Advertisement

Intersections: Unearthing the grave history of Hollywood

This is the first of a two-part series.

March 05, 2012|By Liana Aghajanian

A calm, cold breeze runs throughout the marble-encased, maze-like corridors of Forest Lawn's Great Mausoleum, where the who's who of Hollywood have come to permanently rest. But that changes once you reach its deepest and oldest cobweb-covered crevice after a number of stairs and enough security cameras to make you feel like you're being monitored by the Secret Service.

The air ricocheting lightly off banisters just moments ago becomes heavy and stagnant. The chills, absent during the descent, come a little too eagerly. In a corner of this century-old foyer, across the tomb of razor magnate King Camp Gillette and near the crypt of silent-film-era comedian Harold Lloyd, the atmosphere takes an uneasy turn for the worse.

According to Jayne Osborne, grave hunter extraordinaire and all around cemetery enthusiast, this is the section of the Great Mausoleum that's haunted. If it makes it any more plausible, a psychic has pinpointed the culprits of suspicious activity: the famously un-famous Sargent family, directly across the chambers of cross-eyed comedian Ben Turpin.

Advertisement

Thanks to Osborne and her boyfriend — celebrity grave historian Mark Masek, who has written several books on the subject, including “Hollywood Remains to be Seen” and the unauthorized guide to Forest Lawn Memorial Park — I have been granted temporary access into a tangible underworld that many, including members of the media, will never get to see.

Closed off to the public and only accessible by property owners, the Great Mausoleum was built in 1917 and modeled after Campo Santo in Genoa, Italy by Dr. Hubert Eaton, who is often credited with revolutionizing the funeral industry by swapping dreary tombstone-filled cemeteries for flat grave markers that gave way to lush hills, replicas of Michelangelo and Leonard Da Vinci's pieces, as well as churches within the grounds that are often used for weddings and christenings.

The Mausoleum, with 11 terraces all named after flowers, contains the likes of notable residents Elizabeth Taylor, W.C Fields and Michael Jackson, not to mention victims of famous Hollywood crime cases like Marion Parker, the 12-year-old daughter of banker Perry Parker who was abducted and then horrifically murdered in 1927.

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles
|
|
|