By Donn Swaby


Creating Cinematic Space In a Final Resting Place

Summer’s here! What better excuse do you need to go and spend a lovely Los Angeles evening with family or friends sitting on a picnic blanket watching one of Hollywood’s brilliant classic films…all this can done right next to Cecil b. DeMille…well, more accurately the grave of Cecil b. DeMille. Hey, they don’t call us “Hollywierd” for nothing. But seriously, bi-weekly, film lovers and lovers of out door summer fun can enjoy an alterna-romantic cinematic experience that takes place at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Formerly the Hollywood Cemetery.)

What’ so cool in the next hot summer months is that Angelinos get to watch films like Showboat, a film with Hattie Mc Daniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar, knowing that we are sharing the same sacred space as Ms. Mc Daniel’s final resting place. All this is due to the efforts of Cinespia (“”), the non-profit organization that produces the screenings. Founded by John Wyatt, Cinespia’s mission statement states their desire “to bring together the community of film enthusiasts in Los Angeles.” They show unusual, quality films in unusual places… like a cemetery.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery breaks free from the stigma of being “creepy” (just incase you are one who might feel a bit uncomfortable about the thought of spending an evening in one), landscaped with beautiful architecture, trees and a pond. This cemetery founded in 1899, was later purchased by The Forever Network and given its new name. On the grounds… or in them I should say, lay a variety of some of Hollywoods biggest stars. A partial list, out of a list of hundreds, includes Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck.), Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (The Good Bad Man, Flirting With Fate), Darla from the Our Gang Films a.k.a. the Little Rascals, Peter Lorre (The Man Who Knew too Much, Young Frankenstein), Dee Ramone (of the Ramones, of course,) original celluloid goddess Jayne Mansfield (L’ Amore Primitivo, mondo Hollywood), Original.Gangster, Bugsy Segal, and original Tinseltown romantic hunk Rudolph Valentino (Blood and Sand, The Sheik), Fay Wray (King Kong).

Patrons for the event gather in an open grass section called the Fairbanks Lawn and watch a projection against a gorgeous marble mausoleum. A poetic, cinematic paradise. It’s better than a drive in!

Where else can you “bone up” on a little Hollywood history, eat a nice meal with friends surrounded by Hollywood royalty, and then enjoy some of the films you might not know to get at Blockbuster, all in one place?

Screenings are held bi weekly every Saturday all summer
For listings and times check out
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Gower, right behind Paramount)
No reservation necessary
Admission Cost: $10.00
No tall chairs or dogs on the field
Food and drink allowed.

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© Melt Magazine 2005