Johnny Ramone memorial.
Johnny Ramone's statue -- by Wayne Toth --stands in Hollywood Forever, but he isn't buried here.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Field review by the editors.

Hollywood, California

Hollywood Forever is the most entertaining graveyard in America, harkening back to a time when cemeteries were family picnic destinations. Its rebirth as a hybrid graveyard and tourist attraction came nearly 100 years after it opened, with new ownership at the turn of the 21st century. Before that, when it was called Hollywood Memorial Park, it was mostly known as the cemetery so cheap that it turned its frontage along Route 66 into a strip mall.

Carl Morgan Bigsby:
Carl Morgan Bigsby: "Retired by God"

Of course, the freedom to step out of a cemetery to pick up a pizza or visit a laundromat only adds to its charm.

Because it is Hollywood's oldest cemetery, Hollywood Forever has buried (or shelved) a galaxy of stars, from screen legends such as Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, to pop TV icon Vampira, to rockers such as Johnny Ramone and Chris Cornell. Bugsy Siegel is buried here. Jayne Mansfield and Toto the dog also have memorials at Hollywood Forever, even though they're entombed elsewhere.

Speaking of memorials, Hollywood Forever has an almost-anything-goes policy when it comes to grave monuments. Mel Blanc's epitaph is "That's all, folks!" Don Adams has an engraving of himself as Maxwell Smart talking on his shoe phone. Carl and Constance Bigsby, not household names, topped their burial plot with a granite Atlas nuclear missile. Carl's epitaph is, "Retired by God." Constance's is, "Too bad, we had fun."

Shutterbugs are welcome, and helpful maps point you where you want to go among Hollywood Forever's 60,000 graves.

Rudolf Valentino grave.
Rudolf Valentino grave.

As part of ownership's goal to "take the creepiness out of the death-care industry," Hollywood Forever hosts outdoor concerts during the warm weather months and holds regular movie nights, projecting the films onto the outside wall of the Cathedral Mausoleum, where Rudolph Valentino and Peter Lorre are interred. Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and sandwiches.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Memorial Park

Address:
6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA
Directions:
West of US Hwy 101 on Santa Monica Blvd, just south of the 101 Freeway. Entrance is behind a strip mall housing auto repair shops and a laundromat.
Hours:
Daily 8-5. Tours Sa noon or by appt. (Call to verify)
Phone:
323-469-1181
Admission:
Free to visit; $15 for two-hour guided walking tour.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Atlas Missile Grave MarkerAtlas Missile Grave Marker, Hollywood, CA - < 1 mi.
Jayne Mansfield's CenotaphJayne Mansfield's Cenotaph, Hollywood, CA - < 1 mi.
Johnny Ramone GraveJohnny Ramone Grave, Hollywood, CA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Universal CityWalk Freakish Facades, Universal City, CA - 4 mi.

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December 11, 2019

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