Wednesday, October 31, 2012

L.A. LANDMARKS - Hollywood Forever

Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)



6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles (Hollywood)

It may seem a bit weird to include a cemetery on the list of places to visit in Los Angeles, but Hollywood Forever is a big part of the city's cultural fabric. This is Hollywood, after all, and film legends need a fabulous resting place. Originally established on 100 acres as Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery in 1899 by Isaac Lankershim and Isaac Van Nuys, the grounds are now 62 acres that feature lush green lawns, ornate headstones and mausoleums. Fans can pay tribute to Hollywood luminaries like Cecil B. DeMille, Mel Blanc, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Fay Wray, as well as musicians Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone. Even gangster Bugsy Siegel's crypt is located at Hollywood Forever.

Although the site began to fall into disrepair under the ownership of convicted felon Jules Roth beginning in 1939, it was eventually restored and refurbished by Tyler and Brent Cassity. The grounds were revitalized, garnering it placement on the National Register of Historic Sites, and Hollywood Forever has become so much more than just a cemetery. Every summer, thousands of Angelenos gather to eat, drink and watch classic movies as part of the Cinespia film series. Artists such as the Flaming Lips, Sigur Rós, Band of Horses and the xx have performed concerts there. And every Halloween, the cemetery hosts the largest Dia de Los Muertos celebration in California with altars created by members of the community dedicated to their dearly departed loved ones.

Aside from being a part of Hollywood history, the cemetery has also appeared on TV in "90210" and on the big screen in a documentary of its history called The Young and the Dead and Garry Marshall's Valentine's Day. It's also featured in Tim Powers' novel Expiration Date.

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