Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Death of Khan

Star Trek.  It was inevitable that I'd tackle this franchise, and this post probably won't be the last.  While I have located and documented the graves of several of the highly talented actors and producers from the various TV and film franchises, I've decided to devote this post to the best of the best, 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. 

While several people from the film have passed away, only four have been laid to rest.  The others, including Gene Roddenberry, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Bibi Besch, and Merritt Butrick were all cremated.  I know, selfish.  But there are four graves all on the West Coast where you can pay your respects to those who made this film a reality.  And who better to start with than the headliner himself?

Ricardo Montalban, who will forever be known as Star Trek's greatest villain, passed on January 14, 2009.  Ironically, he almost passed on the film, after initially believing it wasn't as meaty a part as he would have preferred.  But ultimately, he saw the passion that Khan had in his quest for revenge, and found it a welcome relief from six seasons of the more benign Mr. Roark on Fantasy Island.

: Holy Cross Cemetery
Section EE, Tier 3, grave 21
GPS: 33.9963875, -118.3813858 (hddd.dddd)
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Enough books have been written on Leonard Nimoy to fill a library, including a few by Nimoy himself.  Suffice it to say, if you've come to this page, you probably know enough about this man and his green-blooded counterpart, both of whom died on February 27, 2015.  Like Montalban, Nimoy had initial reservations about appearing in the film, due to the lackluster response of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which is probably still playing right now.  He gave in, when promised a memorable death scene.

Hillside Memorial Park
Plot: Garden of Solomon, Block 4, Space 10
GPS: 33.9795837, -118.3875427 (hddd.dddd)
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Paul Winfield, who played the doomed Captain Terrell of the Starship Reliant, had a long history of diabetes and obesity.  It culminated in a heart attack, suffered on March 7, 2004.  It came two years after the loss of his partner, architect Charles Gillan, Jr., who died of bone cancer in 2002.

: Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills
Plot: Court of Liberty, Lot 1475

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Harve Bennett, who was best known for having produced The Six Million Dollar Man for television, was asked to produce Khan by Paramount Pictures.  The studio was hoping to provide a faster-paced, more memorable film than the original.  Bennett delivered.  To find his grave however, you have to leave Los Angeles, and head about 1,000 miles north.  Bennett, a former veteran, is interred in Portland Oregon.  His marker notes both his service to his country as well as the popular sci-fi franchise.  He passed on February 25, 2015, just two days before Leonard Nimoy.  Fascinating!

Location: Williamette National Cemetery,
Plot: Columbarium 6, Row 801, Site A

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The day I visited Portland it had been hit by an ice storm.  I passed multiple wrecks en route to Williamette.  When I finally arrived, the steep winding roads were covered in ice.  I wisely abandoned my rental car, and hiked down the long winding slope, in a desperate search for Harve.  One of the hardest graves I've ever documented.

Next Up:  An extra-terrestrial buried in Texas!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Three Stooges? Six Graves.

Between 1934 and 1970, six men would comprise one of the greatest comedy teams ever assembled, the Three Stooges.  With humble beginnings as a vaudeville act, brothers Moe and Curly Howard, joined by partner Larry Fine, would produce 90 shorts for Columbia films.  When Curly's health began to deteriorate, older brother Shemp Howard assumed his role as the third Stooge, but he too would later be replaced, first by Joe Besser, then after a ten-year Stooge hiatus, by Joe DeRita.

All six stooges are buried in the Los Angeles area.  So what are you waiting for knuckleheads?

Curly Howard, by far the most popular Stooge, was the first to pass, on January 18, 1952.  His death followed a long six years of health problems that began with a stroke in 1946, from which most sources claim he never fully recovered.  He was interred at Home of Peace Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Plot: Western Jewish Institute Section, Row 5, Grave 1
GPS coordinates: 34.0222168, -118.1766052 (hddd.dddd)
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Curly's given name was Jerome Lester Horwitz.

Shemp Howard was the next to go, passing on November 22, 1955, following a massive heart attack in the back of a taxi cab.  The fare was never paid.  Like his younger brother Curly, he was laid to rest at Home of Peace Memorial Park.

Mausoleum, Corridor of Eternal Life, Second Tier from the bottom.
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Shemp's given name was Samuel Horwitz.
With the loss of two of the Howard brothers just a few years apart, Stooge fans would get a reprieve for the next two decades.  Then in 1975, they’d suffer another round of back-to-back losses.

Larry Fine spent the last few years of his life in an industry retirement community, following a series of strokes in the early 1970s.   Stooge fans were allowed to visit, whom he was always happy to meet.  When asked if he’d enjoyed being a Stooge, he’d quip “it wasn’t fun; it was work – but it paid off good, so I enjoyed it.”  He passed on January 24, 1975, and was interred at Forest Lawn Glendale.

Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Liberation
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Larry's given name was Louis Feinberg.
Before passing, Larry published his autobiography Stroke of Luck, which focused on his final years as a stroke survivor.

Just four months later, head Stooge Moe Howard lost his battle with lung cancer, on May 4, 1975.  In the months leading up to his death, Moe had been preparing his own autobiography, I Stooged to Conquer.  It was posthumously released under a different title, Moe Howard and the Three Stooges.  He was interred at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City.

Plot: Garden of Memories, Alcove of Love, Wall C, Crypt 233
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Moe's given name was Moses Harry Horwitz.
With the death of Moe, the core Stooge group had all passed away, leaving fans with just two remaining secondary members.

Joe Besser, the second replacement for Curly, passed on March 1, 1988.  He was found dead in his home, which was later attributed to heart failure.  Joe was buried at Forest Lawn Glendale, just a short walk from the mausoleum where Larry Fine was laid to rest. 

Plot: Dedication, L-4404, space 2A
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The final man to bear the Stooge crown, Joe “Curly Joe” DeRita, passed on July 3, 1993, following a bout with pneumonia.  Ironically, DeRita was never a fan of Stooge comedy, stating that while they were physical, they were never actually funny.  Stooge fans disagree.  He was interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park.  His is the only headstone to acknowledge the Stooges.

Plot: Block D, Section 338, Lot 19
GPS coordinates: 34.1875916, -118.3608322 (hddd.dddd)
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Next up:  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Come and Knock on Our Graves....Finding the Cast of Three's Company

Who didn’t love Three’s Company?  The original show about nothing that you could never get away with making today.  Over the course of eight seasons, it made household names of new stars John Ritter, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt.  It also served as a platform for some of Hollywood’s most reliable veterans, including Norman Fell, Audra Lindley and Deputy Fife himself, Don Knotts.
Sadly we’ve lost four of the main cast members over the years, all of whom are buried in the Los Angeles area.  So grab yourself a beer down at the Regal Beagle and get ready to toast TV’s favorite roommates.

Audra Lindley, who played Helen Roper, was the first to pass, on October 16, 1997.  She was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica.  Lindley was buried with her father Bert, who passed in 1953.  Unfortunately, the grave does not bare her name and finding this one can be a time-consuming experience.
Plot: Section 18, L-141
GPS: 34.0187492, -118.4772110 (hddd.dddd)

Norman Fell, who played her on-screen husband Stanley Roper, was the next to pass on December 14, 1998.  His cremated remains were interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Burbank.  Perhaps in a nod to his role as Mr. Roper, his marker refers to him as a “romantic” man.
Plot: Garden of Heritage, Columbarium of Tradition, Niche 1601A
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Mount Sinai is next door to the most famous cemetery in all of Hollywood, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.  It’s here that you’ll find the star himself, John Ritter, who passed on September 11, 2003.
Plot: Court of Liberty Section, Gardens of Heritage Division, Map #H23, Lot 1622, Garden Crypt 2
GPS: 34.1440811, -118.3177185 (hddd.dddd)
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Finally, Don Knotts, who stepped in as replacement landlord Ralph Furley, passed on February 24, 2006.  He was laid to rest at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park.  His marker is beautifully done, depicting many of his most famous screen roles.  Oddly however, Mr. Furley is not among them.
GPS: 34.0588646, -118.4420700 (hddd.dddd)
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Next up....the Six Stooges.