The Cemetery Tour

October, 1999

It all started with an ending. I was doing some research, trying to "dig up" some information on a retired actor. He passed away in 1982, his career dying some years earlier. But in doing so, I got a lot of dirt (so to speak) on the final appearances of some others who have left their careers (and their personal lives) grow cold. It was fascinating work, uncovering facts about some famous people (and infamous too) who have become the "salt of the earth." For those of you interested in the lifestyles and movements of the motionless---I have compiled some potentially interesting data. 
This newsletter is a grave which we review, for those so disposed...the final parking spot. Today we will visit the sod and marble set, on a short cemetery tour! 
By the way--- most of this info came from three web sites. Locations of gravesites. It even has pictures! The "dead people server". Facts on famous and the infamous. The official Internet Movie Database- with info on nearly every movie ever made. This is a great resource. Bookmark it.
NOTE: All locations and resting places referred to here are PHYSICAL localities. No references are made (or even inferred) about any current SPIRITUAL locations.

Abbie Hoffman (member of the Chicago seven) "went underground" for the final time in April, 1989.
Who is buried in Grant's tomb? The correct answer is..... nobody. (President U.S. Grant and his wife are entombed in a crypt there. (not buried in the ground.) 
Fredrich Neitzsche is dead, signed God.
B.F Skinner died only once. Apparently he didn't like it.
Raymond Chandler is doing "The Big Sleep" in Mount Hope Cemetery, San Diego, CA
In 1882 Charles Darwin began demonstrating both his law of natural selection and the Second Law of Thermodynamics in Westminster, England. 
When Walt Disney suspended animation in 1966, he was not cryogenically frozen (as many believe), but was instead interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale CA.
Ludwig Von Beethoven (1770-1827) in decomposing in Vienna, Austria 
Col. Benjamin Lewis "Gadget" Padget --He pioneered the modern science of logistics. On May 10,1951, just as his grave was finished, he died.

Pierre Loriland, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn NY. He invented the tuxedo.(Buried in one?)
John McTammany, West Lawn, Canton, OH. Invented the player piano. He was an expert player piano player piano player pian..............
Alfred Kinsey, (1894-1956) Rosehill cem. He wrote the famous Kinsey Sex Report and other fiction.
George Gallup (1908-1984) Statistician. Buried in Princeton, NJ. Our polls indicate so.
Harvey Fletcher (1884-1981) American fork, UT. He invented stereophonic sound. If you stand in between the two headstones, you can hear.......(Just kidding!)
Frank Zamboni (1900-1988) Long Beach, CA. Inventor of...... you guessed it. "Everybody off the ice!"
Dr.Alfred Southwick (1826-1898) A dentist who invented the electric chair. Is it any wonder that we always get nervous when any dentist says, "just sit down and relax. You won't feel a thing."

True story! Elmer McCurdy was one of the last outlaw-gunfighters, and was gunned down by a sheriff's posse in October 1911. His body was buried in April, 1977. Where was he during the intervening 66 years? Why, he was ON TOUR! Yes, his mummified body was a carnival side show attraction viewed by thousands. Remember - you can never be totally useless as long as you can be used as a bad example. 
Another true story! Jeremy Bentham, philosopher, author, coiner of the word "utilitarianism" died in the year 1832. Pretty normal so far, huh? Well, Mr... Bentham's will indicated his wish to be stuffed and put on display. And he was! With his body now filled with hay,straw, cotton and wool, and fitted with his new wax head, Jeremy was placed on a stool inside a glass fronted mahogany case (on casters, of course), and he has attended the yearly "Jeremy Bentham dinner" at University College, London, ever since. If he was a true utilitarian, this has to serve some purpose. When I figure it out, I'll let you know. 

Most Americans know about the "Eternal Flame" that burns next to JFK's grave in Arlington National Cemetery, but there are many other (sometimes really gaudy) special grave markers around today. Al Jolson (blackface comic/star of the first "talking" picture) has not only a fountain on his gravesite in Culver City CA, but a life sized statue depicting himself down on one knee, doing his famous "mammie" pose, plus a mosaic of Moses above his tomb, looking down on it. (Al needed the extra room for his ego.)
If you are wandering around the cemetary in Valhalla, NY looking for Danny Kaye's grave marker, and decide to have a rest by sitting down on a small stone bench sort of off to the side, you found it! (Danny was always full of surprises.) Erma Bombeck's grave (Woodland cemetery--Dayton Ohio) is easy to spot. Just look for the big rock- she is buried under it. (a two ton Arizona boulder. I believe it was her last wish.) Aimee Semple McPherson, an "old time" tent evangelist, was buried with a working telephone in her casket. She hasn't returned any calls since 1941. Richard McKinley was killed in America's only fatal nuclear accident in Idaho, 1961. He has a deluxe lead-lined casket, as specified by the Atomic Energy Commission. 

The headstone for Mel Blanc, the "man of 1000 voices", the voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and the rest of the Warner Brothers cartoon lineup, sums it up perfectly---- "THAT'S ALL FOLKS." Dean Martin's Epitaph-- "Everybody loves somebody sometime." Ogden Nash, who was probably the most memorable poet in the twentieth century, was given the ultimate cruelty--- a large headstone, but no epitaph. 

Fredric Chopin (1810-1849) Mostly in Paris, but he left his heart in Warsaw, Poland, giving Tony Bennett ideas. William Quantrill (Quantrill's raiders-- Civil War soldiers) is in THREE places at once. His arm and shinbone are in Missouri, dust from his spine and ribs are in Louisville, and the rest is in Dover, OH. Even Al Capone gets around. He's moved twice posthumously. Still as shifty as ever.
In this same vein, you can visit a number of former members of the Sicilian Family Benevolence Organization at the Queen of Heaven and Mt.Carmel Cemeteries, in Hillside, IL. You can see a lot of Giancannas, Accardos, Gennas and some Giancanas, too. I'd like to point out that some of the residents here have one thing in common. When they came here in the back of the hearse, it wasn't the first time they rode that close to the spare tire.

It's a small world. You never know who you'll end up next to. In the Forest Lawn granite condominium Jeanette Mc Donald (actress/singer) and Nat "King" Cole are next "door" neighbors. Comedianne Joan Davis (I Married Joan) shares a cubby with Mario Lanza. Joe E. Brown (loudmouth comic of vaudeville days) is parked relatively close to Aimee Semple McPherson (famous disappearing evangelist). Lew Ayres (deadpan actor) is planted next to Frank Zappa (just plain dead). Gracie Allen and George Burns share a "love nest" (Why not-- they were married) But Gracie got top billing this time.

One way to beat the subterranean housing problem is to be cremated. This allows the loved one the ability to stick around with the family, albeit in an urn. (or several jars, as in the case of dividing one's assets) Some of the more famous jelly jar tenants are: Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Montgomery (and her dad, Robert) Mr. Ed, (the horse was a corpse, of course, of course). Jim Henson, Gene Kelly, John Lennon and Ed Wood are each located in their families' homes. Jeffrey Dahmer's leftovers were split 50/50 between his divorced parents in a custody battle. Jack Cassidy (David and Shawn's dad) has the dubious distinction of being cremated twice, the first time caused by falling asleep on a couch with a lit cigarette. James Dewar (inventor of the "thermos" bottle) was cremated nearly 100 years ago - and he's still piping hot! (Just kidding!)

Some notable personalities have decided to have their ashes scattered over oceans, rivers, deserts, etc., perhaps in an effort to be a "free spirit", or maybe just to get away from their spouses. Some members in the "bake and shake" club are: Albert Einstein (scattered into a New Jersey river) Linda McCartney, Cary Grant (for any actor--if you die in Davenport, Iowa, you don't ever want to be seen in public again) Henry Fonda, Ingrid Bergman (in Sweden), Steve McQueen, Roddy McDowell, Rock Hudson, L. Ron Hubbard (Mr. Dianetics), along with a host of others. The location of choice for Hollywood ex-stars to mingle seems to be the Pacific Ocean, but everybody seems to have their favorite haunts. Harpo Marx's remains were reportedly sprinkled into the sand trap off the seventh fairway of his favorite golf course. (No report yet as to whether he got out without a stroke penalty) Ted Cassidy ("Lurch the Butler" on the "Addams Family") had his ashes spread into his lawn (the ultimate "Turf Builder"). Gene Roddenbery (Star Trek creator) and Timothy Leary (LSD proponent, also familiar with trips at "warp speed") each had 1/4 oz of their remains shot into orbit around the Earth. Clarence Darrow (the lawyer's lawyer) was dumped into Chicago's Jackson Park Lagoon.(He probably billed the city for it, too.) River Phoenix (who expired at a young age by ingesting the equivilent of the entire inventory of a Walgreens drugstore) was sprinkled over his family's farm in Florida. On the other hand, Kurt Cobain was mixed into the Whiska River. (Did the FDA know about this?) Jerry Garcia (of the Grateful Dead) really split up. Half in India/ half in San Francisco Bay. Last but not least, Mark Greenwald (Marvel Comics Editor) had his ashes mixed with ink and used to print "special edition" comic books. (Do you put yourself into YOUR job like that?)

I know this stuff can be pretty morbid. But it's going to happen to all of us someday. When your time is up, it's up. All our bodies will be taking a dirt nap someday, too. (Rest assured that when I get trenched, I'll be wearing a rented tuxedo. Just let 'em try to get it back! By the way, I'm signed up for the organ recycling program. You might visit my grave after passing by my kidneys on your way in.) The real issue is where your spirit will be going when your body finally locks up. I know where my spirit is going. If you're curious, you can e-mail me and I'll tell you. 

Gotta go, I'm just dead.