FAMOUS GRAVE TOUR - LA County (Sally Rand, Lucille Bogan, etc.)
Welcome to Hollywood Graveyard, where we set out to remember and celebrate the lives of those who lived to entertain us, by visiting their final resting places. Today we’re exploring cemeteries around Los Angeles County, to find such stars as Sally Rand, Lucille Bogan, Priscilla Lawson, and many more. Join us, won’t you? LA County is a big place, and there are lots of cemeteries across the county. We know and have visited the big ones, the “star” cemeteries if you will, like Forest Lawn Glendale and Hollywood Forever. But what about the supporting players? Lesser known, perhaps, but still vital to the story. There are numerous smaller cemeteries across Los Angeles County,
and in each are a handful of stars. Not enough to populate an entire video for each individual cemetery, so today we’ll be visiting 10 cemeteries across LA County, to find the stars that rest therein. Mostly smaller stars, but stars nonetheless, whose stories help us weave a more complete picture of the colorful tapestry that is the history of entertainment in Los Angeles.
We’ll begin inland, on the eastern edge of LA county, and work our way back toward the coast. This is Oak Park Cemetery in Claremont, founded in 1897. In section 56, near the southern end of the cemetery, we find the grave of Addison Richards. He was another of those actors whose name may have never topped the marquee, but was prolific in his output, appearing in over 400 productions. He began appearing in films in the 30s, like G-Men, Lone Cowboy, and Nick Carter, Master Detective. From the very early days of television in the 1950s, Addison would appear in just about every major show in the following decades.
You saw him in episodes of The Millionaire, The People’s Choice, Studio One, Schlitz Playhouse, Dennis the Menace, The Untouchables, One Step Beyond, The Loretta Young Show, Alfred Hitchcock, Tales of Wells Fargo, 77 Sunset Strip, My Three Sons, Rawhide, Beverly Hillbillies, and many many more. Addison passed away from a heart attack at the age of 61. Moving on to the very southeast corner of the cemetery, this is the grave of Michael Alldredge. Like his neighbor here at Oak Park, Michael became a familiar face on television, his career spanning the 70s to the 90s. He had a regular role as Frank in the 80s series, Almost
Grown, and made guest appearances on shows like Alice, Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, the 80’s Twilight Zone, and Dallas. His films include The Incredible Melting Man, and perhaps most notably, playing Tony Montana’s lawyer in Scarface. “What am I looking at?” “Five years. You’ll be out in three. Maybe less if I can make a deal.”
Michael was just 56 when he died from lung cancer. That’s it for Oak Park, let’s hop the 10 west to visit one of the lesser-known Forest Lawns. If you’ve driven through Covina along the 10, you’ve probably spotted the sign for Forest Lawn, with three massive statues looming over the sign, like the Colossus of Rhodes. This is another younger sister cemetery to the original Forest Lawn in LA, but she’s growing up fast. And just like her sister in the Hollywood Hills, Covina has an impressive mosaic, on the façade of the main mausoleum, which features biblical vignettes. We’ll begin our
exploration of Forest Lawn Covina Hills in the Churchyard. Here, just east of the church, is the grave of Mary Ford. Fans of Les Paul (the man and the guitars), will remember her as the musical and romantic partner of guitar legend, Les Paul, the two performing together as “Les Paul and Mary Ford.” In the 50s, the duo had a number of hits, like “How High the Moon,” and “Vaya con Dios,” alluded to right here on her marker. Paul and Ford were among the very early practitioners of multi-tracking, commonplace today. The pair would also star in their own radio and television programs. In 1951 they were among the
biggest musical acts in showbusiness, outselling the likes of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Mary succumbed to complications of alcohol abuse in 1977, passing away at the age of 53. Circling around southeast to Golden Dawn section, we find the grave of another Mary, Mary King. She was known to young television audiences as Miss Mary Ann, the host of the children’s television show, Romper Room, from 1966 to 1976. On the show she would teach children to be a “Do Bee,” a well-behaved child, as opposed to a “Don’t Bee,” a naughty child.
This is referenced right here on her marker. Also on her marker is an image of her holding her magic mirror from the show, to remind people of how special they are. King was a life-long advocate of children’s education. She passed away at age 82. In this same section, but further east, way down the hill, is the grave of Mitchell McDowell, a musician also known as General Kane. He was frontman of the musical group of the same name, which he formed in the late 70s.
The band merged elements of funk, rap, soul, and R&B, releasing 6 albums between 1978 and 1987. Among their memorable tracks are the anti-drug song, “Crack Killed Applejack,” and the romantic ballad “Close Your Eyes.” After leaving the music biz, Mitch pursued a career as a bail bondsman. He was murdered in a robbery in January 1992 at the age of 37, a case which remains unsolved.
A lot of fast food chains have started in Southern California, but one seems to have become the most closely identified with this area, the quintessential Southern California burger experience… animal style, if you’re so inclined. Harry and Esther Snyder were the founders of In-N-Out. The couple founded the first In-N-Out in Baldwin Park in 1948, as the first drive-thru hamburger stand in California. And a stand it was… a mere 10 square foot building. Harry would visit local meat and produce markets for their burger ingredients,
while Esther handled the accounting. Harry also innovated the two-way speaker system, which would allow customers to place an order without having to leave their cars. Over the decades, In-N-Out has become a staple of the Southern California experience. By the time of Harry’s death in 1976 from lung cancer, the company had expanded to 18 stores. Esther carried on the business with her sons, continuing the growth and expansion of the chain. She passed away at age 86
Turning south now to Constant Peace section. Up the hill a ways we find Joseph De Santis. The Italian-American kicked off his career as an actor on the radio, heard on programs like Pepper Young’s Family, and The March of Time, as well as a role in the nationwide broadcast of On a Note of Triumph, at the conclusion of WWII. With the advent of television, he’d become an in-demand character actor, often playing mugs or suave heavies, in shows like Perry Mason, Bonanza, and The Untouchables.
And his films include Deadline – USA, alongside Humphrey Bogart, and Madame X alongside Lana Turner. After retiring, he dedicated his time to another passion: sculpting. He passed away from lung disease at age 80. The eastern-most section of the cemetery is Serenity. Not far in from the road is Mickie Jones. He was a musician, the bass player and a co-founder of the 70’s rock group, Angel. The band was discovered by Gene Simmons of Kiss, and signed to the same label. And while they didn’t achieve the same success as Kiss, they did acquire a cult following. The band released three
albums between 1975 and 1977, but by the early 80s had dissolved. He later formed and provided lead vocals for the Los Angeles band, Empire. Mickie was just 56 when he lost his battle with cancer. Our last stop here is in the very southeast corner of the cemetery, way down at the bottom of the hill in Radiance section. Here lies Deezer D. He was an actor, best-remembered for his role as Nurse Malik McGrath in some 190 episodes of the medical drama series, ER. He can also be seen in films like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, CB4, and Bones. Deezer D was also a rapper and musician, releasing an album in 2008, Delayed, But Not Denied. He was just 55 when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 2021. Moving on to our next LA County Cemetery, we travel several miles northwest to Oakdale Memorial Park in Glendora, serving the San Gabriel Valley for over 100 years.
It dates back to the late 1800s, when the Santa Fe Railroad came through the area and sparked growth, and the need for a larger community cemetery. Just one famous name to find here, but it’s one you fans of classic Burlesque (and I do mean “fans”) will instantly recognize: Sally Rand. She began performing from a young age as a chorus girl, singing and dancing her way to Hollywood. During the 20s she acted on stage and appeared in silent films, becoming one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1927. While performing at the Paramount Club, she developed the act for which she would be known the rest of her life. Inspired by her background studying ballet, and a nod to The Swan, Anna Pavlova, Sally developed the fan dance… a peek-a-boo dance in which she performed nude, or in a nude body suit (depending on the venue), covered only with two large fans made of ostrich feathers. In debuting the dance at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago,
she was arrested four times for the perceived indecent exposure… though in that venue she wore a nude body suit. She gained nation-wide notoriety for her fan dance, and soon was performing it in Burlesque theaters and stages across the country. Later she would create her equally famous exotic dance, the bubble dance, in which she would perform with a giant translucent bubble. Her iconic dances featured prominently in the films Bolero, and Sunset Murder Case, in which she had a starring role. Sally had her own burlesque night club in San Francisco, The Music Box, and created Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch for the Golden Gate International Expo in 1939 and 1940. Age didn’t slow Sally Rand, performing her famously naughty dances into her 60s. Describing her 40-year career, she said, “I haven’t been out of work since the day I took my pants off.” Sally Rand was 75 when she died from heart failure.
Next up is our third “Oak” themed cemetery of the day, Live Oak Cemetery in Monrovia, also known as Turner & Stevens Live Oak Memorial Park. Let’s begin here near the Sunshine Garden Crypts, east of the entrance. Here we find a name familiar to you football Fans, Clay Matthews… no, not that one, but his grandfather, Clay Matthews Sr. He played professional football for four
seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, as a tackle. After the NFL he became a businessman, living to the age of 88. Matthews was the patriarch of a dynasty of football players, whose sons, and grandsons have all played in the NFL. Southwest of here is section G. Not far in from the road we find actor Sailor Vincent, another prolific supporting character, with over 200 productions to his name. Known mainly for his roles in television westerns, he would appear dozens of times in shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick, and Death Valley Days, and crime dramas like The Untouchables. He
appeared in numerous films in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, mainly smaller, uncredited roles, like in Kissin’ Cousins alongside Elvis, but also found his way into the credits in films like Woman Trap. Earlier in his career, Vincent was a boxer. He passed away from a heart attack at age 64. Turning west we reach Hope section. This is the grave of Nobu McCarthy. She was born in Canada, and raised in Japan, where she studied ballet and began modeling. Nobu was discovered by a talent agent while
shopping in Little Tokyo here in Los Angeles, and cast in the 1958 film, The Geisha Boy. In the decades that followed she’d appear in films like Walk Like a Dragon, and The Karate Kid part II. “He ever tell you about how he feels, when I leave?” “One time, he say he love you very much.”
Perhaps her best-known role is as Masi in 1988’s The Wash, which earned her an nomination for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards. Nobu would also make appearances on television, on shows like The Love Boat, Perry Mason, and Diff’rent Strokes. While filming a movie in Brazil in 2002, Nobu died from a ruptured aortic aneurysm. She was 67. For our last stop here, let’s cross the street north to Faith Section. Here lies Priscilla Lawson. A generation of sci-fi fans fell in love with the exotic Priscilla as the sultry and scheming Princess Aura, in the Flash Gordon serial of the 1930s. “Tell Vultan you love him,
and I can save Flash. You give him up, I can make him a king. If you do not, he will pay for your selfishness with his life.” Beyond the planet Mongo, Priscilla can be seen in films like Rose Bowl, and The Girl of the Golden West. She retired from the screen after a small role in 1941’s Billy the Kid, and passed away from a bleeding ulcer in 1958, at just 44. The sun is setting on this day, but there’s still much more of LA County to explore.
Our journey through Los Angeles the County bas brought us right back to Los Angeles the City, or, the City of Los Angeles, if you like. We’re at the Los Angeles County Crematorium and Cemetery. It’s adjacent to Evergreen Cemetery, which you’ll recall we briefly discussed in that video, because the land for this cemetery was donated to the county by Evergreen, for burial of unclaimed remains. Individuals whose remains go unclaimed, often indigents or those with no next of kin, are cremated and held for a period of 5 years. If the remains are not claimed in that time, they are buried in community plots by year. The community plots are slightly larger than an average grave plot, and hold between 1000 and 2000 sets of cremains. There are a couple of Hollywood actresses of yesteryear buried in these community plots.
This section here approximately corresponds to the early 1940s, when Reata Hoyt died. Reata was an actress, best known for her work on stage in the early 1900s, like Irving Berlin’s Music Box Revue. As most did in that era, she made her way to film, debuting in the 1926 film “The Non-Stop Bride,” and going on to appear in the films The Lily, and Better Days. But her career was cut short in 1942 when she died at the tender age of 29 from cirrhosis of the liver. She was cremated and buried here in the common grave.
Heading over to the northern fence, we find the section marked for 1965. Herein lies Greta Meyer. The German-born character actress was known for playing mothers, landladies, domestics, and the like, in close to 80 films between 1917 and 1944. These include The Match King, The Great Waltz, and 1933’s Fog. Greta passed away in 1965 at age 82, her cremated remains buried here in this plot. There are no markers for these individuals, but family members who discover loved ones buried in the community plots can request to have a small marker placed, like this one here.
Let’s turn the compass south now, and visit Compton. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Taj Mahal in India, but couldn’t afford the trip, drive down Compton Blvd, and check out the mausoleums in Angeles Abbey Memorial Park. It was founded in 1923 by a shipbuilder who envisioned grand mausoleums to house Compton’s dead. The mausoleums were built in Moorish and Islamic style architecture,
inspired by trips to India. They are among the hidden gems less visited in the LA area by famous grave hunters who tend gravitate toward the star cemeteries of Forest Lawn and Hollywood Forever, but are well worth seeing for the die-hard taphophile. The mausoleums are kept locked because of issues with the homeless, vandalism, and drug use, but Angeles Abbey is more than happy to show you in if you’d like to visit. I’d highly recommend it, as the interior is spectacularly detailed in its artistry, and stylistically quite different than anything else around. And you’ve even seen these unique mausoleums on screen… in shows like Westworld and Alias, the 2005 film Constantine, and Slipknot’s “Unsainted” music video. Now then, let’s find a few entertainers here at Angeles Abbey.
We’ll begin by heading into the Mausoleum of Love, building 8, where we find the crypt of Peggy O’Dare, real name Ella Wells. She was a silent film actress, appearing in around a dozen films between 1919 and 1928, including The Vanishing Dagger in 1920, and Moccasins in 1925. She retired from the screen before the dawn of the talkies, and lived to be 60. Next we move onto the Garden of Memory, just north of the Abbey of Angelus. Resting here is Viola Wills. She was a pop and R&B singer who shot to fame in 1979 with her dance cover of “Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now.”
Other hits include covers of “If You Could Read My Mind,” and “Stormy Weather.” Her musical style evolved over the years, incorporating elements of jazz and gospel, which she dubbed “jazzspel.” Viola died from cancer in 2009. As of filming her grave is unmarked. Over now to the Garden of Blessed Promise, in the northern end of the cemetery, we find another musician, Carl White. Carl was lead singer in a singing group in the 1950s that underwent a number of name changes before settling on The Rivingtons. The group became well known in the 50s and 60s for their novelty doo wop songs, most notably among them, “Papa Oom Mow Mow,” and “The Bird is the Word.” The two songs would be the basis of “Surfin’ Bird,” performed by The Trashmen, and famously featured on Family Guy. Carl White was just 47 when he died
from acute tonsilitis. He rests here in a shared multi-plot, though his name is not on the marker. Our next Compton cemetery is Woodlawn Memorial Park, now known as Woodlawn Celestial Gardens. This cemetery is currently undergoing something of a renaissance, thanks to family members and volunteers from the community who have sought to revitalize it. The cemetery was founded in 1871 as Compton Rural Cemetery… one of the very first in LA County. But by the 2000s, after years of neglect, bankruptcy, and abandonment, the cemetery fell into disrepair, and the gates were chained shut, leaving families with little recourse. In 2020, a woman named Celestina Bishop, whose family rests here, decided to do something, by starting a nonprofit called One Section at a Time, which now runs the cemetery with the help of community volunteers, and even works with Youth Programs, to clean up and restore dignity to the cemetery. Woodlawn operates primarily on private
funding and donations, but just this week they are installing a brand-new columbarium to do inurnment of cremated remains for the first time. For more information on the organization’s efforts, and how you can help, check out their website, link in the description below. There’s a lot of history in these grounds, from veterans and Compton founders, to a Black Panther leader, sports figures, and a Social Security pioneer. And yes, a handful of entertainers as well. Near the western fence we find Freeman Davis, a musician also known as Brother Bones, and Whistlin’ Sam. You may not know his name, but you definitely know his whistle. Davis is best remembered for the 1949 recording with his band,
Brother Bones and His Shadows, of the standard “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Their rendition became famous nationwide as the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters, which they adopted in 1952. Despite the notoriety of the song, Davis remained relatively unknown throughout his life. He earned the nickname “Brother Bones” for his playing of percussive bones, a rhythmic instrument carved from animal bones or ivory, which also feature prominently in Sweet Georgia Brown. Davis would also make an appearance on film, alongside Scatman Crothers in 1951’s Yes Sir, Mr. Bones. He lived to be 71.
A little further east, just past the wall, is section 3-2. Here we find a child actress named Paralee Coleman. Young Paralee started acting in 1926 when she was around 2. She would appear in close to a dozen films, mainly shorts, between 1926 and 1937. Fans of the Our Gang shorts of the 20s remember her as Pleurisy, the younger sister of Farina. Other films include Uncle Tom, The Rodeo, and The Burglar. Little is known about Paralee after she retired from acting in 1937. She was just 41 when she died, and her grave here at
Woodlawn remained unmarked until 2021 when fans organized a fundraiser to have this lovely marker placed for her. Near the eastern end of the cemetery, in section U, is Fritz Truran. As you may have surmised from the bucking bronco on his marker, Fritz was an award-winning rodeo performer in the first half of the 20th century. In 1939 and 1940 he won the all-around “Bronc Riding Championship” at Madison Square Garden, and in 1941 won the coveted “Sam Jackson Trophy.” His skills led to him performing
in films as a double for cowboy actors like Gene Autry and Dick Foran. After the outbreak of WWII, Fritz enlisted in the Marine Corps. Sadly, Fritz would die fighting for his country in the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific. He was 29. As a tribute to Fritz, the stallion he rode to the
championship stood empty saddled, spotlighted in a dark stadium while a marine played taps. Across the street from Woodlawn is Lincoln Memorial Park, in neighboring Carson. It pays homage to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. We’ll begin our explorations here today in from the entrance on the right is section U. Here lies Hampton Hawes. He was a noted jazz pianist, whose trio found fame in the 50s, and made some of the finest west-coast jazz recordings of the age. He’d win the “New Star of the Year” award in 1956, but a heroin addiction would land him a 10-year prison sentence in 1958. While serving his sentence,
he made a personal plea to President Kennedy in 1961 for a pardon, which was granted. After his release from prison, Hawes continued performing and recording, releasing dozens of albums. He released an award-winning memoir, Raise Up Off Me, in 1974, but died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage just three years later at the age of 48. He rests here with his father.
Continuing into the cemetery we reach the mausoleums. On the west wall we find the crypt of Willie Egan. He was a rhythm and blues and boogie-woogie pianist, singer, and songwriter in the 1950s. He was a critical darling, but didn’t enjoy much commercial success in his prime. His best-known song is “Wear Your Black Dress.” Willie would enjoy something of a comeback in the 1980s when his music was re-discovered in Europe and surged in popularity. He found himself performing in London, and back in the recording studio for the first time in decades. Willie died from cancer at age 70.
Let’s head to the lawn across from the mausoleum. Near the middle is the grave of Gladys Bentley. She’s another of the great blues entertainers of the 20th century, known for her gender-bending and provocative style. She shot to fame during the Harlem Renaissance, performing in New York speakeasies in the 20s, as a black, lesbian, cross-dressing performer -- her signature look including top hat, coat tails, and a cane. She was open about her lesbianism, in an age when that was still very much taboo. Her songs were often risqué, and the unique growl in her voice brilliantly blurred the lines between the human voice, and a fluttering jazz trumpet. After the repeal of prohibition, Gladys relocated to Los Angeles, where she was billed as “America’s Greatest Sepia Piano Player.” As federal laws began changing, Gladys would sometimes have to
carry a special permit to perform in men’s clothing, and during the repressive days of McCarthyism, she resorted to wearing dresses and entered into a lavender marriage with a man. During her final years, Gladys clamed to have been “cured” by taking female hormones, writing an essay for Ebony magazine titled “I Am a Woman Again.” She died from pneumonia at age 52. Our next stop takes us all the way to the northwest corner of the cemetery. Here lies Dudley Dickerson. In the 1930s to the 50s, Dudley was one of the most prominent African-American actors in two-reel comedies. He’s particularly remembered for his
numerous appearances alongside The Three Stooges, drawing some of the biggest laughs in his scenes. “This house has sure gone crazy!” Dudley would also receive featured billing in a number of Hugh Herbert comedies, and also appeared in several episodes of Amos ‘n’ Andy. Dudley retired from the screen in 1959, and passed away from a brain tumor in 1968 at age 61. Circling back around to the east we reach the lawn on the other side of the mausoleum. This is the grave of David Lynch, not to be confused with the filmmaker of the same name. This David Lynch was a member of one of the most successful vocal groups during the early rock and roll era, The Platters. The group formed in the early 50s,
and they had numerous hits in the 50s and 60s. Among them, “Only You (and You Alone),” and theirs is perhaps the most famous rendition of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” Lynch would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 with The Platters. He passed away from cancer at age 51. Further east we find the grave of Jesse Graves. He was a character actor in the 30s and 40s. As a black man in that time, his roles were generally smaller supporting roles, but he’d appear in some of the biggest films of the era, like The Thin Man, Jezebel, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Citizen Kane. Jesse would appear in over 100
films between 1933 and 1949. He lived to be 69. Continuing on to section B in the southeast, this is the grave of Willa Curtis. She was an actress in the 30s to the 60s. You fans of the Our Gang series will remember her for playing Buckwheat’s mother in “Tale of a Dog.” On film, like her neighbor Jesse Graves, she was often relegated in this era to smaller supporting roles, as maids or servants, in productions like Second Chorus and The Wages of Sin. Willa made her way to
television in the 50s, appearing on Amos ‘n’ Andy, Death Valley Days, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She retired in 1964, and passed away from cerebral arteriosclerosis and diabetes at the age of 74. Our last stop here takes us to the eastern end of the cemetery, near the road. If you thought
dirty lyrics were a product of the modern age, and perceive the music of yesteryear as prudish and proper, then you haven’t heard dirty blues. Lucille Bogan was a pioneer of female blues singers in the 1930s… in fact she’s considered among the “Big Three” of early female blues, with Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. She began recording in the 1920s, with her first hit in the song “Sweet Petunia.” By the 30s her songs more and more would feature topics of drinking and explicit sex, but presented in a whimsical, sometimes tongue-in-cheek fashion, Lucille even famously cracking herself up with a line in one of her most notoriously bawdy tracks, “Shave ‘Em Dry.” Another of her most famously dirty blues, “’Till the Cows Come Home,” would require some significant bleeping if played on the airwaves today, and could make even the most free-spirited among us blush. Lucille passed away from coronary sclerosis at the age of 51. Her grave remained unmarked until 2016 when this marker was placed by a blues organization.
And in 2022, Lucille was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Next up is Roosevelt Memorial Park in Gardena, founded in 1923. Our first stop here is not far in from the entrance off Vermont Ave, north of the road. Here lies Big Joe Turner, “Boss of the Blues.” He’s considered another of the early pioneers of rock and roll, whose background performing the rhythm and blues and boogie-woogie in the 30s and 40s would evolve into rock and roll in the 50s. In 1954 he had a huge success with the song “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” considered today among the greatest songs of all time. Two years later he would
appear as himself in the film, Shake, Rattle, and Rock! In the 60s and 70s he returned to his roots, playing the blues with small jazz combos. Big Joe Turner would be inducted into both the Blues and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. He died from heart failure at age 74. Further west we reach the mausoleums. Here is the niche of Vola Vale, one of the great beauties from Hollywood’s nascent years. She began appearing in silent films as early as 1913. Vola
is remembered for playing leading lady to William S. Hart in films like 1917’s The Silent Man. Her popularity rose in the following years, starring in films like Alias Jimmy Valentine. But her career slowed by the end of the silent era, and aside from two bit parts in the 1930s, she retired from the screen. Vola died from heart disease and diabetes at the age of 73. All the way on the other end of the cemetery is a scattering garden, where we remember Basil Wrangell. His role in Hollywood is one we rarely feature, but is vital to the films we see. He was an editor, the person who cuts and sews all the footage together into the final film we see.
His career began in the silent era, and he would cut films and TV Shows into the 70s. His best-known work is the 1937 film The Good Earth, which earned him an Oscar nomination. Other of his work includes films like Freaks, and shows like Peyton Place. Basil passed away in 1970 at age 77, his cremated remains were scattered here in the garden, though there is no marker for him. One more famous grave here at Roosevelt takes us to the southern end of the cemetery.
Earlier we found the man who whistled the Harlem Globetrotters theme… well now we find a man who played for the team. Here lies Boid Buie. Young Boid lost his left arm in a car accident when he was 13. This didn’t hold him back, though, from pushing himself to excel as an athlete, becoming leading scorer on his high school basketball team. Before even graduating from high school, the Harlem Globetrotters offered him a contract to play. But putting an emphasis
on education, he completed a college degree before singing on to play with the Globetrotters in 1946. Over his 9-year career, he’d be one of the most accurate jump shooters on the team, all with just one arm. His scoring acumen earned him the nickname, the One-Armed Wonder. Later he would even start his own team, the Harlem Stars, headquartered in Compton. Boid lived to be 73. For our last stop of the day, we’re going to do something we haven’t done since our Italy tour, and that is hop a boat to reach our next cemetery. Because our destination is Catalina Island. Yes, there are a couple famous graves on the resort island, which is just off the coast of Los Angeles and is part of LA County. So, wave goodbye to Long Beach, and wave hello to the dolphins who are joining us on our tour today. As we approach the island,
let us remember Natalie Wood, who tragically drowned in these waters almost 42 years ago. Welcome to Catalina Island, and the city of Avalon. Heading up a quiet island road, we reach Avalon Memorial Cemetery, a humble little cemetery surrounded by miles of green hills. Our first famous grave here is just west of the main gate, along the northern wall. Here lies Nita Bieber. She began her career as a dancer, touring with USO troupes to entertain the troops. She
then began appearing in films, notable among them were Rhythm and Weep alongside the Three Stooges, Summer Stock alongside Judy Garland, and the Bowery Boys film, News Hounds. In the 1950s she formed her own dancing group called the Nita Bieber Dancers, which would perform both on stage in Las Vegas, and in television shows, like the Colgate Comedy Hour. Nita Bieber lived to be 92. And finally, southeast of the main gate, we find actor, comedian, and intellect, Doodles Weaver. He began his career as a comedian on the radio in the 1940s, on Rudy Valle’s program, and Kraft Music Hall. He specialized in manic sports commentary, a routine he would take with him when joining Spike Jones and His City Slickers, a comedy musical group. He’s also remembered for novelty recordings of songs like Eleanor Rigby.
Doodles’ early appearances on television prompted NBC to give him his own variety show in 1951, The Doodles Weaver Show, and in 1965 he starred in another series of his own, A Day with Doodles. His television guest appearances include in Batman, and The Donna Reed Show, and on film you saw him in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. As his health began to fail later in life, Weaver took his own life with a gun, at the age of 70. If the name Weaver is familiar to you,
Doodles was the uncle of actress Sigourney Weaver. May his name live on forever. And that concludes our tour. What are some of your favorite memories of the stars we visited today? Share them in the comments below, and be sure to like, share, and subscribe for more famous grave tours. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you on the next one. Not a grave, but this monument commemorates one of Avalon’s most famous former residents: a seal named Old Ben, who lived in the early 20th century. He was unusually friendly, and something of a star himself, who loved to pose for the camera.