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