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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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, 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.
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 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 McCrea, The 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.
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.
– 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.