Additional Resources that I've found to be helpful
Find A Grave Member
Since August 2000
What The Heck Is Gravehunting?
Gravehunting is the exploration of cemeteries, in search of the final resting places of everyone from Super Stars to Regular Joes, recording burial information, taking pictures and - nowadays - sharing that material on the internet. If death is the final chapter of life then cemeteries are libraries where you can read all about it, marker by marker, one person's story at a time.
What gravehunting is not is ghoulish! In many respects it is a celebration of life. Experiencing the death of a loved one is emotionally painful and cemeteries are where people go to grieve. Yet they are also places of healing, peacefulness, reflection and, yes, laughter. The one thing I consistantly experience after a hunt is a renewed respect for living each day as if it were my last.
This portion of my website is intended to showcase the many sides of gravehunting as I experience it. I'm currently revising many of the pages, scanning photos that I took before I had a digital camera. Stay tuned for continuing updates. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy your visit!
Why Do I Enjoy Gravehunting?
Cemeteries have always fascinated me. When I was a kid I used play among the old tombstones in the tiny lakeside graveyard near our home. My mother would bribe me to go to the opthamologist by promising we would hunt the big cemetery across the highway from the doctor's office afterward. When my dad died in 1984, cemeteries took on a new meaning. It was cathartic but painful to take him flowers, and one of the ways I eased my sorrow was by 'getting to know' his permanent neighbors.
My sister and I visited Los Angeles in the summer of 1988 when I had a job interview here. We went to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills to look at the artwork. (Everyone who knows me now thinks that's hysterical.) Sissy noticed from afar the name Stan Laurel on a marker on one of the garden walls and asked, "Do you think that's the Stan Laurel?"
Upon closer inspection, we discovered that it was....
My first celebrity grave photo | July 1988
After I moved here a few months later I began exploring all the local cemeteries in search of old movie star graves. There was (and still is) something spiritually uplifting about being in the presence of the mortal remains of people who have entertained me over the years, and a few who I had the good fortune to meet in person before they passed. I felt alone in this hobby, and a bit weird, until 1998 when I joined Karen McHale's newly formed chat group, The Hollywood Underground, a group of like-minded hunters who share information and personal experiences.
Who Participates In The Hollywood Underground?
People from all walks of life, from old timers to newbies! Many of our members began "graving" long before it became popular, and were pioneers in locating burial places not by finding the information on the internet, but by walking cemetery grounds and actually hunting. Hence, the nickname gravehunters. There are currently over 200 members subscribed to the list from all over the United States and Canada, and few from other countries as well, generating hundreds of messages a month.
I'm proud to call these people my friends. From them I've learned more about Hollywood history makers than in all the books I've read on my own. We don't just research where famous people are buried, we also research about their lives and how they died - the beginning, middle and end of their stories. We also take note of the interesting, humorous and touching markers of the non-famous permanent residents we see while exploring cemeteries.
The HU holds organized local group hunts in the Los Angeles area several times a year and most of us also meet up often in smaller packs - each gathering is usually followed by a meal and/or drinks together afterward to unwind and discuss the day's findings.
Additionally, each year we hold an annual formal dinner in Los Angeles and a few of them have even been held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Our first dinner consisted of about 20 members, at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. In October 2005 we gathered again, for the eighth consecutive year, close to 80 strong with people again traveling in from other states and Canada.
|Writer's Tip: You'll never again misspell "cemetary" (sic) if you remember that graveyard ghosts say "E-E-E!"|
This page is dedicated to the memory of my friend Denis Svoboda,
HU charter member and gravehunter extraordinaire.
We miss you, Denis!