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Day of the Dead in Hollywood

October 13, 2018 • Los Angeles

Hollywood ForeverDia de Muertos is a big holiday in parts of Latin America, including Los Angeles. One of the most fun events at this time of year is at Hollywood Forever, a cemetery in the heart of the Hollywood neighborhood. Dia de Muertos celebrates family members who have died and has all kinds of customs associated with it, most visibly in artworks where skeletons replace people and animals: skeleton newlyweds, skeleton mariachis, skeleton Frida Kahlo. For Anglos in the United States, of course, it has been dumbed down and translated into an excuse to party.

Almost twenty years ago the sprawling Hollywood graveyard sold to a family of cemetery stewards from St. Louis, and they have done well in preserving the site. The sale price at the time seemed absurdly low, given the acreage and who’s planted there, but the prevailing wisdom must be “If you can’t build six-story mixed-users on it, it’s worthless.” Props to the Cassity family for taking on the work of preserving the place and maintaining it for us to visit the glitterati of yesteryear.

Besides Judy Garland and Cecil B. DeMille, the long list of famous tenants includes Rudolph Valentino, whose tomb was visited every year by a mysterious woman in black. It seems there have been a series of women in black leaving flowers over the years; the originator of the tradition died in 1984.

The Dia de los Muertos event is over for this year, but put it in your calendar for next October.

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