road from Keith) and Hardcastle and McCormick. Alright, so that last one is how I best remember him, but I digress. Keith’s career boasts an impressive number of starring and guest starring roles. He was prolific and busy. In his later life, he suffered from health issues, including emphysema and lung cancer. And in 1997, his daughter, Daisy, committed suicide. Unable to deal with his health and the death of his daughter1, Keith took his own life just two months later. He was interred next to Daisy in Westwood.

Burial

Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

In the Garden of Serenity section at the south end of the park (with the fountains);  The walls surrounding this section have wall niches for cremated remains. Brian’s niche is in the northeast corner on the top row, facing south.

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1 – and, apparently, financial troubles…but I’m not one to pile on.

Sebastian Cabot

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags on February 14, 2014 by Cade

cabot1July 6, 1918 – August 22, 1977

Of course, I could very easily base most of this write up on English actor Charles Sebastian Thomas Cabot’s most famous role: that of valet Mr. French on the classic CBS sitcom Family Affair (opposite permanent neighbor, Brian Keith). But, I would rather devote my energy to his stunning turn as Bagheera, the wise panther in Disney’s 1967 masterpiece The Jungle Book. Without the centered and stoic Bagheera, who knows what would have become of the movie’s hero, Mowgli the mancub. Would he have succumbed to the lackadaisical and hapless ways of Baloo, doomed to drift through life without purpose or vision? Would he have been forced to unwillingly hand the secret of fire over to the likable, but dangerous King Louie? Even if he managed to evade these pitfalls, he most CERTAINLY would have been eaten by Kaa. But no, it was Cabot’s Bagheera who steered the young boy safely toward his destiny. And for that, we thank you, Sebastian.

Burial

Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Urn Garden at the southwest corner of the main lawn (just across from the office); Sebastian’s marker is in the top (northernmost) row about 9 spaces from the right edge.

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Dorothy Stratten

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags on February 14, 2014 by Cade

stratten1February 28, 1960 – August 14, 1980

Hollywood. Amiright?

Dorothy Stratten was smack in the middle of her Hollywood dream (by way of becoming Playboy’s Playmate of the Year) when she was murdered by the very man who had hitched his way on her coattails all the way from Vancouver. She had turned her popularity from the men’s magazine into a budding film career and even found herself in a relationship with a real-life Hollywood director. Of course, her jealous (and unstable) husband didn’t like that, so he did what any rational person would do: killed her and himself with a shotgun after an argument about money and divorce.

Stratten’s dream may have been cut short, but her tragic story went on to inspire a couple of films and numerous songs. Not sure she would be that excited about being said inspiration, but it’s something.

Burial

Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Section D, Center Lawn; There is a large evergreen tree about 1/3 of the way in from the eastern edge of the main lawn, Dorothy is buried about 4 rows to the south of this tree.

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Buddy Rich

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags , , on February 14, 2014 by Cade

rich1September 30, 1917 – April 2, 1987

Bernard “Buddy” Rich played the drums. He played the drums really, really well. He had a temper. He (allegedly) liked to fire musicians in the middle of sets if the need arose. He played with all the big names like Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. He also led his own bands. And he had a bit of a temper.

But, Buddy Rich could play the drums. Seemingly from birth. He will be remembered as one of the best jazz drummers of all time. Hell, he was probably even a pretty nice guy…when he wasn’t throwing trombonists off the bus in the middle of the night.

Burial

Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Sanctuary of Tranquility; At the northern edge of the park, the Sanctuary of Tranquility is the easternmost sanctuary, Buddy is interred on the bottom right row, just two spaces in.

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Frank Zappa

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags on February 14, 2014 by Cade

zappa1December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993

Frank Vincent Zappa was an influential, experimental musician who broke onto the popular music scene with his band’s (The Mothers of Invention) 1966 album Freak Out! Zappa’s style defied category as his works and compositions included rock, jazz and classical elements. His music drew on influences from everything from R&B to jazz. Over the course of his almost 40 year career, he experimented with sound and quietly influenced countless musicians that would follow. Throughout his public life, Zappa was an outspoken voice on subjects ranging from religion to illicit drugs. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years after his death from prostate cancer at the age of 52.

Burial

Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Section D, #100 (unmarked); Just to the west of Roy Orbison and Richard Dawson, Frank’s unmarked grave is immediately to the right of actor Lew Ayers.

westwood_zappa

Sammy Cahn

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags on December 30, 2013 by Cade

cahn1June 18, 1913 – January 15, 1993

Sammy Cahn – born Samuel Cohen in New York City – was a Academy Award winning songwriter and lyricist. Known for popular songs like “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “All the Way,” “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and “Come Fly With Me” (among countless others), he was famous for his collaborations with stars like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Doris Day. His songs were made popular on film, stage, radio and television. Cahn’s career netted dozens of awards and nominations including 26 Oscars, 5 Golden Globes and an Emmy. It was his relationship with Sinatra (along with frequent co-writer Jimmy Van Huesen) that arguably gained him his biggest successes. Old Blue Eyes had Cahn to thank for a good number of his biggest hits. Sammy Cahn died of a heart attack at the age of 79.

Burial

Westwood Village Memorial Park – Los Angeles, CA

cahn2

Green carpet optional

Specific Location

Section D; In the center of the large middle lawn section, Sammy is buried just a few rows south of Natalie Wood, and just a few spaces to the west of Donna Reed.

westwood_cahn

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.

Burial

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.

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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.

Burial

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.

westwood_riperton

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.”

Burial

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.

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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.

Burial

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).

westwood_oconnor

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.