A Look at Hollywood Fever
July 26, 2019
While you might not be able to spy the Hollywood Forever Cemetery from the Waterfront apartments in San Pedro, there’s no denying that it’s a city landmark you might well want to check out in the near future. It’s one of the oldest cemeteries in the city of Los Angeles, and over the years, it’s made quite the name for itself by becoming a veritable graveyard for the stars:
“The Hollywood Forever Cemetery certainly lives up to its name. Looking north through its front gates, you can see the Hollywood Sign up atop the Hollywood Hills. Looking south, you can see the historic back lot of the famous Paramount Studios. And interred throughout the cemetery grounds are some of the most famous stars in the history of Old Hollywood, including Rudoph Valentino, Mickey Rooney, Douglas Fairbanks, Nelson Eddy, Peter Lorre, Janet Gaynor, Tyrone Power and Clifton Webb.”
And beyond being just a place where celebrities and entertainers are interred, this is also the site of many a fine cultural event touching tribute, so there are plenty more reasons than one to go check it out sometime. So, if you’re interested in learning more about Hollywood Forever and what it has in store, read on, as we explore what this Los Angeles landmark is all about.
Some Background on Hollywood Forever
When it was first constructed in 1899, it was simply known as the Hollywood Cemetery. It would later come to be known as Hollywood Memorial Park, but wouldn’t gain its current moniker, Hollywood Forever, until a name change in 1998. That’s just one of several interesting details that dot this site’s strange history, which, for a time, was part of the Paramount Studios lot, and at one point had some of its land put aside for Beth Olam Cemetery, the only Jewish burial ground in Hollywood.
Depending on your perspective, things started getting weird for Hollywood Forever back in 1939, when convicted felon (but also millionaire) Jules Roth purchased a 51% stake in the property, and proceeded to “use cemetery funds to pay for personal luxuries while the grounds fell into disrepair” over the next few decades. His many examples of woeful mismanagement of the cemetery included keeping the property segregated, and disallowing famous black actors like Hattie McDaniel from being buried there. And this is to say nothing of how he squandered cemetery profits:
“In the 1950s, Roth purchased a boat he claimed he needed to scatter clients’ ashes. Instead, the yacht was used for parties and liaisons with women. As headstones and crypts began crumbling, questions arose about the use of cemetery funds. A disgruntled employee alerted the IRS and Roth was forced to sell land to settle the tax debt.”
And so things would continue for years. The cemetery fell deeper and deeper into disrepair, right up until his death in January of 1998. The cemetery was no longer turning profits at this point, and it was revealed that nearly $9 million was missing from the cemetery’s endowement fund. Later that year, brothers (and cemetery proprietors) Tyler and Brent Cassity purchased the property. Intent not to repeat the mistakes of the late Mr. Roth, they set about doing right by Hollywood Forever:
“They invested millions in renovations and renamed the site Hollywood Forever. They attempted to redress past sins such as erecting a granite monument to Hattie McDaniel. They also turned the site into a cultural center, hosting local events like outdoor movie screenings (Night of the Living Dead), a yearly Dia de los Muertos Festival and indie rock concerts with performers like the Flaming Lips and Bon Iver.”
Now, in the present day, Hollywood Forever has returned to its former glory. There are more than 80,000 grave sites at the cemetery, and more “dead Hollywood icons than anywhere in the world,” including: Cecil B. DeMille, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Jayne Mansfield, Peter Lorre, Mickey Rooney, and Judy Garland. George Harrison was cremated at Hollywood Forever, and more recently, late stars like Tony Scott, Anton Yelchin, and Chris Cornell were buried on the grounds.
As for the cultural events, one of the largest draws for the cemetery are the outdoor movie screenings. They teamed up with Cinespia back in 2002, and ever since, have been hosting the outdoor movies on the Fairbanks Lawn every May through September:
“Thousands of people gather on Fairbanks Lawn after sunset to watch classic Hollywood movies projected onto the side of a mausoleum. Attendees bring a picnic basket, along with blankets and chairs to enjoy a truly unique evening. Our outdoor screenings also feature pre-show DJs, themed photo booths, and sometimes a visit by the film’s stars, directors or filmmakers.”
You can learn more about the outdoor screenings by checking out Cinespia, or by heading to Hollywood Forever’s event calendar, where they list upcoming dates. In addition to the movie screenings, you’ll find other forms of riveting entertainment scheduled, like podcasts and movies, so if you love being outside, with company, and enjoying yourself, this is definitely a spot worth checking out.
Don’t Forget That There’s More Fun to Be Had Back at the Waterfront Apartments in San Pedro
A trip to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is sure to be a blast, and when you’re all done, you’ll have the pleasure of returning to The Vue — San Pedro’s most preeminent high rise apartment community. On first glance it’s obvious how amazing this community is from the outside, but it’s even more entrancing once you venture within. Spacious residences that represent the best of modern design, coupled with some of the most tantalizing amenities an apartment-dweller could ask for make for easy living near the waterfront — the likes of which you may never have thought possible before. If you aren’t already enjoying The Vue, what are you waiting for? Drop us a line, learn more about what makes these apartments the pinnacle of LA living, and find out how you can start to make that move today.