Archive for the ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery’ Category

Robert Nudelman and Marvin Paige markers at Hollywood Forever

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

The graves of preservationist Robert Nudelman, and casting agent, Marvin Paige now marked at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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Recently, within the last few weeks, the graves of two of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes people have been marked.

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First, Robert Nudelman, a leading preservationist who helped spearhead Hollywood’s rebirth as he campaigned over three decades to save and restore such landmarks as the El Capitan Theatre and the Cinerama Dome, now has a marker after six years. He was 52 years old when he died in 2008.

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“There probably isn’t a single historic building or development project in Hollywood that Mr. Nudelman didn’t have a part in,” Fran Offenhauser, vice president of Hollywood Heritage said at the time. He was “the conscience of Hollywood,” Offenhauser added. “He really made the village happen in Hollywood, and it’s going to take a village to fill the gap he left. . . . He was really the lightning rod who woke up an area.”

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Marvin Paige, who cast movies including Star Trek: The Motion Picture, two Woody Allen films and shows including General Hospital, worked as a celebrity handler and owned an extensive Hollywood archive, died of injuries sustained in a car crash in Laurel Canyon in October 2013. He was in his 80s.

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Paige spent several decades as a casting director, then reinvented himself in later years as a keeper of Hollywood history who could always find the right person to appear at a tribute or showbiz celebration, such as the annual Cinecon events. “He was essential in targeting the right celebrities for the right event,” said publicist Edward Lozzi.

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William H. Clune at Hollywood Forever

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

William H. Clune: Pioneer theater and film producer

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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William Henry Clune was a pioneer motion-picture theater owner, whose name is associated with the early days of film production. Born in Hannibal, Missouri, on August 18, 1862, Clune came to California in 1887. His interest in railroading ceased with the successful termination of a real estate venture, which provided him with sufficient capital to enter the field to which he devoted himself—the motion picture industry.

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Clune began with a film exchange in 1907 which distributed the films of the pioneer producers including the old Essanay, Edison, Biograph and others. While operating the exchange, he opened his first theater, a penny arcade on Main Street, in Los Angeles. This was followed by the building of Clune’s Theater on Fifth at Main Streets where the Rossyln Hotel now stands. His next venture was leasing the property on Broadway between Fifth Avenue, and Sixth Street, where he built Clune’s Broadway Theater. Then he took over the Clune’s Auditorium at Fifth and Olive Streets, later renamed the Philharmonic Auditorium. He also built Clune’s Pasadena Theater and Clune’s Santa Ana Theater. At one time, his chain included theaters in Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Bernardino, Santa Ana and San Diego.

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Clune’s Broadway Theater as it appeared in 1910… (Cinema Treasures)

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Clune’s Broadway Theater (later called the Cameo), as it looked in 1999 (lapl)

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Clune’s Auditorium, originally located at Olive and Fifth Streets

across from Pershing Square, is now a parking lot.

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Clune’s Pasadena Theater is believed to be the city’s first movie house.

The building, no longer a theater, still shows the original name. (hometown-Pasadena)

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In 1913, Clune and his wife Agnes sold their Pasadena mansion at 1203 Fair Oaks Avenue at the corner Monterey Road. The site is now a Pavilions grocery market. At this time, Clune separated from his wife and moved into an apartment at the Los Angeles Athletic Club at 431 West 7th Street. Agnes and their son James took up residence in another mansion at 314 South New Hampshire Avenue.

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In 1915, Clune assumed control of Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Studios on Melrose. On the property, Clune built rental studios for lease to independent production companies.

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Clune’s Studio on Melrose (now Raleigh Studios).

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At this studio, Clune produced and filmed Ramona (1916), the famous book dealing with early California life. Following that, Clune made other films including The Eyes of the World (1917) from the story of Harold Bell Wright.

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William Clune stood out in motion picture production. In his room on the twelfth floor of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, many of the largest movie deals made were negotiated. Clune had faith in D.W. Griffith, and backed the director financially and agreed to exhibit The Clansman, which was later retitled The Birth of a Nation (1915) at Clune’s Auditorium where the world premiere was held.

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As the executive head of a chain of screen houses, Clune was an active and shrewd showman. For a number of years, he fought an enforcement of old city ordinances prohibiting electric sign displays. City bureaus complained against Clune’s electrical advertisements, but Clune refused to budge from his determination to “light up Broadway.”

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Clune liked to use electricity to “light up Broadway” much to the dismay of the city council.

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In 1924, Clune retired from the theatrical business, having sold all his theaters and leased his studios on Melrose to the Tec-Art Company. Retirement from film production did not mean retirement from active business as he had acquired large holdings in downtown real estate, dating back to 1900, and had many other interests.

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Shortly after noon on October 18, 1927, William H. Clune died of a stroke in his apartment at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. His body was taken to the Sunset Mortuary at 8814 Sunset Boulevard and he was interred in the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery.

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William H. Clune’s crypt (no. 994) in the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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In addition to his other activities, Clune was on the regional board of the Bank of Italy, a member of the Brentwood Country Club, Jonathan Club and Elks Club.

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Clune’s estate was bequeathed to his son James, the president of Clune’s holding company. Thought to be a millionaire several times over, yet few were able to estimate his actual fortune. His wife Agnes, according to his will, was not named but received her share of the estate by a property settlement years earlier. Publicly, the only estimate of the value of Clune’s estate at the time said that it “exceeds $10,000,” but most experts determined that it was close to $6 million which in today’s exchange would be around $81.5 million.

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At the studios Clune owned on Melrose (across the street from Paramount), Douglas Fairbanks made The Mark of Zorro (1920) and The Three Musketeers (1921), Walt Disney rented space in the 1930s and the Hopalong Cassidy television series was filmed here, as were Superman. Robert Aldrich filmed Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Ronald Reagan hosted Death Valley Days. In 1979, the heirs of William Clune sold the film plant and it became Raleigh Studios. The studio that William Clune created is believed to be the oldest continuously operating film studio in Hollywood.

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Raleigh Studios (the old Clune Studios) today…

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Page Peters at Hollywood Forever

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Page Peters, Hollywood Cemetery’s first celebrity resident

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Page Peters was born in Louisville, Kentucky and educated at the Western Military Academy. Peters was one of Hollywood’s sexiest and most well liked actors at the time of his popularity around 1914 to 1916. He is not related to actor, House Peters. Among his more important roles in films were in Pasquale (1916) with George Beban; Davy Crockett (1916), The Gentleman from Indiana (1915), and Ben Blair (1916), with Dustin Farnum, An International Marriage (1916), with Rita Jolivet; He Fell in Love With His Wife (1916), with Florence Rockwell, and Madame La Presidente (1916) with Anna Held.

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On June 26, 1916, Peters and a party of friends drove down to Hermosa Beach from Los Angeles for a day’s outing at the home of a mutual friend, Harry Graves, at Fourth Street and Strand. Early in the morning, Peters and several of the house guests decided to take a dip in the Pacific ocean. Peters and a female friend ventured out beyond the others where,  apparently he was seized with a cramp. The young woman, a Miss Graves, tried to assist him to keep afloat and screamed for help, but it came too late. His body was found about one-hundred feet from the shore by some of the searchers in a motor boat. A pulmotor was brought down from Redondo Beach and men worked on the stricken actor for two hours in a vain effort to restore his life.

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The verdict of the medical examiner was that Page Peters, who was 27 years old, and very strong, died of heart failure rather than drowning.

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Peters funeral was held at Hollywood Cemetery a few days later on a day, which coincidentally was three years to the day that he first started working in films. The pallbearers were all members of show business and among the six were Al Christie, Horace Davey, Ray Meyers, and Raymond Russell, who worked with him in his first picture. At the request of his parents, the funeral was filmed under the direction of Al Christie, Peter’s first director and Anton Nadge, who photographed his first, filmed the funeral, using the same camera.

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Page Peters is possibly the first actor to be buried at Hollywood Cemetery. His grave, near the eastern wall across from the Cathedral Mausoleum, is unmarked.

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The unmarked grave of actor Page Peters is in the

general vicinity noted above, Section 9, Lot 428.

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The Revenge of Ella Barrow

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

The revenge of Ella Barrow

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The Cahuenga Pass as it looked in 1882

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Andrew Hay was an early settler of the Cahuenga Valley, which is now known around the world as Hollywood.  Hay was born on January 2, 1846 in London, Canada but later moved to Saginaw, Michigan, where he successfully engaged in the lumber business. In 1873 he married Lizzie Thurbis Sutherland, the daughter of J. G. Sutherland, one of Utah’s best known jurists at the time. In 1882 the Hays moved to Southern California and settled in the Cahuenga Valley, where he bought 160 acres between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards, west of Fairfax, and devoted it to growing vegetables which he raised with the help of Chinese immigrants. Later he sub divided the area and Havenhurst Avenue in West Hollywood is reportedly named for him.

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Hay retained the area north of Hollywood Boulevard between Sycamore and Fuller Avenues, extending north in the floor of Outpost Canyon. He made his ranch at the northern end of Camino Palmero Street and erected a mission gateway at the entrance (a revised version of that gate still stands there). Within a few years, the Hays’ started a family with the births of Bessie (1874), Chapie (1876), Edna (1878), Jamie (1880) and Hal (1882). In 1883, with four small children (Jamie died in 1881) to raise, the Hays hired seventeen year-old Ella Barrow to assist Lizzie with her domestic duties.

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Ella Barrow, the daughter of Ireby Barrow and his wife Martha, was described as having a dark complexion, buxom, not particularly preprocessing, but with a bright face and eye. Ella was the fifth born of what would eventually be fifteen Barrow children. The Barrow’s had moved from Illinois to California in 1880 and purchased land with boundaries of Beverly Boulevard on the south, Rosewood Avenue on the north, Vermont Avenue on the east and Normandie on the west.

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The Ireby Barrow farm circa 1894 (USC)

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Ella was working for the Hay’s for just a little time when on Wednesday, March 7, 1883, she accompanied him into town to do some shopping. Once the errands were completed, Hay loitered about for some time, until almost dusk, and then they began for home. As they passed Senator Cornelius Cole’s home near Santa Monica and Lodi, Hay turned the carriage right and continued up Vine Street and told Ella he was taking a short cut home. They eventually made their way to the entrance to the Cahuenga Pass, stopping at a ravine or gully where he made the excuse that there was something wrong with one of the horse’s bridles. He stopped the team and got out to fix it. When he returned to the wagon, it was on Ella’s blind side, and walking to the front, he grabbed her and molested her. Ella resisted as he pulled her off the wagon and dragged her onto the ground and covered her face with a white cloth. Within seconds she was subdued and couldn’t resist his advances though she was cognizant of what was happening. There along the side of the road, he raped her. When he finished, he assisted her into the wagon and told her not to say anything about what happened. If she did, it would ruin her reputation.

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Above is the Cahuenga Pass as it looked in 1883 which is near where Andrew Hay raped Ella Barrow

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Ella stayed with the Hays family until the following Sunday morning, having been ill all the time from the effects of whatever drug he gave her. When she finally went home, she told her parents what Hay had done. The following day, Ella and her father went into town to consult a lawyer about charging Hay with rape. Arrangements were made, but the matter was delayed in order to obtain additional evidence. Barrow took Ella to a physician, who from hearing her symptoms, said that the drug was probably ether. The doctor gave her different anesthetics to smell, and she selected ether as the one more resembling the smell.

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The case was laid before the District Attorney and they were going take some action when Ella became uneasy about the long delay, as it seemed to her, and decided to take the matter into her own hands. Unknown to her father, Ella talked with her older brother, Thomas, who had a pistol; a small, five-chambered, 32-calibre type. Having worked for Hay, Ella was familiar with his routine and knew that he would be at the post office the next morning to pick up his mail. In the morning, Thomas drove her into town and waited as Ella, dressed in a long cloak which concealed the loaded gun, walked up the steps and into the post office.

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As Ella stood at the entrance, her eyes scanned the lobby looking for the man that raped her. Finally, at a shelf along the wall, she saw Andrew Hay reading a post card. Standing next to him was W.H. Dyer and several other men. Suddenly, the lobby rang out with the sound of gunfire. At first, Dyer thought he was being shot at, from the proximity of the shooter and the powder burning his face. He looked up and saw Ella walking to the door. Dyer screamed at her and Ella, turning around, saw that Hay was not harmed (the bullet did graze his scalp but nothing else), but was crouching on the floor with his back toward her. She coolly returned to her original position and aimed the gun squarely at his back and pulled the trigger a second time. Never having fired a gun before, the motion of pulling the trigger threw the muzzle of the pistol up, and instead of entering Hay’s back, the ball struck the wall some ten feet away, and glancing upward struck the ceiling and fell to the floor.

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It was then that Hay realized that he was the object of the attack and jumped up to get out of the way, but Ella began chasing after him through the lobby. Dyer tried to stop her, and grasped her by her cloak, but she escaped, leaving it in his hands. Another man standing nearby joined in the pursuit and was able to grab her and the pistol, holding her for the police who took her into custody. As she was being taken away, the only remorse she expressed was at her failure to kill Andrew Hay. She declared to everyone that she would still carry out her plans.

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Meanwhile, Hay went to the doctor who dressed the wound which was about an inch in length on the back of his head. The bullet entered his hat, a soft one, under the rim just at the very inner edge, tore through it upward, went through the lower edge of the band, then out at the top.

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When he was asked, Hay said that he had no idea why he was attacked or who the young lady was that pulled the trigger, even though a Los Angeles Times reporter told him her name was Ella Barrow. However, he asked to be excused so he could consult a lawyer but promised the reporter he would meet with him later. At the subsequent interview in his lawyer’s office, he admitted that he knew the girl, that she had worked for him but denied her accusations were true, going so far as to say he was being framed. “He was perfectly cool over the matter,” the reporter wrote, “treating it very lightly, as if it was but of little consequence.”  Taking off his hat, he showed the reporter the wound. “That was a pretty close call, wasn’t it?”  

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That afternoon, Ella appeared in court and agreed to bail in the sum of $500, which was paid by two family friends. Hay refused to file a complaint against Ella, which the press assumed that he was not willing that the case should come before the courts, and gave strength to Ella’s story.

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Three days later, Ella was arraigned before Justice Morgan for the charge of “assault to murder.” The courtroom was packed so full of spectators that it was impossible to either enter or leave. Even the passage-way and hall outside was densely packed. Ella was accompanied by several family members and made a good impression on the court. Hay’s attorneys would not allow him to answer any leading questions on the ground that he would incriminate himself. After the proceedings, a warrant was issued for Hay’s arrest but he was able to slip out of the crowded courtroom before he could be taken into custody. The constable, armed with the warrant, caught up with him just before he reached his ranch and was brought back to the city. The judge hastily convened his Court, read the complaint to Hay, and fixed his bail at $3,000 which he was unable to pay because it was so late in the day.

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On March 26, Ella was arraigned before Judge Sepulveda. She pled guilty and was fined $25, which according to the court, showed honesty of purpose on her part. The case against her was closed.

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Andrew Hay was not as fortunate. The Hay rape case, as it became known, was reported across the country. What makes it really remarkable is that the case was tried four times, with each trial ending in a hung jury. Of the first jury, two were for acquittal; of the second jury, one voted for acquittal; the third jury voted for conviction, but the verdict was thrown out on affidavit of the clerk that the prisoner had not been arraigned to plead, though the records show that he had been. Of the last and fourth jury, in June 1885, two were for acquittal. After that the District Attorney decided not to try the case again and Hay was set free.

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The following year, on October 16, 1886, Ella Barrow married Everett W. Thaxter in New York and they had four children, Earl, Walter, Ralph and Maggie.

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In March 1887, tragedy came to Andrew Hay and his wife, when all four of their children died from small pox within a two week period. In 1890 the Hays had another son, Francis and five years later they had a daughter, Elizabeth. On September 13, 1903, Andrew Hay died at his residence at 1523 N. Cambria Street. At Hollywood Cemetery a monument was built (Griffith Lawn) with a robed woman standing under a pergola. The bodies of his five children, who died fifteen years earlier, were reburied in the new family plot at Hollywood. Oddly, Hay’s grave stone was marked only with “Father” and his birth and death dates and was installed upside down (during a recent restoration the marker was turned around).

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HAY CHILDREN

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In 1994, during the Northridge Earthquake, the pergola collapsed and was never restored. The hands of the statue were also broken off (SEE BELOW).

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((LAPL)

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After twenty-six years of marriage, in 1912, Everett Thaxter filed for divorce from Ella in Reno, Nevada on charges of cruelty. Everett found he could not stand married life any longer, claiming that Ella made him attend church several times on Sunday and when he got home she varied the treatment by calling him un-Christian names. She also hurt his back by kicking him.

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Several members of the Ireby Barrow family are also buried at Hollywood Forever. In fact their family plot is approximately 100 feet from the Hay monument in a direct line south and across the road in the Chandler Gardens (Section 12). SEE BELOW

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Ella Barrow Thaxter never remarried and died on August 17, 1955. Ella was not buried at Hollywood Forever with the family and it’s not known where she was placed.

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Peggy Shannon at Hollywood Forever

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

On Broadway, she was a Ziegfeld Follies girl and successful ingénue, enough so to have Hollywood take notice.  Once considered the successor to Clara Bow, the titian-haired Peggy Shannon, a pretty actress whose appearances in major roles gave her the potential for stardom, ended her life in heartbreaking loneliness.

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Peggy Shannon was born Winona Sammon on January 10, 1910 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. As a child, her interest in music led her to study the piano and violin. She hoped to be a teacher until Madge Evans came to Pine Bluff on a tour promoting her line of hats. “I was only about 10 and knew then I wanted to be in show business,” Peggy recalled.

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In 1924, her mother Nancy took her and her sister Carole to visit their aunt in New York, who happened to live in the same building as Goldie Glough, the secretary of Florenz Ziegfeld, who was preparing a new Follies show. Goldie told Will Page, a press agent for Ziegfeld, about Peggy’s beauty and he had her pose for publicity pictures with Ziegfeld.

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“It was just a stunt, but I didn’t know it then,” Peggy later recalled. “They took me to Ziegfeld’s New Amsterdam offices and photographed me, curls, silk gingham dress and all, with Mr. Wayburn and Mr. Ziegfeld. The next day newspapers carried the story form Ziegfeld’s office that he had signed an Arkansas newcomer. They said I could be in the chorus for a while, more to justify their story than became they wanted me.”

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She appeared in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1924, along with Will Rogers, Lupino Lane and Mary Nolan (also buried at Hollywood Forever). After one season, Earl Carroll hired her for his Vanities of 1925. She kept busy during this time, modeling during the day, then after appearing in the Vanities she joined the floor shows at Texas Guinan’s.

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In 1926 Peggy married actor Alan Davis. The following year Earl Carroll put her in the ingénue lead in What Anne Brought Home opposite William Hanly and Mayo Methot. For the next three years she appeared in comedic roles for William Brady, a noted producer who planned to make her a star.

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That would all change when B.P. Schulberg, the head of production at Paramount saw her in Napi on Broadway and signed her to a contract. It was during this time that Paramount was recruiting many Broadway actors for film, including Sylvia Sidney, Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins.

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Within four days of her arrival in Hollywood, Clara Bow had her second nervous breakdown. Peggy was summoned into Schulberg’s office and was told she would replace Bow in her next picture, The Secret Call (1931) opposite Richard Arlen. “The interview was very brief,” Peggy said of her meeting with Schulberg. “He sent me away telling me I had many things to do as production started the next morning.”

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She read the script and was impressed by it and somewhat staggered by the realization that the role was the most important in the film, and the longest. That meant learning hundreds of speeches. But she discovered that films were different from the stage. “I didn’t have to learn the entire role at one time,” she said. “I could study it every night and keep ahead of production.”

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Peggy admitted that the assignment frightened her. “Frankly, I was scared,” she said. “I expected to be taken out of the cast any minute. I couldn’t believe that such a wonderful break had come to me. I kept thinking, ‘That’s some other girl with the same name. It really can’t be me. And if it is me, I’d better keep my enthusiasm under control.’”

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Paramount’s advertisement for The Secret Call called Peggy “The new Clara Bow,” “The successor of the ‘It’ girl,” “Greatest find of the year” and “Clara Bow’s redheaded rival.” The film did well at the box-office however the reviews were lukewarm. The New York Times reported that Peggy would “be remembered as the young lady who succeeded Clara Bow, when that actress became indisposed. Miss Shannon is attractive, but The Secret Call does not present many situations calling for much more than a gentle stroll through its various scenes.”

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Peggy made four more films for Paramount and a few independent films, including False Faces (1932) in which she had some good scenes with Lowell Sherman. Leaving Paramount, she signed a contract with Fox in February 1932 and appeared as a nightclub singer in The Painted Woman (1932), opposite Spencer Tracy. She was billed as Tracy’s first romantic lead. The New York Sun reported that Peggy was “improving” but Fox executives disagreed and dropped her option.

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She worked as an independent in such films as Girl Missing (1933), directed by Robert Florey and Turn Back the Clock (1933) with Lee Tracy. Peggy’s career was beginning to lag and second rate films followed such as Fury of the Jungle (1933), The Back Page (1934) and The Fighting Lady (1935).

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In late 1934, Peggy decided to return to Broadway in Page Miss Glory with newcomer, James Stewart. “James Stewart and Peggy Shannon are amusing as one of the bums and his fiancée,” wrote the New York Evening Post.

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Then it was back to Hollywood and Universal where Lowell Sherman directed her in the lavish production of Night Life of the Gods (1935). Next it was off to Warner Brothers in the Perry Mason who-done-it, The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935). Still not happy, Peggy returned once again to the stage to do The Light Behind the Shadow. Unfortunately Peggy was replaced early in production, reportedly due to a tooth infection but rumors were that it was due to her drinking, a habit she was quickly developing.

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After another failure on Broadway, Peggy reported to Republic for a film with Marian Marsh. Then it was Girls on Probation (1938) for Warner Brothers. The film co-starred Ronald Reagan and was notable as Susan Hayward’s first film.

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In mid-1938, Peggy and a female companion were involved in a car accident with another driver receiving lacerations on her nose and cuts on her legs. It was rumored that alcohol was involved. Friends in the business tried to help giving her small roles but in some cases her drinking would get in the way. One of her last films was Café Hostess (1940) for Columbia.

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In 1940, Peggy decided to end her fourteen year marriage to Alan Davis. She declared that he struck her on one occasion at the home of actress Wynne Gibson, who testified for her friend that he struck her “over something very inconsequential.” She added that because of her husband’s disinclination to work she had to support him as well as herself during their marriage. “He was just lazy—he played all the time,” she told the judge.

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Several months later, in October 1940, Peggy married cameraman, Albert “Al” Roberts in Mexico. They set up housekeeping at 4318 Irvine Street in North Hollywood, along with their German Sheppard, Spec. By now, Peggy was forgotten by the studios and seldom received offers, causing her to drink even more.

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In early May 1941, Roberts and his friend Elmer Fryer left for a few days on a fishing trip. When they returned on Sunday, May 11, Roberts found Peggy slumped dead across the kitchen table with her head on her arms; she was barefoot and clad in a sun suit. A cigarette, burned to the tip of her fingers, was in her right hand. Three glasses and a soft-drink bottle found in the sink were turned over to the Coroner to check for traces of poison. Peggy Shannon was 31. She was laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery a few days later without much fanfare.

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Roberts was devastated by Peggy’s death. He was afraid that someone might think he had something to do with her death. In a conversation with Detective William Burris, Roberts said, “Bill, you’ve got something on your mind. You don’t suspect me of Peggy’s death do you?” Burris assured him that was not the case and he was merely awaiting the report of the autopsy.

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“Well, Bill,” Roberts told him, “if you have anything on your mind, get it off, because you won’t see me again.” Burris asked what he meant and Roberts told him that he was going to commit suicide. “I told him not to be like that,” Burris said, “that he had had one too many.”

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Three weeks after Peggy’s death, in the early morning hours of Memorial Day, May 30, 1941, Roberts took Spec to visit Peggy’s grave at Hollywood Cemetery. Afterward he returned to his home on Irvine Street and wrote three notes: one to ‘those concerned’ and two to his sister Phoebe, who lived in Glendale.

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At about dawn he called his sister and said he was going to kill himself. “Al, don’t do it,” she screamed into the phone. Suddenly she heard a shot and then, the barking of the dog. When police reached the house, Roberts was dead. A rifle was found near the body. In one hand he still grasped the telephone receiver. His body rested on the same chair where he had found Peggy’s body; like her, his head had fallen forward on the table. Two empty liquor bottles and two soft drink bottles were on the table. Nearby Spec lay whimpering.

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This home, at 4318 Irvine Street in Valley Village (formerly North Hollywood), is where

actress Peggy Shannon died and her husband, Albert Roberts committed suicide.

(PLEASE NOTE: This is private property. Please DO NOT disturb the residents)

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In his note Roberts wrote:

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“It happens that I am very much in love with my wife, Peggy Shannon. In this spot she passed away. So in reverence to her you will find me in the same spot. No one will ever understand, as it should be. Why don’t you all try a little bit harder—it wouldn’t hurt, I can truthfully say for both of us. Adios amigos. Al Roberts.”

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In a note to his sister, he expressed bitterness against those who he said, had feigned fondness for his wife during her lifetime. Although he doesn’t name them, it sounds like he could be referring to family members:

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“To Phoebe. If you have to ship the stuff to China do it. They can never prove what I have done with it. Spec and I went out to the cemetery around 1 a.m. They talk so much about her flowers for Memorial Day. Well, they have never been near the grave. Mrs. Ross and I put on fresh flowers as much as we could, but them dirty leeches, they wouldn’t take her a pansy but they would take her clothes and say they love her more than life. But you stress that, honey. You know how Peg supported them. Any denials just ask them to prove how they lived all these years. Al.”

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In a second note to his sister, Roberts expressed concern for his dog, Spec.

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“You take Spec,” he wrote, “and ship him to Johnny. If you don’t I will never forgive you. I promised him that. All five have said they could not be bothered with him. I know Johnny and he will be great pals. Peggy has said so time and again. So, please, take him, ‘our child’ and send him on. He certainly is entitled to that. With love Al. P.S. Hey, bury me in my gray suit. Al.”

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The following day, the coroner released the results from Peggy’s autopsy. Her death was apparently caused by a combination of low vitality, run-down condition and a heart attack. “A chemical analysis has not yet been completed by the Coroner,” a police representative said, “but examination so far shows no traces of poison or any bruises or marks.”

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Ironically, Albert Roberts’s body was not laid next to Peggy’s, but was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. Whether it was the decision of his family or Peggy’s to not have them be together, is not known.

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A few weeks after Peggy’s death, her mother hired  private detectives and attorneys to investigate deeper into her daughter’s death. Nothing apparently came of their search.

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Peggy Shannon’s grave at Hollywood Forever is near the southern border of Section 5 in plot 31, grave 4. Her pink tombstone is inscribed “That Red-Headed Girl, Peggy Shannon.” Her mother and sister are buried nearby.

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 …

Thomas Smith Robson at Hollywood Forever

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Thomas Smith Robson, the scion of a great English family, was the son of Robert Robson, Esq., Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Emily Jane Snowden. His brother, William Snowden Robson, was an English lawyer, judge and liberal politician and a Member of Parliament. There was no similarity between these brothers, while Thomas was a jolly, roistering, mad-cap fellow, his brother William was the personification of English respectability. Both brothers were born at 26 Eaton Square, one of the somber but eminently aristocratic squares of London.

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In his early life Robson earned a PhD degree at Heidelberg, Oxford and other institutions. He was an expert chemist, man of letters, a thorough student of law, and an expert linguist of several European languages. Robson possessed a splendid physique, lived only at night, and slept during the day. When he wanted an evening alone, he would order a dozen quarts of Riesling wine, drinking the entire batch before the sun rose. He eventually became an embarrassment, dimming the dignity of his family traditions, and was sent on his way.

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In 1890 he arrived in Denver with fourteen trunks and a desire to do something unusual. Accordingly, he sent all his belongings on prospecting outfits into the desert and took up with a infamous army officer whose only asset was his military title. Breaking ties with his family, he spent his last cent getting to Montreal, where he and the officer bluffed their way into the most fashionable hotel on the officer’s signature. They then became reporters on the Montreal Star until they were discovered and driven from town.

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Then Robson went down to Boston and became a waiter in a 10-cent lodging house. Evidently this wasn’t strenuous enough so he hitch-hiked his way to Roxbury in mid-winter, with green apples as his only food for ten days. He then met a wealthy New Yorker, who attempted to make him general agent of a big colonization scheme. However Robson would rather starve than work for another man, and so he became a stove tinker, finally making his way to Montana on a stock train. He was taken care of on the way by an actor who owned a large stock farm, and who promised to give him work at a good salary for as long as he wanted it. Five miles before reaching the farm, Robson changed his mind and dropped off the train and away from the actor permanently.

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Robson then traveled to Northern California and stirred up a band of reservation Indians to do wild deeds; he stayed with them for many months. His next stop was San Francisco but he remained there only a short time. In 1896 he jumped on a train for Los Angeles. There he met J.R. Carson, who ran the Old Curiosity Shop on North Main Street who persuaded Robson to write home to his family. He did and soon discovered that his father was dead, and that he and his brother shared the estate. He was not interested in money except for the good he could do with it and the trouble he could stir up.

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When he received his share of the inheritance, he booked a suite at the Van Nuys Hotel and then rented a room in a 25-cent lodging house to sleep in. He bet friends that he could escort one of the most notorious women in the city to one of the best hotels. He won his bet by bribing the clerk with a hatful of money. A quick trip to San Francisco followed, and there he sent out invitations to his former cohorts, a collection of loafers and loungers and gave them a royal banquet at the Poodle Dog, San Francisco’s first and most famous French restaurant. On the way back to his apartment he lay down in a mud puddle in his evening clothes, defied the police and stopped traffic. A wrecking car crew and a wagon load of officers put him to bed.

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Returning to Los Angeles, Robson found that a sewer trench was being opened on Main Street, and as a practical joke, he hired a gang of men to fill it up in the middle of the night. He then engaged several undertakers, and had horses and lines of funeral coaches sit outside a friend’s house all day. Another time, about a hundred boys rushed into a busy drug store one morning in answer to a fake advertisement Robson enlisted in the newspaper.

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Finally bored with his antics, he started for England. Stopping at New York he bought a hand organ and a monkey from an Italian street musician, and performed up and down Fifth Avenue until he was arrested and put in jail. In Paris he threw gold around the streets, treated every homeless person he could find and gave money away. One day someone gave him a bad Franc, and he became so angry that to show his disdain for money, he emptied all his money down a sewer and was left penniless. Once he replenished his supply of money, he attempted a “scientific demonstration” of the insidious effects of constant absinthe drinking, and informed his friends that he was now engaged in a work that would benefit humanity. This experiment resulted in his being locked up in a private asylum.

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Going to London, his brother William was not pleased to see him, for his antics were not those of a dignified Member of Parliament. But Robson took offense of a speech made by his brother and left for Venice. There he set to organize the gondoliers into two factions, got them insulting each other and involved in a huge fight, and then fled in the night. Returning to Paris he remained there for a year or two.

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Finally he returned to Los Angeles in ill health. He asked Benjamin Balmer for help and Balmer took him into his home and cared for him. Robson is alleged to have settled down and with the exception of an occasional night of his own when he would lock himself in his room and spend the evening drinking, he kept clear of trouble and the police.

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Balmer claimed that Robson was unclean in his habits and frequently became intoxicated. In spite of this, Robson was well cared for by the Balmer family, and Mrs. Balmer acted as a nurse for him. For the last two years of his life he was broken down and scarcely able to help himself. On January 12, 1904 Thomas Smith Robson died at the Balmer home at 465 Bixel Street. He was 49 years old. Robson left a considerable estate valued for administrative purposes at about $50,000 in England, personal property in California amounting to $9,490 and real estate valued at $3,450. His entire estate he left to his brother William in England.

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William hired an administrator in San Francisco to handle his brother’s estate. For the care and attention that the Balmer’s gave Robson, they asked for $4,000 from the administrator, and when he was refused, they brought suit. As a reward for his kindness toward Robson, Balmer was allowed $2,400 by the judge.

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Instead of returning his body to England, Thomas Smith Robson was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Section 12 (Chandler Gardens) and a large granite cross was placed on his grave. The inscription reads: “Sacred to the Memory of Thomas Smith Robson PhD (Heid) Youngest Son of R. Robson Esq. J.P. of New Castle Upon Tyne England. He Died at Los Angeles on 12th January 1904 Aged 49 Years. The Dead Shall Be Raised Incorruptible And We Shall All Be Changed.”

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Note: Robson’s brother, William Snowdon Robson (1852-1918) was a Member of Parliament between 1885 and 1886. Robson married Catharine Burge, daughter of Charles Burge, of Portland Place, London in 1887. He was invested as a Queen’s Counsel in 1892. He again held the office of Member of Parliament between 1895 and 1910. In 1905, he was knighted and was appointed to the Privy Council. He was Solicitor General for England and Wales from 1905 to 1908, and Attorney General for England and Wales from 1908 to 1910 when he was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and a life peer with the title Baron Robson, of Jesmond in the County of Northumberland. He resigned as Lord of Appeal two years later. William Snowdon Robson died aged 66, at Telham Court, Battle, Sussex. In available biographies, there is no mention of his younger brother, Thomas Smith Robson.

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Harold H. Sayre at Hollywood Forever

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Harold H. Sayre; no desire but to serve

 

 

 

The following was edited from the book, Memorial Volume of the American Field Service in France, “Friends of France” 1914—1917, published in 1921 by James William Davenport Seymour.

 

 

Lieutenant Harold Holden Sayre possessed in no small degree the finest qualities of young American manhood. Clean-cut and manly are perhaps the adjectives which best describe his personality, and underneath an attractive exterior was a sturdy would upheld by the highest of principles. As one of intimate friends has said: “He had principles and stuck to them regardless of all and I loved him for his straightforward ways.”

 

Harold Sayre was born on February 7, 1895, in Hutchinson, Minnesota, the son of A. Judson and Harriet H. Sayre. Sayre lived in Harvey, North Dakota; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Hollywood, California. He was educated at Western Canada College, Calgary, Harvard Military School, Los Angeles, California; Hollywood High School, and Leland Stanford University, Class of 1919.

 

A student of Leland Stanford, Jr., University, he enlisted toward the end of his sophomore year, in the American Field Service (June 9, 1917), and with the second Stanford Unit landed at Bordeaux on June 28, 1917. From July to October he was with Section ten in the Balkans, and under the particularly trying conditions of the eastern front he received his initiation into active warfare. The summer of 1917 was spent carrying wounded over the difficult passes and rough roads of the Albanian mountains and in September the Section took part in the successful Albanian offensive.

 

Returning to Paris on November 18, 1917, he resigned from the Field Service, then being taken over by the American Army, and on December 5th enlisted in aviation. He was trained at Clermont-Ferrand in various schools in southern France, received his commission (June 1, 1918), and was attached to the 11th Aero Bombing Squadron. It was while attending the bombing school at Clermont-Ferrand that he first met Lieutenant Shidler, later his pilot and friend, who has written of him:

 

“It was not hard after arriving at this field to pick out the most efficient bombers. All records were accessible and Lieutenant Sayre’s was easily among the best. His strong personal character, his clean mode of living, and the high code he set as a standard to live by, make him a prominent figure among the officers at that place, and his good sense of humor made companionship with him most agreeable. He was fond of outdoor exercise and I shall never forget the long walks through the vineyards of southern France and the swimming in the warm rivers while he and I were together. While visiting the cities and resorts he found his pleasure rather in the ancient architecture and the beautiful drives than in the bright lights of the town. His constant desire to learn and his devotion to duty were such that he would often sit under the most adverse circumstances and finish a map of some particular objective, when it was a common habit to let such things slip by as easily as possible and let the responsibility rest upon the one in command.”

 

As a member of the 11th Aero Bombing Squad, Lieutenant Sayre took part in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel early in September, 1918, and on the morning of September 14th was sent out with his pilot, Lieutenant Shidler, in company with a formation of several planes, to bomb certain objectives near the city of Conflans. The mission accomplished, they were attacked by a superior number of German planes and in the ensuing combat Lieutenant Sayre was killed, although he kept his guns going until life left his body. His pilot, who was severely wounded, was able to land the plane at Rezonville in the German lines, where he was taken prisoner. It was here that Lieutenant Sayre was first buried, but his body was later removed to the American Cemetery at Thiaucourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle, ultimately to be buried in Hollywood, California.

 

He met death as bravely and squarely as he had faced life, with no thought but for the cause stake and no desire but to serve this cause with the best which he had, even to the final sacrifice.

 

 

 

Harold Sayre’s grave is located in Section 8 not far from the grave of Janet Gayner and near the pond. For a landmark, there is a six-foot flag pole erected on his grave.

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Eugene Plummer, the Last of the Dons

Friday, May 25th, 2012

HOLLYWOOD HISTORY

Eugene Plummer, the Last of the Dons

 

 Eugene Rafael Plummer (Los Angeles Public Library)

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

He was straight of stature, succinct of speech, and as well-versed in nature as he was in the old days when Hollywood was not yet a dream and Los Angeles was a dusty pueblo.  Eugene Rafael Plummer, the man for whom Plummer Park in West Hollywood was named, was born in San Francisco on January 8, 1852. His father, John Cornelius Plummer  was a Canadian sea captain and his mother, Maria was half Spanish and half Irish, a mixture which gave the younger Plummer the fire and romance of old Spain and the devil-may-care temperament of the Irish.

 

When Eugene was 16, Captain Plummer moved his family to Los Angeles where he homesteaded 160 acres of land where the Ambassador Hotel once stood. He later acquired property which is now bounded by Wilshire and Beverly Boulevards and La Brea Avenue and Vine Street.

 

In 1828, the land that now encompasses Plummer Park was a part of the 4,439 acre Rancho La Brea, granted by Governor Echandia to Antonio Rocha. After several selling’s, the property was sold to Major Hancock in 1865 for $2.50 an acre. In 1874, Plummer acquired the official title to the Plummer Rancho which comprised 160-acres between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards and La Brea and Gardner Avenues.  

 

That same year, on the three acres of land that eventually became Plummer Park, Captain Plummer’s sons, Juan (John) and Eugene built their home, a typical ranch house.

 

 

Plummer House, the home of Eugene Plummer that stood in Plummer Park for over 100 years. (Los Angeles Public Library)

 

 

In the early days Plummer’s home was the only habitation from Hollywood to the Plaza district and rattlesnakes, cactus and bandits were his only companions. Later his home was the headquarters for the Vaquero Club, a group of adventurous horse riders.

 

In 1881 Plummer married Maria Amparo La Moraux and the couple had a daughter they named Frances. As a court reporter for 25 years, he would befriend the pueblo’s Mexicans and act as their interpreter in court cases.

 

As early as 1922 the acreage was unofficially called Plummer Park. Six years later options were offered by a committee of prominent bankers and businessmen to make it official. Plummer hoped to make around $25,000 from the deal but nothing ever came of it. In 1925 his wife Maria died and was interred at Hollywood Cemetery next to his father John.

 

By this time Eugene Plummer was Hollywood’s oldest resident and his homestead became its oldest residence. Each year he would host the old-timers picnic which was open to as many of Hollywood’s original residents that were still living.

 

Gradually Plummer’s debts continued to mount until he was forced into foreclosure. Ironically, Plummer once owned 142 acres where the Hollywood Bowl now is and sold it to a company named Burnoff & Teal for $2,400. In the 1930s that same area was worth millions.  In 1935 Plummer Park was registered as a landmark. Finally the county stepped in and acquired the Plummer land in 1937 for $15,000. Plummer was sad at the passing of his heritage, but never bitter.

 

Development of the park began the following year with the construction of a recreation building called the Great Hall/Long Hall at a cost of $65,000. The Spanish style structure made of stucco and a red tile roof included a dining room which seated 300 persons. The building also had a library and reading room. The patio adjacent to the kitchen would seat 600 and was shaded by three ancient olive trees.

 

One condition of the purchase was that Senor Plummer be permitted to occupy the premises as long as he lived. The county designated him as the historical guide for the park. Plummer Park was filled with a fine collection of rare trees and plants. One pepper tree had a branch growing out horizontally over seventy-five feet in length. The limb was trained by Plummer by keeping a horseshoe on the end of it for many years.

 

The old frame home built by Plummer and his brother in 1874 was now used as the headquarters of the Audubon Society and office of the park superintendent. A modern home adjacent to the parks property became Plummer’s new home where he lived for the remainder of his life.

 

 

 (Los Angeles Public Library)

 

In his later years Senor Plummer would sit beneath the shady pepper trees of Plummer Park, rolling cigarettes from loose tobacco or else break store-bought cigarettes into three lengths and smoking them a few puffs at a time in an old amber holder. Between puffs he would conjure up memories of the “good old days” for anyone who asked. Pepper trees were his favorites. “They kept the flies away,” he maintained. There was the time he chased a deer all the way up to what is now the corner of Hollywood and Highland and lassoed it. Nearby in a little arroyo he killed a giant brown bear after it had been gored in three places by a wild bull.

 

Once, in Laurel Canyon he shot an antelope on the hillside and then couldn’t find the bullet hole. “You scare him to death, senor,” said the old Indian who was with him. But it was later found that the bullet went right up the spine and lodged in the antelope’s brain. “Once in a million times,” said the Don concisely.

 

When Helen Hunt Jackson was writing “Ramona” she used to visit Senor Plummer at his home for advice on early day California life. “If anybody is Alessandro, I am,” he said once during an interview, “for I showed Mrs. Jackson how young Spaniards and Indians made love.”

 

 

Senor Plummer welcomes actress Ruth Roland and banker G. G. Greenwood to Plummer Park 

 

 

Plummer delighted in wearing a tan leather jacket given to him by his friend Buffalo Bill. Another of his friends in the early days was the bandit Tiburcio Vasquez, who was shot by authorities in 1875. Plummer’s presence at the park gave it an air that no other presence could.

 

The plan was to keep the park in its original state for a unique gathering place for groups and societies. Barbecues and songfests under the old peppers and the eucalyptus trees were planned as the whirl of Hollywood traffic sped by. Visitors were sheltered by the towering blue gums, the gnarled old olives and the gigantic cypress that Plummer planted with his own hand in the late 1800s. Besides the old ranch house, the servant’s houses, the old barns, the barbecue pit, the old windmill and the rodeo grounds, it became a chapter of the past brought into the present for the public.

 

Year after year Senor Plummer continued to enthrall and entertain the visitors to his park. To the last his mind and memory remained keen and filled with humorous memories. It was 69 years ago this past week that the Don suffered a heart attack in his home at Plummer Park. He wanted to remain at his hacienda with his collections of saddles, boots and guns, but friends convinced him to go to the hospital where he sank into a coma from which he never recovered. Senor Eugene Plummer died on May 19, 1943. He was 91 years old.

 

Rosary for Eugene Plummer was recited in the chapel of Pierce Bros. Hollywood Mortuary. Mass was celebrated the following day at St. Ambrose’s Church at Fountain and Fairfax Avenues. More than 300 persons, most of them descendants of some of California’s oldest families, attended the rites. Plummer was interred next to his father and wife at Hollywood Cemetery.

 

 

 The Plummer Family marker at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The names of  Plummers father and Eugene’s wife Maria are engraved. For whatever reason, Senor Plummer was never marked.

 

 

 

 

As for the Plummer House, it was known as the “Oldest House in Hollywood” and was designated as State Historical Landmark No. 160 in 1935. The Audubon Society continued to use Plummer’s old homestead to house their library and exhibits until 1980. Sadly, vandals set fire to it twice and ruined the Audubon’s library and exhibits. The house was almost destroyed and stood abandoned and filled with trash for over two years. It was almost razed. Happily the Leonis Adobe Association heard about the house’s fate and arranged with county to move the front part to the Leonis Adobe grounds. The house has since been repaired and restored and is now a Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop.

 

 

 The old house that Plummer and his brother built was moved to Leonis Adobe grounds in Calabassas

 

Plummer Park is once again in the news for the drastic changes that are planned by the city of West Hollywood. If you asked people who visit Plummer Park, or members of West Hollywood’s city council, who Eugene Plummer was, they probably wouldn’t know. Virtually nothing remains of the park that Don Plummer knew and loved and sadly there is only one plaque that mentions his name. Hopefully the new plan for the park will do something to correct that.

 

 

 

When in Los Angeles, visit Plummer Park at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.

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Death of the Innocent The Murder of Frank Raymond

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

 HOLLYWOOD HISTORY

 

Frank Raymond, Jr. circa 1904

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

The dark side of Hollywood existed long before the film industry arrived in town.

 

When Frank Kellogg Raymond made Hollywood his family’s home in 1901, many in town at once thought that his wife Kate was a bit odd. Frank worked in the government print shop in Washington D.C. and would spend one weekend a month with his family in Hollywood. Frank chose a neat little plot of land on the corner of Selma and Las Palmas and hired a contractor to build his family a home. Kate, however, would get involved and submit plans and specifications to several contractors. She promised to pay each of them, but failed to carry out her promises. Legal action was considered, but the idea was discouraged by Pastor Newell of the Presbyterian Church, who made it clear that the woman was mentally erratic and could hardly be held responsible for her actions.

 

Fourteen-year-old Frank Raymond attended the local Fremont grammar school in Miss Willis’ eighth grade class and was regarded as one of her brightest pupils. His mother did not have many friends in Hollywood. Had it not been for Frank, Jr., who had a large circle of friends and was popular with most everyone in town, she would have lived the life of a recluse.

 

Kate however, was clearly a brilliant and highly educated woman and had a small but significant library in her home. She was also an accomplished artist, having painted several beautiful pictures which decorated her West Selma Street home.

 

However there evidently were problems at home and on occasions she made references to her husband who worked in Washington D.C., and with whom she said she could not live. She told neighbors that she came to California on account of Frank’s health but that the real reason was that she and her husband could not agree. What friends she had stated that she never made any definite charges against him, but, from her strange manner and her continual efforts to confide her troubles to someone, the information was not taken too seriously.

 

Not long after, the Raymond’s separated and Frank returned to Washington D.C. full time and left Kate and Frank Jr. in Hollywood. “We were never able to get along well together,” Raymond later testified. “My wife was always of a high strung nature and always wanted things I could not get for her.”

 

Several times she confided her problems to the wife of Dr. H.A. Newell, pastor of the Presbyterian Church where Frank attended Sunday school. She said they had little to live on and her husband failed to send enough money to support her in comfort. On occasions she often talked of suicide which horrified Mrs. Newell, who tried to get her to look upon the pleasant side of life. Kate’s Hollywood neighbors believed that she was deranged and referred to her as “that crazy woman.”

 

In early 1906, Kate and Frank Jr. visited Washington D.C. where she attempted reconciliation with her husband, which was unsuccessful. Upon her return to Hollywood she appeared to be more dejected and Frank also reflected his mothers’ sorrows and illusions.

 

After returning from the east she volunteered at a rummage sale for the Presbyterian Church where she said she worked hard and sold many items but didn’t take a receipt. Several days later it was whispered at the Ladies Aid society meeting that she had appropriated them. Some used the term kleptomania in connection with her name and others were less kind. The items were valued at less than a dollar.

 

She evidently proved her innocence and wanted a letter of vindication but the pastor said that she was not a member and such a letter could not be given. It was also stated that it would be an admission that the church was wrong and so Kate may sue them for libel. She appealed to the minister, who she said “shut the door of his home” in her face and would have nothing to do with her even though she begged him to give her a fair hearing.

 

Kate brooded over this for days. “I had tried so hard and it was an awful shock to me,” she later said. “Every time I looked at my boy his innocent little soul seemed to appeal to me and tell me that the lad’s good intentions would be misunderstood and that he would fare no better than myself among a world of criminals.”

 

She began to believe that Frank would be better off if she sent him to “his Maker.” She waited and finally the shame of what the women in the church had said about her worked on her conscience and she decided her son should be spared from the consequences of any sin she may have committed.

 

Within a few days Kate attempted to buy chloroform from the local pharmacy, saying she intended to clean some clothes. The druggist argued with her about the amount she needed and offered to give her a small medicine bottle full instead.

 

Word quickly spread that Kate was trying to purchase chloroform and a well-known Hollywood resident learned of it and telephoned the drug store and warned the druggist to not sell it to her. When she heard this Kate fainted and fell to the floor. In her disorientation she said:

 

“I want to take myself and my son out of this wicked world, where he will be away from the temptation to swear and steal and cheat as the other boys do. I want him to leave here as pure as he came into the world.”

 

Because of this, Frank was summoned from Washington because Kate was about to be examined for insanity, but when she promised to accompany her husband back to Washington, no action was taken. At the last moment she refused to return east with him.

 

 

Because the numbering of the streets were changed in Hollywood around 1910, the exact location of the Raymond house is not known, but it was near the intersection of Selma and Las Palmas Avenue (above). The address at the time was 450 West Selma Avenue.  

 

 

On Tuesday, April 10, 1906, Kate and Frank Jr. worked around the grounds of the house. Kate told the gardener, Mr. Cranblit, that the next day she would leave him a letter on the doorstep instructing him what was to be done, explaining that she might sleep a little later than usual and did not wish to be awakened.

 

That evening she wrote two notes. One was addressed to her mother, Martha Cooper who lived in San Diego, and the other to Mrs. Cranbilt, the gardener’s wife.

 

“My Dear Mother: To you I leave all in this house – what you care to give to Mrs. Cranblit. She lived in a little house in the rear, and has a warm, kind heart. This shock will nearly kill you, too, and our separation will not be for long.

 

“In this better world we will come to understand things better than we did here, where all the mists will be cleared away. My boy will be safe from other temptations of this wicked world. I ask the forgiveness of any I have ever wronged intentionally. The world is against me and this is the only cowardly act I’ve ever been guilty of doing.”

 

In her note to Mrs. Cranblit she wrote:

 

“The God I’ve tried to serve so faithfully has forsaken me, and I cannot leave my boy to this wicked part of the world where he will be considered weak-minded if he does not lie and cheat.”

 

That evening, Kate waited until Frank went to sleep and then entered his room. He was lying on the lounge with his face turned towards her.  She packed the door and windows with towels then locked the door and turned on the gas. Kate kneeled on the floor beside her son.

 

The next morning, as Cranblit approached the house he detected the odor of gas. He rushed to the neighbors residences and, with two other men, broke down the rear door. The men were almost knocked to the ground by the amount of gas that rushed out of the kitchen. It was several minutes before they could enter.

 

Once Cranblit could finally enter the bedroom, he found Frank lying dead on the lounge and Kate, moving slightly, was half way under one of the beds.  Cranblit dragged Kate through the kitchen to the screen porch. Dr. Edwin O. Palmer, Hollywood’s city health officer was notified and a nurse was brought in to attend to Kate until she regained consciousness.

 

“Where is my boy—my little Frank,” Kate asked.

 

Neighbors who had gathered at the house did not speak of her son’s death, instead telling her that he had been taken away. They assured her that her mother was on her way to Los Angeles.

 

“I do not wish to see my mother,” Kate screamed. “Don’t allow her to come into this house. I never wish to see her again in my life. My only regret is that I did not kill myself.”

 

When her mother did arrive later that night, she was met by her son, John Cooper, who took her directly to Hollywood. Cooper put the blame directly on his sister. Her inability to live with her husband was on account of her actions and treatment of him, and was due to her mental condition. Mrs. Cooper claimed her daughter was a victim of acute melancholia and was given to illusions.

 

When Frank Raymond was wired of what had happened, the initial report was that both his wife and son were dead. “Mrs. Raymond killed herself and little boy last night. Wire instructions or come on,” read the telegram. Raymond left Washington that night by train for Hollywood.

 

When the news of Frank’s death became known, it affected his classmates at Fremont grammar school. Out of respect for the dead boy the flag was lowered to half-mast and was kept there until Frank’s burial.

 

In the meantime, Kate was taken to the county hospital and placed under arrest. When she was informed that her son was dead, she rejoiced and repeated: “I am glad he is dead. It is better for him. He is beyond wickedness now. I will kill myself when I have an opportunity. It will come, I am certain. They cannot prevent my killing myself. It is best for all concerned.” Over the next week Kate was closely watched, day and night, after trying to commit suicide by strangling herself in her bedclothes.

 

On April 15, 1906 Frank Raymond arrived in Los Angeles. He visited the morgue to view his son’s body, but said little to the attendants at Pierce Brothers morgue. He spoke to Coroner Trout and although he had not lived with his wife for several years he refrained from saying anything bitter about her. However he inferred that he believed his wife was insane for some time, and that criminal action should not be taken against her for the murder of his son.

 

The citizens of Hollywood were divided over her guilt. Nearly everyone who knew her believed that she was insane but there were others who said she should be charged with murder and be punished for her act. A former neighbor, J.G. Gunsolus and his wife believed that she was not insane when she turned on the gas and killed her son. Kate had often spoken to Mrs. Gunsolus about her family problems and had threatened to take her own life on several occasions.

 

The following day the inquest was held at the Pierce Brothers where Frank Raymond was asked only a few questions. Kate’s mother told the jury that her daughter had been mentally unsound since the birth of her son.  Other witnesses described the manner in which young Frank was put to death and told how they found the body lying on a little cot, while his unconscious mother was in a kneeling position by the bedside. Other Hollywood residents described Kate as erratic, peculiar and probably insane.

 

The coroner’s jury took two minutes to find Kate Raymond insane.  Frank Raymond sat close to his son’s body as the verdict was read. “We find that Frank Raymond came to his death through asphyxiation during the temporary insanity of his mother, Mrs. Kate B. Raymond,” the verdict read. It was suggested that Kate would, in all probability, be examined before an insanity commission in the superior court and sent to an asylum.

 

That afternoon, the funeral of Frank Raymond Jr. was held in the chapel of Hollywood Cemetery.

 

 

The grave of fourteen-year-old murder victim, Frank Raymond at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

 

 

Bottom center of photo is the tombstone of Frank Raymond. The grave is located in the far north eastern section of Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

 

 

 Afterward, Raymond paid a visit to his wife at the county hospital.

 

The following day Kate appeared before the board of insanity commissioners. When her case was called, she went forward, slowly unwrapped the white veil from her face and smiled at the men who were about to try her. “I killed little Frank you know,” she told the shocked men. “I just killed him that was all. Now that I have sent his sweet, sinless soul to the protecting arms of the Maker, I am willing, only too willing, that my soul should be lost forever. I gave up my hope of the hereafter in order that he might be spared, and do you think I am unhappy that it is so?”

 

Kate was committed to the Southern California State Hospital in San Bernardino, California. Frank Raymond divorced his wife and later remarried. He eventually became the private secretary for Congressman Thomas F. Ryan of Topeka, Kansas. Raymond died in January 1914 and was buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C.

 

Kate was released from the asylum in early 1910 and took a ship to San Francisco and found a job as a waitress in a restaurant on Sixth Street. On the boat she met a man and got involved in a scheme with him, posing as persons of wealth. They checked into the St. Francis Hotel and cashed a bad check for $75. Her accomplice was arrested.  

 

For two years Kate roamed around California. Finally on June 8, 1912, the body of Kate Raymond was found on a Santa Barbara beach. While she was washed up by the waves, there was no water found in her lungs. It was believed that she first took poison. The two paragraph newspaper report told of her earlier attempts at suicide and the death of her son. The headline read: “Finally Succeeds.”

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The history of the Cathedral Mausoleum

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

The history of Hollywood Forever’s Cathedral Mausoleum

 

 

  

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

This past summer a controversial construction project began at the front of the historic Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery—four additions of crypts and niches were constructed, two on each side of the entrance. The mausoleum is the final resting place for many of Hollywood’s pioneers and film celebrities. Every August 23rd, fans of Rudolph Valentino gather there to pay their respects to the actor in the mausoleum’s massive foyer. In 1937, the founder of Hollywood, Harvey Wilcox, his wife Daeida and other family members were moved here from their former resting place at Rosedale Cemetery. The completed mausoleum, in existence now for 89 years, has only a few original crypts remaining for sale. This is a brief story of the mausoleum’s history.

 

Mausolus, Satrap and ruler of Caria from 377 to 353 B.C., and husband of Artemisia, achieved distinction as the first ruler ever to be honored by the erection of a monument in which his own remains were placed. Though Augustus and Hadrian in Rome may have exceeded in splendor the structure which the widow, Artemisia, built in her husband’s honor, they could not leave to posterity, as Mausolus did, a name for an institution that has continued to surround the burial of loved ones with beauty, refinement and sacredness. It is from Mausolus that we derive the word mausoleum. In 1919, Hollywood Cemetery completed the first unit of a modern replica of such an ancient structure.

 

The plans to build a large mausoleum on the grounds of Hollywood Cemetery were first envisioned in late 1916. The original illustrations for the imposing building were somewhat different than what was finally constructed.

 

 

 

Above is the original design for what would be the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery, January 1916.

 

 

In October, 1917, the California Mausoleum Company, who had constructed mausoleums at Evergreen Cemetery in Riverside and one at Inglewood Cemetery, was hired to oversee the project. The architectural firm of Marston and Van Pelt of Pasadena drew up the plans and William C. Crowell was hired as contractor. Construction began immediately.

 

The plans called for a structure much larger than the Inglewood mausoleum with the edifice of concrete, brick and steel construction, faced with heavy blocks of California granite, and set with rusticated joints. The interior is finished throughout in marble, with decorative features in bronze. Art and cathedral glass was used for ceiling and window lighting. The mausoleum follows the Italian Renaissance design, with the central entrance having a Palladian motive executed in marble.

 

 

 

Above is the completed first unit of the new Hollywood Mausoleum. For those that are familiar with the mausoleum, does anyone notice something strange? I will address it at the end of the article.

 

 

 

Above is a corridor in the first unit built for the Cathedral Mausoleum. 

 

 

 

 

 

Above is the entrance to the Cathedral Mausoleum

 

 

It took a year to finish construction and the unit was dedicated in October 1918. The demand for crypts in the new Hollywood Mausoleum, as it was called at the time, was great and quickly sold out. In April 1921, the cemetery announced the construction of the second unit of the mausoleum. New plans revealed that the mausoleum would comprise, when completed, five units covering more than three acres, and provide for 6,000 crypts, all above ground. Both individual crypt groups and family sections would be arranged over a huge rotunda, around a great central alcove and along the sides of radiating corridors. At a total cost of $2 million dollars, it would be the largest structure of its type in the world.

 

 

 

Above is an artists rendering of what the completed Hollywood Mausoleum would look like. It’s not a great copy but the large rotunda and two other units behind it can still be seen.

 

 

 

Above is the rear of the Cathedral Mausoleum. The empty lawn is where the rotunda and the additional units would have been located if plans were followed.

 

 

The second unit was finally completed in September 1922. The new structure contained an additional 888 crypts, giving the entire mausoleum a total capacity of 1,454 crypts. In the new section there were 744 individual crypts and twenty-four family sections of from six to twenty-four crypts each. All were faced with Alabama marble. The family sections are separated from the main corridors by bronze gates or marble pedestals (the gates are missing is some sections and the marble pedestals are no longer there). There is also a section for those who desired cremation using specially designed urns provided by the company.

 

 

 

Above is a corridor in the Cathedral Mausoleum with the original gate of a family room still intact.

 

 

 

 

The cremation section in the main foyer

 

 

The main corridor, which originally was designed as a chapel, had a religious note by the design of the interior and by the use of artistic stained glass, which softened the light and gave the entire room an air of reverence. A large floor-to-ceiling stained glass window once located on the southern wall, no longer exists except for the top archway glass. The remaining stained glass has been removed. At the time, plans were made for a series of mural designs as decorations for the room. The corridors were carpeted and lined with potted plants and shrubs.

 

 

 

The main foyer in the Cathedral Mausoleum can be seen above. The stained glass window near the ceiling at one time went down to the floor. It is now boarded up and a door leads out to the rear lawn.

 

 

 

 The stained glass window in the private family room of millionaire merchant, William Adam Faris.

 

 

 

The builders promoted a new ventilation system used in the mausoleum that was advertised as “incomparably sanitary” which can be seen above.

 

 

An open house was held on Sunday, November 12, 1922 for the public to visit the newly completed double-unit of the Hollywood Mausoleum. The invitation read:

 

“Inspect for the first time the building which eventually will contain 6,000 above-ground crypts—built of concrete, and faced with granite and marble.

 

“See the stateliness of its Italian façade, it beautiful marble interior with solid bronze appointments. View its exquisite stained glass windows, its chapel-like corridors—and feel for yourself the very sacredness of its cathedral atmosphere.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plans for the remaining three units and the great central alcove were never completed. Hollywood residents, led by Senator Cornelius Cole, resisted the expansion of the cemetery during construction of the second unit and threatened litigation, even petitioning to have the cemetery closed. At the same time construction of crypts and a chapel were taking place on the western end of the property. Even when the problems were ironed out, the plans to expand the mausoleum never materialized. It’s unfortunate that the vision was not realized; it would have been an imposing and architecturally beautiful structure.

 

The first internments in the second unit of the Cathedral Mausoleum were Samantha Kelly and her grandson, Harry Earl. Kelly, a pioneer hotel woman, was born in Ohio in 1828. She came to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1882 in one of the first trains that travelled westward over the plains. She was one of the pioneers in the hotel business in Los Angeles and at different times owned and managed many of the largest hostelries in the city, including the Figueroa and the old Heatham and Ardmore hotels.

 

Kelly’s grandson, Harry Earl, was at one time the stage director of the old Belasco Theater and had died nine years earlier. He was almost worshipped by his grandmother, as well as by his mother, Katherine Earl. When he died in 1913, the two women kept his ashes with them at their home, 417 South Central Avenue. When Samantha Kelly died on July 22, 1922 at the age of 94, she was interred in a crypt in the still uncompleted mausoleum and in the crypt next to hers was placed the ashes of her grandson, Harry Earl.

 

 

 

The crypts of Samantha Kelley (left) and her grandson, Harry Earl.

 

 

The statues of the twelve apostles which now line both sides of the inside corridor, were originally to be placed on pedestals in a semi-circular lot behind the mausoleum. But these plans also never came to pass and it was decided to move them indoors, where they will probably remain permanently.

 

 

 

 

 

Several years ago electricity and lighting was added to the interior making it available for nighttime services. The damage to the mausoleum caused by the neglect of the then-owner, Jules Roth in the 1990s was restored when Tyler Cassity bought the cemetery. Whether the current changes made to the Cathedral Mausoleum will cause further concern to those who love Hollywood Forever Cemetery, are still to be heard from. Once the facings and architectural trimmings are completed, I will post photographs of the finished product.

 

 

 

The stained glass window that is next to Rudolph Valentino’s crypt.

 

 

Some of the prominent people whose final resting place is in the Cathedral Mausoleum are:

 

  • Barbara La Marr – Silent film actress
  • Rudolph Valentino – Silent film actor
  • June Mathis – Screenwriter
  • Peter Finch – Academy Award winning actor
  • Max Karger – MGM producer
  • Daieda Wilcox Beveridge – Founder of Hollywood
  • Horace Wilcox – Founder of Hollywood
  • J. Peverell Marley – Cinematographer
  • William Desmond Taylor – Silent film director, victim of unsolved murder
  • Peter Lorre – Actor
  • Dr. Henson H. Cross – Early Los Angeles physician
  • Eleanor Powell – Actress and dancer
  • Rick Jason – Television actor on Combat
  • Jesse Fonda Millspaugh – President of Los Angeles State Normal School
  • Ernst Dryden – Artist
  • Cecile Lovsky – Actress
  • Thomas Miranda – cofounder of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Jules Roth – One-time owner of Hollywood Cemetery
  • William Hutchinson – Silent film actor
  • Walter Henry Rothwell – Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl
  • Edmund Sturtevant – Hollywood pioneer
  • Annetta Solaski – Opera singer
  • William H. Clune – Motion picture studio pioneer—Clune Studios (now Raleigh Studios)
  • Harry Delmar – Vaudevillian
  • Max Whittier – Beverly Hills pioneer
  • Mary Eudora Vance – Aunt of Carol Burnett
  • Capt. A.W. Murray – Los Angeles Police Chief
  • George W. Hoover – Builder of the Hollywood Hotel
  • Marie Weid – Widow of Hollywood pioneer, Ivar Weid (Ivar Street is named after him)
  • Theresa Dorris – mother of Wesley and Charles Ruggles and murder victim
  • Henry Smith Carhart – Physicist
  • William C. Crowell – Contractor for the Cathedral Mausoleum

 

 

The oddity in the photograph I mentioned earlier is what looks like grave markers in the ground in front of the mausoleum. There have never been graves there. If they are grave markers, they were obviously moved but the questions are who were they and where were they moved to.

 

 

 

 

 

Above is the Cathedral Mausoleum as it was on November 13, 2011

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