Sunday, May 03, 2009

Discover LA: Hollywood Forever Cemetary

Other than being a great foodie town, LA has much to offer and while this blog will still be primarily about my culinary experiences, I also wanted to share with you other things about LA that have definitely made me smile, think, chuckle, appreciate and so much more and hopefully, they'll also help you discover an LA you've never known before and may want to know better.

While the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles does a public walking tour of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in October, I actually made special arrangements with them for a private tour and what a tour it was.

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What was amazing about the Hollywood Forever Cemetery was how beautiful it was. Compared to the flat lawns of Forest Lawn, you'll see a lot of unusual grave markers, from the very simple to the quite ornate. There are also various crypts that dot the landscape.

Then there's the mausoleums, some with gorgeous stained glass windows and others with a unique pink or yellow lighting within its walls.

There's a section just for those who are Jewish and be sure to check out the Buddhist Cemetary for grave markers that are definitely something you may not have seen before.

Along the way, we also learned quite a bit of information about some of the interesting people who are buried there. Side by side are gravemarkers for Carl Switzer, "Alfalfa" of Little Rascals fame and his father, Fred Switzer. So what's Fred Switzer's claim to fame? He supposedly invented a breast enlarger machine. You can actually see it marked on his grave stone.

Check out Johnny Ramone's gravemarker. He's kneeling on top with his guitar and around the square base you'll see messages from his family and friends etched on the surface.

Old Hollywood stars are buried there like Rudolf Valentino, Janet Gaynor and Tyrone Powers as well as other Hollywood notables like Cecil de Mille.

LA History is also buried there as in the gravestone of Colonel Griffith J. Griffith. He's quite an interesting story. While still alive, he designated 100 acres of his land towards a park and for other city improvements. After being tried and convicted for shooting and severely wounding his wife, the city would not accept any funding from him for the construction of an observatory, planetarium, and amphitheater in the park. It wasn't until he passed away that his money was used posthumously for these city buildings.

There's still a lot more I can write about, but it'll just be too much. You can also still wander the cemetery on your own, but I think it's the tour and with all the great info from the docent, in this case, Frank Cooper, that made everything more meaningful.

So if you're able to, get a group together, do the tour with the Art Deco Society and if not, get on their mailing list so that you can find out when they're doing the public tours in October.

Info about the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles:

To see all the pics I took, go to:



burumun said...

I can't wait til the summer film screenings start!
I never really paid close attention to the tombstones though, usually rushing through the screening place. Now I think I should ..

Doran said...

Okay, Alfalfa died the day before I was born. This explains a lot.

pleasurepalate said...

burumun: You should arrive early before the film screening and walk around. Lots of interesting tombstones as you can see.

Doran: So what does it explain?