Western RoundUp: Final Resting Places, Leading Ladies

Western RoundUp: Final Resting Places, Leading Ladies

In my last Western RoundUp column I shared photographs of the final resting places of a number of Western sidekicks and supporting Western players.

That column was focused on male actors, and this time around we’ll be sharing the gravestones of a baker’s dozen of leading ladies from both “A” and “B” Westerns.

Loretta Young headstone
Loretta Young 1913-2000

We’ll begin by paying our respects to Oscar-winning actress Loretta Young, who is buried with her mother at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.  Film fans might not associate Young with Westerns, but she made some very good ones, including the delightful The Lady From Cheyenne (1941), in which she helps bring women the right to vote in 1860s Wyoming. That’s a film I’ve very much been hoping comes to DVD!  Young also starred with Gary Cooper and Dan Duryea in the Western comedy Along Came Jones (1945) and best of all, she costarred with William Holden and Robert Mitchum in a story of pioneering settlers, Rachel and the Stranger (1948).

Polly Ann Young headstone
Polly Ann Young 1908-1997

All three of Loretta Young’s sisters are buried at Holy Cross, and two of them appeared regularly in “B” Westerns.  Loretta’s oldest sister, Polly Ann Young, appeared in several ’30s Westerns opposite stars such as John Wayne, Buck Jones, and Tim McCoy.  Wayne, in fact, was a good friend of the Young family, and his first marriage took place in Loretta Young’s backyard.

Sally Blane headstone
Sally Blane 1910-1997

Another of Loretta Young’s sisters, actress Sally Blane, was originally born Elizabeth Jane Young.  She appeared in ’30s “B” Westerns opposite Hoot Gibson and Randolph Scott.  Sally was married to actor-director Norman Foster, who directed Loretta in the aforementioned Rachel and the Stranger; he would later direct Disney’s Davy Crockett and Zorro for television.  Foster is buried next to his wife.

Joan Leslie headstone
Joan Leslie 1925-2015

Actress Joan Leslie is also buried at Holy Cross.  Leslie was in several fine ’50s Westerns; my favorites are Man in the Saddle (1951) with Randolph Scott, Woman They Almost Lynched (1953) with John Lund and Audrey Totter, and Jubilee Trail (1954) with Forrest Tucker; the latter is a Technicolor film which deserves a Blu-ray release.  All three of these titles are worthy viewing.

Rita Hayworth headstone
Rita Hayworth 1918-1987

Also at Holy Cross is the gravesite of Rita Hayworth, who appeared in “B” Westerns early in her career.  She was still billed under her birth name, Rita Cansino, when she appeared in films such as the Three Mesquiteers Western Hit the Saddle (1937) and Tex Ritter’s Trouble in Texas (1937).  After changing her name to Rita Hayworth, she costarred in The Renegade Ranger (1938) with George O’Brien and Tim Holt.  As I discussed here in a 2019 column, “B” Westerns provided training and a path to bigger stardom for numerous actresses.

Marguerite Chapman headstone
Marguerite Chapman 1918-1999

Our final stop at Holy Cross is at the mauseoleum which is the last resting place of Marguerite Chapman. Chapman’s Westerns included the fine Relentless (1948) opposite Robert Young and one of Randolph Scott‘s best ’40s Westerns, Coroner Creek (1948).  She was also in one of Audie Murphy‘s earliest Westerns, Kansas Raiders (1950).

Janet Leigh headstone
Janet Leigh 1927-2004

Janet Leigh deserves mention here for her starring role in the outstanding Anthony Mann Western The Naked Spur (1953), which also starred James Stewart and Robert Ryan.  Leigh’s remains are at Westwood Village Memorial Park.

Cathy O'Donnell headstone
Cathy O’Donnell 1923-1970

Cathy O’Donnell also starred opposite James Stewart in an excellent Western directed by Anthony Mann, The Man From Laramie (1955).  She’s at Forest Lawn Glendale next to her husband, producer Robert Wyler, and his brother, the great director William Wyler, whose Westerns included The Big Country (1958).

Patrice Wymore headstone
Patrice Wymore 1926-2014

Patrice Wymore starred opposite her husband, Errol Flynn, in the well-regarded Rocky Mountain (1950).  She’s buried at Forest Lawn Glendale next to Flynn, whom she outlived by over half a century.  Wymore also starred opposite Kirk Douglas in The Big Trees (1952).

Julie Bishop headstone
Julie Bishop 1914-2001

Julie Bishop, who is buried under her married names, is also at Forest Lawn Glendale.  She was one of the wonderful actresses who starred in one of my all-time favorite Westerns, Westward the Women (1951), directed by William Wellman; I wrote about that movie’s locations here in 2021.  Early in Bishop’s career, acting under the name Jacqueline Wells, she appeared in “B” Westerns opposite Tom Tyler, Tim McCoy, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry.  Bishop was the mother of actress Pamela Susan Shoop.

June Storey headstone
June Storey 1918-1991

Another “B” Western leading lady, June Storey, is at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar.  She was one of Gene Autry‘s most frequent leading ladies, appearing opposite him in 10 films. Her last Western was Song of the Prairie (1945) opposite Ken Curtis, later known for singing with the Sons of the Pioneers and as Festus on TV’s Gunsmoke.

Virginia Mayo headstone
Virginia Mayo 1920-2005

Virginia Mayo is buried next to her husband, actor Michael O’Shea, at Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California.  Mayo did fine work in a number of Westerns; favorites include Colorado Territory (1949) with Joel McCreaThe Proud Ones (1956) with Robert Ryan, Fort Dobbs (1958) with Clint Walker, and Westbound (1959) with Randolph Scott.  The latter film tends to be ignored as a more minor title among Scott’s collaborations with director Budd Boetticher, but accepted on its own terms I find it quite enjoyable viewing.

Gloria Grahame headstone
Gloria Grahame 1923-1981

Finally we pay a visit to actress Gloria Grahame at Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, California.  Grahame starred in one of my very favorite lesser-known Westerns, Roughshod (1949), which I wrote about here in Hidden Gems, Vol. 2.  Grahame also played Ado Annie in what one might consider a Western musical, Oklahoma! (1955).

We’re very fortunate that all of these ladies made wonderful contributions to the Western film genre.

For additional photos of burial sites of Western stars, please visit my posts from May 2019February 2022, and November 2022.

– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub

Laura can be found at her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she’s been writing about movies since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film fan, Laura loves the classics including Disney, Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns.  She regularly covers Southern California classic film festivals.  Laura will scribe on all things western at the ‘Western RoundUp’ for CMH.

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5 Responses to Western RoundUp: Final Resting Places, Leading Ladies

  1. Barry Lane says:

    Regarding Westbound, your comment goes right to my heart. Could not agree more. Altogether, a fascinating walk through the lives of the beautiful and talented.

  2. Jerry Entract says:

    I agree about “WESTBOUND” – unfairly overlooked.

    A delightful roundup of talented, beautiful actresses whose names live on with many of us. Judy Lewis, who co-starred with Don Collier in the 2nd season of the excellent TV western “OUTLAWS”, was the daughter of Loretta Young. Apparently conceived during the shooting of “CALL OF THE WILD” (1935), she had no idea her father was Clark Gable until later in her life. I include her name as another woman from that talented family.

  3. Walter says:

    Laura, a fine tribute to some very talented and beautiful actresses, whose presence graced Western Movies. Virginia Mayo is a personal favorite and I can view her in any genre. I agree with you, Barry, and Jerry about WESTBOUND(filmed 1957, released 1959). I think WESTBOUND is a good solid traditional Western and it would have been better with more of Virginia Mayo in it, but I think she had some medical issues going at the time of filming.

    Joan Leslie is another particular favorite of mine and I liked her in WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED(filmed 1952, released 1953). This isn’t your typical Western Movie and I liked it a lot. Joan Leslie and Audrey Totter are the excellent leads in this Republic Pictures produced story of an unusual War of the Rebellion(1861-65) movie set on the Arkansas/Missouri bleeding border.

    I could talk about women in Westerns all day. Laura, I look forward to your next write-up.

  4. Laura says:

    Dear Barry, Jerry, and Walter,

    Belated but very sincere thanks for reading my column and for taking the time to leave such nice comments.

    I’m delighted you all like WESTBOUND, a film I think deserves a little more love than it gets. Perhaps your added endorsements will encourage film fans to give it a first — or second — look.

    Barry, thank you for letting me know you enjoyed this walk through film history via my cemetery visits. I always find these visits very meaningful and hope that such columns might play a small part of helping to keep these people’s cinematic legacies alive.

    Jerry, though I know Judy’s life story, I had no idea that she was in a TV Western with Don Collier (loved by me on THE HIGH CHAPARRAL). Thank you so much for that very interesting bit of info and adding her to the list of family members who made contributions to Westerns.

    Walter, I agree, WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED is a really interesting fil m with a great cast. I’ve only seen it once and would like to give it a second look sooner rather than later. This is another title I’d love for more people to see!

    Thank you all again so much for your comments and ongoing support.

    Best wishes,

  5. Pingback: Western RoundUp: Final Resting Places, A Tribute to Western Filmmakers | Classic Movie Hub Blog

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