Cemetary Draws Celebrity Fright

Celebrities are a major presence in the Los Angeles community, and not even Westwood Village Memorial Park can escape the public’s attraction to the entertainment industry.

Westwood Village Memorial Park is the resting ground of some celebrities who have died from mysterious and unnatural causes. Fans and tourists are drawn to the cemetery by their presence.

The cemetery attracts tourists and Los Angeles natives who have an interest in the entertainment industry and celebrities.

Westwood Village Memorial Park has gained notoriety on the Internet. Web sites informing their visitors of places to go on Halloween list the cemetery as a location worthy of attention.

According to E!Online’s Web site, which takes visitors through “Haunted Hollywood,” the cemetery is notable because of the unusual deaths of some of its occupants.

Located on Glendon Avenue, the cemetery was opened in Westwood around the turn of the century. Its location would make it the resting ground of the stars.

Nobody knows the reason Westwood Village Memorial Park has become home to so many celebrities, but the fact that it is near Santa Monica, Bel Air and Malibu may be factors that contribute to its popularity, said Greg Bolton, spokesman for Service Corporation International.

Service Corporation International is a provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services. The corporation oversees Westwood Village Memorial Park.

One of the most visited celebrity grave sites belongs to Marilyn Monroe, Bolton said.

Monroe was buried in the mausoleum crypt after dying from a drug overdose, and her burial site was so valued that vandals tried to steal the brass plaque on her crypt in 1976.

Other celebrities buried at the site passed away early in their lives, many of them violently.

Two of the celebrities buried in the cemetery were leading characters in the film Poltergeist. Heather O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne in the movie, died at the age of 12 from a cardiopulmonary attack.

Her co-star, Dominique Dunne, is also buried in the cemetery. Dunne passed away after being strangled by her former boyfriend.

Bob Crane, Colonel Robert Hogan from “Hogan’s Heroes,” is also buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park. Crane’s death remains unsolved because his murderer was never found.

These celebrities are a few among the many buried at the cemetery who either lived strange lives or died equally strange deaths.

Due to the high population of celebrities buried within the cemetery gates, television networks in Japan and Europe have often requested to film at Westwood Village Memorial Park, but Service Corporation International has a strict policy against filming at the site, Bolton said.

Although filming cannot take place at the cemetery, visitors are allowed into the gates to see the graves of their favorite celebrities.

“People are always visiting the graves of famous people. It’s just natural curiosity,” Bolton said.

Though Web sites list the cemetery as a great place to visit on Halloween, some students say they have their reasons for staying away from cemeteries on that day in particular.

“The closest me and my friends did was drive past (a cemetery) on Halloween, and it freaked us out,” said Yanell Torres, a fourth-year sociology student.

Torres said that although she does not believe she would see ghosts at the cemetery, she would not go because the cemetery is a dark and unfamiliar place, which could pose safety issues.

Other students say going to a cemetery for Halloween fun is disrespectful to those buried at the site.

“Graveyards are a place where people are supposed to rest eternally,” said Mike Takacs, a fourth-year neuroscience student.