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Fodor's Southern California 2014
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Review
Leave it to Hollywood to have a graveyard that feels more V.I.P. than R.I.P. With its revived grounds and mediagenic approach, this celebrity-filled cemetery (formerly the Hollywood Memorial Park) is well worth a visit.
The lush gardens, lakes, and spectacular views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park Observatory (whose founder, Griffith J. Griffith, is buried here) make it a good spot for an afternoon walk; you can pick up a map of the grounds in the gift shop. Among the graves are those of Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and Mel Blanc, voice of many Warner Bros. cartoon characters, whose headstone reads, "That's all, folks!"
Film and music fans flock here to find their recently departed idols, including King Kong's love Fay Wray and punk rockers Johnny Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone (buried under his given name Douglas Glenn Colvin). The large Grecian tomb in the center of the lake belongs to philanthropist William A. Clark Jr., founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Inside the Cathedral Mausoleum is Rudolph Valentino's crypt, stained red from many lipstick kisses. For years, a mysterious "Lady in Black" visited Valentino's tomb on the anniversary of his death.
In summer, the cemetery hosts events including film screenings starring Valentino and other interred residents on the mausoleum's outer wall, and the grounds become quite a party scene. At Halloween-time the cemetery hosts Dia De Los Muertos, a Mexican festival celebrating the dead with colorful costumes, art, and music. The cemetery also has a kiosk in the main office with video memorials and digital scrapbooks of those buried here.
Note: When planning a visit, even for a festive event, maintain respect to the gravesites. Many families of the departed have voiced concerns of unruly visitors. The cemetery also still performs burials here and proper etiquette is expected.
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