Sunday, February 02, 2020

A Visit to Valhalla Cemetery

Last Sunday we spent the day in the Hollywood area, starting off with a 35mm screening of NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940) at the Egyptian Theatre.

I hadn't seen the movie in a number of years and had a thoroughly good time revisiting it, especially on film on the Egyptian's huge screen.

Our day ended with dinner with our daughter, and in between dinner and the movie we spent a couple of hours visiting Valhalla Cemetery in North Hollywood.

Valhalla is a serene if slightly worn cemetery which is close to a century old, dating from 1923. There are a great many filmmakers buried at Valhalla; while we found some of the burial sites below thanks to prior research, we stumbled across others by chance as we walked the grounds.

A favorite actress, Gail Russell, is buried at Valhalla. Favorite films Russell starred in include ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947), SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956), and THE UNINVITED (1944).

Martha Vickers, who most famously played Carmen Sternwood in THE BIG SLEEP (1946), is buried at Valhalla under her married name. I also particularly appreciate Vickers for her appearance in a minor but rather lovely Warner Bros. musical, THE TIME, THE PLACE AND THE GIRL (1946). Before her final marriage, Vickers was married briefly to producer A.C. Lyles and then to Mickey Rooney.

As we walked around we happened across the final resting place of actor Robert Lowery, who I first knew thanks to his appearances on my favorite TV series, MAVERICK. He was long married to actress Jean Parker.

Just two spots away from Robert Lowery is the gravesite of Jonathan Hale. An actor with nearly 250 credits to his name, he was a regular in the Saint movie series and played J.C. Dithers in the BLONDIE films. The Find a Grave site indicates that the grave was at one point unmarked, so I assume this stone was provided by classic film fans.

Cliff Edwards, also known as Ukelele Ike, had a long career, but I think he was most beloved and remembered today for voicing Jiminy Cricket in Disney's PINOCCHIO (1940). He voiced Jiminy Cricket in many other Disney productions, including FUN AND FANCY FREE (1947) and the "I'm No Fool" series of educational shorts.

Canadian character actor Douglass Dumbrille had over 200 credits in his career. A familiar face to classic film fans, his roles ranged from a couple of silent movies to his final appearance, in TV's BATMAN (1966). I particularly appreciated him in an atypical Wyatt Earp type role in a minor yet very well done Johnny Mack Brown Western, FLAME OF THE WEST (1945).

Mae Murray began in silent films over a century ago, in 1916, leaving films behind in 1931. Today she is probably best remembered for playing the title role in the silent version of THE MERRY WIDOW (1925).

Claire McDowell began in silent films in 1908; she appeared in films through 1945. Her final film role, in fact, was a bit part in a movie I very recently reviewed, ADVENTURE (1945). She had major roles in the silent classics BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST (1925) and THE BIG PARADE (1925).

Fuzzy Knight is a name well-known to Western fans; he played sidekicks to the hero and supporting roles in Westerns in the majority of his nearly 200 movie credits. His name turns up in the casts of many Westerns I've reviewed here.

Willie Best supplied comedy relief in over 130 films including THE GHOST BREAKERS (1940) with Bob Hope. He also had a terrific role as an attendant at the Wyoming state legislature who advises Loretta Young on lobbying and passing bills in THE LADY FROM CHEYENNE (1941).

Given the times, as a black character actor Best also played numerous train porters. It's interesting to note that Sam McDaniel, who made a real specialty of playing train porters (over 60 times!), is also buried at Valhalla; we hope to locate McDaniel's final resting place on a future visit.

Actress Vivienne Osborne appeared in films beginning in silents in 1920, with her last role coming in DRAGONWYCK in 1946. She's been reviewed here in THE FAMOUS FERGUSON CASE (1931), THE DARK HORSE (1932), and more.

Gladys George was a terrific character actress whose best known roles included THE ROARING TWENTIES (1939), THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), and FLAMINGO ROAD (1949). She was in films from 1919 to 1954, the year of her passing.

Comedy giant Oliver Hardy is also at Valhalla.

In addition to his gravestone (above), Hardy is honored with a special plaque (below).

Finally, there's a memorial plaque at Valhalla for famed stuntman Yakima Canutt.

Valhalla is big enough there were many names we didn't have time to locate, and we hope to make another visit at some point in the future.

In the meantime, I hope those who cannot be there in person will join me in remembering and appreciating the lives and work of all of the actors mentioned above. As it says on Jonathan Hale's gravestone, "We Remembered You."

Additional photo posts on the final resting places of historic Hollywood figures: A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale, Part 1, A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale, Part 2, A Visit to the Forest Lawn Museum, A Visit to Hollywood Forever Cemetery (2014), A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - The Musicians, A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - The Comedians, A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - The Actors, A Visit to Westwood Village Memorial Park - Writers, Directors, and More, A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery, Part 1, A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery, Part 2, A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery, Part 3, A Visit to Desert Memorial Park, Los Angeles National Cemetery, A Visit to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Part 1, A Visit to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Part 2, A Visit to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Part 3, A Visit to Forest Lawn Cathedral City, A Visit to Oakwood Memorial Park, A Visit to Hillside Memorial Park, Part 1, A Visit to Hillside Memorial Park, Part 2, A Visit to Hollywood Forever Cemetery (2019), A Visit to Woodlawn Cemetery, and A Visit to Valley Oaks Memorial Park.


Blogger Seth said...

Thanks for both this post and the links to your past cemetery visits. I'm considering a trip to Westwood Village when I'm in town in April and will need to look at those posts again in preparation.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Lee R said...

Very interesting. Many of those people had troubled and tragically short lives. Jonathan Hale committed suicide even though he was quite old at the time. This may be why he had no plaque to mark his grave, at the time suicide was a shameful thing. It's a tragic thing but not shameful.

I think I would feel weird walking thru all those graves.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Thank you for this post. A fine tribute to these stars .

12:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm so glad to know you all enjoyed it, thank you for letting me know.

Seth, I hope you are able to visit Westwood (where, incidentally, Kirk Douglas was buried last week -- his son Eric is also there). It's quite a lovely place and of all the cemeteries we've visited, it's the place where a map is least needed. It's small and you will find many interesting names simply walking around.

Lee, thank you for that additional insight into Jonathan Hale. So sad. I'm glad he is properly remembered now.

I appreciate that, Vienna!

Best wishes,

9:02 AM  

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