I've been grave hunting in Los Angeles for 20 years and there's still one or two metro area cemeteries that I've yet to explore. I finally crossed one park off that list on Saturday, Feb. 28 when I joined the Studio For Southern California History's walking tour of historic Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery, conducted by my good friends Steve Goldstein and Joe Walker.
Steve (author of L.A.'s Graveside Companion) and Joe (a crime expert who also chronicles the lives and deaths of police officers and firemen) love what they do and it shows. Both shine when it comes to giving the best informed tours of area graveyards around.
Not only do they know where everyone who was anyone is buried, they also know a lot about the people behind the headstones. Steve and Joe consistently offer up an insightful, verbally illustrated sense of history through personal stories of the dead, which is an aspect of their tours that I most enjoy.
With my hometown founder Dr. David Burbank (Photo by Kelsey McHale)
Dr. David Burbank (Courtesy of Wes Clark)
In 1886 he sold his property to land speculators who developed the area into a business district, smaller farms and residential districts and named the new town Burbank. By 1911, with a population of 500, it became incorporated as the first independent city in the San Fernando Valley.
So why is Dr. Burbank buried in the West Adams District of Los Angeles instead of his namesake city? One reason could be that Burbank passed an ordinance in the early 1920s banning cemeteries within the city limits, so none were ever developed.
Another famous Burbank resident buried at Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery is Mable Monohan, a 64-year-old widow who was savagely beaten and strangled in 1953 by three intruders who ransacked her home looking for $100,000 that was supposedly hidden there by her Vegas gambling operator son-in-law.
(Courtesy of The Daily Mirror by Larry Harnisch)
See photos of the crime scene home as it looked when I photographed it in 2007 on this Flickr photo album.
Hattie originally wanted to be buried at Hollywood Forever (then Hollywood Memorial Park) located next to Paramount Studios, but at the time of her death in 1952 segregation was still rearing it's ugly head in California. The cemetery was considered "whites only" territory, and an exception wouldn't be made for even barrier-breaking Hattie, the first black performer to ever receive an Oscar.
Academy Award winning actress, Hattie McDaniel's grave marker
1944 candid photo signed by Hattie (Courtesy of Autogramy)
Hattie's cenotaph at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
It was especially nice to visit Hattie for the first time because back in 2007, when I spent my lunch hours from work hunting around Pierce Bros. Valhalla in North Hollywood, I located her brother, actor Sam McDaniel. It was rewarding to finally now pay respects to his sister, too.
There are many, many notable people buried at Angelus-Rosedale who were pointed out by Steve and Joe, too numerous to mention. For another perspective of the tour, visit author Allan Ellenberger's post on his Hollywoodland blog. To see a list of the people we saw and learned about, check out the famous listings for this cemetery at Findagrave.com.
Our post-tour group shot
Thanks to Steve and Joe, the good people at Studio For Southern California History and all my fellow grave hunting friends who turned out on this spectacularly sunny Saturday to share the moments, take photos and remember those buried in this beautiful, historic Los Angeles cemetery!
More photos from our adventure may be viewed at my Flickr Photo Album of the tour.