While most tourists grab a "star map" while in Los Angeles, there is growing trend to seek out not only the homes of the living celebrities but also the graves of those who have passed. It's not unusual for the Forest Lawn's of Glendale and Hollywood Hills to turn away groups that enter the grounds with maps that mark the graves of stars such as Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Brittany Murphy, John Ritter, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wooden, Sandra Dee, Michael Jackson...the list goes on and on.
However these memorial grounds are not only expansive, they are also difficult to navigate. If you have your heart set on seeking out graves of the rich and famous, there are some lesser known memorial sites in Los Angeles that are easier to visit. While they may not contain the names listed above, some of their "residents" may surprise you.
The Crypt of Marilyn Monroe — Photo courtesy of Jeff Pistana
Westwood Village Memorial
Tucked away in the surrounding skyscrapers and UCLA-student housing, Westwood Village Memorial is home to some prestigious graves including Natalie Wood, Donna Reed, Roy Orbison, and Don Knotts. Even the founder of Westwood's own Hammer Museum, Alfred Hammer, is buried here. The Memorial, however, receives most of its visitors for the crypts of Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. With a very small area to walk around, it's no mission to find Monroe in the “Corridor of Memories” mausoleum, as well as the dedicated white bench facing it. Dean Martin is located in the “Sanctuary of Love” at the east end of the park. There's never a shortage of flowers at these sites, proving that it doesn't take constant crowds to pay the respects of the public. Westwood Village Memorial is located at 1218 Glendon Avenue in Westwood, CA.
Engraving on the Grave of Fred Astaire — Photo courtesy of Waymarker.com
Oakwood Memorial Park
This park is about a thirty-minute drive from Hollywood. Without too many big names, most visitors make their way to Chatsworth almost solely to visit the graves of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Although the infamous on-screen couple are not buried together, both of their sites can be found on the property. Astaire is located in the center of the lawn in the "Sequoia Section" while Rogers can be found to the East in the "Valley of Memory." Oakwood Memorial Park is located at 22600 Lassen Street, Chatsworth, CA.
Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery
There are a few fun and memorable names located just around the corner from Los Angeles. This cemetery keeps the grave of Santa Monica local, Glenn Ford, who starred in Glida and the 1978 rendition of Superman. Nearby are also Irene Ryan, the "granny" of The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hal Smith, who played "Otis" on The Andy Griffith Show. Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery is located at 1847 14th Street, Santa Monica, CA.
Sugar Ray Robinson's Tombstone — Photo courtesy of KylePix
Though this area has probably seen better days, this memorial park across from the Great West Forum is a beautiful home for some legendary gravesites. Soul musician Ray Charles is buried in the "Sanctuary of Eternal Love" of the Golden West Mausoleum and located nearby in the 'Sanctuary of the Bells" is another great singer, Ella Fitzgerald. In the "Pinecrest Section," the noticeable tombstone of champion boxer Sugar Ray Robinson can be found. And in 2012, the "At Last" singer Etta James was given her own crypt in the "Garden of Chimes." As you can see, it's fairly obvious why tourists make their way through the city to this cemetery. With names like these, the park is hard to shy away from. Inglewood Park is located at 720 East Florence Avenue, Inglewood, CA.
The Lake Shrine of Gandhi — Photo courtesy of Ariane at The Local Gypsy
The Lake Shrine
While this location is not an actual cemetery, it is home to one of the most prevalent (and perhaps surprising) graves of all: Mahatma Gandhi. Surrounded by park grounds and gardens, the ashes of the civil rights leader and peacekeeper himself are housed in the marble sarcophagus behind the Lotus Gate. The shrine includes a “World Peace” memorial and statues of Guan Yin around the coffer, symbols of remembrance for one of the most influential leaders of all time. The Lake Shrine is located just outside of Los Angeles in Pacific Palisades, at 17190 Sunset Boulevard.
Each of these memorials is worth visiting. Just remember these are not only tourist attractions, nor are they the only graves in the cemetery. Warnings are always given to those who are seeking these sites to always be discreet and quiet while on the grounds.