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Arthur Carrington Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 15th, 2012
Nov 15


Arthur Carrington, former child star who appeared twice with Bette Davis, dies at 76


Arthur Carrington

By Allan R. Ellenberger


Arthur Carrington, a one-time child actor who appeared twice with Bette Davis in That Certain Woman (1937) and The Corn is Green, died on Wednesday morning of bladder cancer.


In the Bette Davis film, That Certain Woman (1937) co-starring Henry Fonda, Davis has a child who appears at two different ages over the course of the film. The elder child was played by Dwayne Day (his only film according to imdb), however Jackie Merrick as an infant was played by one year-old Arthur Carrington.


Arthur Carrington is probably not a name that film historians can rattle off a bio for, however in his own small way, he contributed to film history.


Carrington was born to Hiram and Pearl Carrington on April 20, 1936 in Willow Brook (near Compton), California. He began appearing in films through his cousin Dawn Bender, who, the same year he appeared in That Certain Woman, was cast as the infant daughter of Kay Francis in the Warner Bros. film, Confession (1937). Bender later appeared in small roles in such films as Till We Meet Again (1944), A Song to Remember (1945) and The Actress (1953). Her last film was the classic, Teenagers From Outer Space (1959). However, she is probably best known for her appearances on radio, specifically for the role of Margaret Barbour on the radio drama, One Man’s Family.


Other family members also had bits in films. His sister Marilyn had a small role in the classic, The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Two other cousins, Bill and Carol Roush also appeared in films.


Arthur Carrington and Bette Davis

One year-old Arthur Carrington with Bette Davis in That Certain Woman (1937)


Carrington received the role as the infant Jackie Merrick in That Certain Woman when a casting call went out and he was placed in a line-up with several other babies. Director Edmund Goulding, walking back and forth, finally proclaimed him as the “most beautiful” of the bunch and a career was born.


Bette Davis and Arthur Carrington


Of course Carrington remembered nothing about the film or of Bette Davis. However, his mother told him that Davis came to her and asked if she would consider letting her adopt Arthur. Mrs. Carrington, who politely turned her down, felt that Davis evidently fell in love with Arthur and thought the family was poor and could use the money. That wasn’t the case.


Bette Davis and Arthur Carrington


There were some films he appeared in that he remembers nothing about. There are memories of meeting the Lone Ranger and getting to hold his gun. At some point he must have appeared in a Randolph Scott film because his mother had some harsh words about the actor. “She said that Randolph Scott was the biggest idiot and never knew his lines,” Carrington recalled. He didn’t know why she felt so strongly.


A year following his stint in That Certain Woman, Carrington was set to appear in a Clark Gable film – presumably Test Pilot (1938) with Myrna Loy. Gable wanted to make sure that Arthur would feel comfortable and carried him around the set and showed him the planes. Little Art clearly embarrassed his mother at one point when the two year-old complained about Gables bad breath.


Regardless, things didn’t quite work out when Arthur came down with Scarlet Fever and the set had to be shut down until it was determined the illness did not spread. Carrington recovered but lost the part.


Carrington was unimpressed with his film appearances as a child. When asked about it, he remembered very little until  his memory was jogged and then would get some nuggets. His mother Pearl, who died in 1998, had all the stories. “My mother was the one you should have talked to,” Carrington said. “She was very much a people person and enjoyed meeting all the actors that I worked with.”


The Corn is Green


He recalled that his mother was not a typical “stage mother” and never pushed him to do anything. This point was proven when he appeared in one of his last films, The Corn is Green (1945), once again with Bette Davis. As an eight year-old playing one of the many students, director Irving Rapper wanted to give Arthur a line.


So his mother took him aside and asked: “Do you think you’d like to say a line?”


“No, I don’t think I would,” Arthur replied. So that was the end of it. He said a ‘stage mother’ would have went berserk.


Summing up his career Carrington said: “Working as a child in films was a great opportunity if you had the talent. I just wasn’t that interested.”


As a teenager, he sometimes tried to impress his friends with his former career. “I once told a buddy that I was in The Corn is Green with Bette Davis,” Carrington recalled. “Evidently he didn’t believe me or wasn’t that impressed because he just rolled his eyes and said, ‘Yeah the corn sure is green.’”


Arthur and Willeta Carrington and Shotzie

Art Carrington with his wife Willeta and their dog Shotsie


Carrington worked as a Long Beach postal worker and in his retirement, spent much of his time traveling across the country with his wife, visiting celebrity graves. Carrington is survived by his wife Willeta, his two children, Debra and Arthur, Jr. and two grandchildren.


Correction 0n the burial location: It will be held Wednesday, November 21 @ 12:30pm at Cypress Forest Lawn Cemetery, 4471 Lincoln Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630.



Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 23rd, 2010
Sep 23


The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon & Charlotte Muhl)




The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

6000 Santa Monica Blvd. (@ Gower)

9 pm doors – 10 pm show

$25 tickets – purchase here


On October 25th, THE GHOST OF A SABER TOOTH TIGER will release their debut album, Acoustic Sessions, which demonstrates their love of quirky and whimsical ’60s folk pop, reminiscent at times of Syd Barrett, The Incredible String Band and Simon & Garfunkel. Though stripped-down to spotlight their idiom juggling and intriguing wordplay, the sparse arrangements are adventurous and playful, anchored by the beautiful blend of Sean and Charlotte’s voices, acoustic guitar and a smattering of other instruments – a vibraphone here, an accordion there.


Catch this very special sneak preview show in the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever this Friday September 24th, 2010 at 9 PM.


Check out the group performing “Lavender Road” on YouTube

To listen to more of their music go to their MySpace Page


Check out their website theghostofasabertoothtiger.com



Out of the Past at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 4th, 2010
Sep 4


cinespia – cemetery screenings season 2010 presents

Out of the Past



gates open at 6:30 pm, film at 8:00 pm NEW TIME
hollywood forever cemetery
6000 santa monica boulevard at gower

saturday, september 4th, 2010

out of the past

directed by jacques tourneur (1947, 97 mins.)
no reservation necessary.
$10 donation tickets available at gate $5 parking
as a courtesy to other movie-goers: no tall chairs.


Film Noir at its best! Starring real-life bad boy legend Robert Mitchum and a very scary Kirk Douglas. A man trying to escape his past is confronted by a malicious gangster, and a very dangerous woman. Mitchum and Douglas are at their peak in their classic performances as rival bad guys. Snappy dialogue, a wicked femme fatale and darkness closing in on all sides! Join us for this screening under (and above) the stars.

dj rob sevier (numero group) spins before and after the screening.




sunday, september 5th

raising arizona

directed by coen brothers (1987, 94 mins.)




83rd Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Aug 23rd, 2010
Aug 23


Today’s 83rd Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial



 By Allan R. Ellenberger


Once again, this year’s highly attended, 83rd Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service was a complete success. Held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in the foyer of the Cathedral Mausoleum, today’s service had something for everyone. The life and career of Rudolph Valentino was lovingly remembered in word and song.


It was a warm August day, not at all like most of this summer which has been unseasonably cool. Summer is back! Hollywood Forever Cemetery owner, Tyler Cassity welcomed the audience this year before turning the service over to Tracy Ryan Terhune, the emcee for the day.


Yours truly provided a history of the “Aspiration” statue that stands in De Longpre Park that this year is celebrating its  80th anniversary. Following that, a short video that documented the early history of “Aspiration” was shown. Next the audience was treated to a recitation of three poems from Valentino’s book, Daydreams by Allison Francis, the mother of the 2030 Lady in Black.


The crowd was serenaded to two songs by Frank Labrador: “Candlelight” and “The Angels Above Needed Someone To Love” – the lyrics were reportedly written by Valentino for future Lady in Black, Ditra Flame, who wrote the music. Frank was accompanied on the piano by Garrett Bryant.


The current Lady in Black, Kari Bible, treated everyone to a history of Ditra Flame, the original Lady in Black. Following was a short clip from Art Linkletter’s House Party from the 1950s of Ditra being interviewed about her devotion to Valentino. It was the first public showing of this clip in more than 50 years.


Tracy then read excerpts from an unpublished manuscript by Paul Ivano who was a close friend of Valentino. Special guest, Donna Hill, the author of the just published Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol spoke about her book and showed a video of rare Valentino photos from her book.


Perennial favorites, Ian and Regina Whitcomb once again entertained the crowd with the songs, “There’s a New Star in Heaven Tonight” and “Sheik of Araby.” Valentino Memorial Committee icon, Stella Grace led the audience in a reading of the 23rd Psalm to end the service.


Once again, many thanks to this year’s committee members: Channell O’Farrill, Tracy Ryan Terhune, Stella Grace and Marvin Paige. And thank you to everyone behind the scenes — you all did a great job as usual.


Following are some photos from todays events:


Rudolph Valentino’s crypt




Donna Hill (left), Kari Bible and Garrett Bryant



Frank Labrador sings “The Angels Above Needed Someone to Love”



 Donna Hill, Tracy Ryan Terhune and Ian Whitcomb



 Allison Francis reads poems from Valentino’s Daydreams



Visitors explore the Cathedral Mausoleum 



Visitors peruse Valentino memorabilia 



 Allan Ellenberger holds the  future Lady in Black-2030, Olivia Francis



 Tracy Ryan Terhune and Stella Grace



‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 9th, 2010
Jul 9


cinespia – cemetery screenings season 2010 presents

 Arsenic and Old Lace




hollywood forever cemetery:

6000 Santa Monica Boulevard at gower

saturday, july 10th, 2010

arsenic and old lace

directed by frank capra (1944, 118 mins)

gates 7:30 pm movie 9:00 pm
no reservation necessary
$10 donation tickets available at gate
$5 parking available in cemetery
as a courtesy to other moviegoers: NO TALL CHAIRS!!


One of the most beloved and wickedly funny screwball comedies, this is Cary Grant at his best. Two seemingly harmless old ladies are poisoning gentleman callers, as Grant tries to cover up their crimes. Hilarious dark fun from master Frank Capra (It Happened One Night), with a great supporting cast including the incomparable Peter Lorre. Join us for this special screening below (and above) the stars!!.


dj carlos nino spins before and after the movie



‘Easy Rider’ at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 2nd, 2010
Jul 2


cinespia – cemetery screenings season 2010 presents

 Easy Rider



hollywood forever cemetery:

6000 Santa Monica Boulevard at gower

saturday, july 3rd, 2010

easy rider–a tribute to dennis hopper

directed by dennis hopper (1969, 109 mins)

gates 7:30 pm movie 9:00 pm
no reservation necessary
$10 donation tickets available at gate
$5 parking available in cemetery
as a courtesy to other moviegoers: NO TALL CHAIRS!!


Easy Rider was Hopper’s directorial debut, and its meteoric success single handedly changed the film industry forever. Filled with sun-drenched psychedelic photography, elegant, energetic editing and a colorful cast of hippies, call girls, bikers and rednecks. It is one of the most authentic portrayals of the era.


Maverick, outlaw, photographer, director, actor: Dennis Hopper’s life was as colorful and wild as his film career. Whether raving like a madman, or lucid, cold and calculating, Hopper always handled his roles with aplomb. Join us under the stars in a tribute to this remarkable man.


dj dante carfagna spins before and after the movie



Dispatches at the Masonic Lodge

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 18th, 2010
Jun 18



David Darmstaedter, Rebecca Velazquez, Chiwan Choi & Melora Walters. Poetry & Prose at The Masonic Lodge – Hollywood Forever Cemetery.




Wednesday – June 23, 2010

The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

6000 Santa Monica Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90038







David Darmstaedter has written plays produced at the Hudson Theater starring Mark Ruffalo and also wrote on the, El Cantante, screenplay, starring Jennifer Lopez. He will be reading from is debut published novel, My Monster, a hilarious story about an ex-model, porn actor, junkie, widower trying to raise his son by himself.


Rebecca Velazquez is from Mexico and was raised in Southern California. She holds a double major in Humanities and Art History from Loyola Marymount. She is currently working on an autobiographical book about her decade long struggle with drugs and a self help series on conquering addictions for the last time.


Chiwan Choi is a writer, editor, teacher, and publisher. His first major collection of poetry, The Flood, has been published by Tía Chucha Press.  He leads various writing workshops and is the owner/editor of a publishing company featuring Los Angeles writers, Writ Large Press.


Melora Walters’s first chapbook of poetry and art, Sonnets and Failures, will be published by Finishing Line Press. Her art can be found on her website: melorawaltersvendler-art.com. She is also an actress (Boogie Nights, Big Love). Melora Walters resides in Los Angeles with her husband Alex and her two children, Tom and Joanna.



Rose Williams at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Mar 27th, 2010
Mar 27


Rose Williams, the little old lady in red



 By Allan R. Ellenberger
March 27, 2010 


Rose Williams spent her life dusting other women’s homes so she could indulge in what her few acquaintances believed was her solitary love: wearing red – red dresses, red hats, red shoes, red nightclothes. Red, for Rose.


But after her death on December 30, 1964, her acquaintances learned she had another love. For money.


Since arriving in California in the early 1930s to work as a domestic, the tiny English-born spinster had amassed $133,638. When county officers opened her safety deposit box after her death, they found it contained that much in gilt-edged securities. “And there may be a lot more in other banks,” one officer said.


How “The Little Old Lady in Red,” as she was known in the community, had saved to buy the stocks was anyone’s guess since no one really knew her.


“I wish I knew who her financial adviser was,” said Dep. Public Administrator Glenn Coffey. “She didn’t have a bad stock in the bunch. What bugs me is that I don’t know what she did with her dividends.”


When Rose was entombed in the Abbey of the Psalms on January 13, 1965, about two dozen persons, mainly those curious about the tiny woman who dressed all in red, were present. Also attending were Rose’s stockbroker, representative of the public administrator’s office and another little old lady, this one in black.


Just before Rose’s red casket was placed in the crypt, the latter put three red roses at the foot of the coffin with a note which read, “To an English rose from an English lady.”


A year later, based on a vague will that was found in the safety box, a Superior Judge divided Rose William’s fortune between the American Cancer Society and CARE, Inc.



To Find Rose Williams, the little old lady in red, go to Clifton Webb’s crypt in the Abbey of the Psalms, walk past it several feet and look up about two crypts from the top and you will find Rose.



Pepi Lederer’s 100th Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Mar 18th, 2010
Mar 18


Pepi Lederer: ‘Marion Davies’ Niece’




By Allan R. Ellenberger
March 18, 2010


Today is the 100th birthday of Pepi Lederer, who is the niece of actress Marion Davies. What little that is known about Pepi comes from Louise Brooks’ autobiography, Lulu in Hollywood. In it she devotes an entire chapter to Pepi, Marion and William Randolph Hearst.


Pepi was born Josephine Rose Lederer on March 18, 1910 in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother, Reine was the older sister of Marion Davies, and an actress and writer in her own right and was the first to use the Davies name professionally. Married twice, first to Broadway producer and director, George Lederer, they had two children – Pepi and Charles, who later became a successful screenwriter. Reine divorced George when Pepi was two years-old and later married actor George Regas.


Pepi was given the nickname “Peppy” as a child because of her high spirited personality. When she turned 18 she changed the spelling to Pepi and legally made it her real name. She hardly ever saw or spoke about her father, and was embarrassed because he was Jewish.


Pepi and her brother Charlie were favorites of both Marion and Hearst. They in turn, preferred Marion to their own mother. When she turned twelve, Pepi was spending most of her time with Marion at San Simeon and the Lexington Avenue mansion in Beverly Hills, rarely seeing her mother. Once, years later when Pepi was living in a New York apartment building owned by Hearst, Reine unexpectedly stormed in drunk, calling Marion a scheming bitch for having robbed her of her children. The episode left Pepi sobbing and racked with guilt.


At Hearst’s San Simeon, Pepi had free run of the ranch. Visitors usually had to obey Hearst’s rules about liquor rationing (because of Marion’s excesses) and the insisted-upon early rising to have breakfast. Pepi, on the other hand, had no problems obtaining liquor since she had her own private boot-legger – Hearst’s executive secretary who had keys to the wine vaults and could not resist Pepi’s charm and flashing blue eyes. Louise Brooks said that Pepi “and her group of pansies and dykes could drink and carry on all night…” As long as Marion’s drinking was under control and no one was breaking up Hearst’s art collection, he didn’t care about their drinking or sexual activities.


In the great dining hall at San Simeon, Pepi and her friends would sit at one end of the long wooden table while Marion and Hearst would face each surrounded by their guests in the middle. Pepi’s friends usually included her brother Charlie, Louise Brooks, Sally O’Neil, William Haines, and Lloyd Pantages, son of the theatre mogul. The guests called them the Younger Degenerates.


Pepi‘s sense of humor gave her every chance to expose a guests vanities while humoring the rest. Claire Windsor’s falsies and writer Elinor Glyn’s red wig would mysteriously disappear from their bedrooms while they slept. An “exclusive” item would appear in Louella Parsons’ syndicated Hearst column, which would later have to be retracted. Once, when a group of Hearst editors, dressed in business suits and seated at a liquor-loaded table visited the ranch, Pepi organized a chain dance. Ten beautiful girls in wet bathing suits danced round their table, grabbed a bottle here and there, and then exited, leaving a room full of astonished men, who inquired, “Does Mr. Hearst know these people are here?”


Pepi was charismatic, but undisciplined with a gluttonous appetite for rich food, alcohol and eventually drugs – specifically cocaine. Once in an attempt to lose weight and quit liquor, she convinced Louise Brooks, who she first met at San Simeon in 1928, to join her at a friend’s duck blind in Virginia, where she hoped the seclusion away from her temptations would help kick her habits. Upon their arrival she had the liquor cabinet locked and spent her time listening to Bing Crosby recordings. After only a few days, she raided the kitchen, eating cold chicken and half an apple pie, then went for the liquor and was shocked that it was locked up. “You told him to lock it,” Louise told her.


“I’ll fix that,” she mumbled, and went to the kitchen and returned with a hatchet, and with three robust whacks, opened the door.  For the remainder of the week, she satisfied herself with good whiskey, mouth-watering Southern cooking and Bing Crosby songs.


Pepi was also a lesbian. Though Louise Brooks never publicly admitted to an affair with Pepi, she once told a friend that Pepi said, “Let me just fool around a bit,” and Louise said, “Okay, if it’s anything you’re going to get some great enjoyment out of, go ahead.” And so they fooled around, but said she got nothing out of it.


Pepi secretly yearned to be an actress so she was thrilled when she was given a small comedy part in Marion’s picture The Fair Co-ed (1927) that was directed by Sam Wood. During filming she was told how good she was, but when the film premiered, her part had been cut. Marion consoled her with the promise of a better part in her “next” picture, but the next picture never materialized. Pepi realized that no one had been serious about her career and that was just a joke.


In 1929, Pepi visited MGM during the last day of filming of King Vidor’s Hallelujah. Conveniently, Marion, Charlie, and Rose were absent; so on an impulse, Pepi invited several of the cast members, including Nina May McKinney, to the house on Lexington Avenue. After three days, a neighbor, shocked by the sight of black people running in and out of the mansion, telephoned Marion, who sent Ethel to end the party. Pepi told friends she would never forget the look on Ethel’s face when her aunt opened the door and found Pepi in bed with Nina May. Pepi was immediately banished to New York as a punishment.


At the end of March 1930, Pepi was in New York and was concerned that she had not menstruated in three months. Finally, desperate for a reason, she called Marion about her condition. Marion told her to stop wasting time and to make an appointment to see an abortionist at once. He found that Pepi was pregnant, and aborted the fetus the next day.


A few days later, Louise Brooks visited her and found her in bed, sick, feverish, and frightened. She was hemorrhaging badly and told Louise about the abortion. “This was the most astonishing piece of news since the Virgin birth,” Louise said, “because, as far as I knew, she had never gone to bed with any man.”


When Pepi explained, Louise asked if she knew who the man was. “No I don’t,” Pepi said violently. “And I don’t want to know the name of a man who would rape a dead-drunk woman.” Pepi continued, saying that it had to happen on New Year’s Eve, when she got drunk at a party given by Lawrence Tibbett and someone had to take her home. “But I don’t remember who it was,” she said, “and I don’t want to remember who it was and that’s the end of it.” (After Pepi’s death, a mousy, deranged friend of hers told Louise with a smirk that it was he who had taken her home on that 1929 New Year’s Eve and raped her. He also admitted to escorting other drunken women home and performing in the same manner).


The following June, a recovered Pepi accompanied Marion and Hearst to Europe on the Olympic. While in England, she convinced Hearst to give her a job on one of his English magazines, The Connoisseur and ended up staying there for five years. In London, she wrote to Louise that she was now a person in her own right, not a way station for would-be friends of Marion and Hearst. And she said that she found a lovely companion, Monica Morris, who now shared her flat, her generous allowance, and Marion’s charge accounts.


Louise was apprehensive of Pepi’s taste in girlfriends and asked around about Monica Morris. When asked, one friend exclaimed: “My God, the Stage-Door Ferret! Don’t tell me Monica has latched onto Pepi!” It seemed that Monica had earned her nick-name because she was the most predatory among the group of girls who had fought over Tallulah Bankhead when she became a star of the London theatre in 1923.


Regardless, they remained an item until Pepi’s return to the United States on April 15, 1935. They spent two weeks in a suite at Hearst’s Ritz Tower Hotel on Park Avenue before going to Hollywood. It was Monica’s first time in New York but the first thing she asked Louise after they met was “Will you take me to Harlem to get some cocaine?” She evidently lost her stash while on board the ship and was most urgent to replace it. Louise referred her to Tallulah Bankhead at the Gotham Hotel, and Monica hurried out, leaving Pepi and Louise to have their last serious talk before Pepi’s death.


Though they laughed together, Louise could see the cocaine addiction in her eyes and the reason why she wanted to avoid Marion and Hearst. She had also lost weight, which Louise attributed to the cocaine.


When Pepi and Monica arrived in California, they stayed at the Lexington Avenue house. Marion and Hearst were at San Simeon but no directive came for Pepi and Monica to join them there. Weeks passed and there were no fancy parties, and Monica grew ever more bored among the Davies relatives. Then, without warning,  Marion and Hearst decided to have Pepi committed to the psychiatric section of Good Samaritan Hospital for a drug cure. Pepi only had time to slip her diamond ring (a present from Marion on her 18th birthday) from her finger to give it to Monica before she was taken away.  


A few days later, on June 11, 1935, Pepi was propped up in bed reading a movie magazine in her sixth floor room at Good Samaritan when she asked her nurse for something to eat. The nurse stepped to the doorway to call a floor nurse and order something, when suddenly, she heard a noise and turned to see Pepi plunge through the window, carrying the screen with her.


Six floors below, in a thicket of shrubbery, Pepi’s body was picked up. Hospital attendants said she only lived a few minutes. She was dead before they could carry her to an operating room, her neck broken.


Marion, Hearst and Reine were at San Simeon when they received the news. Reine took the news more calmly than Marion, who lost control, as she always did when confronted by death. Louise Brooks was in her dressing room at the Persian Room of the Plaza, getting ready to open her new act when she was informed of Pepi’s death. “Looking in a mirror as I checked my hair, makeup, and costume for the dinner show” Louise said, “I thought, her dreaded visit to Hollywood had lasted exactly six weeks.”


As for Monica, her trunk was searched by Hearst’s people and a bundle of Pepi’s letters was taken from it – she felt it was because they feared blackmail. The ring that Pepi had given her was snatched from her finger. She was given a steamship ticket to Southampton and a thousand dollars in cash and was told she was being deported immediately after the funeral.



St. Mary’s of the Angels Church, 4510 Finley Avenue, Hollywood where Pepi Lederer’s funeral was held


Newspaper reports said that Pepi was suffering from acute melancholia, the usual public reason for drug abuse. Pepi’s funeral was held at St. Mary’s of the Angels Church in Hollywood. Her bronze casket was placed in a crypt in Marion’s private mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery.


On the 100th anniversary of her birth, it’s hoped that Pepi has found some peace.



 Marion Davies’ private mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Pepi’s is the first bottom crypt to the left of the door.


Information for this article was taken from “Marion Davies’ Niece” by Louise Brooks and from “Louise Brooks” by Barry Paris (1989).



James A. Whitaker at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 23rd, 2010
Feb 23


James A. Whitaker, founder of Buena Park, California




By Allan R. Ellenberger


James A. Whitaker was a successful businessman and the founder of Buena Park, California, the home of Knotts Berry Farm. Whitaker was born near Cherry Valley in Otsego County, New York on April 8, 1827, the son of James T. and Prudence (Sydleman) Whitaker. His grandfather, Maj. Thomas Whitaker, was a soldier in the Revolutionary Army.


His father died when he was a child and this limited his education to the local Cherry Valley Academy. However, he quickly moved forward in business, first in Norwich, Connecticut where he formed the firm of Whitaker & Price for a $500 investment. After eight years of profitable trading, the firm dissolved leaving him with a profit of $8,000 cash.


In 1853, Whitaker moved to Chicago and formed Whitaker Bros., a wholesale grocery business. Later he joined Loomis & Whitaker, and within two years he bought out his partner.  Over the years Whitaker continued to merge with other companies and rapidly forged a successful name for himself in the commercial world.


In 1885 Whitaker moved to what is now Orange County, California and acquired 690 acres for raising cattle. However, George Fullerton, a land agent for the Santa Fe Railroad, persuaded Whitaker to subdivide his property as an alternative. Since Whitaker’s property surrounded the rail route, the deal included a rail terminal to be built later. On June 17, 1887, when Whitaker registered his platted map with the county, he used the name Buena Park (the city was incorporated in 1953).


Though the exact derivation of the name Buena Park is uncertain, a grassy area where Artesia and Beach Boulevards (formerly Grand Avenue) now meet had been named Plaza Buena (the “good park”) by early Spanish-speaking settlers, so Whitaker apparently adopted the name “Buena” for his town. Within a short time, a little business district sprang up at Ninth Street and Beach Blvd. around Whitaker’s General Store, near the railroad depot. 


Another theory is that Whitaker used the name of a Chicago suburb — Buena Park, Illinois. Both communities were named in 1887, and Whitaker’s brother, Andrew (who is also buried at Hollywood Forever) lived in Buena Park, Illinois before moving to California to join his brother.


In 1888, Whitaker allowed a group of local worshippers to use a room above his general store for holding church services and then donated $3,000 and 100 square feet of land at Tenth Street and Beach Blvd. for a new church. The church became the First Congregational Church of Buena Park and is still worshiping at this location today.


Twenty acres of land within the subdivision was sold to one of James’ two brothers, Andrew. Andrew was an experienced farmer who later helped James operate the Pacific Condensed Milk Company after a local group of investors took over its operation in the early 1890’s. This company was Orange County’s first non-agricultural industry and was commonly referred to by its brand name as the Lily Creamery.


In the early 1900’s, Whitaker and his wife Ella, moved to Highland Park, near Pasadena, where he died on March 13, 1908 and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery.





Whitaker’s imprint can still be seen in Buena Park. Whitaker Street is named for him as is the James A. Whitaker Elementary School on Montana Avenue. The home of his brother, Andrew Whitaker, is now known as the Whitaker-Jaynes Estate, and has been restored and moved to become the cornerstone of Buena Park’s newly established Historical District.


Whitaker’s grave is located at Hollywood Forever in Section 7, behind the Griffith obelisk and facing the sandy path.



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