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Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Spending eternity at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This past Sunday some of my fellow tour guides and I met at the Pig ‘n Whistle on Hollywood Boulevard for lunch (see blog post here). We then carpooled over to Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The photo above is looking north to the entrance on Santa Monica Boulevard. If you squint, just to the right of the left hand palm tree you can see the Hollywood Sign stretched across the mountain in the distance.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

A closeup view of the Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Our group beginning the tour. It was a warm, muggy day. The weird weather continues. There has been rain in parts of our vast city but not in my neighborhood. The skies have been overcast which has cooled the temperatures a little but locks in the humidity.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

From the website: Hollywood Forever is a cemetery unlike any other in the world. One of the world’s most fascinating landmarks, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place to more of Hollywood’s founders and stars than anywhere else on earth. Founded in 1899, the cemetery was an integral part of the growth of early Hollywood. Paramount Studios was built on the back half of the original Hollywood Cemetery, where the studio is still in operation today. The cemetery of choice for most of the founders of Hollywood’s great studios, as well as writers, directors, and, performers, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is now listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Visitors come from all over the world to pay respects to Johnny Ramone, Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and hundreds more of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I love walking around cemeteries and I’ve wanted to visit this one for years. What sets Hollywood Forever apart from many others is that any kind of tombstone seems to go. Other cemeteries around Los Angeles are much more strict with the kind of grave marker you can have. So this is a creative mishmash. Of course that makes mowing the lawn a lot harder which may account for the unruliness of the grass.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Karie Bible was our cemetery tour guide. The tour website mentions that she gives the tour in vintage gowns from her collection that spans the 1920s through the 1950s.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Yes, I know you are wondering when you will see the headstones of those movie stars. The cemetery is not only for celebrities. In fact I was surprised that some of the more elaborate grave sites belonged to “ordinary” folk and some of the more modest graves were the final resting place for Hollywood “royalty.”

The Grecian tomb seeming to float in the lake belongs to William C. Clark, founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Karie told us it was not open to the public because the interior is filled with exquisite mosaics. If you know me, you know how much I love mosaics so I was salivating at the thought. I’ll have to do some more research on this subject.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

We entered the Mausoleum. I was immediately attracted to these beautiful light fixtures. I am so predictable!

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

A friend told me recently that she and her husband had purchased niches in the mausoleum for the final resting place of their ashes. I couldn’t quite grasp what she was telling me but now I’ve seen the niches myself I understand.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

You can have your urn and other personal belongings placed in these niches behind glass doors. I like that idea. But I’ve decided to have my ashes strewn around one of my favorite areas for walking. I don’t want to be cooped up indoors for eternity… or under the ground for that matter.

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Okay, now for the serious stuff. As you can see, people (women) still come to Rudolf Valentino’s grave in the Mausoleum to leave a kiss. I expected to see a much more elaborate grave than this. Valentino left his native Italy to seek his fortune in the US. Unfortunately, fortune didn’t smile for long and he died at the age of 31 of peritonitis. His birthname was Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla… a little too much for the grave marker.

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Born Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch in London, he won an Academy Award posthumously for best actor in the film “Network.”

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Peter Lorre was born László Loewenstein in Austria-Hungary. Our guide mentioned that he was about to divorce his third wife but it didn’t happen in time to preclude her from being buried next to him. I can only hope they have since reconciled!

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Mickey Rooney was 93 when he died in 2014. He rose to great heights in Hollywood but in stature only made it to 5 ft 2 inches (157 cm).

Hollywood Forever CemeteryThis is the view he gazes at for eternity… can you make out the Hollwood sign in the middle of the photo trying to peek through the branches? As his gravestone says, Hollywood will always be his home.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This is a memorial to Toto (Terry) from “The Wizard of Oz.” She is actually buried north of this location in Studio City. If you can read the inscription it tells the sad story that her resting place was destroyed by the construction of the Ventura Freeway in 1958. Terry had 16 total film appearances in her eleven years of life.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Douglas Fairbanks, otherwise known as the husband of Mary Pickford (although he had other wives before and after), has pretty nice accomodations for his final resting place. Passing in 1939 he was only 56. He was one of the founders of United Artists.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Another memorial is for Hattie McDaniel, famous for “Gone With the Wind” and the first African American to win an Academy Award. A very accomplished lady, she was also a professional singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer and television star. She passed in 1952.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

In the middle of the photo at the top of the mountain is the Griffith Observatory.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I think this may be my favorite grave in the cemetery. I can’t say I was particularly a fan of the Ramones but I love the way Johnny Ramone is shown as he was in life. He will be forever playing his guitar. It doesn’t get much better than that! He died from prostate cancer at the age of 55.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The koi were enjoying themselves.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

According to our tour guide, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, modeled herself after Vampira but never paid tribute to her. Vampira died pretty much penniless and I read that at one time she even sold linoleum.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Mr. Blackwell, probably still criticizing, er, critiquing the fashions of the angels.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Darren McGavin, one of my favorite actors because of his TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker. One of my fellow tour guides noted that he had grown up with this show, acting out like he was the star, and it had a great influence on him. Not many people have even heard of that show, so it was great to meet a fellow fan.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Cecil B. DeMille is credited with being one of the founding fathers of the Hollywood movie industry. Much of his family is also buried around him.

Hollywood Forever CemeteryI was surprised to discover that Jayne Mansfield was only 34 when she died in a car crash. Don’t get your calculators in a twist, she was actually born in 1933…. Hollywood magic at work. I think most people know her daughter is Mariska Hargitay known for the Law and Order franchise.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Don Adams. This is so cool that he is depicted as his best known role of Maxwell Smart talking on his shoe phone. This made me chuckle. Hard to believe he passed away ten years ago.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Marion Davies, actress and mistress of William Randolph Hearst, is buried within the Douras Mausoleum.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Tyrone Power has a nice lakeside spot. He died at the age of 44 of a massive heart attack while involved in a dueling scene for a movie he was making in Spain. His son, Tyrone Power IV, was born two months after his death.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This obelisk commemorates Griffith J. Griffith. In 1896 he donated over 3,000 acres to the City of Los Angeles which subsequently became Griffith Park. The Griffith Observatory (within Griffith Park) can be seen just to the right of his monument. Mr. Griffith has an interesting story that you can read here.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

At Forever Hollywood you can practice whatever religion you choose in the afterlife, unlike some other cemeteries that are religion-specific (only Jewish or only Catholic, etc). “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” some of Mel Blanc’s work was done in a full body cast while recovering from an auto accident.

"The Man of a Thousand Voices"

Estelle Getty, who played Bea Arthur’s mother in “The Golden Girls,” was really only a couple of years older than her. She won both an Emmy and Golden Globe award for that role. She passed away from Dementia with Lewy Bodies in 2008.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

So I was very happy to finally get to visit Forever Hollywood. Most of the information for this post is a combination of what I remember from the tour and Wikipedia so don’t blame our lovely tour guide, Karie Bible, for anything I got wrong. But as always, I enjoyed doing the research for this post. However, I highly recommend going on one of Ms. Bible’s tours as I learned a lot and her personality made the two-hour tour seem too short.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Hollyhocks, art and wahoo

hollyhock house barnsdall park

Hollyhock House is Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles project. Built between 1919 and 1921, it represents his earliest efforts to develop a regionally appropriate style of architecture for Southern California. Wright himself referred to it as California Romanza, using a musical term meaning “freedom to make one’s own form.”  – Text from the Barnsdall Park Art Foundation website.

Hollyhock House is located in Barnsdall Art Park in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz/Hollywood. A friend and I took the Expo Line from Culver City to the Vermont/Sunset Red Line exit. We met our other friends who came on the Red Line from North Hollywood and on the Gold Line from Pasadena and the Blue Line/Green Line from Redondo Beach. Lovely public transportation!

Hollywood sign

Above is the view of the Hollywood Sign from the front lawn.

Hollyhock House

The house was built for Aline Barnsdall by Frank Lloyd Wright. Her favorite flower was the hollyhock, so Wright worked out a stylized design to represent that flower.

hollyhock house

Unfortunately, the specimens planted around the house were not at their best for our visit, but you get the idea. On a personal note, my mother loved hollyhocks and planted them all around our house in England.

hollyhock house

Wright’s stylized version of the hollyhock plant.

hollyhock house

In 1927, Aline Barnsdall donated Hollyhock House and eleven surrounding acres to the City of Los Angeles for use as a public art park in memory of her father, Theodore Barnsdall.

The inscription reads: “Barnsdall Park in memory of Theodore N. Barnsdall 1851-1917. Our fathers mined for the gold of this country. We should mine for its beauty. Aline Barnsdall.” Today we could substitute oil. Although, interestingly, she was an oil heiress and perhaps she meant that the oil was gold… I don’t know.

hollyhock heiress

The house was closed recently for extensive renovations and re-opened in February of this year. I was disappointed that we weren’t allowed to take photos inside as the interiors, including the furniture designed by Wright himself, is indeed spectacular. Also, some of the rooms that had previously been open to the public (that I remember from previous visits) were not accessible, which was also disappointing.

hollyhock house

A nice view of the Griffith Park Observatory from the lawn.

hollyhock house

Beautiful FLW lamppost.

hollyhock house

After our visit to the Hollyhock House we walked across to the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) to see the Individual Artists Fellowship Exhibition.

I really enjoyed this exhibit. Some of the highlights:

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As at this point we were satiated with visual delights, it was time to fill our tummies. Our fearless leader had suggested The House of Pies on Vermont. Okaaaaaaay… what could I do but go along with the plan?

But I was pleasantly surprised. It was a 1950s (?) style family restaurant complete with a shrill screaming kid (THAT was not too pleasant). I went for the Grilled Wahoo Burger (see menu here). Also known as Ono, it was excellent and fortunately did not come with the pickle spear as promised on the menu. I substituted sweet potato fries for the regular fries.

We did a LOT of walking so I have my fingers crossed that mitigated my lunch (yeah, right!). So as I sit here enjoying my well-deserved heartburn, I wish you adieu for another day!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Walking with the Valley bikers

valley cicLAvia 2015

CicLAvia is a City of Los Angeles event where streets are closed to motorized vehicles allowing people to walk, bike and skate through the open streets that are usually clogged with traffic. CicLavia is a nonprofit organization formed to promote the awareness of riding bicycles and taking public transportation instead of driving around in cars.

The first Valley event (as in the San Fernando Valley) was held yesterday and I decided to join some friends who were planning to walk the route. valley ciclavia

I took the Expo Line to the Red Line to meet up with everybody at Universal Studios Station which is the penultimate stop on the Red Line. It was the perfect weather for walking or cycling as the temperature was in the low to mid 70s F (low to mid 20s C) and overcast. My kind of weather! The sun broke through early afternoon to brighten everything up but by then we were on the return leg so it worked out well.

CicLAvia Valley

Some nice bougainvillea along the way.

The City of Los Angeles is divided into two major land masses cut in two by the Santa Monica Mountains. South of the mountains is the LA Basin. North of the mountains lies the San Fernando Valley.

So the Red Line train travels under the mountains from the Hollywood and Highland Station to arrive at Universal Studios in North Hollywood.

CicLAvia Valley

Once I transferred to the Red Line it was obvious I was going in the right direction. The station platform was jammed with people and their bicycles all squeezing on to a train that was already jammed with people and their bicycles! As I had not eaten breakfast I decided to get off at Hollywood & Highland to grab a bagel. That set off a chain reaction of people having to move their bikes along the car to let me out!

valley cicLAvia

I don’t have any really stunning photos from yesterday. But it was cool to see so many bikes in place of cars on a major thoroughfare like Ventura Boulevard. Above is a photo of Chase Bank that was formerly a Home Savings. Millard Sheets is well known in Southern California as an artist and designer who designed a multitude of buildings for Home Savings. This is one of his many beautiful mosaics at the entrance.

valley cicLAvia

CicLAvia has been going since 2010, planned as an annual event but as the first one turned out to be so popular, in 2011 and 2012 there were two each year. In 2013 and 2014 there were three. And this year there will be four events.

The turnout for the Valley CicLAvia was estimated between 50,000 to 75,000 people. From what I understand, some of these events have attracted up to 100,000 participants. It would be fun to know how many Valley-ites actually took part as opposed to the number of people coming in from other areas. But not everybody wants to trek all the way out there!

valley cicLAvia

This was the turnaround point. We had walked about 3.5 miles by now. But don’t worry, we had stopped a couple of blocks earlier to refuel at Jerry’s Deli. I ordered a mushroom omelette and was ready for the walk back. Maybe you can tell from the photo that the sun was starting to peak through.

valley cicLAvia

We were entertained by this marching band. Many of the cyclists were giving them the thumbs up in appreciation as they rode by.

The route included Studio City, Universal City and North Hollywood. As we walked through Studio City I noticed the sidewalk was imbedded with plaques to commemorate the “B” movies made by Republic Pictures that had been located in that neighborhood, and also some TV shows filmed at the Studio City branch of CBS.

People coming from out of state always think of the LA district of “Hollywood” as being that magical place from where all movies and TV shows originate… but that could not be further from the truth as the studios and movie industry are spread out all over the Los Angeles area.

By the time we had turned around and reached our starting point we had walked seven miles. It was good to be back on the train and sitting down. I don’t have much reason to spend time in the Valley so it was nice to be out there walking around on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains! As LA is so vast one of the aims of CicLAvia is to get people out of their own neighborhoods to visit other parts of town.

I just found out that one of the 2015 CicLAvias will have its starting point in Culver City…. I am assuming at the Culver City Expo Line Station. The end point will be at the ocean in Venice. So I will be sure to take part in that one on August 9. Make your plans now and I’ll meet you at the station!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Grauman’s (now known as TCL) Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to become world’s largest IMAX

graumann's chinese theatre

The one constant thing about Los Angeles is that everything is always changing. Some things for the better and some things for the worse.

Renovating Grauman’s (TCL for the time being) Chinese Theatre appears to be for the better. As arguably the most iconic movie theater in the world, any changes have me sitting on the edge of my chair in anticipation. The developers have promised no major cosmetic changes, only minor reworking to accomodate the largest IMAX screen in the world. In which case, this could be a wonderful thing and I am ready to buy my ticket.

To view some fabulous images of the Chinese, inside and out, click here for the full story on LA.curbed.com:

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/touring_the_famous_chinese_theatre_before_it_closes_for_a_reno.php

Photo copyright Elizabeth Daniels


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A terrific escapade with Tourific Escapes

What could be a better way to spend a day than touring Hollywood and filling your tummy with delicious food? 

On Tuesday morning, June 21, a dozen intrepid adventurers, otherwise known as tour guides, joined Trish Proscetto and Matt Rubenstein, the husband and wife owners of Tourific Escapes, for their Hollywood Sites and Bites Tour. 

The trip was sponsored by the ITMI So Cal Network, an organization consisting of graduates of the International Tour Management Institute who live or work in southern California.

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

Meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel lobby

We met at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Since I last took a tour group through this 1927 hotel it has been remodeled and all the wonderful photos of old Hollywood have been removed from the mezzanine. This saddens me and I wonder if they are still displayed somewhere else? 

We began our food safari with a walk around the Hollywood Highland Center. Trish showed us a secret corner in the shopping mall for an unobstructed view of the Hollywood sign. I hope I can remember where it is next time I give a tour there.

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

Crumbs Bake Shop

Our first tasting was at Crumbs Bake Shop, just off the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where we sampled a specialty coffee and mini cupcakes. I am not a cupcake fan myself, but if you are, Crumbs boasts more than 50 varieties baked fresh daily with a new cupcake of the week every Monday. And you can’t quarrel with the location!

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

Panoramic view of city from Yamashiro's

We then drove up the hill behind Hollywood Boulevard past the Magic Castle to Yamashiro’s restaurant on Sycamore. Although we didn’t go inside, the gardens afford a spectacular view of the city below.

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles

Next up was Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles on North Gower Street. I have eaten at the original location in Long Beach but I was not aware there was one located in Hollywood—until now. We were each presented with a quarter of a waffle (made with their secret recipe) and a fried chicken wing. People always seem to think I am being polite when I choose the wing off a plate of chicken pieces, but that is my favorite part, and apparently I am not alone as this is their best seller. You have to eat the chicken and waffle together with maple syrup drizzled over the concoction.   

What separates Trish and Matt’s tour from the ordinary food tour is that Trish is very knowledgeable about the area and was able to regale us with a plethora of information and stories as we traveled from eatery to eatery—not to mention her charming and effusive personality.

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

The red glow of STREET's patio

Our third stop was at Susan Feniger’s STREET on North Highland Avenue. We were treated to a ginger tamarind cooler, Susan’s unique Kaya Toast and a variety of sampler platters. Each new taste was simply amazing. I would go back there any day. And eating outside in the patio we were bathed in a red glow from the canopy.  

 Although by now I was stuffed to the gills, we were not done yet.

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

Greenblatt's Deli

Greenblatt’s Deli is located on Sunset Boulevard. We ate upstairs overlooking colorful stained glass windows. While the others were served pastrami sandwiches and pickle spears, I enjoyed a very good potato knish with excellent coleslaw. Downstairs is the wine shop and a takeout counter stocked with eye-catching delights such as maple-mustard chicken, stuffed cabbage and garlic broccoli. It might be worth stopping in there to pick up dinner on my next visit to the area.

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

Making a decision about those chocolates

After the deli I really had to take a break from eating. Our next venue was John Kelly Chocolates on N. Sierra Bonita Avenue. They have some unusual flavors such as sea salt and chili. Perhaps it is fortunate that I do not care for dark chocolate or at that point there is no doubt I would have burst at the seams. Everybody else was obviously enjoying the samples, so I am sure the chocolate was first class. We were afforded the privilege of taking a look at the chocolate production in the adjoining space where the confection is all handmade. It is encouraging to see such a small operation thriving as a business.

ITMI So Cal Network Tourific Escapes tour

Mashti Malone's legend

 As our final port of call was Mashti Malone’s ice cream store (on North La Brea Avenue) I was indeed happy that I had left some space for some serious sampling. Mashti Malone’s Persian creations include exotic ingredients such as rosewater, saffron, cardomom, orchid root and Arabian gum. The more I sampled, the more indecisive I became! I finally settled on the rosewater saffron combination just because I had to choose one, but I could easily have ordered them all. In my opinion, ice cream is the true nectar of the gods. I like to eat it and savor it ever-so-slowly so I had to finish my cup on the bus.

Matt drove us safely back to the Roosevelt Hotel. After our four-hour expedition I felt like I had been on vacation for a week.

For information about other Tourific Escapes tours, you can visit the website at http://www.tourificescapes.com/.

Click here for a photo gallery.

(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins.)