Whether it’s celebrity graves, impressive architecture, or fascinating history you’re after, Los Angeles cemeteries have it all. From Marilyn Monroe’s grave at Westwood Village Memorial Park to the rolling hills of Forest Lawn, these resting places have that glamorous, morbidly beautiful feeling that’s just … so L.A. Take a stroll with us through the whispering groves of these six haunting Los Angeles cemeteries.
1. Inglewood Park Cemetery
Founded in 1905, Inglewood Park Cemetery is one of California’s oldest cemeteries. The sprawling grounds feature a number of impressive monuments and a manmade lake on its lush, green property.
Inglewood is a popular choice of eternal rest for major stars, including Betty Grable, Cesar Romero, Ray Charles, and Ella Fitzgerald. The husband of Jean Harlow, Paul Bern, whose death caused quite the scandal in 1932, is also entombed at Inglewood. Bern committed suicide—his note to Harlow read: “Dearest dear, Unfortunately this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and wipe out my abject humiliation. I love you. Paul. You understand last night was only a comedy.”
Some believe Bern was murdered by his common law wife, Dorothy Millette, who allegedly jumped from a ferry to her death after killing him.
Though only 50 people were allowed to attend Bern’s funeral at Inglewood, nearly 1,000 congregated outside the cemetery grounds, hoping to catch a glimpse of his glamorous widow. Harlow sat in a small room connected to the chapel during the ceremony. When Bern’s sister walked in to the chapel, his body had been removed for viewing. She screamed, “He’s gone! Where have they taken him?” Harlow never spoke of Bern again, died just five years later, and is entombed in Forest Lawn Glendale’s Great Mausoleum.
2. Forest Lawn, Glendale
The original location of what now can only be described as a memorial park empire, Forest Lawn Glendale is a beautiful, gigantic memorial park on 300 acres located in Glendale, Los Angeles. Founded in 1906, the cemetery went through a major change in 1917 when Dr. Hubert Eaton took over its management, turning it into a veritable park, where its message (according to Dr. Eaton) would be one of uplifting beauty led by Christian belief.
Inside Forest Lawn Glendale, you’ll find the Great Mausoleum, which contains the remains of Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, and Jean Harlow, to name a few. The mausoleum also includes a full size replica of the Last Supper painting. Dotting the grounds is a larger than life replica of the statue David, a huge mosaic replica of Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence,” three non-denominational chapels, and another mausoleum surrounded by patriotic statues, called the Freedom Mausoleum.
The most haunting sections inside Forest Lawn Glendale, are two plots landscaped into the shape of a heart. These sections, called “Babyland” and “Lullabyland,” are reserved for infants and small children. Outside the perimeter of the heart, you’ll find adult interments for mothers who wanted to be buried closer to their babies.
3. Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park
It’s a bit tricky to find the resting place of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marilyn Monroe. Wedged in between an office park in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles is a small but famous cemetery known as Westwood Village Memorial Park. In addition to Marilyn’s crypt, you’ll find the resting places of Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Wilder, Rodney Dangerfield, Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Janet Leigh, Eva Gabor, and more.
Marilyn’s tomb, in the wall mausoleum, has been stained a peach color from the many years of fans kissing the marble stone. But the most haunting graves at Westwood Village are those of Dominique Dunne and Heather O’Rourke, who costarred together in 1982’s Poltergeist. Dunne, who was tragically murdered by her ex-boyfriend when she was just 22, is buried in the ground burial section. O’Rourke, who died in 1988 when she was just 12 from an misdiagnosed intestinal disorder, is located just a few yards away in the wall mausoleum. Her epitaph reads: “Beloved Daughter-Sister,” “Carol Anne” – “Poltergeist I, II, III.”
4. Hollywood Forever
When Hollywood Forever was first founded in the early 1900s, the cemetery sold large swaths of its land to nearby Paramount Studios. So, Hollywood Forever and actual Hollywood have really been in business together from the start. Today you can visit the cemetery through its popular film and concert series, but be sure to stop by during the day to make the most of your visit.
Hollywood Cemetery is the permanent resting place for Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc, Vampira, Douglas Fairbanks, Peter Lorre, John Huston, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone, and many, many more. On the grounds, you’ll find just about every type of cemetery burial, including mausoleums, in-wall crypts, ground burials, tombs, and more. In the center of the cemetery is a beautiful man-made lake, home to the Douglas Fairbanks memorial, and of course, palm trees.
One of the most infamous graves at Hollywood Forever is that of Rudolph Valentino, who is located in the Cathedral Mausoleum. When Valentino died unexpectedly at the age of 31, his body was placed in a borrowed crypt at Hollywood Forever, owned by his friend June Mathis. But when Mathis died the following year, she was placed in the adjoining crypt, making things permanent. Valentino’s grave is said to be haunted by a woman in black who comes to pay her respect and places a red rose at his crypt.
5. Holy Cross Cemetery
Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, located in Culver City, Los Angeles, was opened in 1939. It is the resting place of many Catholic celebrities and show-business professionals, including Jean Acker, Mary Astor, Ray Bolger, John Candy, Bing Crosby, Rita Hayworth, Bela Lugosi, Louella Parsons, Rosalind Russell, and more.
Perhaps the most haunting grave at Holy Cross Cemetery is that of Sharon Tate, murdered by the Manson family on the night of August 8, 1969. Tate shares a resting place with her mother, Doris, and her sister, Patricia. Sharon’s epitaph reads, “Our Loving Daughter and Beloved Wife of Roman.” Tate’s unborn son, Paul Richard Polanski, was buried in her arms.
6. Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills
The Hollywood Hills location of Forest Lawn was originally used as a filming location for movies, including D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. When Dr. Hubert Eaton took over at Forest Lawn Glendale, he made it known that he intended to open another location in Hollywood. The residents of the area were not happy about it, and staged full-scale protests. Dr. Eaton apparently circumvented their efforts by having his staff take six “John Does” from the local morgue and bury them on the land in the middle of the night. By morning, there was nothing anyone could do, as according to the regulations at that time, the land was now a cemetery.
Like Forest Lawn Glendale, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills features many artistic replicas and statues, including the world’s largest historical mosaic, The Birth of Liberty, and major statues of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. You’ll find beautiful wall crypts, mausoleums, and ground burials with sweeping views of the mountains. Notable interments include Edie Adams, Bette Davis, Buster Keaton, Liberace, Freddie Prinze, Ricky Nelson, Brittany Murphy, Sandra Dee, David Carradine, and more.