(TV trucks outside Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills on 7 July 2009.)
A family funeral for pop star Michael Jackson took place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills today, and Jackson reportedly (may) be buried there after his funeral today.
Forest Lawn has a long and slightly odd history. It’s just over the hill behind the famous HOLLYWOOD sign; a friend and I once walked up the hill past the sign and its many security cameras, over the brow of the hill (Griffith Park to your right as you’re heading north) and then down into Forest Park.
Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills is loaded with celebrities: Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Steve Allen and Telly Savalas among them. Ed McMahon and David Carradine just landed there, too.
(Note: Walt Disney himself is at a different Forest Lawn property, Forest Lawn Glendale, which is a few miles away.)
As an additional Hollywood touch, from the cemetery you can look right across the Ventura Freeway at the Disney animation studios in beautiful Burbank.
Forest Lawn’s other claim to fame is its extravagant (some would say kitschy) tributes to the American Revolution. The cemetery includes a replica of Boston’s Old North Church and other odd items. Per the Forest Lawn website:
– Feel the excitement of the American Revolution as you stand before the world’s largest historical mosaic, The Birth of Liberty.
– Visit a faithful reproduction of Boston’s fabled Old North Church
– See larger-than-life-sized bronze statues of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln
– Watch a free 26-minute movie about the American Revolution
– Tour the Plaza of Mesoamerican Heritage, a tribute to the early civilizations of North America who thrived in the land that is now Mexico
Not your average Boot Hill, in other words.
Hubert Eaton, who founded Forest Lawn, didn’t go for the gloomy graveyard model. He believed in “memorial parks” where families could come to visit and even picnic among the dearly departed. Toward that end, he banned stand-up headstones in favor of flat tablets, and he’s credited with inventing (as it were) this all-flat-tablet style of cemetery.
(Eaton, like Disney, is buried at Forest Lawn Glendale.)
My friend and I didn’t even know it was a celebrity burial ground at the time of our walk, but we marveled over the Old North Church replica and the Revolutionary details, which have an olde-time Hall of Presidents feel. It’s a strange scene.
As another friend said today, “All you need is a Ferris wheel and Michael will feel right at home.”