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Iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery Granted Official Landmark Status

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is now an official, city-designated Historic Cultural Landmark. (Public domain photo via Wikipedia.)


On Tuesday, March 22, the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery was officially granted local landmark status by the Los Angeles City Council, formalizing the description many people have long attached to the famous burial grounds and event venue.  The motion to include Hollywood Forever on the list of the city’s Historic Cultural Monuments, which was previously approved by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in October, received a unanimous vote in favor from all 12 Councilmembers in attendance.

According to the landmark application form, which was initiated by the City’s Office of Historic Resources and can be found here,  the request was based on the 53-acre site’s association with the area’s history and culture, historic events, and architectural significance, including a number of notable buildings and landscape features.

Most famous for the many celebrities interred there (from Rudolph Valentino to Cecil B. DeMille, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Bugsey Siegel, and scores of others, as well as members of the locally significant Chandler, Otis and other families ),  the burial ground has been “in continuous operation as a cemetery since 1899” and “is currently developed with a collection of buildings, structures, and landscape features dating from 1903 to the present day.”   It also played a significant role in the overall history of Los Angeles burial places, and is especially noteworthy in the history of Jewish burial sites, which were still largely restricted to East LA when the then-named Hollywood Cemetery opened a new “Consecrated Jewish Section” and Jewish mausoleum in 1927.

In more recent years, although the cemetery is still in active use for its original purpose, it has also become a popular event venue, hosting everything from yoga events to movie nights, as well as what may be the largest annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in the city.  It is also currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

According to a report on the City Council’s vote in the LA Times on Wednesday, while the vote to accept the Hollywood Forever as a city landmark wasn’t surprising, the fact that this hadn’t been done before did surprise at least some people, including at least one member of the Cultural Heritage Commission:


“I was surprised that this wasn’t already on our list,” Commissioner Richard Barron said during the meeting. “It’s always interesting when something comes before us that you think, ‘That’s not a monument yet?’”


Also according to the Times, Hollywood Forever’s owners worked closely with the city team that shepherded the landmark effort, and were likewise happy with the effort.  “We’re certainly pleased that the cemetery can have long-term protection as a landmark,” Hollywood Forever president and co-owner Tyler Cassity told the Times, saying also that the designation  “offers protections from this land ever being changed — and from us altering or changing in any way all of the items that have been identified in the landscape and in the buildings as historic resources.”


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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