Archive for the Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) Category

Joseph Pulitzer

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags on April 1, 2014 by Cade

pulitzer1April 10, 1847 – October 29, 1911

Sporting one of the most famous surnames in American history, Hungarian-born Joseph Pulitzer is best remembered as a newspaper publisher and for the annual prizes that bear his name. He also, briefly. represented the state of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. The publishing battles between Pulitzer and rival, William Randolph Heart, paved the way for the modern, ad-driven, multi-faceted newspaper industry. He got his start as a penniless vagabond in St. Louis after the American Civil War. By way of a job with a rail company, he began reporting for the Westliche Post. He worked his way up the ranks and eventually bought and sold shares in the paper – making a decent profit. This led to his purchase of the St. Louis Post and St. Louis Dispatch papers. He combined the two and went on to purchase the New York World as well. Pulitzer’s flair for human interest stories and championing of the common man made his papers extremely popular. And, added to his wealth. Multiple health issues eventually forced him to step aside from the day to day of the papers, but he remained a manager from afar. He died aboard his yacht in South Carolina at the age of 64. The money he left to Columbia University funded the Pulitzer Prizes in photography, journalism, literature, poetry, history, drama and music, which are, of course, still given out today.

Burial

Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Evergreen Plot; The large, unmistakable Pulitzer family plot is located just north of Central Ave. at the southern end of this section.

woodlawn_pulitzer

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W.C. Handy

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags , on March 11, 2014 by Cade

handy1November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958

William Christopher Handy was a legendary blues man who is often cited as the “Father of the Blues.” Handy was notable for drawing on folk and dixie jazz stylings and for his prolific publishing. The latter is especially important since he was one of the first African Americans to have success in music publishing. His scores such as “Memphis Blues,” “Yellow Dog Rag” and “Saint Louis Blues” would become standards of the genre’s early popularity. He moved to New York from Memphis in 1917 where he continued to develop and work with young talent (often young black artists). While in New York, Handy fell from a subway platform and was blinded. Didn’t really slow him down. He continued to churn out music and influence generations of artists until the ripe old age of 84. Today, his name can be found attached to music festivals, awards, BBQ cook-offs, you name it. He is referenced in songs ranging from the Broadway musical, The Music Man, to Marc Cohn’s 1991 song “Walking in Memphis.”

Burial

Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Cosmos Plot, Block 203/198; There is a small path leading up the hill from the “Cosmos – Canna Ave.” sign, take this path up and Handy’s grave is about 3 graves to the right and 3-4 rows back from the fence.

woodlawn_handy

Bat Masterson

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags on March 4, 2014 by Cade

masterson1November 26, 1853 – October 25, 1921

William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was just your typical Canadian, Old West lawman/gambler turned newspaper columnist/boxing beat writer. It’s a story as old as time, really. Masterson served as a sheriff and marshal all throughout the west hitting up hot spots like Dodge City and Tombstone, oftentimes alongside fellow lawman, Wyatt Earp. Bat ran gaming halls in these towns (and others) as well, because…well, it was the Wild West. Many gunfights and tall tales later, Masterson found himself in New York City, where he wrote for the Morning Telegraph as a sports writer and columnist. He also liked to occasionally sell off his cherished six-shooter dubbed “the gun that tamed the West”…whether or not it was the real one or just one of many he picked up a local pawn shop. Point is, Bat Masterson was everything from a heroic folk legend to a dirty con-artist. And, likely everything in between. He died of a heart attack while writing a column in New York at the age of 67.

Burial

Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Primrose Plot, Lot 185; From Spiraea Ave., 11 rows behind a marker reading “GULLERY.”

woodlawn_masterson

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.

Burial

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.

woodlawn_cohan

Herman Melville

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags , on October 7, 2013 by Cade

melville1August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891

…for there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.

Herman Melville enjoyed a modest amount of success as a writer in the first half of the 19th Century.  But, it was his novel about a man obsessed with a white whale that wrote his name into the history books…even if it was not celebrated fully until after his death.  Moby Dick; or, The Whale is the epic story of a sea captain wrestling with hate and madness and the crew who are dragged along on his vengeful pursuit. It is one of the titans of classic American literature and has given us over 150 years of analogy, characters and great names and archetypes like Ahab, Ishmael and Queequeg. And, I guess rather directly, it’s also responsible for Starbucks. So…yay, books!

After the initial fervor over his masterpiece ebbed, Melville died relatively forgotten at the age of 72. It wasn’t until years later that he was looked upon as the literary pioneer he is today.

Burial

Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx, NY

Specific Location

Catalpa Plot; There is a small path that bisects this section up from Catalpa Ave., Melville’s grave is just to the west of this path, just north of a very large tree.

woodlawn_melville

Duke Ellington

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags , , on October 1, 2013 by Cade

ellington1April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington began playing piano at the age of 7 and never looked back. He wrote his first song at 15 and went on to become one of the most influential and prolific artists in American music at large, let alone within the genre with which he was most closely associated: Jazz. Nicknamed “Duke” because of his swagger and the way he dressed – even at a young age – Ellington led his orchestra for nearly a half century. He gained national exposure while playing on the radio from Harlem’s famed Cotton Club in the late 1920s. He wrote and recorded songs at a near unprecedented pace. He worked with greats in all genres from Frank Sinatra (Francis A. & Edward K.) to Louis Armstrong  and constantly stretched himself into new musical territory. Aside from his countless jazz recordings, he also wrote for the stage (Beggar’s Holiday, Play On!) and composed pieces to accompany works of literature and classical masterworks. Duke won a dozen Grammys – a couple posthumously – is a member of several Halls of Fame and remains one of the most revered musician in American history.  In 1974, Duke Ellington died of lung cancer and pneumonia after 75 years of being musical royalty.

Burial

Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Wild Rose Plot; On the corner at the intersection of Heather Ave. and Knollwood Ave., directly across Heather Ave. from Miles Davis, the Ellington plot is marked with a large cross.

woodlawn_ellington

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:

Burial

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.

woodlawn_davis

Irving Berlin

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (NY) with tags on September 22, 2013 by Cade

berlin1May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989

To simply refer to Irving Berlin as a “composer” is like calling the Pacific Ocean a “puddle.” Berlin’s 70 year career broke when the Russian (Belarusian)-American songwriter wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” The song became an international sensation and launched Irving from the stoops of Tin Pan Alley into the stratosphere…where he thrived for more than half a century. Many of the songs Berlin would write would become so common place to future generations, that it’s hard to imagine that someone actually wrote them.  “White Christmas,” “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Easter Parade,” “Happy Holiday” and “God Bless America” to name just a few. It is said he wrote more than 1,500 songs.  He was involved with dozens of Broadway productions and Hollywood films. His music was purposely simple and aimed directly at the average American – whom Berlin felt was the heart and soul of the country. This formula worked and Berlin became one of the most popular songwriters in the history of the nation. And, he wasn’t just popular with the public. He was regarded by many of his contemporaries as one of the greatest writers – of songs or otherwise – ever. Irving Berlin lived to be 101 years old.

Burial

Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Columbine Plot; Just south of the intersection of Prospect Ave. and Walnut Ave. on the western side of Heather Ave., there are four simple, flat markers in the midst of a row of private mausoleums along this road, these are the Berlin family markers.

woodlawn_berlin