It’s a Graveyard Smash: Classic Monster Graves


October 1, 2013 — I love graves, but the graves I love the most are the graves of classic monsters. I’m talking about the final resting places of those actors who made their fame as ghouls and ghastlies in old horror movies put out by studios like Universal and AIP and Hammer, to name a few. These were the actors who were okay being typecast with fangs jutting out of their mouth or blood drenching their costumes or facial appliances covering their best sides.

Their graves give me a sense of history far more tangible than any mere historical figure. James Garfield was just a president to me. Bela Lugosi was a presence…a presence already dead by the time I was born and in films already half a century older than my first experience with it.

Also it could just be that pop culture has warped my soul.


I decided to put together a list of the final resting places of the men and women who were the monsters in my life. This isn’t comprehensive, of course, and were I to try to make it so, I’d disappear into a hole in the Internet and not come up until this post was a 10-part mini-series and spin-off comic book.

Some of these graves I’ve been to, others I haven’t. Still others are impossible to visit. You know all of them, though, these monsters and victims, heroes and heroines. They were in your life too, but maybe you don’t know where they are right this moment.

Except that it’s the Halloween Season. They’re everywhere. On television, product packaging, decorations. In theaters, at haunted houses.

But when all that’s done, here are the places that they’ll creep back to:

Vincent Price: 
Ashes scattered
Point Dume, CA

OTIS Visit: No.
His is the grave that I would want to see more than any other monster’s. But he was House of Wax’d. His ashes were scattered over Point Dume in southern California. I’ve had to content myself thus far with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Boris Karloff
Ashes buried in a memorial garden
Guildford Crematorium, Surry, UK

OTIS Visit: No.
Like Vincent, Boris also chose fire over earth, in his case in his native country of England. Guildford Crematorium in Surrey helped him recreate the windmill scene in Frankenstein and has, on its grounds, a yellow rose bush dedicated to him with a small plaque where his ashes were interred. If you get to their door, tell them Boris sent you.

Bela Lugosi
Holy Cross Cemetery
Culver City, CA

OTIS visit: Yes.
Every vampire movie Bela was in was just a test run for his final coffin. And while it’s unfortunate that neither his grave nor the cemetery that holds it is at all spooky, it’s fun to point out that this Halloween icon is buried just two plaques away from Christmas icon Bing Crosby.


Lon Chaney
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Glendale, CA

OTIS Visit: No.
The Man of a Thousand Faces has a blank grave in a mausoleum, just an anonymous square of pink marble in a wall composed of them. I’m not sure why. Maybe he thought it’d be funny to force everybody writing about his grave to make that first joke.

Lon Chaney, Jr.
Donated to science

OTIS Visit: No.
Lon’s son followed in his footsteps both by becoming a classic monster and by anonymizing his afterlife, going even further in this latter by donating his body to science. To help find a cure for the dreaded scourge of lycanthropy, I assume. If you were in medical research in the mid-70s, you might have met him.

Claude Rains
Red Hill Cemetery
Moultonborough, NH

OTIS Visit: Yes.
Visiting the grave of the Invisible Man is one of my most close-held New Hampshire memories. It was a perfect Fall day, the forest backdrop was in full motley, and the graves of he and his wife in their tiny white picket fence cemetery were a beautiful pair of obsidian teeth, each boasting a small, freshly picked pumpkin at their bases.

Elsa Lanchester
Ashes scattered
Pacific Ocean

OTIS Visit: No.
The Bride followed the Monster, both in the film and in life. Instead of a garden, though her ashes are now silt on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Henry Hull
Rockland Cemetery
Sparkill, NY

OTIS Visit: Yes.
He’s the Werewolf of London, but he’s got a prime spot in one of the most Autumn places in the United States…the Hudson Valley in New York. There, his simple gravestone has a great view of the Hudson River. Honorable mention in this entry goes to the grave his co-star Warner Oland in Massachusetts.

John Barrymore
Mount Vernon Cemetery
Philadelphia, PA

OTIS Visit: No. Photo credit: Joe Mud.
He beat every movie actor to the first ever dual-role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as started a lineage that would give us a great opening to Wes Craven’s Scream.

Peter Lorre
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Los Angeles, CA.

OTIS Visit: Yes.
His greatest monster only needed a single letter for a name. And his remains only need a small shelf of a grave. You can find him in the mausoleum of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, if you kneel down and squint your eyes.

Peter Cushing
Cremated
Location unknown

OTIS Visit: No.
This elegant man’s biggest monster wasn’t in the many Hammer horror movies he was in, but in an obscure science fiction film that came out in 1977, and his death on its not-a-moon might be the reason that the location of his ashes are unknown…but that doesn’t explain why the once-buried remains of his wife have gone missing, as well.

Christopher Lee
Alive and awesome

Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery
Not dead yet, but with all the dead horror costars in his wake, one has to assume some kind of Highlander-like scenario. Plus I can’t put Peter on a list without putting Chris. Hopefully this article won’t be a jinx. Live forever, Christopher Lee. And Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf is underrated.

Conrad Veidt
Golders Green Crematorium (eventually)
London, UK

OTIS Visit: Kind of.
Pictured above is not the final resting place of Conrad Veidt, Cesare the Sleepwalker, The Man Who Laughs (Google his visage at your own risk), but this spot at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, did hold his ashes for quite a few years before they got moved to California and then again to their final, final resting place in Golders Green Crematorium in London. Nevertheless, his spot at Ferncliff remains a cenotaph to the man who was almost Count Dracula instead of Bela.

John Carradine
Buried at sea
Between the California coast and Catalina Island

OTIS Visit: No.
I remember John Carradine as Dracula, and as the blind priest in The Sentinel, but mostly I just remember him as a constant presence in horror films, always there, somewhere, no matter how old he got. In death, he’s a bit more elusive, having been buried at sea in a Naval tradition that resulted from his service in WWII.

Myrna Fahey
Mount Pleasant Catholic Cemetery
Bangor, ME

OTIS Visit: Yes.
You could argue that Myrna doesn’t belong on this list. She was merely a leading victim in two Vincent Price movies. But I’d simply argue that she was a leading victim in two Vincent Price movies. And they just happened to be Roger Corman’s House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. Plus I’ve been to her grave, so I knocked off Lionel Atwill for her.

Max Schreck
Wilmersdorfer Waldfriedhof Stahndorf
Brandenburg, Germany

OTIS Visit: No.
The classic monster of classic monsters, Mr. Nosferatu is buried in his home country of Germany. You’re too far away from me, Max, but I am somewhat consoled by the fact that the man who wrote your script is supposed to be buried somewhere in Vermont…although I can’t find his grave.

Fredric March
Private estate
New Milford, CT

OTIS Visit: No.
Another Jekyll, another Hyde. His final earthly plot is only three hours from my house, but he’s on (or below) the private estate that he owned during his life and which somebody else owns now. Trespassers will be prosecuted. Possibly chewed to kibble by German Shepherds.

Basil Rathbone
Ferncliff Cemetery
Hartsdale, NY

OTIS Visit: Yes.
Basil Rathbone has an amazing name and strange career path. I mean, Son of Frankenstein, Planet of Blood, Tales of Terror, The Black Sleep, The Comedy of Terrors, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, Hillybillys in a Haunted House, and he’s most renowned for playing Sherlock Holmes. A resume like that will keep you from getting Lionel Atwill’d.

Dwight Fry
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Glendale, CA

OTIS Visit: No.
Always a monster’s assistant, never a monster, he was Dracula’s Renfield, Frankenstein’s Fritz, Bride of Frankenstein’s Karl. Loathe to be too far away from his original Transylvanian master, he was also buried in Glendale, California, albeit at a different cemetery. Same one as Lon Chaney, though, so maybe he can tell us what’s up with Lon’s grave.

Rondo Hatton
American Legion Cemetery
Tampa, FL

OTIS Visit: No.
Rondo might not be the biggest mon-star on this list, but, man, does he have the most interesting story. He suffered from a deforming disease called acromegaly, which may or may not have been caused by exposure to poison gas during his time in the American Legion during WWI. Whatever the cause, he had a face that only a horror fan could love. And we did/do love it. He even has his own horror award named after him. Boris can’t say that.

Fay Wray
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Los Angeles, CA

OTIS Visit: Yes.
Fay Wray had the type of beauty that could kill a beast and a scream that scream queens would die for. And even though King Kong naturally looms over everything she did, let's not forget Monster X, The Vampire Bat, and Mystery of the Wax Museum. Sorry again, Lionel.

Colin Clive
Cremated
Scattered at sea

OTIS Visit: No.
He was Dr. Frankenstein in the two Frankenstein movies that mattered. Only Boris himself could have overshadowed your role. And while Colin doesn’t have a grave to visit, he does have a cenotaph at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles, CA.


Obviously, an article like this would have been 100 times more difficult, if not impossible, without Find A Grave. I highly recommend it both as a resource and a recreation. It's like browsing the dead.









6 comments:

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  2. I've been to Guildford but didn't know that Boris Karloff was doing his final resting there. I have, however, seen the thoroughly modern and rather creepy church on the hill from The Omen. As I didn't have a panic attack on the way up the long drive I now have final proof that I am not the spawn of Satan.

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  3. Good post. Made me think of the sing by the Kinks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTJVclgwS5g

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  4. Vincent Price's ashes are in New York , kept by comic Joan Rivers, in her Manhattan Home. They were close friends.

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  5. @Henderson I've read that somewhere.. I wonder where his remains are now.. I mean how does one 'will' someone's remains. I wonder how she originally came to aquire these.

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  6. The cypt shown for John Barrymore is empty. He was moved by his son, cremated and is buried in Philadelphia (Mt Vernon Cemetery) under a flat simple marker.

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