On Sunday, June 22, I marked off my number one cemetery on my Bucket List: Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles. It did not disappoint. It's actually even more beautiful in person. And my expectations were high. I'd been wanting to see it for years.
First stop, the Fairbanks memorial. It's larger than life and made of gorgeous marble. It has a reflecting pool in front of it. It didn't have much water in it and it was green and a bit mucky, but it's still impressive and stately. Surrounded by palm trees and sunshine, I was able to pay my respects to silent film star Douglas Fairbanks and his actor son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
The stars abound in this beautiful cemetery at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard. But even if there weren't Golden Era Hollywood celebrities buried here, it would be worth a visit to see this amazing park.
It was established in 1899 and was originally named Hollywood Memorial Park. For many years, it was the place to be buried. According to Interment.net, the cemetery had 100 acres, but 40 of them were sold to Paramount Pictures for their expansion in 1920. By the 1990, the cemetery had fallen into disrepair and was an absolute mess. Enter Forever Enterprises and the Cassity brothers; the cemetery was restored to its former glory starting in 1998. Now they show films projected on the side of a large mausoleum, host concerts and a large Day of the Dead Festival each year.
If you visit L.A., make sure Hollywood Forever is on your list of places to visit. Make sure you stop by the flower shop inside the gate (to the right) and purchase a map of stars' burial places (currently $5, and it's totally worth it since there are SO many stars). They also have a book about the cemeteries and the stars on sale for $20, and it includes maps of the stars' locations--so you can save the extra $5 by not having to buy a map.
I'll be posting soon about other cemeteries in the L.A. area, including Inglewood Park Cemetery, Westwood Village Memorial Park and
You can learn about many of the stars buried Hollywood Forever at Seeing Stars.
Cemetery: Holt Cemetery
Location: New Orleans, La.
Style: Underground burials, paupers cemetery
Active or inactive: Active
Good to know: The grounds are very uneven, so watch your step. The cemetery is still in use, though no plots have been sold for years. Families who own plots are allowed to continue to bury family members in their plots. Many graves are the final resting places of multiple family members. Graves are dug by hand in this cemetery. (Learn more about Holt from an old blog post of mine.)
Notable graves: Buddy Bolden, Jessie Hill
Remarkable markers: Most of the markers in Holt are remarkable because they are homemade. Many are made from materials that were on-hand (yard landscaping items and decor, wooden planks, etc.).
What else you can do in town ...
What else to see: There are so many wonderful things to do in New Orleans, you won't have a problem keeping yourself busy.
Plan to visit other cemeteries? Make sure you go with a group to any of the cemeteries in the French Quarter. It's easy to get lost in them (the tombs are really tall), nad
Where to eat: Cafe du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets, Acme Oyster House, Corner Bar for oyster po' boys, Pat O'Brien's for hurricanes, Absinthe House for absinthe drink (if you like black licorice flavor), Muriel's for a fine dinner, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (bar) ... there are oh so many places to eat and drink!
Jeane Trend-Hill in City of London Cemetery, London, England. "This is one of my favourite monuments, Gladys Spencer reclining on her piano. Gladys was a teacher and something of a music hall star."
Meet Jeane Trend-Hill, Headstone Hunter, Essex, England
How long have you been interested in cemeteries and why? My love of cemeteries began as a young child when I visited family member’s graves with my parents. Whilst the adults chatted and arranged flowers, I would wander off and look at all the angels, doves and crosses. I was struck by their beauty and as I got older I began photographing them purely for my own enjoyment. I have since gone on to set up the Silent Cities Project - I’ve produced a series of cemetery photography books, studied grave symbolism and Mortuary Science and I am also involved with monument restoration and preservation to help future generations enjoy an important part of our history and heritage.
What are your favorite cemeteries? (we all have more than one!) In no particular order - San Michelle in Venice, it’s an entire cemetery island. Pouble Nou in Barcelona Spain for the amazing ‘Kiss of death’ monument, which is a winged skeleton figure lifting a man for the final kiss goodbye. Highgate Cemetery London, beautifully gothic and romantic, Kensal Green Cemetery London for its array of different memorials, and I have just returned from Central Cemetery Zentralfriedhof Vienna Austria where all the composers like Mozart and Strauss are buried.
What are your favorite monuments? The Kiss of death as I mentioned, along with Mary the sleeping angel on a bed of clouds in Highgate and the resting place of an architect Arthur Beresford Pite in West Norwood Cemetery London, whose building I worked in for many years and I am currently involved in his grave restoration. I like all different sorts of things though, from a simple wooden cross that may have been hand carved with love, to something very elaborate and over the top. I prefer the older monuments (pre 1940), some of the more modern ones seem to be lacking in imagination. Stonemasonry is a lost art, hand carving from a single block of marble or granite and of course few people could afford anything like that now anyway. I also love Victorian catacombs and have been lucky enough to see a few not generally open to the public.
Where is the farthest you've traveled to visit a cemetery? I did a day trip to Barcelona once just to photograph a certain monument, but the furthest ... I have been to Australia twice in 1995 and 1996, but lost my cemetery photos from there due to a computer crash.
What has been the most surprising thing you've seen in a cemetery? The sad state of neglect in some of them, but more usually the things people leave behind. I’ve handed in cameras and phones, watched tiny fox cubs playing, seen rare birds (although I have had to have those pointed out to me), clothing (lets not go there!) and bones of course, although that’s not really surprising.
What do you tell people if they think your cemetery infatuation is weird? I try to show them the beautiful side of cemeteries through my photographs. They are havens for wildlife, flowers and plants and of course the amazing architecture. There is so much history to be found too. I think people are coming round to it more nowadays, but of course there will always be the odd one who thinks I’m weird – that’s fine, there are a lot of us about!!
What cemeteries are on your bucket list? I’d like to get back to the USA one day and also see some of the cemeteries in Berlin and I haven’t finished with Italy yet. I keep on adding to the list!
Visit Jeane's website and Facebook Page.
I'm the founder and editor of TheCemeteryClub.com and Epitaphs Magazine. I love cemeteries and sharing the art and history of them with anyone who will listen!