13 Cemeteries With Celebrity Star Power
Hollywood isn't the only place celebrities are made, nor the only place they take their final rest. Still, Southern California probably has more celebrity gravesites per capita than any other place in America, with more than a dozen famous burial grounds in Los Angeles alone. The graves of actors, famous writers, and musicians draw visitors as steadily as the Hollywood Walk of Fame or the TCL Chinese Theatre. Elsewhere, graveyards lure history and literature buffs who seek out such icons as Edgar Allan Poe. While there may be paid parking and tours, most of these cemeteries are free to visit.
Founded in 1899 as Hollywood Memorial Park, Hollywood Forever is one of the oldest graveyards in the city. Some early Hollywood stars and studio founders are interred here, including silent actors Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino, "Little Rascals" Darla Hood and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, and producer Cecil B. DeMille. Maps help visitors find these and other notable celebrities such as musician Johnny Ramone. An empty tomb honors Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in 1939's "Gone With the Wind" and became the first African-American to win an Academy Award. McDaniel died in 1952 and wanted to be buried at the Hollywood cemetery -- but the racially segregated burial ground refused to accept her. Her cenotaph was installed in 1999, after the cemetery switched hands. Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell was buried not far from a statue of Ramone, and a statue of actor Anton Yelchin of “Star Trek” fame was unveiled there in 2017.
All six Forest Lawn memorial parks are chock-full of celebrities. Unlike Hollywood Forever, though, Forest Lawn does not cater to tourists. Although the grounds are open to visitors, there are no management-provided guides to help sightseers find notable graves. In Glendale, these include the burial sites of authors Louis L'Amour, Theodore Dreiser, and L. Frank Baum (of "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" fame), as well as Walt Disney, Clark Gable, W.C. Fields, Lon Chaney, Sammy Davis Jr., Dorothy Dandridge, and Michael Jackson. Forest Lawn Glendale also features a museum, an art gallery, and the "Wee Kirk o' the Heather" wedding chapel, where former movie star and future president Ronald Reagan married his first wife, Jane Wyman, in 1940.
This is the final resting place for stars of stage, screen, and song ranging from Liberace and Ronnie James Dio to Bette Davis and Telly Savalas ("Kojak"). The mother-daughter duo of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher are also there. The pair died within a day of each other and were buried side by side. In addition to celebrity graves, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills features tourist attractions including the "Court of Liberty," honoring America's colonial history, and the Plaza of Mesoamerican Heritage, which showcases handmade replicas of artifacts from the Mayans, Aztecs, Olmecs, Toltecs, and other pre-Columbian Mexican civilizations.
This small cemetery covers only 2.5 acres (compared with hundreds of acres for a single Forest Lawn park), but notables who rest here include Rodney Dangerfield, Dean Martin, Carroll O'Connor ("Archie Bunker"), Don Knotts, Truman Capote, and Donna Reed. Westwood Village's most famous crypt belongs to Marilyn Monroe. Now, visitors to Monroe's grave will get to see two celebrity burial sites at once. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who died in 2017, bought the crypt next Monroe's. Monroe was the centerfold in the first issue of the magazine that launched Hefner’s worldwide media empire.
One of the first celebrities interred in this Catholic cemetery was "Dracula" star Bela Lugosi, who was famously buried here in his iconic vampire cape. Five spaces to Lugosi's right is the resting place of crooner Bing Crosby. Other neighbors in the park include Rita Hayworth, Lawrence Welk, John Candy, Ricardo Montalbán, and Chris Penn, the younger brother of Oscar-winner Sean Penn.
This Jewish cemetery's most iconic landmark is probably the 75-foot-tall white stone monument to Al Jolson. Other entertainers buried here include Leonard Nimoy, Michael Landon, and Moe Howard of the Three Stooges. Most of the park's celebrity graves are found in the two-story mausoleum behind Jolson's tomb.
Located on the banks of the Potomac River directly across from Washington, D.C., America's national cemetery was formerly the home and grounds of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Arlington became a burial ground for Civil War dead starting in 1864. Today it holds notable American military or governmental figures including presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft; civil rights activist (and World War II veteran) Medgar Evers; Sen. John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth; Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee; and the "unidentified, commingled, partial remains" of all seven astronauts from the space shuttle Challenger.
This ancient (by American standards) burial ground about 30 miles from New York City holds the remains of Revolutionary War veterans, major industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie and Walter Chrysler, and early American author Washington Irving, whose story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" made this small town and its fearsome Headless Horseman famous throughout the world. Visitors to are welcome to take self-guided daylight tours with free maps available at the cemetery office.
A rural cemetery when it was founded in 1838, Green-Wood's history stretches back even further: In 1776, Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army fought the Battle of Long Island on this site. Green-Wood is an active cemetery, in addition to hosting a series of historic tours and cultural events. Its "permanent residents" include famous 19th- and 20th-century Americans including actor Frank Morgan (Hollywood's original Wizard of Oz), artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, sewing machine inventor Elias Howe, and famed composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.
This Jewish cemetery in the Glendale section of Queens has not been as well-maintained as others on this list. The cemetery's office building, which also contained its burial records, was abandoned and left to decay for years before finally being razed in 2013. Today Machpelah is most remembered for being the final resting place of magician Eric Weiss, better known by his stage name: Harry Houdini.
Dating back to 1846, this historic nonsectarian cemetery in northeastern Providence is best known today as the gravesite of eldritch horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Other notable Rhode Islanders who rest here include former governors and the state's Civil War dead, including Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Swan Point is an active cemetery, so visitors are welcome but asked to dress and act with proper decorum.
This cemetery and former church dates back to 1787 and holds the remains of notable early Baltimoreans. Today, its best-known resident is the writer Edgar Allan Poe. Guided tours are held on the first and third Fridays of every month and on Halloween, although participants must pay a fee and advance reservations are usually required (admission to the grounds is free).
On the other side of the Atlantic, this venerable cemetery did not open officially until 1804, but notables from throughout the centuries have been re-interred here. The oldest bones in the cemetery are believed to be those of the tragic 12th-century lovers Abelard and Heloise. The most-visited tombs are occupied by former Doors singer Jim Morrison and British playwright Oscar Wilde. Other notable artists, writers, and entertainers buried here include Molière, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Isadora Duncan.
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