Hollywood Forever Cemetery, originally called Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles, California. It is located at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, adjacent to the north wall, or back, of Paramount Studios. Among those interred or entombed in the cemetery are a number of important personalities and famous persons, including men and women from the entertainment industry, and important people in the history of Los Angeles, and their relatives. The cemetery is active and regularly hosts community events, including music events and summer movie screenings. In 2011 the cemetery became a co-producer of the American silent movie Silent Life based on the story of the Hollywood idol Rudolph Valentino, who is entombed there.
The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 on 100 acres (0.40 km2) as “Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery” by developer Isaac Lankershim and his son-in-law, Isaac Van Nuys. The cemetery sold off large tracts to Paramount Studios, which, with RKO Studios, bought 40 acres (160,000 m2) by 1920. Part of the land was set aside for the Beth Olam Cemetery, a dedicated Jewish burial ground, where people from Hollywood’s Jewish community are buried.
In 1939, Jules Roth, a convicted felon, bought the cemetery. He used the money from the cemetery's operations to pay for luxuries and let the cemetery fall into disrepair, also closing it to most racial minorities, e.g. forbidding actress Hattie McDaniel to be buried there. To settle tax bills, he sold two beautiful lawns which ran east and west along Santa Monica Boulevard. These lawns became strip malls which now house an auto-parts store and a laundromat. He never repaired the roofs or earthquake damage to crypts and left the endowment care fund, meant to take care of the cemetery till the end of time, missing about $9 million, according to the current owner. He never connected the property to city water, using only the water from an onsite well for watering, which left the property in a constant state of rotating drought. By 1997, Roth was bankrupt. He died on 4 January 1998. The state of California had revoked the cemetery's license to sell its remaining plots.
On the verge of closure in the bankruptcy proceeding, Tyler and Brent Cassity of the Missouri funeral home family purchased the now 62-acre (250,000 m2) property in 1998 for $375,000. They renamed it “Hollywood Forever” and started restoring, refurbishing and adding to it, investing millions in revitalizing the grounds, offering documentaries about the deceased that are to be played in perpetuity on kiosks and are posted on the Web, and organizing tours to draw visitors.
Since 2002, films have been screened at the cemetery at a gathering called Cinespia on weekends during the summer, drawing an average of 3,000 people who come with beach chairs, blankets and food to sit on the Fairbanks Lawn and view the films, which are projected onto the white marble west wall of the Cathedral Mausoleum.
Music events take place in the cemetery as well. On June 12, 2009, Scottish rock band Glasvegas played a special stripped-down performance. On June 14 and 15, 2011, The Flaming Lips played at the cemetery in a two-night gig billed "Everyone You Know Someday Will Die," a lyric from their 2002 single "Do You Realize??"
Motion picture historian Karie Bible leads a walking tour through the cemetery. Bible is one of the several women titled "Lady In Black," carrying on the tradition of the mysterious woman who put a rose on Rudolph Valentino's grave every year.
In popular culture
Hollywood Forever Cemetery abuts Paramount Studios on its south end.
A documentary about the cemetery called The Young and the Dead, was made in 2000.
The cemetery is briefly shown in the short Stopover in Hollywood. The television series 90210 featured the cemetery in the episode "Hollywood Forever".
In one scene of the novel Expiration Date by Tim Powers, the main characters are evading the antagonists of the novel by hiding in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. At one point the main hero, Pete Sullivan, remarks that at the tomb of Bugsy Siegel that his late Hollywood producer father was friends with Siegel and many of the other celebrities interred at Hollywood Forever. To illustrate, Sullivan knocks the first few beats of "Shave-and-a-Haircut" on the door of Siegel's tomb, to receive a moment later the response "Two-Bits" knocked from the inside of the tomb.
A scene from the 2010 movie Valentine's Day took place in the cemetery. The movie shown in the cemetery was Hot Spell (1958).
A song titled "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" appears on the Father John Misty album, Fear Fun.
Partial list of people buried
Use the following alphabetical links to find someone: