As obsessive as I’ve been about wanting to fly out to Los Angeles on Nov. 1, my bubble has finally burst. I had three things in mind for this trip: 1) To take photos of the grave sites of the silent film actresses I’ve been pouring over for months, 2) To finally experience the Day of the Dead festivities at Hollywood Forever and also in Rose Hill Cemetery, and 3) Meet people in person that I could interview for the book. Those are the project-related reason for wanting to go to Hollywood again. The other reason is that I miss being out there. There is SO much I want to see that I didn’t get to see or want to see again.
So why did the bubble burst? Why did I suddenly mentally land flat on my butt about the trip I so badly wanted to take? The cemeteries. The reason I wanted to go out there most became the harsh slap of reality. Reality sucks. Thanks, Obama! (this is a tongue-in-cheek reference to a Jenna Marble video on YouTube—I don’t actually blame President Obama for this.)
So I’ve been trying to locate the burial locations for all of these silent stars. It’s been interesting research, but I’ve been all over the place online until my head started to spin. I originally thought, naïve taphophile that I am, that most of the cemeteries would be totally cool with someone taking photos on their grounds. Most cemeteries I’ve been to across the country have no problem with that. And to be in Hollywood Forever was a cemetery and movie star fan’s dream. And yet …
Here’s what I’ve discovered. A number of the cemeteries have policies stating that any commercial photography (among other kinds) must be approved by the cemetery ahead of time. This did not surprise me. Of course, I contact a number of them last week but haven’t gotten a response yet.
Then I spoke with my new pal Bob Marlowe, and he told me that Hollywood Forever (the cemetery I thought would be a ringer) has told him that only photography of celebrities is allowed … and then they told him later that NO photography is allowed. I thought Hollywood Forever would be completely open to allowing photos. I mean, they host movies and concerts (Lana Del Ray is performing two shows there later this month). The big Day of the Dead celebration is coming up. And he’s been told “no photography is allowed”?
On top of all this, there are a number of books out there that feature photos from all of the cemeteries in question. Perhaps the policies came into being after they were published.
My hope is that I’ll meet someone (someones?) who are involved with the cemeteries who can put in a good word for me and help me get photo permission. Because, really, what good is a trip out there to get photos of silent film stars’ graves when you find out you can’t use them?
So as of right now I am no longer actively figuring out a way to go to L.A. in November like I’ve been wishfully thinking. I’m putting it off until I have a new game plan in place for the book. I am not giving up hope, though! I just need a strategy … and some connections.
Don’t worry, I’m still working on the book. And I have another project I’ve been working on I may resurrect in the meantime.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. What do you do when you hit a snag in a project?
10/1/2014 03:27:56 pm
I'm no lawyer, but I wouldn't worry about the anti-photography policies. As long as you're respectful and discreet, you shouldn't have any problems. Yes, I didn't use any photographs from two specific cemeteries in my book because of their harsh stance on commercial photography, and I wanted to err on the side of caution, but I've seen lots of books with photos from those cemeteries, and I've never heard of them taking any legal action. Unless, of course, it's a huge, coffee-table book with photos from those cemeteries. That might be a problem. But a few photos of the final resting places of the people you're writing about shouldn't be a problem. (Again, this isn't legal advice, just my personal experience.)
10/2/2014 10:30:58 am
Thank you for your input, Mark. That makes me feel a little better. I was feeling a little squashed, but I knew it was a temporary feeling. When it comes to my projects, I'm a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of guy. I still haven't heard any official word from anyone official.
10/3/2014 01:18:41 pm
I wish I could tell you what happened to Marie Prevost's remains. She's one of the enduring mysteries. Apparently, she was cremated at FLG, but not buried there. Her funeral service was held at Hollywood Forever (then Hollywood Memorial Park), but she's not buried there, either. According to Scott Michaels, of Find A Death, her cremains might have been picked up by her sister, who lived in the San Francisco area.
10/6/2014 03:12:15 pm
Hey Minda - Are you familiar with Lisa Burks at all? I would be surprised if she is not able to help you with at least some of the information you need. I have been following her blog for years [Adventures in Gravehunting http://lisaburks.typepad.com/gravehunting/], and she is probably one of the best go-to people for this kind of info. She has always been quite knowledgeable on all things celebrity-cemetery related in Hollywood and the surrounding area, and I bet she could help navigate you through at least some of the red tape. While she doesn't update her blog as often as she once did, I think she is still accessible there. Also, a quick Google search shows she is on Twitter - @lisaburks. While I don't know her personally, we have communicated via email a few times over the years regarding specific celebrities. I once owned a popular celebrity website, but sold it back in 2008 - and while that's a whole 'nother story, it is how I came upon her blog and her credentials in the field of writing and celebrity cemetery info. Anyway, just wanted to pass her along as a possible contact; she may be able to help in some way. She has always been helpful and has always responded to my questions in a timely and friendly manner. :)
6/22/2015 01:52:20 am
Hollywood Forever is back to "celebrities only", though no one can define the word "celebrity".
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I'm the author of a number of cemetery books and am now writing one about the graves of silent film stars, starting with the ladies. Who would you like to see included?
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