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The Story of Hollywood Forever’s ‘Cupid and Psyche’

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 28th, 2011
May 28




By Allan R. Ellenberger


For the first time in its history, emissaries from leading Hollywood organizations took part in observance of Memorial Day 1929, which included the unveiling of a marble replica of Antonio Canova’s sculptural masterpiece, “Cupid and Psyche, or Love’s Triumph Over Death,” in plaisance before the memorial chapel of Hollywood Cemetery.


The ceremonies would be conducted under the auspices of Hollywood Post, No. 43, of the American Legion, with other organizations participating including such groups as Hollywood First Presbyterian Church, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Hollywood and Fairfax High School Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), Hollywood Bowl Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, G.A.R. and the Hollywood Police Department.



Above, the ‘Cupid and Psyche’ replica on display at Lake Como 

where the Hollywood Forever replica was carved.



The exact replica of “Cupid and Psyche,” carved from Italian marble, was ordered by Hollywood Cemetery’s manager, Frank Heron and was carved at Lake Como, Italy at a cost of approximately $25,000. Another replica carved by a student of Canova’s still rests in Lake Como and was the inspiration for the Hollywood Cemetery reproduction.


Canova’s original called ‘Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss,’ first commissioned in 1787, was donated to the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1824 by Joachim Murat; Prince Yusupov, a Russian nobleman who originally acquired the piece in Rome in 1796, gave a later version (created in 1796) to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.



Above, the original Canova statue at the Louvre



Art representatives in Europe assured Frank Heron that few experts could tell the difference between the original and the replica being sent to Hollywood. The statue is reputed to be the only marble replica of the masterpiece in the United States. There were three copies of “Cupid and Psyche” in America but they were made of plaster – at the Metropolitan, Chicago and Carnegie Museums. The statue reached New York City on May 9, 1929 and arrived in Hollywood two weeks later.


On Thursday, May 30, 1929, Hollywood’s first Memorial Day parade assembled at the Legion Stadium on El Centro and, with a police escort and the Hollywood Legion band leading, proceeded down El Centro to Sunset Boulevard, west on Sunset to Vine, south to Santa Monica and east on Santa Monica to Hollywood Cemetery where Memorial Day services were conducted.





Dr. H. M. Cook, world traveler, was master of ceremonies. The principal feature of the exercises was the unveiling of the marble replica of “Cupid and Psyche,” in front of the Chapel of the Pines followed by addresses from Judge Rosenkranz and Mrs. Leland Atherton Irish, the military salute to the dead and decorating of soldiers’ graves. More than 300 veterans of all wars were buried in Hollywood Cemetery at the time.


The United Daughters of the Confederacy, under the direction of Mrs. Thomas Jefferson Douglas, conducted a service at the Confederate plot. A brief address was delivered by W. E. Edmondson, retired chaplain of the United States Navy and of the American Legion of California.








On Monday, May 30, 2011, the statue will celebrate 82 years at its present location.


It’s rumored that when Jean Harlow died in 1937, her fiancé William Powell considered purchasing the statue for her final resting place but decided on Forest Lawn in Glendale instead.





I have no idea if the statue is still available for purchase or the asking price if it is, however it certainly would make a beautiful and historic permanent residence.



7 Responses

  1. Harry Martin Says:

    I think it was for sale about 6 years ago for $500,000. I bet Steve could confirm. I think it “seats” 6.

  2. Mark Masek Says:

    Great story, and great historical perspective (as always).

  3. Steve Goldstein Says:

    Thank you for this great piece about my favorite sculpture in my favorite place. It is also on the cover of my book. We visited yesterday. I had no idea today was the anniversary of its unveiling. As always, Allan, you continue to inform and inspire. Thank you!!

  4. Steve Goldstein Says:

    And Harry is correct, it was recently being offered as a grave site for a family of 6. I don’t know if it sold or is still being offered, but I think not.

  5. d.w. Says:

    This was a lovely story about this beautiful statue. Thank You as always Allan for your awesome stories!

  6. Bob GIles Says:

    The statement that this version of the Canova statue is an “exact replica of “Cupid and Psyche,” is inaccurate.
    The Hollywood Forever (Why the hell did they have to change the name to that?) version is a 2nd rate copy and really leaves a lot to be desired…with the added on fig leaf….it strays into the style of Kitsch …and in seconds anyone with a good eye can see the many shortcomings; the hair on the figures is not as elegant and the point where the wings join the body of Cupid is crudely done. It just has a different feel to it than the Canova.
    Try donating this version to the Louvre and you’d you’d get a pissed off French person saying NON!

  7. CatM Says:

    Cough cough *snob* cough

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