Holy Cross Cemetery
5835 West Slauson Avenue
Culver City, California 90230
Telephone: (310) 836-5500
Size: 200 acres
Number of interments: more than 160,000
Open: Weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.
Near the Jewish cemetery called Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary lies Catholic Holy Cross Cemetery. Holy Cross mimics the design of the Forest Lawn chain, with headstones replaced by small stone plaques set flush with the sod. At 200 acres, Holy Cross is the largest of the 11 Catholic cemeteries in Los Angeles.
Culver City, home of Holy Cross, lies west of downtown Los Angeles and just south of Century City. When the cemetery was founded in 1939, Culver City was considered the “heart of the film industry.” Because of that, many film industry veterans chose Holy Cross to be their final home. According to Laid to Rest in California, the cemetery staff is very helpful in pinpointing anyone you might like to visit on the cemetery maps.
Most celebrities surround the manmade grotto on the high ground in the southwest part of the cemetery. Once you enter the ornate main gate, turn left and drive up the hill. A grotto is a small cave, usually artificial, in a garden or park. In Europe, natural grottoes like the one at Lourdes are considered sacred sites, where Christian or even earlier miracles have occurred. In Los Angeles, they build their own grottoes and no one expects miracles.
This pile of rocks hosts several white marble statues: the Virgin with hands clasped in prayer, Joseph displaying the baby, and several kneeling angels who looked as if they’d been meant to adore at a crèche rather than gaze at the sod. Someone had placed flowers in front of one of the angels’ knees. We found Rita Hayworth’s monument in the grass on our way over to see her.
Sharon Tate’s grave also lies near the grotto. A polished granite slab with white lettering remembers “Our Loving Daughter & Beloved Wife of Roman,” 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate Polanski, and Paul Richard, “Their Baby.” According to Helter Skelter, Susan Atkins made a point of stabbing Sharon—eight months pregnant—in the belly, in order to kill the baby before it could be born. (Atkins was the first of the Manson Family killers to die in prison.)
Down the hill a little way, Bela Lugosi rests in the same row as Bing Crosby. Elsewhere in the cemetery are buried Ray Bolger and Jack Haley (respectively, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz), comedian John Candy, director John Ford, musical comedian Spike Jones (but not namesake Spike Jonez), Fred MacMurray, dancer Ann Miller, Rosalind Russell, Lawrence Welk, and many, many more.
Holy Cross Cemetery and Mortuary’s homepage
Seeing Stars’ tour of Holy Cross, complete with map of the grotto area
IMDB’s list of stars at rest at Holy Cross
News story about the cemetery
Photos of the interior of the mausoleum
GPS information on CemeteryRegistry.us
L.A. cemetery books reviewed on Cemetery Travel:
Forever L.A.: A Field Guide to Los Angeles Area Cemeteries and their Residents
Laid to Rest in California: A Guide to the Cemeteries and Grave Sites of the Rich and Famous
Permanent Californians: An Illustrated Guide to the Cemeteries of California
Other graveyards of the Hollywood stars on Cemetery Travel:
Cemetery of the Week #5: Hollywood Forever
Cemetery of the Week #14: the Original Forest Lawn
Cemetery of the Week #40: Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery
Cemetery of the Week #45: Hillside Memorial Park