Friday, January 20, 2023

A Visit to Rose Hills Memorial Park

After a rainy start to the month, today was cool but sunny in Southern California, and my husband and I decided to go for one of our periodic cemetery walks.

Today we visited Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whitter, California. Rose Hills first opened in 1914 and claims to be the largest cemetery in the United States, with 1400 acres, and having now visited I can agree it's definitely huge compared to the many other cemeteries we have visited over the years. It flanks both sides of a street, with many entrances.

We started our stops today not with a filmmaker, but at the gravesite of longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who passed away two years ago this month. He's buried next to his wife Jo, who died a few months after Tommy. As a lifelong Dodgers fan, I found this a particularly moving visit.

Our next stop was the gravesite of actor Keye Luke, whose acting career stretched over half a century. He's particularly known for playing Lee Chan in the long-running Charlie Chan movie series.

Ken Carson was in a number films, mostly appearing onscreen as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers. He also voiced the Wise Old Owl in Disney's SO DEAR TO MY HEART (1948).

Timothy Carey was known for his intimidating screen portrayals of crazies, including a hit man in THE KILLING (1956).

The marker for actor William Hopper is currently in sad condition. Hopper is fondly recalled for his role as Paul Drake on TV's PERRY MASON (1957-66) series. He was the son of gossip columnist and actress Hedda Hopper.

Billy Laughlin is remembered as "Froggy" in the OUR GANG shorts, appearing in the series from 1940 to 1944. He sadly died young in an accident. His parents were later buried next to him on a very steep hillside.

Mary Gordon sometimes seems to have "cornered the market" playing Irish cleaning ladies in the classic film era -- although she was actually Scottish! She accumulated over 300 acting credits between 1925 and her retirement in 1950.

Griff Barnett was a wonderful character actor who appeared in favorite films such as CRISS CROSS (1949) and APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948). He's buried next to his wife Lora.

Our last stop of the day was at the gravesite of Lewis Arquette. Arquette was a semiregular as J.D. Pickett on one of my favorite TV series, THE WALTONS, from 1978-81. He was the son of Cliff "Charlie Weaver" Arquette and the father of five children, including actors Rosanna, Patricia, and David Arquette.

We covered a lot of ground today, given the size of Rose Hills, but appreciated the opportunity to contemplate each of these people's contributions to films (and baseball!) and how their work has enriched our lives.

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, A Visit to Valley Oaks Memorial Park, A Visit to Valhalla Cemetery, A Visit to Pacific View Memorial Park, A Visit to Glen Haven Memorial Park, A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale (2020), A Visit to Calvary Cemetery, A Visit to Home of Peace Memorial ParkVisits to Sedona and Las Vegas Cemeteries, A Visit to Forest Lawn Glendale (2022), Visits to Orange County Cemeteries (Holy Sepulcher Cemetery and El Toro Memorial Park), A Visit to Inglewood Park Cemetery, A Visit to Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, A Visit to Palm Springs (Coachella Valley Public Cemetery), A Visit to Marysvale Cemetery, A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery (2022), Part 1, and A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery (2022), Part 2.


Anonymous Barry Lane said...

That is disturbing about Bill Hopper. Is there something you know that is wrong with the cemetery? Or are there simply no survivors, even if so, the site should not look like that.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Barry,

The cemetery was pretty well maintained overall -- we've seen a couple bad ones (Glen Haven was the worst) and some which are beautiful; this cemetery was middling, leaning toward the upper end in terms of maintenance.

However, because it is a relatively old cemetery, at least in California terms, many of the older gravestones which are decades old need work. (Some styles have clearly proven less durable than others.) I suspect the cemetery would say it's the family's responsibility, if any survive, but that's just guesswork on my part. Hopper had one daughter from his marriage to Jane Gilbert, who was the sister of Margaret Lindsay.

I know of film and music fans who have contributed funds to provide missing grave markers for various actors and other performers (including singing great Helen Forrest), and I wonder if someday PERRY MASON fans could contribute to repairs or a new marker. Getting permission from any family members is usually the stumbling point with cemeteries on that kind of project, including proving there are no survivors left, if that's the case.

Best wishes,

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Barry Lane said...

All of that makes sense. If Raymond was alive, he would I know, look after these things, not only is he gone but so is everyone else.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Barry Lane said...

Just a word about survivors and cemeteries. When Claude died in Montreal, I went nearly every day. It was a short ride and a brief visit, but no one else was in this entire vast resting place other than following funerals for the actual interment. That is me, but I have never yet been to visit my father's grave. In the states and a place, he selected thirty years prior. My thought now, it is better to remain in the same locale.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's definitely sad that all the folks related to PERRY MASON have passed from the scene. I've always liked Hopper.

My husband has periodically researched these marker issues as he has been interested in possibly organizing contributions for a marker for RKO composer Roy Webb (OUT OF THE PAST) at Forest Lawn Glendale; he's in an unmarked grave. Roy and his brother don't appear to have any family left, but proving it to Forest Lawn and getting permission to go forward is something else again.

Best wishes,

10:04 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

We are often the only people in view when we visit cemeteries, other than, as you noted, current services.

I like to think that with our visits we are helping just a bit to keep memories alive of the people who contributed to so many happy viewing experiences.

Best wishes,

10:14 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

A lovely thought Laura.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Milady said...

I have seen Joan Hopper on TCM talking about her grandmother Hedda but I don't know if the video was made recently.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw HEDDA's granddaughter on TCM a while ago today talking about Hedda. She told about Hedda writing a letter to KATHARINE HEPBURN in the 60s because Hedda felt bad about the way she had treated some of the movie stars. She sent Hepburn a picture from THE AFRICAN QUEEN that Hepburn had done with HUMPREY BOGART. She was surprised to receive a complimentary letter from Hepburn a few days later. CLASSIC TV FAN

5:50 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Milady and Classic TV Fan, I'll be watching for that clip of Joan Hopper on TCM, I haven't seen it! Sounds interesting.

Best wishes,

7:39 PM  

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