From the Dust Not Yet Returned: The Grave of Ray Bradbury

October 8, 2014 – Ray Bradbury died in 2012. First-Draft Me wants the next sentence to be, “And I’m slowly getting used to the fact,” but the truth is when a famous artist whom you revere dies, it’s a weird mind trip. It weighs heavy on us for an extremely brief period of time, and then most of us look up and realize nothing in our lives has changed and everything you knew and loved about that person whom you’ve never met—the movies, the books, the art, the countless interviews uploaded to YouTube—didn’t go away.

So Ray Bradbury died, but not the Ray Bradbury I knew. He’s still here. So I never needed closure. I just needed to see his gravestone.

See, I can’t consider my experience with those who do spooky the best complete until I see their headstone…Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Bela Legosi, Rod Serling, Washington Irving. I admit, it’s a strange place to be mentally considering some of my favorite horrormeisters are still alive…and a terrible one when they get cremated and kept by family. But Bradbury was interred in good old publically accessible earth, and little did I know that two months after I wrote last Halloween Season’s “The Ghost of Ray Bradbury” piece, I would find myself across the country in Los Angeles. So I sought out his grave.

Ray's view.

He’s buried in Westwood Village Park Cemetery, a small graveyard the size of a large back yard hidden among office buildings. It’s hardly an atmospheric cemetery. The entrance is past a parking garage on Glendon Avenue, and inside tall palm trees tower, the kinds that only look right during hurricane-force winds. Most of the grave markers are set flush to the ground and the whole area is surrounded by small, modern-looking crematoria and outdoor crypts.

But even though the graveyard is tiny and mundanely contexted, it contains an astounding number of famous entertainers and movie and TV stars in its dirt, making it an extremely apt place for Bradbury, whose fascination with cinema and its creators fueled so much of his work. Underneath, I’m sure his bones are clacking joyously from the knowledge he's mere plots away from Eva Gabor, Marilyn Monroe, Don Knotts, Natalie Wood, Donna Reed, Billy Wilder, George C. Scott. And that’s just scratching the surface (all you’re allowed to do at a cemetery). I’m going to dedicate a second, follow-up post tomorrow to the graveyard itself.

Bradbury is located near a back corner, diagonally from the entrance, in a grassy plot in front of an arbor-like crematorium. His headstone is simple, plain, small, and bears his name and death dates, as well as the title “Author of Fahrenheit 451.” He’s buried beside his wife of 56 years, Maggie, who died in 2003, about a decade before Bradbury himself.

It’s not a poetic grave, nor a poetic cemetery. Although I’m sure if Bradbury had ever written about the place, he would have transformed it into something I’d want to be buried in, like the way he makes me feel about small towns in Illinois and sometimes even the gross metropolis of Los Angeles.

This Halloween Season, like every Halloween Season, I’ll read one of his books. A Graveyard for Lunatics sounds like it could be particularly apt this time. I’ve never read it, as I carefully parcel out his remaining works that I haven’t gotten to yet in the hopes of never getting to the last one.

Because that would be a real reason to grieve.

Happy Halloween, Ray Bradbury.


  1. That grave marker is the toughest work of Ray Bradbury that I ever read.

    But I refuse to believe it. Nope. Not one bit.

    Ray Bradbury's not dead. He lives on in every chilling wind that replaces the balmy, summer breezes. In every orange and brown leaf can be found the spirit of the man who forever immortalized the excitement and anticipation of those dark days of fall. Like Charles Schulz, Ray Bradbury brought out the beauty and innocence of a celebration that would otherwise be grim and morbid. And in doing so, Bradbury made eternal a spirit of fun and adventure that marks the 31st of October as the day that everyone can celebrate the imagination with revelries.

    Somewhere in that grand nostalgia of frozen time, a young Ray races down the streets in pastoral Ohio, chasing Will and Jim through yards as the boys laugh and plan to haunt the neighborhood with bed sheet ghosts.

    And that's where I will always find him.

    1. You're making me tear-up so badly I cannot see to tyoe

  2. Cracking open a copy of The October Country tonight. Bradbury introduced me to the idea of the spooky in the seemingly mundane and kept me up way past my bedtime many nights as a child.

  3. Jeeze, man, I cried enough when he died. You got me all over again. Wait, no, it's allergies...yeah...allergies.

  4. This is a really awesome site! I just stumbled up on it as Im fascinated on the history of the Danvers State hospital. You should mention the T.B. hospital and the Danvers State Hospitals Dairy ( That tb hospital was more frightening that the nut house!!) Thanks for bringing back memories!!.

  5. Flannery O'Connor, Milledgeville Ga. Worth the trip.