Hollywood Forever Cemetery is America's most macabre movie theater


Everyone is dying to get in!

Between sitting in traffic on your way to Venice Beach and trying to figure out how exactly to get to the Hollywood Sign, there's tons of stuff to cross off your Los Angeles bucket list when you visit. It may seem a little weird to add a graveyard to your already lengthy to-do list, but a stop at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is definitely worth it. No spot captures LA's past and present and long history of craziness and seediness (I'm only kind of joking...) better than the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Still not convinced? Here's a quick list of why it's worth a trip!

Scandal

The cemetery has had a long, rocky, and interesting history. The Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery was created in 1899 in a prime location on Santa Monica Boulvevard (right next to Paramount studios), and in 1939 it was purchased by Jules Roth, who was more concerned with using the cemetery's profits to fund his lavish lifestyle than to keep the cemetery in decent condition. As a result, many of the graves were damaged and vandalized, and even the crematory was literally falling down while bodies were being cremated. Roth died in 1997, and new owners purchased the cemetery, which was on the verge of bankruptcy anyways. It was refurbished, had kiosks with info on those interred there put in, and renamed "Hollywood Forever".

It co-produced a movie

Everyone in LA is in the business, even the Hollywood Forever Cemetery... because it helped co-produce a movie. The film Silent Life, which will be released in 2016, tells the story of the last days of one of the graveyard's most famous residents: Rudolph Valentino. Rudy was a silent film star known for his dashing good looks in the 1920's, and his early death (at age 31) caused mass hysteria amongst his female fans. His grave is definitely one to visit at the cemetery.

Cinespia

One thing that really sets the cemetery apart from any other graveyard is Cinespia, a weekly summer event where the cemetery shows an outdoor movie (projected onto the white marble wall of the Cathedral Mausoleum, which is eerily awesome). If you go, don't be surprised to find celeb guests, DJs, photo booths, or fireworks at the event, plus you can bring a picnic (with wine and/or beer!) to enjoy while you watch the movie on the lawn. Find the schedule of events and info on tickets here! You can also find concerts in the cemetery as well. 

Famous graves

And, of course, it goes without saying that you can find the graves of plenty of stars at the cemetery. All kinds of celebs, from filmmakers like Cecil DeMille, and gangsters like Bugsy Siegel, to musicians like George Harrison and Johnny Ramone and actors like Mickey Rooney and Mel Blanks (definitley look for his grave, his epitaph is legendary!) there are tons of people buried there. You can even find walking tours of the cemetery that highlight interesting tidbits on the history and the dead. 

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Header via hauntednorthamerica.org and Facebook/Cinespia

Places explored in this article:

This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
Want more articles by Anna Hider? Find them here!