Monday, February 4, 2013

Waking the Dead: Holy Cross Mortuary

By now it is must be evident that I derive a certain amount of pleasure from visiting cemeteries. They are places of grief, of celebration, of remembrance, and of peace.  It is interesting and sobering to see the slice-of-life happenings at a cemetery; on a recent visit to Holy Cross Mortuary in Culver City, CA, I saw preparations for a Navy funeral, family picnics, the tending of grave sites, and hikers taking advantage of the quiet  surroundings and sloping terrain.

I will admit that it felt slightly capricious and mildly irreverent to be hunting for celebrity graves whilst "Taps" was being played.  After a quick assessment of my intentions, I determined that my motives were not entirely dishonorable so, with consideration for the mourners, I made my way around the park.

The mid-Century chapel and mausoleum were stunning.
I love the art, architecture, and the stained glass!

As much as I respect the architecture, I was on a mission to pay my real respects to some of Hollywood's brightest stars and some of wacky tacky's biggest inspirations.

June Haver & Fred MacMurray play tandem guitar.
I have a feeling that these two made great music together!

"What's My Line?" - Fred & June as mystery challengers
One of my favorite Hollywood couples on one of my favorite television shows!

Spike Jones

"Cocktails for Two" - Spike Jones & His City Slickers

John Candy

Ray Bolger

"Ain't She Sweet" - Ray Bolger & Verna Felton

Most of the headstones at Holy Cross are rather humble affairs - flat stones flush with the surrounding turf.
You get one guess as to whom the landscaped, stony-based, giant crucifix belongs.

Rosalind Russell
Auntie Mame kind of deserves a ostentatious marker, don't you think?
After all, this is a Catholic cemetery and she did play
Mother Superior in The Trouble With Angels.

Rosalind Russell

Mary Astor

La Pieta revisited

Mack Sennett
But where are the bathing beauties?

Lawrence Welk
A legend, a hero, a benefactor of wacky tacky
"Keep a song in your heart."

A feature common among graveyards is the waste receptacles;
I must say that I love a faux bois trash can!

Dennis Day
He may have been in The Girl Next Door with June
Haver (above).  He might and one of Jack Benny's
regular players.  To me, he will always be Johnny Appleseed.

"Johnny Appleseed" - Dennis Day


ZaSu Pitts was a marvelous actress and just happens to be
the grandmother of one the best Southern California musicians,
 whistlers, and regular Parlor Boy to Janet Klein, John Reynolds!

Helen O'Connell
One of my most favorite female vocalists from the big band era

"Green Eyes" - Helen O'Connell & Bob Eberly

"Rubber Dolly" - Helen O'Connell

Scale replicas of Michelangelo's La Pieta abound

Audrey Meadows

Jimmy Durante

"Inka Dinka Doo" - Jimmy Durante with Harry James

Bonita Granville

Bela Lugosi

Bing Crosby
We've already expressed our adoration for the much beloved Bing Crosby .

Is there a bad picture of this woman???  PERFECTION!!!

"The Shorty George" - Rita Hayworth & Fred Astaire
from You Were Never Lovelier

Word has it that Rita was Fred's favorite dance partner.
Can you blame him?

Other notable residents of Holy Cross include Loretta Young, Jackie Coogan, John Ford, Pat O'Brien, Sharon Tate, Charles Boyer, MacDonald Carey, Louella Parsons, Richard Arlen, Edmond O'Brien, Joan Davis, Mary Fran, Vince Edwards, Richard Arlen, and Mario Lanza.

I have no idea who Louis Lookadoo, Jr. is but that is a killer name.
I'm thinking about changing mine to Mr. Tiny "Wackadoo."

Holy Cross is a beautiful cemetery and it is located right off the freeway.  If you have a free afternoon to roam its rolling acres, you should take my suggestion and visit.  I'm sure that I'll be back because it is adjacent to another cemetery with residents of renown.  I always feel a bit conspicuous with my street clothes and poised camera; next time, I might wear black.

Holy Cross Mortuary
5835 W Slauson Ave
Culver City, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. I think your tour & photos are very respectful. Thank you for this post.

  2. Oh, what fun! We have some good cemeteries here too, of course, but very few film stars. Glad to hear Bela Lugosi was a beloved father!

    1. I love cemeteries of all kinds but living out this way, we can't help but trip over "stars." In a way I'm glad that for all the ways that Bela could be remembered, he was remembered as a good dad. It is interesting, however, that all these Hollywood legends have extremely humble headstones. I guess death is the great leveler!

  3. Wow! So many famous names. I didn't realize that there were so many famous people at that cemetery. I'll have to make a trip of it next time I visit CA.


    1. There are so many!! All of the big cemeteries in Los Angeles have a lot of famous residents. It's a kick to go and visit them!

  4. What a beautiful place. On the one hand, it has glam and yet it's also serious. That mural of Christ above the altar is really stunning.

    I was in LA just last month and didn't even think of 'paying my respects', so to speak. I'm already planning my next trip!