FAMOUS GRAVE TOUR – San Fernando Mission (Bob Hope, Ritchie Valens, etc.)


Welcome to Hollywood Graveyard where we set out to remember and celebrate the lives of those who lived to entertain us,
by visiting their final resting places. Today we’re exploring San Fernando
Mission Cemetery, where we’ll find such stars as Ritchie Valens, Penny Singleton,
Bob Hope, and many more. Join us, won’t you? San Fernando Mission is a Catholic
cemetery located in the northern end of the San Fernando Valley, in Mission Hills,
about 15 miles north of Hollywood. It’s adjacent to the historic Mission San
Fernando Rey de Espana, which was founded in 1797 and named for Saint Ferdinand. The first recorded burial on that site was in 1800. The current San Fernando
Mission Cemetery was founded in 1952 and covers nearly 90 acres of land. It’s owned and operated by the Los Angeles Archdiocese, and like other Catholic
cemeteries we’ve visited is replete with art and symbolism from Catholic lore. That’s all the preamble I’ve got, but let’s enjoy a little more scenery before
we start the tour. Boy, what is it about these trees? I just
love them. Alright let’s go. We’ll begin our tour just in from the
entrance on the right. Past the parking lot is section L. Near the middle of this
lawn is the grave of actress Jane Wyatt. She starred alongside Robert Young on
the 50s sitcom Father Knows Best. The role earned her three Emmys. She also portrayed Spock’s human mother on Star Trek. Back to the main road, in a little
further on the right is section T. Most of the way in before the hedge is the
grave of Bob May. He was an actor and stuntman performing stunts on films like The Nutty Professor, and Stagecoach. But his claim to fame is having played the
robot on the iconic 60s TV series Lost In Space.
He didn’t voice the robot but he was the man in the suit on over 80 episodes of
the series. Let’s cross the street to the north to section C. In a few rows we find
musician Ritchie Valens. He was an early pioneer of rock and roll and Chicano
rock, whose hits include “Come On Let’s Go,” and “La Bamba.” [music] Tragically Valens died at just 17 years
old when the plane he was riding in crashed
in 1959. Also aboard were musicians Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. All perished. The event would come to be known as ” the day the music died,” in Don McLean’s song “American Pie.” Ritchie Valens life was dramatized in the 1987 film, La Bamba. Across the street to the east is section D. In a ways, near a small
rose garden, is the grave of actor Julian Rivero. Though perhaps not a name
recognized by most, Rivero was a prolific actor for a half-century, appearing in
over 200 film and television productions, both in English and Spanish. He can be seen in films like Woman of the Year, The Song of Bernadette, Road to Rio, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Let’s continue east to the area of mausoleums and the large crucifix. in the corridor left of the crucifix high on the left wall, is the crypt of carmine Coppola. He was a film composer and the father of
filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. He wrote music for many of his son’s films
including Apocalypse Now, and additional music on The Godfather with composer
Nino Rota. He won an Oscar with Nino Rota for their score for the Godfather Part 2. He’s entombed here with his wife, matriarch of the Coppola family,
Italia Coppola. She had small roles in her son’s Godfather films, and like a true Italian mama, published an Italian cookbook, and is even featured on her
son’s pasta sauce. They’re also the parents of actress Talia Shire who played Adrian in the Rocky movies. Let’s continue around to the garden area
out back. Near the statue of Saint Anthony we find the grave of actor Pat O’Malley. Another name perhaps not recognized by most, but O’Malley was one
of Hollywood’s hardest-working men, acting in over 400 film and TV roles
from the teens all the way to the 60s. He found his greatest successes in the silent era, with films like The Virginian, and Brothers Under the Skin. He was also one
of a number of actors to appear in multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone. Back to the mausoleums, in the middle
corridor on the right, we find the crypt of Henry Corden. He was an actor who
played the Sheik of Sinai in The Ten Commandments, and can be seen in a number of TV shows, including dragnet and Peter Gunn. He also lent his voice to several
cartoons, most notably he took over the role of Fred Flintstone in 1977 after
Alan Reed died, and continued to voice the beloved character from Bedrock until
the early 2000s. Heading north toward the road we turn left and find actress Gloria Talbot on the left. In 1947 she was crowned Miss Glendale, a fitting title as her grandfather co-founded the City of Glendale. She began acting from a young age, and would soon become one of Hollywood’s scream queens, known for her
roles in sci-fi and horror B films of the 50s and 60s, Like The Daughter of Dr.
Jekyll, The Cyclops, and I Married a Monster From Outer Space. Let’s cross the road to the north back
to Section D. Several rows in, right at the base of the large tree, is film
director Roy Del Ruth. He began his career directing silent shorts before
moving into features – from crime dramas like The Maltese Falcon, to musicals,
like Broadway Melody of 1936. Another of his popular films was the Christmas comedy, It Happened on Fifth Avenue. Del Ruth is interred with his wife, Winnie
Lightner, who was a stage and motion picture actress known as ‘the song a
minute girl’ for her ability to belt out to tune in less than a minute.
She played Mabel in her husband’s 1929 film, Gold Diggers of Broadway, and can
also be seen in The Show of Shows, where she premiered the popular song “Singing
in the Bathtub.” [music] Winnie is also said to have starred in
the first film censored for verbal content. Turns out some of the lyrics in
her songs from a 1928 Vitaphone short were a bit too much for 1920s
sensibilities. On the other side of the tree is William Bendix. He was an actor
perhaps best remembered for the title role in The Life of Riley, the film and
later popular TV sitcom. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Wake Island, and also played Babe Ruth in The Babe Ruth Story, which, incidentally, was directed by Roy Del Ruth who we just visited. A few rows northwest is Charles
Beaumont. He was one of the great writers of the 20th century, most notably of
science fiction and horror. He wrote 22 episodes of The Twilight
Zone, second only to Rod Serling for number
of teleplays. Some of the iconic episodes he wrote include “Elegy,” “Number 12 Looks
Just Like You,” and “Living Doll.” “My name is Talky Tina, and I don’t think I
like you.” He died at just 38 of Alzheimer’s and
Pick’s disease. Further northwest is the Immaculate Heart of Mary statue. Along this double row of graves we find actor Edward Arnold, who starred in some 150
film and TV productions in his career. He played the title character in The Devil
and Daniel Webster, and can be seen in the classic, Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Back to the road let’s head to the next
section east, section F. On the left is a cluster of small cremation graves. Near the end of this cluster we find Anita Garvin. Early in her career she was a
Mack Sennett bathing beauty and a Ziegfeld Follies girl, but fans of Laurel
and Hardy will remember her as the shrewish wife of Stan Laurel in a number
of films. She retired from acting in 1940. There’s some ambiguity about her actual
birth year, so… Further northeast in this section we find Richard Loo. He was one of the popular Asian- American character actors of the 30s through the 70s. He was
Chinese by ancestry Hawaiian by birth. As his acting career took off in the 30s
and 40s he became a popular villain, and the outbreak of World War two led to
roles as Japanese soldiers in films like The Purple Heart, and God is My Co-Pilot. He also played Hai Fat in the James Bond film, The Man With the Golden Gun. Still further northeast in this section
is the statue of the Holy Family. Behind this statue, just past a tiny tree, we
find Michel Maltese. He was one of the great cartoon writers of the Golden Age of animation in Hollywood, most notably for Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera. At Warner’s he worked with Fritz Freleng and Chuck Jones. He wrote many of the
stories that introduced and developed characters like Yosemite Sam, Pepe LePew,
Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner. Later in his career he landed at Hanna-Barbera, writing for shows like Quick-draw McGraw, The Yogi Bear Show, and the Flintstones. Straight west, just past the tree, is the grave of one of Disney’s most legendary
cartoon voices: Clarence “Ducky” Nash. If you’re unsure who he is, just take a peek
at his marker. That’s right, Nash was the original voice of Donald Duck. As a child Nash discovered he had a knack for imitating barnyard animals. He was at Disney auditioning voices in the early 30s when Walt happened by just as
he was imitating a family of ducks. Disney determined that the voice was
perfect for a talking duck in an upcoming short film, The Wise Little Hen, which would be the debut of Donald Duck in 1934. “Will you help me plant my corn?” “Who, me? Oh no. I got a bellyache!” The barely intelligible duck with a
short temper, who gets stuck with all the bad luck, quickly became one of Disney’s
most popular characters, thanks in large part to the unique and iconic voice
given him by Nash. Despite his popularity, Donald wasn’t always happy with his voice, as seen in this tongue-in-cheek episode of Disneyland. “Yes, Mr. Duck?” “Send my voice in here!” “Your voice? Oh, Clarence Nash! Yes, I’ll send him right in.” “Hi, Donald.” “You make me crazy sick!” “You make me ill!” – “Twice as ill!”
– “Three times!” – “Four!”
– “Five!”
– “Six” “Ah, go jump in a lake!” “Dog gone guy, I’m gonna get me a new voice!” Nash voiced Donald Duck for 50 years, his
final film being Mickey’s Christmas Carol in 1983. His marker also features
Daisy Duck, the love interest of Donald, for Nash’s love interest, his wife
Margaret. Let’s cross the street to the north, to Section B. In a ways, in line
with two trees on either side, is the grave of Tommy Noonan. He was an actor who, despite a slightly awkward and nerdy on-screen persona, somehow always ended up landing some of Hollywood’s most beautiful blondes, including Marilyn
Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Betty Grable and How to Be Very Very Popular, and Jayne Mansfield in Hollywood’s first mainstream nude scene, in Promises
Promises. He also starred alongside Judy Garland in A Star is Born. He died of a brain tumor at just 46. A few spaces to the left we find Scotty Beckett. He was one of the most popular child actors of the 30s and 40s. He got his start as one
of the lovable rascals in the “Our Gang” series of the 30s. After Our Gang he
landed major roles in films like Dante’s Inferno, and Kings Row. His career began
to wane in the 50s, however, and like so many child stars before and
to come, he struggled to find his footing outside show business, turning
increasingly to drugs alcohol and crime. In 1968 he was found dead at the age of
38. No official cause of death was given, but it was either from a drug overdose,
or the result of a beating he had endured days earlier,
perhaps both. Either way it was a tragic end to a bright young star who made so many smile as a child. Back to the road let’s proceed west to section D on the left. Right by the road and a tree is the grave of legendary character actor
Walter Brennan. He was the quintessential cowboy, yokel, and eccentric rural character in hundreds of TV and film productions. He won three Oscars in his
career, for Come and Get It, Kentucky, and The Westerner. “Before I drink with ya, Judge, I want to know you had nothing to do with it.” “Me? Why how can you say a thing like that? Didn’t I round up all him cattle for you? Wasn’t I right here in the saloon when the fire broke out? Didn’t I…. Well I was. And what’s more I ain’t got no idea who done it. Now drink up.” He also played Grandpa McCoy in
a popular TV series The Real McCoys. Back across the street to Section B to the
north, straight up from a tiny tree, is the grave a funnyman Jerry Colonna. He is best remembered as the mustachioed sidekick of Bob Hope on radio, screen, and stage. His distinctive voice can also be heard in animated productions, like Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, as the March Hare. “And the voice of the March Hare… yes, Margo, another one of your favorites: professor Jerry Colonna himself.” “My dear child, this is not a birthday party.” “Oh I’m sorry, but I don’t
quite understand.” “It’s very simple… now, 30 days has… No, wait… an un-birthday, if you have a birthday then you… she doesn’t know what an un-birthday is!” Straight north several more rows we find Betty Compson. She was an actress who became quite popular in the silent era and early talkies. Some of her best-known work includes The Docks of New York, and The Barker, which earned her
an Academy Award nomination in 1928, only the second year of the awards. Her popularity even allowed her to produce her own films, including 1921’s Prisoners of Love. And much to my surprise this big Hollywood star was from Beaver, Utah, which, if you know Utah, is quite in the middle of nowhere. Though Butch Cassidy
and Philo T. Farnsworth were both from Beaver, so maybe there’s something
special in the water there. Northwest from here is the statue of St. Elizabeth. Following the double row of graves west we find Evelyn Brent. The sultry leading-lady of the 20s and 30s began her career as a model before venturing into acting. Her dark hair and piercing gaze led to frequent roles as the exotic temptress,
and vamp, in films like Underworld, The Last Command, and The Silver Horde. She retired from show business in 1950, but made one final appearance in a 1960
episode of Wagon Train. Two rows back is Evelyn’s husband, Harry Fox. He was a vaudevillian, known as the namesake of the popular dance craze of the 20s and
30s, the foxtrot. Next to Harry is actor William Phillips. He was never a leading
man, however he did perform in over a hundred productions, including Detective
Story, and The Hidden Eye. Let’s make our way now to the next section north, section J. About halfway in, a dozen or so rows
southeast of the statue of the Blessed Mother, is the grave of Chuck Connors. As it says right on his tombstone he is perhaps best remembered as The Rifleman. “The Rifleman, starring Chuck Connors.” He can also be seen in Old Yeller, Soylent Green, and as a loathsome slave owner in Roots. Connors was also an avid
athlete and sportsman, as you may have also surmised from his marker, playing
for the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Cubs, and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Doubling back toward the entrance we reach Section C again. In a ways from the eastern road,
almost in line with the trash bin, we find the grave of Penny Singleton. She is perhaps best remembered for portraying Blondie Bumstead in dozens of motion
picture and radio productions, from 1938 to 1950. She also voiced Jane Jetson on
The Jetsons. Penny’s interred here with her sister, June, though there is no marker for her. Northwest of here, several spaces before the graves change directions, straight north of the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue, is the grave of Ed Begley. He won an Oscar for his supporting role in 1962’s Sweet Bird of
Youth. He also gave a memorable performance as Juror 10 on 12 Angry Men. He’s the father of, you guessed it, actor Ed Begley Jr. If you’re a fan of I Love
Lucy, then you’ll know our next star well. At the far west end of this section, just
a few rows from the road and a tree, we find the grave of William Frawley. He played Fred Mertz, the gruff landlord of Lucy and Ricky, on the 50s sitcom I Love Lucy. The role earned him five Emmy nominations. “Well, let’s go!” “Let’s go where?” “That’s his idea of a
Hollywood outfit. Fred, I took that stuff out of the bag in New York.” “Well I put them back in. I’ve seen pictures of how they dress in Hollywood, I want to fit in.” He can also be seen as Bub on My Three Sons, and in the film Miracle on 34th Street. He died of a heart attack while walking down Hollywood Boulevard just outside the Knickerbocker Hotel. He was 79. That’ll do it for this cemetery, but we have one more stop on our tour. Adjacent to the cemetery on the southeast side is the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana. Once upon a time you could access the
mission right from the cemetery grounds. But in recent years they have
partitioned off the two with the gate, so now to access the mission and the Bob
Hope memorial garden, we’ll have to travel back up San Fernando Mission
Boulevard to the mission entrance. The San Fernando Mission, which functioned from the late 18th century until the mid 19th century now serves as a museum,
covering the history not only of the mission but of the San Fernando Valley
in general. In addition to the museum, which houses a number of historical objects and religious relics, the grounds also house a chapel and a workshop, for a fully immersive experience of the early days of the San Fernando Valley. There’s a five-dollar entry fee to tour the mission, so unfortunately to visit Bob Hope you got to shell out a little cash. But the tour of the mission is well worth the entry fee. And yes, you enter through the gift shop. Here we are inside the mission. Straight across this courtyard
we reach the old Mission Church, a replica of an earlier edifice erected
around 1805. Regular masses are held here. And this stunning altar, called the Ezcaray Altar, is a 400 year old
altar from a church in Spain, installed here in 1991. Beyond the church is the
Mission Cemetery, we will find this man. But we’re not there yet. Here he is, the legendary Bob Hope – one of the greatest and most enduring entertainers of the 20th century. He was born in England, but his family emigrated to the US when he was young. Like so many of his generation young Bob caught the entertaining bug, and began performing on stage in vaudeville. He made his way to feature
films in The Big Broadcast of 1938, singing what would become his signature
tune, “Thanks for the Memory.” In the 1940s and 50s he appeared with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in the popular “Road to…” series of films. “You could have thought of another way to get us here.” “Here we go again, Junior!” [music] His career branched out to just
about every medium, from radio, TV, to stage, and even books. And he had a deep respect for the men and women of the military, performing for troops in every
war from WWII to the Gulf War, on more USO tours than any other
entertainer. Bob wouldn’t let age slow him down, entertaining audiences well into his 90s. On his deathbed, when asked by his family where he wanted to be buried, Bob replied with his typical humor,
“Surprise me.” He died in 2003 at the age of 100, and
was temporarily entombed in a crypt at San Fernando Mission Cemetery before being permanently laid to rest here in 2005. Nearby in the museum is a
collection of Bob Hope memorabilia. He’s entombed next to his wife of 70
years, Dolores, who would often sing with him. And that concludes our tour! What are some of your favorite memories of the stars we visited today? Share them in the comments below, and be sure to like, share, and subscribe, for more famous grave tours. Thanks for watching, we’ll
see you on the next one! I won’t lie, the little boy inside me
squealed with delight when I found the man who voiced Donald Duck. Donald was always my favorite when I was little. “I got my Donald Duck at Hardee’s. And I wanted it so much, that, um, we went to Hardee’s for my
birthday dinner and I got it.” You guys remember Hardee’s? Apparently that was
the place to go in the 80s for Disney toys. Best birthday ever.

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