Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Hidden Graves of the Rich and Famous

In our travels, we've encountered some truly opulent memorials and headstones, befitting their celebrity occupants.  Jackie Gleason's temple in Miami will always inspire.  Other markers are much more simple, suggesting an air of humbleness or geniality.  Harvey Korman comes to mind as one such example.  Still others have no marker at all, for reasons known only to them or their families.

These graves require some extra detective work to track down, and will require a lot of time and patience.  At least they did for those of us here at Six Feet Under Hollywood.  But our goal is to help YOU find these graves, so let's get started.  This week, we present five A-listers who would otherwise have absolutely nothing in common but for the fact that they're buried in anonymity.

Fred Gwynne will forever be identified as Herman Munster, the patriarch of a family that only survived two seasons on network TV.  He was never fond of the role, and in his later career, shunned interviews and questions regarding the series, an early sign of his desire for anonymity.  His career rebounded in the final years of his life, with character roles in such notable films as Fatal Attraction, and of course, My Cousin Vinny.  Here's a documentary of his life.

Gwynne died on July 2, 1993 at his home in Taneytown, Maryland.  The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.  Click here to see CNN's coverage of his death.

Sandy Mount United Methodist Church Cemetery
Finksburg, Maryland
Look for the dark stone that reads "Shannon."  Gwynne is directly in front of it.

Trivia: In addition to being an actor, Gwynne found later success as the author and illustrator of a series of children's books, including Easy to See Why, The King Who Rained, and A Chocolate Moose for Dinner.  Unlike most self-made celebrity publications, these are actually worthy of your time.

Fred "Rerun" Berry was the breakout star of the 70's hit What's Happening?.  He came to the show after spending years as a professional dancer with the Los Angeles-based troupe The Lockers.  Watch Rerun show off his moves here.  Berry returned to the role of Rerun in the mid-80s revival series What's Happening Now??, but left after one season when his salary demands were unmet.  Ironically, cast mates claim that Berry's demands led to the cancellation of BOTH versions of the show.

Death: Rerun passed on October 21, 2003 while recovering from a stroke.  He had recently been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.

Location: Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills
Plot: Tribute Section, Lot 1015, Grave 4
Look for this statue and use it as a reference.  Look for a round, circular stone bearing the number 1015.  Berry is to the left of it, between two other markers.
Photo courtesy of FindaGrave.Com

Trivia:  After giving up show business in the 1990s, Berry became a Baptist minister, and later, a pitchman for the UniverSOUL Circus.  However, it's his turn as a contestant on Howard Stern's game show "Hooker Price is Right" for which he'll always be remembered.

Roy Orbison.  It feels like an artist of his stature deserves more than to be simply tossed in with this group, and perhaps one day, we'll devote more space to him.  Orbison's musical career is legendary, as much for his rich baritone voice as the air of mystery created by his persona.  In the 1960s, Life Magazine referred to him as the "anonymous celebrity," a star with so many hits for whom the public knew so little about.  So perhaps that makes him perfect for this column after all.

Death: Shortly after forming supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, Orbison suffered a fatal heart attack on December 6, 1988.  He was only 52.

Location: Pierce Brothers Westwood Village
Plot: Section D, #97
Roy is between two stones - "Frank Wright Tuttle" and "Grandma Martha Monroe."

Trivia: A common misconception about Orbison is that he was blind.  He wasn't, which explains why he was driving through Hazzard County in this famous TV clip, wherein he's forced to sing his signature song "Oh Pretty Woman" after being caught in a speed trap.  Incidentally, we believe that the same song was used in a Julia Roberts movie.  Updates to follow.

George C. Scott was actually a Marine before becoming an actor.  Born in Wise, Virginia, he enlisted in the service shortly after his 18th birthday in 1945.  When his tour was completed, he set out for Broadway, receiving numerous Tony award nominations for such productions as Richard III. Eventually landing in Hollywood, he'd land the signature role in the 1970 film Patton, for which he is best remembered.  Watch his stirring speech here.  Watch it lampooned by Jackie Gleason here.

Death: Throughout the 1980s, Scott suffered a series of heart attacks.  The last one came on September 22, 1999.  He was only 71 years old.

Location: Pierce Brothers Westwood Village
Celebrity Row, to the left of Walter Matthau

Trivia: Although Scott won the Academy Award for his portrayal of General Patton, he refused to accept it, stating that he was not in league with the other actors who were nominated (he wasn't belittling them, rather, he was being humble - kind of like his stone here).  The award was donated to the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.

Frank Zappa was a self-taught guitarist/artist/filmmaker/etc.  To read his Wikipedia page, you'd think he'd cured cancer.  Born in Baltimore, he'd move with his family to the West Coast, finally settling in San Diego.  There in high school, he joined his first band, crafting an offbeat musical style that would be his personal trademark. 

Zappa passed from prostate cancer on December 4, 1993.  His family released a public statement that read "Composer Frank Zappa left for his final tour just before 6:00 pm on Saturday."  We approve.

Location: Pierce Brothers Westwood Village
Plot: Section D, #100 (three down from Roy Orbison)
GPS: 34.0582314, -118.4415970 (hddd.dddd)
Zappa is between actor Lew Ayres and nobody Christopher Denny Ziesmer.

Trivia: Really, who didn't love Zappa's daughter Moon's one-hit single, Valley Girl?

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