Monday, 12 July 2010

City Of Angels: Final Resting Places, Part 2: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood

Entrance to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard

This beautiful 60 acre Necropolis was initially named Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery when it was opened in 1899.Conveniently located on Santa Monica Boulevard, adjacent to Paramount Studios, this vast open-air shrine has become the final resting place for many Hollywood luminaries, and unlike Forest Lawn's Glendale branch, all grave sites and mausoleums are easily accessible.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery: The Great Mausoleum and lake

Over the years the cemetery had fallen out of favour with the Hollywood crowd, and as a result, by 1998 the ground were in a sorry state of neglect and disrepair. Luckily, a young Missourian rescued the cemetery from falling apart entirely, buying it for a mere $375,000 by investing a further $3 million to repair the graves, mausoleums and the cemetery's lake. It just so happens, that the cemetery's new owner is also the producer of the only television series in history to take place in a funeral parlour - HBO's Six Feet Under.

After extensive restoration and a listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the grounds reopened as the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and it almost outshines Forest Lawn in beauty and serenity, for with its lush greenery and mausoleums which, although beautiful are never ostentatious, Hollywood Forever has achieved a rare blend between a park and a final resting place - an oasis placid enough for the dead to rest in peace and graceful enough for the casual visitor to pay homage or simply to seek some peace and quiet from the hubbub outside.

Hollywood Forever: Grave site of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Among the countless Hollywood luminaries who are laid to rest here are Adrian, MGM's legendary costume designer, and his wife Janet Gaynor; Tyrone Power; Peter Lorre; Rudolph Valentino; John Huston, Clifton Webb; Harry Cohn, Norma, Constance & Natalie Talmadge; Jayne Mansfield; Douglas Fairbanks Sr.; Jesse Lasky Sr. & Jr.; Paul Muni, and Victor Fleming, to name but a few.

The Hollywood sign in the Hollywood Hills as seen from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery