Dodging the raindrops last Sunday, while exploring the Woodlands Cremation Garden at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with my friends Karen Fogerty, Luis Mata and his nephew, Matt, I happened upon the erstwhile unknown (in grave hunting circles) final resting place of palimony pioneer, Michelle Triola Marvin.
Michelle passed away last October after an 18-month battle with lung cancer. Her landmark case against former live-in lover, actor Lee Marvin, back in the 70s is well documented in her lengthy Los Angeles Times obituary.
I grew up very sheltered when it came to things like *gasp* living in sin. What I remember most about this trial was A) the word "lover" being uttered on the evening news, B) thinking "only in California" could someone even think they were entitled to money and/or property from an out-of-wedlock relationship and C) what did she find attractive about Lee Marvin to begin with?
Then I went to college and learned a lot about life. But that's another story.
What I find most heartwarming and inspirational about Michelle's life story is her post-palimony journey; that she found lasting love in a 30-year relationship with another actor, Dick Van Dyke. Those crazy kids didn't get married either, although they did have a cohabitation contract. Glad to know that she continued to march to the beat of her own drum and found happiness.
Want to visit Michelle? Here's how.
Upon entering the front gates, drive forward on Memorial Drive to the first stop sign and turn left on to Evergreen Drive. Drive a very short distance, in front of the Church of the Hills, where you'll encounter another stop sign. Just past the sign is the intersection of Evergreen and Valley Drive (right) and (left) the church driveway.
Look to your left across from driveway. There you'll see the garden which is made up of above ground niches as well as landscaped pathways that contain misc vegetation and large, fake rocks constructed of concrete which cap over ground niches.
Take the path leading furthest away from the church, closer to the trees, to Section 40. Keep walking along this section until just before the wall niches, where you will find Michelle's niche rock (#179) next to a directional lot marker for 40/43.
Or, leave her a virtual flower and message on her memorial page at Findagrave.com.
Special shout out to the Queen of the O.C. for pointing me to the new Forest Lawn Burial Site Locator tool. After discovering Michelle in person, I also discovered that, unlike most of Forest Lawn's privately guarded celebrity citizens, she's actually listed. Another reason to admire the lady.
Rest in peace, Michelle.