The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for many Hollywood stars. It was founded in 1899, originally named Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. With a hundred acres of land to maintain, the owners decided to sell a portion of the land to Paramount and RKO Studios in 1920. The Paramount Studio, which is still in operation, stands as a backdrop to the cemetery today.
Clifton Webb is one such ghost who haunts the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum. Visitors claim to hear whispering voices and see strange flickering lights. Others have experienced a cold draft swirl around them, leaving a whiff of cologne lingering in the air. Another witness saw the transparent figure of Clifton Webb dressed in a suit. While others hear him whistling or yelling out a word for attention. You may know Clifton Webb from his roll as Mr. Belvedere in Sitting Pretty, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell. A few of his film credits were Laura and Cheaper by the Dozen.
Virginia Rappe was a silent film actress and perhaps a troubled soul who drowned her sorrows with a bottle. In 1916, she moved to San Francisco to pursue her career as an artist model. She was engaged to designer Robert Moscovitz who died soon after the engagement in a streetcar accident. She then moved to Los Angeles. 1918, she gave birth to a child who was put in foster care. She starred in Over the Rhine later remamed the Isle of Love. She starred with Rudolph Valentino and was awarded the title “Best Dressed Girl in Pictures.” A few of her other films were His Musical Sneeze, A Twilight Baby, Punch of the Irish and A Game Lady. She may have been in more of Lehrman’s films but many of the films were lost.
The cause of her death still remains a mystery. She attended a party of actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and had to be rushed to the hospital. She died a few days later from a ruptured bladder. Fatty Arbuckle was charged with rape and murder. Witnesses at the party claimed he dragged her into a room, but was this really true? One theory is that Virginia had an illegal botched abortion. Some one claimed she said she needed money for an abortion. Either she had the abortion and needed to pay the person or she needed the money to have the abortion. So was she pregnant when she died? Again no answer. Her organs were removed and destroyed. Some believe Dr. Rumwell performed abortions and had the evidence destroyed so not to be blamed for her death. Another theory was that Fatty Arbuckle accidently contributed to her death. He was ticklish and witnesses claimed Virginia tickled him and his knee jerked up, hitting her in the stomach. She ran to the bathroom screaming, “What did he do to me.”
Whatever the case may be that led to Virginia’s death, Fatty Arbuckle was acquitted of the crime, but his acting career was ruined. Virginia’s reputation was also tarnished. It’s believed this is why Virginia still haunts her grave. Perhaps hoping for a chance to defend her reputation and have justice served. At her grave witnesses feel cold air and hear the sound of sobbing. Some believe the sound is coming from the grave itself.
Rudolph Valentino was best known for his role as “The Sheik.” He was the heartthrob of the silent pictures and when he died of complications after surgery for a gastric ulcer, thousands of people attended his funeral.
On the anniversary of his death, a lady in black and wearing a veil to hide her face brought roses to Valentino’s crypt. Though many claim to be this mysterious woman, most believe the woman was Ditra Flame.
Valentino was a friend to Ditra’s mother. Ditra had been seriously ill and in the hospital. Valentino visited the girl and brought her a single red rose. “You’re not going to die at all,” Valentino told her. “You’re going to outlive me by many years. But one thing for sure—if I die before you do, will you please come and stay by me because I don’t want to be alone either. You come and talk to me.” Ditra did get better, while Valentino died a few years later. Ditra wanted to honor his request and brought red roses to his crypt every year. She passed away in 1984, but others have taken up the tradition of leaving flowers. Our tour guide, Kari Bible, who loves the history of Hollywood and the legends who lit up the screens, has decided to carry on the tradition of the well-known Lady in Black by leaving red roses at Valentino’s crypt.
Ghostly sightings: Some visitors claimed they’ve seen a ghost woman in black kneeling in front of Valentino’s tomb. Others have seen a rose suddenly appear in the vase on the wall. Some have heard footsteps when no one was there. While others have the feeling they’re being watched.
William Randolph Hearst isn’t buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but his mistress Marion Davies has a place there. Witnesses claimed to have seen Hearst wandering by her grave. Perhaps he still worries about her.
In 1918, she starred in a Hearst film, Cecilia of the Pink Roses.
She appeared in twenty-nine films. According to her own diaries, she met Hearst before she was in the movies. Hearst tried to promote her career, but instead of helping her, his over the top promotion had an opposite affect. Despite people claiming she was a money hungry woman, Marion stayed by Heart’s side when he had lost his money. She tried to bail him out by giving him a check for a million dollars. The California State Park staff claim at the time of his death, 51% of his fortune had been willed to Davies.
Davies died of cancer on September 22, 1961. She left an estate of thirty million. After death Davies’ nice, Patricia Lake was proven to be the birth daughter of Marion Davies and William Randolph Heart. Everyone before had believed her to be Marion’s sister’s child.
Carl Dean Switzer was best known as Alfalfa in the Our Gang series. As an adult he was also a professional dog breeder and hunting guide. A few of his clients were Roy Rogers, Dale Evans (they were his godparents,) and James Stewart.
In 1958, he was getting into his car when someone shot him in the arm. They never found the assailant.
In 1959, Switzer borrowed a hunting dog from Bud Stiltz. When it became lost, he offered an award of $50. A man found the dog, but Switzer only paid him $35 worth of drinks at a bar for finding the dog. A few days later, Switzer decided Bud Stilz owed him $50 for his dog being found. He and his friend, Jack Piott went to Stilz’s house to collect. Bud Stiltz claimed Switzer arrived drunk to his house, demanding he pay him the money. They got into a physical fight. Stiltz fearing for his life ran to his bedroom, returning with his revolver. Switzer tried to grab the gun. A shot hit the ceiling. Switzer pushed Stilz into a closet and allegedly pulled out a switchblade and screamed, “I’m going to kill you.” Stilz still had the gun and shot Switzer in the groin. He died of massive internal bleeding and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Jack Piott’s version of what happen is a little different. He claims Switzer went to collect the money and Stilz and Switzer argued. Piott claimed Stiltz pulled out a gun and shot Switzer who was unarmed. Piott also claimed he had to beg for his own life.
Tyrone Power or Ty Power was an American film and stage actor. He’s best known for his swashbuckler and romantic roles between 1930-1950. He starred in The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Jesse James and my favorite, Luck of the Irish.
He married Deborah Ann Montgomery Minardos in 1958 and became pregnant soon after. She was with him when he went to Madrid to film Solomon and Sheba. Deborah was worried about his health and wanted him to slow down, but he continued to push himself. On November 15, 1958, while filming a strenuous dueling scene, he had a heart attack and died. Sadly, he always wanted a son and his wife gave birth to
Tyrone Power IV on January 22, 1959. He never knew he’d finally been granted his wish.
His good friend George Sanders wrote a tribute to Powers.
“I shall always remember Tyrone as a bountiful man, a man who gave freely of himself. It mattered not to whom he gave. His concern was in the giving. I shall always remember his wonderful smile, a smile that would light up the darkest hour of the day, like a sunburst. I shall always remember Tyrone Power as a man who gave more of himself than it was wise for him to give, until in the end, he gave his life.”
A ghostly message in the sky: Vincent Price was a good friend with Tyrone Power. They lived near each other and Tyrone looked up Vincent price asking him often for advice. On the day Tyrone died, Vincent Price was on a plane. The weather was bad and they had to circle New York airport many times before landing. While Price was reading his book, he experienced a strange feeling and an urge to push aside the curtain of his window. He did so and to his surprise, he saw the chilling message written in the clouds, “Tyrone Power is dead.” He wanted to dismiss the disturbing phenomenon, but at his hotel, his theatrical agent informed him that Tyrone Power had died of a heart attack.
Maila Nurmi was the horror hostess and star of Ed Wood’s cult film, Plan 9 From Outer Space who performed under the name Vampira. She dated Orson Wells for a short time. She was acquainted with Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and was good friends with James Dean. She hung out at Googie’s Coffee Shop in Hollywood. She claimed after James Dean died that she could speak to him through the veil.
In 1955, she was the victim of an attempted murder. A man forced his way into her apartment. He terrorized her for four hours before she manage to escape. She ran to a local shop and called the police.
It is noted that she was able to keep her voluptuous hourglass figure by eating only boiled eggs, orange juice and graham crackers. Her measurements were 38-17-36.
Visitors are welcome to stroll around the grounds of the cemetery. You may purchase a map where the graves of famous people are identified, but we found this to be too difficult to follow. Most of the graves are not marked with the numbered indicated on the map. I would strongly suggest you take Kari Bible’s tour. She’s personable and informative about the history and the legends of the stars. http://cemeterytour.com/