Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Location: Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

Established in 1899, the 60 acre location on Santa Monica Blvd was originally named the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. By the latter part of the 20th century it had become run down, and allegations of financial mismanagement caused the state of California to forbid the ongoing sale of plots. In 1998 on the verge of closure in a bankruptcy proceeding, Forever Enterprises purchased the then 62 acre property, renamed it Hollywood Forever and restored it.

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The property which contains several marble mausoleums and sunken gardens is right out of central casting with the Hollywood sign on the nearby hills. There is no wall on the southern perimeter and the graves back up to the workshops and sound stages of Paramount Studios.

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From the entrance of the grand wrought iron gates to the manicured grounds of crypts and ponds, the cemetery is very elegant. Numerous celebrities are buried here including old movie stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Mel Blanc, Cecil B. Demille, and Mickey Rooney.

Seems unusual that there are no elaborate musings or quotations of literary genius on the tombstones and crypts of Holly wood’s most famous.

hollywood3Each year at the cemetery a festival is held known as the Dia de Los Muertos festival. This Mexican tradition is a joyful celebration of life, family and departed loved ones.

The reflecting pool in front of Douglas Fairbanks tomb, where the silent-screen swashbuckler’s profile appears in bronze bas-relief. Fairbanks’ gravestone is engraved with the “Goodnight, sweet prince” soliloquy from “Hamlet”..

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Johnny Ramone of the punk rock group, The Ramones, and the third member to pass away was memorialized with a bronze statue. The 50 year old Johnny (aka John Cummings) joined dead Ramones, Joey and Dee Dee, on September 15, 2004 after succumbing to prostate cancer. The $100,000 statue depicts the beloved NYC mophead with his Mosrite guitar in hand. It was sculpted by artist Wayne Toth.

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Walking tours lasting 2 hours are available for a charge. Reservations are not required.

 

Tree Stumps

The imagery of a tree stump suggesting that the deceased’s life had been cut short was popular in the late 19th century. The number of cut limbs protruding from the trunk may indicate that there are also members of the same family buried at that location. Names are sometimes engraved on the cut edge.

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Logs were occasionally used to memorialize children’s graves.

The tree stump may also be a physical support for sculpture. Ivy clinging to the side of the tree stump stands for steadfastness, memory, and faithfulness. The lily at the bottom signifies life sprung anew, that eternal life which many hope find after their earthly lives are over.

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The tree stump is also a recognized icon of the fraternity, Woodmen of the World (W.O.W.) Originally an insurance company that insured workers in dangerous occupations the policy included a grave marker in the form of a tree. The icon or trademark often carved into the front of the gravestone indicated equality. It is accompanied with the Latin phrase, Dum Tacet Clamat, meaning Though Silent He Speaks.

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A stump displaying a dove with an olive branch represents peace, an axe and wedge indicates craftsmanship.

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Women of Woodcraft was the female auxiliary to Woodmen of the World.

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Remember friends as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you must be
Prepare for death and follow me.

 

Lion Statues

Lions are a symbol of bravery, courage, and strength and as such are often displayed as guardians against evil spirits.

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A lion resting on his paws is a symbol of patience and endurance.

In Chinese culture, they are believed to have mythical power and are often erected in pairs with the female on the left and the male on the right. The male lion rests his right paw on a ball representing the flower of life, and has his mouth open representing the sacred word OM which is said during meditation. The female lion representing nurture restrains a cub.

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In the Buddhist faith, lion-like creatures called Shinto are considered divine animals of nobleness and dignity, which can protect the Truth and deter evil. Also erected in pairs, one has the mouth open, the other closed.

 

Greyfriar’s Kirkyard

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Greyfriars Kirkyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland is located at the southern edge of the Old Town. It has hosted the bodies of the dead since 1562. It contains a variety of vaults, sepulchres, tombs and mausoleums. The location of many graves is unknown, and bones are regularly washed to the surface during heavy rainstorms. The hundreds of persecuted and martyred Covenanters buried here have given rise to stories of hauntings.

Hugo Arnot, Edinburgh historian, describing Greyfriars Kirkyard in 1779:
The graves are so crowded on each other that the sextons frequently cannot avoid in opening a ripe grave encroaching on one not fit to be touched. The whole presents a scene equally nauseous and unwholesome. How soon this spot will be so surchrged with animal juices and oils, that, becoming one mass of coruption, its noxious steams will burst forth with the prey of a pestilence, we shall not pretend to determine; but we will venture to say, the effects of this burying-ground would ere now have been severly felt, were it not that, besides the coldness of the climate, they have been checked by the acidity of the coal smoke and the height of the winds, which in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh blow with extraordinary violence.”

The small 17th century Greyfriars Kirk is still a working parish. A museum and gift shop are also located on the site.

One of the most infamous deceased is Sir George Mackenzie, a Scottish lawyer, Lord Advocate, essayist and legal writer. His professional life was a contradiction with the refusal to endorse the popular belief of actual witchcraft, and his relentless persecution of the Presbyterian Covenanters who were against King Charles I’s desire to convert them to the use of High Anglican practices (Episcopal Church Government). For his inhumane maltreatment of the Covenanters, he was nicknamed Bluidy George Mackenzie.

In 1679, 1200 prisoners were imprisoned in a walled section of Greyfriar’s burying ground now known as the Covenanters’ prison. They suffered inhumane conditions with a large percentage of prisoners dying within a few months. The remainder were executed when they did not swear allegiance to the King.

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When Bloody George Mackenzie died at Westminster England on 8 May 1691, his body was removed to Edinburgh and buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard close to the Covenanters’ Prison. Erected over his grave was a rounded mausoleum.

A legend tells of a highwayman fleeing from justice who sought refuge in the tomb. When he was captured 6 months later he related stories of coffins moving within the mausoleum and Bloody George scratching from within his coffin.

In 1999, a homeless man looking for shelter broke into the tomb of Sir George Mackenzie, desecrated the coffin, and discovered a hidden room filled with skeletons beneath the tomb. For more creepy detail on this event, visit The Mackenzie Poltergeist

Immediately, stories circulated about strange incidences within the churchyard; intense cold, loud breathing noises, mysterious cuts and bruises, visitors becoming unconsciousness, and unidentified laughter; all of which was attributed to the Mackenzie Poltergeist.

Two failed exorcisms have not prevented ‘Ghost Tours’, or schoolboys from regularly knocking on the Mausoleum to shout, “Bloody Mackenzie, come out if you dare!”