Bert Lahr

Posted in Union Field Cemetery with tags , on December 27, 2016 by Cade

lahr1August 13, 1895 – December 4, 1967

Tony Award-winning comedian/actor, Bert Lahr, dropped out of school to join a vaudeville troupe. It was on the stage that he spent most of his career. But it was on film – one film, in particular – where he found his greatest and most notable success. Lahr brought his humor and bravado to the role of the Cowardly Lion in the classic The Wizard of Oz and generations have loved him for it.

Irving Lahrheim was New York through and through. He was born there. He died there. And he performed practically the entire time in between. He had a long, successful career on Broadway working alongside such greats as Flo Ziegfeld and Ethel Merman and notably originated the role of Estragon in the first American production of Waiting for Godot. He dabbled in film and television, but it was Oz that would be his biggest hit. Warned about Hollywood’s penchant for type-casting, Lahr famously responded, “Yeah, but how many parts are there for lions?”

Lahr died of cancer – which he didn’t know he had – at the age of 72, while filming his last movie, The Night They Raided Minksy’s.

Burial

Union Field Cemetery – Queens, NY

 

Specific Location

Follow the Main Road all the way to the back of the cemetery until it turns left (Central Ave.). Past the residential area, there will eventually be a series of numbered paths on your right. Take Path 5 and Bert’s family plot will be the fourth one on your right.

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Betty Comden

Posted in Mount Carmel Cemetery (NY) with tags , on December 19, 2016 by Cade

comden1May 3, 1917 – November 23, 2006

Dubbed “Miss Words” by her writing partner of more than 60 years, Adolph Green, Betty Comden contributed wit and brilliance to popular songs on the stage and screen for most of the 20th Century. The lyricist team of Comden and Green got their start as part of the Greenwich Village troupe The Revuers where they collaborated with other young artists like Judy Holliday and Leonard Bernstein. Along with Bernstein (whom they would work with many times), Comden and Green created their first Broadway musical, On The Town, in 1944. Betty would go on to work with Green in Hollywood, mostly for MGM Studios where they contributed songs to classic film musicals like The Band Wagon and Singin’ in the Rain. Back in New York, they worked with all the major Broadway composers to create – over the course of more than 40 years – quintessential shows like Wonderful Town, On The Twentieth Century and The Will Rogers Follies. The duo would frequently perform their own work in clubs and on stage and continued to write together the rest of their lives. Betty died in a New York hospital at the age of 89.

Burial

Mount Carmel Cemetery – Queens, NY

 

Specific Location

Section 1 (Old), Block D, Section 17, Lot 308, Grave 11; From the main road, locate Block D and Betty’s family plot (SADVORANSKY – COHEN – ALEXANDER) is just behind a large tree at the curb.

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Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

Posted in The Evergreens with tags , on December 12, 2016 by Cade

bojangles1May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson began his life as Luther Robinson in Richmond, VA where he learned to dance for pennies on the street. Busking led to bit parts and “picknaninny” roles in local minstrel shows. This led to predominantly-white vaudeville shows…and then he went to work.

Widely regarded for his tap dancing prowess and innovation, he busted through the racial barriers of his day at every level, eventually becoming one of the first black solo performers in vaudeville and, ultimately, making a name for himself on Broadway. Robinson became the first black headliner in Broadway history with 1940’s All In Fun. He jumped to Hollywood, famously appearing alongside Shirley Temple in four 20th Century Fox musicals. He became a de facto “ambassador” to the white community, a fact that led to quite a bit of controversy among both white and black communities. But, he continued on. An avid baseball fan, he co-founded the New York Black Yankees of the Negro National League.

Despite all of his success – he was the highest paid black performer of his time – Bojangles died broke in New York of heart failure at the age of 71. His legacy, however, was far richer. Entertainers like Ann Miller, Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. all credit Robinson with directly influencing their careers.

Burial

The Evergreens Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

Specific Location

Redemption 1; Prominently visible at the Southeast corner of the intersection of the Redemption, Ascension and Siloam sections.

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Leonard Bernstein

Posted in Green-Wood Cemetery with tags , on December 5, 2016 by Cade

bernstein1August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990

“The other night I bippy nigh, blabba habba dooby die, mowt say hiddy lie, LEO-NARD BERN-STEIN!” – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M. (paraphrased)

Louis “Leonard” Bernstein was and is an American musical treasure. Reaching international acclaim, Bernstein is most widely known as the long-time musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and for his many stage and screen compositions. Bernstein grew up in Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard and, by way of grad school in Philadelphia, made his way to New York. It was in New York where he joined The Revuers and began his composing and conducting career. In 1943, he filled in as the main conductor for the NYPO and became an instant success. He began composing in all styles, from ballet with Jerome Robbins to Broadway musicals with Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The successes of Fancy Free, On the Town and Wonderful Town foreshadowed what would become his crowning achievement (in popular music, anyway)…1957’s West Side Story, which he wrote with Robbins, Arthur Laurents and and young Stephen Sondheim. The story of star-crossed lovers set in 1950’s New York was a colossal hit and has gone on to be one of the most produced and beloved musicals of all time.

In addition to his stage work, Bernstein wrote for film (On The Waterfront), ballet, pop, orchestral and just about any other genre he felt compelled to. He won a Tony, 16 Grammys and a couple of philanthropic awards. After holding the baton for 47 years, he retired in October of 1990 and died five days later.

Burial

Green-Wood Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

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Specific Location

Section H; Enter the cemetery’s main gate and stay to the left. Follow Battle Avenue up to the monument at the top of Battle Hill. Take Battle Path up past the monument and turn right onto Liberty Path and the Bernstein plot will be on your right a little ways down behind two evergreen shrubs.

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Fred Ebb

Posted in Green-Wood Cemetery with tags , , on November 28, 2016 by Cade

ebb1April 8, 1928 – September 11, 2004

Lyricist Fred Ebb worked with a number of composers throughout his career, but it was his partnership with John Kander that garnered him his biggest successes. Kander and Ebb wrote some of Broadway’s biggest all-time hits: Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, among othersIn addition to the stage, they wrote for films as well. Most notably contributing the theme song to Martin Scorsese’s 1971 film New York, New York which was launched into the stratosphere by Frank Sinatra. They worked frequently with a stable of artists who came to define their style. Legendary performers like Joel Gray, Chita Rivera and – most famously – Liza Minnelli all benefited from the songs and shows written by Kander and Ebb.

Fred Ebb died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 76.

Burial

Green-Wood Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

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Specific Location

Section 20; Fred Ebb is buried in a small, private mausoleum along the southern bank of Sylvan Water.

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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.

Burial

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.

cypresshills_west

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.”

Burial

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.

cypresshills_robinson

Frank Morgan

Posted in Green-Wood Cemetery with tags , on November 13, 2016 by Cade

morgan1June 1, 1890 – September 18, 1949

Francis Wuppermann was an Oscar-nominated character actor who enjoyed immense success over the course of his 35 year career. Working under the stage name Frank Morgan, he was signed to a lifetime contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios and worked prolifically for them for more than 2 decades. He appeared in several movies each year for MGM, but is most widely recognized for his multiple roles – including the titular character – in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. His performance as Oz remains one of the most beloved of all-time, but even great and powerful wizards aren’t immune to vices. And, rumor has it, Morgan liked to tote around briefcases of booze while he was at work. So, there’s that.

Frank Morgan died of a heart attack at the age of 59 a few years before Oz was rebroadcast on television for the first time, leading to it becoming the classic it is today.

Burial

Green-Wood Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

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Specific Location

Section 168; Closer to the cemetery’s Ft. Hamilton gate, the Wuppermann family plot is located on Grape Avenue, just to the North of the intersection with Lychnis Path

green-wood_morgan

Arthur Miller

Posted in Central Cemetery (CT) with tags , , on May 31, 2016 by Cade

miller4

October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005

Perhaps one of the most influential and prolific playwrights in American history, Arthur Miller explored themes such as family relationships, personal legacy and social responsibility in his plays – all set against the backdrop of the individual vs. society at-large. The masterpieces within his body of work look like a one-man anthology of the greatest American Dramas ever written:

Death of a Salesman
All My Sons
A View from the Bridge
The Crucible

Miller’s ability to convey the day-to-day in such stark and oftentimes bleak perfection, set a definitive tone for his impact on the American stage/screen. He drew on real life scenarios (see the anti-Communist investigation of the 1950’s and its direct impact on The Crucible), and deep realism to complete more than 30 plays. In addition to his obvious work in theatre, he also wrote screenplays for a handful of movies. His most notable not-previously-a-play screenplay was for 1961’s The Misfits, starring his then wife, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable which was based on a novella he had written in 1957. In all, Miller wrote for more than 7 decades. In 2005, at the age of 89, Arthur Miller died of heart failure in hospice care at his home. He was buried alongside his third wife, photgrapher Inge Morath, in the small town of Roxbury, CT, where he had lived for nearly half a century.

Burial

Roxbury Central Cemetery – Roxbury, CT

miller

 

Specific Location

Enter the sparsely-populated NEW section of the cemetery – just about 1/4 mile north on 67 from the old cemetery – and take the first right. Stop immediately and Arthur’s grave is on your left, about 3 rows in, behind an Irish Cross marker and a marker with the name COLE on it.

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Calvin Coolidge

Posted in Plymouth Notch Cemetery with tags , on November 9, 2015 by Cade

coolidge1

July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933

“The words of a President have an enormous weight, and ought not to be used indiscriminately.” – Calvin Coolidge

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. Known far and wide as “Silent Cal,” the conservative Republican worked his way up, as a lawyer, through state politics in Massachusetts, eventually becoming the governor of the commonwealth in 1918. Coolidge’s handling of the 1919 Boston Police Strike earned him a reputation as a politician who acted quickly and wisely. As his actions in the Massachusetts state house became more and more known, many in the Republican party started to urge him to seek the Presidency. He was nominated in 1920 as Vice President to Warren G. Harding. When Harding died in 1923, Coolidge was sworn in by his father – a notary public – in their home in Vermont. He won re-election in 1924 and his administration went a long way to restore the public’s faith in the office in the wake of Harding’s scandal-filled tenure. He retired from public life after he left office and died suddenly a few years later. He was buried in the cemetery near his childhood home where he remains characteristically silent to this day.

Burial

Plymouth Notch Cemetery – Plymouth Notch, VT

Specific Location

On the west side of the cemetery on Lynds Hill Road, there is a stone staircase that leads up to the Coolidge family plot. There’s a small parking area across the road from the stairs.

plymouth_coolidge