Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rodney Dangerfield

Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004)

Rodney Dangerfield was a stand up comedian turned actor. His most famous comedy bit was his "I get no respect" bit. It's pretty funny how he basically make fun of himself. His sucess in comedy led him to several movie roles. Probably his most famous movie, and by far my favorite one of his was the cult classic film 'Caddyshack'. You've got to love him in it. He makes some of the greatest one liners in movie history. If you have'nt, you must see this movie.

Rodney Dangerfield in 'Caddyshack'

Dangerfield with the likes of Chevy Chase and Ted Knight in 'Caddyshack'

Rodney Dangerfields gravesite at Pierce Bros. Westwood Memorial Park in downtown Los Angeles, CA

Me at the gravesite of Rodney Dangerfield.

I visited Rodney Dangerfields gravesite on October 1, 2011. He is buried in close proximity with the likes of Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Farrah Fawcett and Dean Martin

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby (1903-1977)

Bing Crosby had a long sucessful career in both music and movies. He is one of only 22 who have 3 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

When I think of Bing Crosby only one thing comes to mind. 'White Christmas'. I remember watching the movie always around Christmas time at my Grandparents house. A family friend once said that he was on the boat to fight in the Battle of Iwo Jima when he first heard the song 'White Christmas'. So the nice pleasant song always brought back bad memories for him.

Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in the movie, 'White Christmas'

Album cover for the song 'White Christmas'

I visited the gravesite of Bing Crosby on October 2, 2011. It was a last minute thing. The Hollywood Bus tour that we took, took longer than expected. I knew that we wouldn't make it to Forrest Lawn Glendale Cemetery like I hoped. So I checked to see what other cemeteries might be closer to our hotel. Luckily, Holy Cross Cemetery was only 8 minutes away from the hotel. So we made it there at 5pm, With them closing at 6. I found on the same website that helped me find John Waynes gravesite, a page on Holy Cross Cemetery. Bing Crosby was the first grave that we found. We would also find the graves of Rita Rayworth, Sharon Tate, Lawrence Welk, and director John Ford before we left. We made it into the masoleum that John Candy is buried in, but we set off an alarm and had to leave before we could find him. 

Gravesite of Bing Crosby, Holy Cross Cemetery Culver City, CA

My sister at the gravesite of Bing Crosby

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood (1938-1981)

Natalie Wood was in some of the most well known movies of all time. 'West Side Story' and 'Rebel Without a Cause' are both considered classics by many people. And Natalie Wood was in leading roles in both films.

Natalie Wood in 'Westside Story'. It is a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, in a musical.

Natalie Wood with James Dean in 'Rebel Without a Cause'.
 Natalie Wood also had a small but important part in my favorite John Wayne movie, 'The Searchers'. The movie is about Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) search for his kidnapped niece, after his brother and the rest of the family was murdered by Indians. His niece Debbie is a little girl when she is kidnapped. By the time Ethan finds her she is an adult. Natalie Wood plays Debbie as a grown up.

Natalie Wood and John Wayne in 'The Searchers'

The 30th Anniversary of Natalie Wood's death is coming up later this month. She has made headlines again this past week because the Los Angeles police department is reopening the case of her mysterious death. She was on a boat with her husband Robert Wagner (No. 2 in the Austin Powers movies, among many other things) and friend Christopher Walken. Details are sketchy but she somehow ended up in the water and drowned.

Natalie Wood is buried in Pierce Bros. Westwood Memorial Park in downtown Los Angeles with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and many others. In visited her gravesite on October 1, 2011. Wood is one of many women buried in Westwood Memorial Park that died young and tragically. It is a sad coincidence. Others include Marilyn Monroe, Dominique Dunne, Dorthy Stratten, and Heather O' Rourke.

Natalie Wood's gravesite. Los Angeles, California

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin (1924-1987)

Lee Marvin was a big name in Hollywood for a few decades. He starred in films with the likes of John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Clint Eastwood just to name a few.

He won an Academy Award for his role in 'Cat Ballou' with Jane Fonda.

Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou

When I think of Lee Marvin, 3 movies come to mind. In all he played different roles. In 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' he plays the villian Liberty Valance along side John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. This is one of my all time favorate movies.

Lee Marvin, Jimmy Stewart, and John Wayne in 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'

Another Lee Marvin movie that comes to mind is 'The Dirty Dozen'. This is one of the all time great war movies, and Lee Marvin is in the lead role. He plays an Army officer in WW2 who is assigned the task to take 12 prisoners, most on death role, and train them for a top secret mission.

Lee Marvin in 'The Dirty Dozen'

The third movie that comes to mind is 'Paint Your Wagon'. This is a kind of strange premise for a movie. It is a musical about 2 partners ( Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood) during the Gold Rush who end up sharing the same wife.

'Paint Your Wagon' movie poster

Before he made a career in the movies, Lee Marvin was a WW2 war hero who was awarded the Purple Heart. Because of his veteran status he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with a simple soilders gravemarker. I visited his gravesite in June 2010. While my family was waiting for the changing of the guard ceremoney at 'The Tomb of the Unknown Soilders'  (which I had seen many times before), I went on foot with a cemetery map and found a few graves of interest to me in the area. Lee Marvin was one of them. Since I went off on my own I didn't get a picture of me with the grave. Oddly enough Lee Marvin just happens to be buried right next to boxer Joe Louis.

Lee Marvin on the left, Joe Louis on the right

Lee Marvin's gravesite. Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jack Lemmon

Jack Lemmon (1925-2001)

Jack Lemmon made a very sucessful career of acting. His first film role was a very small part in 1949's 'The Lady Takes a Sailor'. His last role was in 2000's 'The Legend of Bagger Vance'. In between was a great career. He is pretty well known for his role in Billy Wilder's 'Some Like it Hot' with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis. Which I recently watched for the first time and really enjoyed.

Personally the movie's I most new Lemmon in growing up were the 'Grumpy Old Men' movies, and 'My Fellow Americans' with James Garner and Dan Akroyd. My interest in Presidents had no small part in my liking 'My Fellow Americans' I'm sure. But the role that really sticks out for me was Lemmon's role in 'Glengarry Glen Ross'.

'My Fellow Americans' movie poster

Jack Lemmon with Kevin Spacey in 'Glengarry Glen Ross'.

'Glengarry Glen Ross' was a good movie with very compelling dialogue. It had a great cast including Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, and Alec Baldwin. Jack Lemmon did a great performance as an aging, somewhat desperate salesman. He had great versatility playing in both serious movies like 'Glengarry Glen Ross' and comedies like 'Grumpy Old Men.

After I originally posted this page a friend of mine suggested the 1962 Jack Lemmon movie, 'Days of Wine and Roses'. Lemmon was nominated for an Acedemy Award for his role in the film. It really is a great performance. It is a dark movie about a drunk couple.

Jack Lemmon's gravesite is on the right. Caroll O' Connor is on the left. Lemmon is buried in Pierce Bros. Westwood Memorial Park in downtown Los Angeles. Same cemetery as Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. Most of the celebrities buried here in the last 10 - 15 years are buried in plots identicle to these.

Me at the grave of Jack Lemmon. Westwood Memorial Park Los Angeles, California

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dean Martin

Dean Martin (1917-1995)

Dean Martin had a great career in both singing and acting. He started out early in his career working with Jerry Lewis. Making up the comedy team Martin and Lewis. Later in his career he would be part of The Rat Pack along with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. The original 'Ocean's 11' was a Rat Pack movie. Personally I know him best for his roles in the John Wayne movies 'Rio Bravo' and 'The Sons of Katie Elder'.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their 'Martin and Lewis' days

Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra in their Rat Pack days.

Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra later in life.

'The Sons of Katie Elder' movie poster

Dean Martin's hand and footprints in front of the Chinese Theatre. Los Aneles, CA

Gravesite of Dean Martin. 'Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime' is his epitaph. It was of course one of his songs.

Dean Martin is buried at Pierce Bros. Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, CA along with other big names like Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau. I visited his gravesite on October 1, 2011. As you can see he was interred in a wall just like Marilyn Monroe.

Dean Martin and me. The goofy look on my face can be expained. As my sister was taking the picture our voluteer tour guide told me to say 'Dean' as the picture was being taken. So I am saying 'Dean' as the picture was being taken.

Dean Martin was born in Steubenville, Ohio. So it is possible that someday I will add his birthplace to this page. Someday...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)

Most of the big name celebrity gravesites that I have seen I saw at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park in downtown Los Angeles. We started that day visiting the gravesite of John Wayne, then taking in the Nixon and Reagan Libraries. We left Reagan's Library around 4 and headed for Westwood. We arrived with little trouble. If we didn't know it was there we would of easily missed the sign to the enterance. Even looking for it we drove by it once. The driveway and the cemetery is in the mists of tall Los Angeles skyscrapers. It is a pretty small cemetery. Marilyn Monroe was the first celebrity buried in this cemetery in 1962 and then several have followed since.

Unlike my first 2 blog post John Wayne and Johnny Cash I've never really had a particular interest in Marilyn Monroe's work (other then the obvious fact that she was one of the most attractive women in history). Until recently I never had seen a Marilyn Monroe movie all the way through. I did, however, watch 'Some Like it Hot' when I returned from California. Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon both star in the movie, and Billy Wilder directed it. All 3 were buried at Westwood Memorial Park. So I made a note to self to see the movie upon my return home. I enjoyed it. It was very funny and I think I now understand a little bit more the legend of Marilyn Monroe.

She is well known for having an affair with John F. Kennedy. And like JFK she was young and good looking when she died. So her legendary icon status has far exceded her actual career accomplishments. Again like JFK.

My sister sitting at Marilyn Monroe's reading tree.
The story of how this cemetery became a celebrity cemetery starts at this tree. Marilyn Monroe came to this tree alot to relax and read. The reason she came to this tree was that her Aunt and her Godmother are both buried near the tree. When she died her ex husband Joe Dimaggio had her buried here since he knew she would like to be near her loved ones.

The gravesite of Marilyn Monroe

Hugh Hefner paid alot of money to be buried next to Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe and me

Kind of a creepy side note, according to our volunteer tour guide, is that the guy who is interred above her spent his life savings to buy that burial plot. When he died, before his friends put his casket in the wall, they turned his body upside down. So that he would be facing Marilyn Monroe for all eternity.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash (1932-2003)

Johnny Cash's music career would span 6 decades. In my humble opinion Johnny Cash is to music what John Wayne is to movies.

I honestly didn't pay much attention to Johnny Cash growing up. It wasn't until around the time he died his song 'Hurt' was released. It was a strange collaboration in that 'Hurt' was a Nine Inch Nails song that Johnny Cash re did. But Johnny Cash once said that a good song is a good song, no matter who wrote it. Hearing the song and watching the video got me interested in Johnny Cash so I went out and got one of his Greatest hits CD's. For the next month that CD is all I listened to. It started out with Cash's earlier songs like 'Folsom Prison Blues' and followed his career all the way to one of his last songs 'Hurt'.

So a couple years later when the movie 'Walk the Line' came out, I was really looking forward to it. 'Walk the Line' is of course the Johnny Cash biopic movie staring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.

Walk the Line DVD cover

Johnny Cash's handprints on the 'Rockwalk'. And my hand. Los Angeles, CA

I first maped out the gravesite of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in the Spring of 2009 when planning my trip down to Texas. We were going to stop in the Nashville area to visit Andrew Jackson's Hermitage home and James K. Polk's gravesite on the Tennessee State Capital lawn. As it turned out we didn't have time to see it in 2009. But we passed back through the area on our way back from a return trip to Texas in June 2011.

The gravesite of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Hendersonville Memorial Gardens Hendersonville, TN

I was lucky enough to meet a friend on Facebook who lived in the area and met up with us at the cemetery. Without the help of Joshua Reese we may not of been able to find Johnny and June's gravesite. Josh has started a quest to visit the graves of all of the Tennessee Governor's which you can read about here

The gravesite of Johnny Cash

Johnny and June. June Carter and her family where famous stage performers when she met Johnny Cash.

June Carter Cash (1929-2003)

For anyone who may go to Hendersonville to find Johnny and June Carter Cash's grave I hope this picture will be helpful. In the background you can see the funeral home near the enterance.

Johnny, June and me

Johnny Cash was called the 'Man in Black'. Obviously because he usually wore black and one of his song was called 'The Man in Black'. His music isn't easily defined as any particular type. He oftain falls under the category of Country Western but I don't think that accuratly defines his whole career.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

John Wayne

John Wayne (1907-1979)

John Wayne sites that I have visited: John Wayne birthplace, Winterset, Iowa
                                                       John Wayne gravesite, Pacific View Memorial Park Corona del mar, CA

Legendary actor John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa on May 26, 1907. His given name at birth was Marion Robert Morrison.

I visited the birthplace of John Wayne in March 2011. I made a big loop through the western Midwest and saw the Truman and Eisenhower Libraries, as well as Gerald Ford's birthplace on the first day. We spent the night across the border from Omaha, Nebraska, in western Iowa. On the second day of the trip we would drive the entire length of Iowa arriving at the Hoover Library in eastern Iowa towards the mid afternoon. I was looking for something to see in Iowa that would break up the state wide drive to Hoover. I was very pleased to find that right in the middle of the state near Des Moines was the birthplace home of John Wayne. So John Waynes birthplace and Vice President Henry Wallace's grave in Des Moines made a good break in the drive.

 I grew up spending alot of time at my Grandparents house who lived just down the street. They would watch alot of old westerns on TNT, TBS AMC ect... So of course we would watch alot of John Wayne. Even though he died 2 years before I was born, I grew up being a big John Wayne fan. Now reflecting as an adult, there is a certain simple charm to the movies made back then that you just don't see in movies today. That's why every so oftain I feel like watching one of John Waynes classic movies.

Sign marking the house as John Waynes' birthplace.

John Wayne's birthplace home Winterset, Iowa

The house is filled with pictures and props from some of his movies. Unfortunatly, no pictures where allowed inside.

The visitors center next door

Me with a cardboard cutout of 'The Duke' in the visitors center. We are shocked at what we see.

An awesome interestion. Washington and Wayne

Near the birthplace is this awesome statue of John Wayne

The John Wayne statue with the local courthouse in the background. Notice our van to the right and one identicle to it on the left, stopped at the light. There seemed to be alot of dirt roads in Iowa. 

The John Wayne birthplace is a great site to see for anyone who is a fan of John Wayne. If your not a fan you will probably regret the 6 dollar admission fee. I throughly enjoyed it. There isn't much furniture in the house. It is kind of a museum to John Waynes movie career.

John Waynes footprints in front of the Chinese theatre. Los Angeles, CA

Pacific View Memorial Park Corona del mar, California. The final resting place of John Wayne. If you look closely to the right side of the picture, you can see my sister taking a picture of the gravesite.

I visited the gravesite of John Wayne on October 1, 2011. My sister and I flew out to Los Angeles for the weekend to see the Nixon and Reagan Libraries. I decided to visit John Waynes gravesite first thing in the morning, before the Nixon Library would open. We had just arrived in Los Angeles around midnight the night before. For some reason the sun seemed unusually bright that morning. Traffic was flowing very well. We arrived at Pacific View Memorial Park ahead of scheduel and followed directions that I got online to John Waynes gravesite. I am thankful that I found this website, otherwise there is no way that we would of found the gravesite. Most of the graves out there are flat markers on the ground, making it tough for us grave hunters out there to find what we are looking for. So specific directions are a nessesity.

John Waynes headstone.

John Waynes family must of been conserned about graverobbers. Because they left John Waynes gravesite unmarker for around 20 years.

My sister and John Wayne. She's a big fan to.

John Wayne and me.

Of all of John Waynes movies that I enjoy watching there are 2 that I seem to go to the most. I like True Grit, The Sons of Katie Elder, Big Jake, El Dorodo, The Shootist, and McLintock is always good for a laugh. But the 2 the I really enjoy are 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' and 'The Searchers'. Especially 'The Searchers', which I think is his best performance, playing someone that is Grittier than Rooster Cogburn, and you could almost call his character in 'The Searchers' a bad guy. Almost. In 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' John Wayne is part of a great cast ( including Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin) telling a simple story, with a surprise twist.

John Wayne's movie career lasted for 50 years.  According to Wikipedia a Harris poll which has been realesed every year since 1994, in January 2011 showed John Wayne ranked 3rd among America's favorite film stars. He is the only deceased person on the poll. He is also the only person to be on every years list since it started in 1994.