Western RoundUp: Final Resting Places, A Tribute to Western Filmmakers

Final Resting Places, A Tribute to Western Filmmakers

This month we’ll be again paying tribute to Western filmmakers as we visit their Southern California gravesites.

We’ll begin by honoring several Western directors. The prolific George Sherman began his career in ’30s “B” Westerns. My favorite Sherman films are his Universal Westerns of the late ’40s and early ’50s, which are always well-paced and exciting. Sherman titles I like include Black Bart (1948), River Lady (1948), Border River (1954), and Dawn at Socorro (1954). He’s buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

George Sherman final resting place
George Sherman

Also at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills is director Andre De Toth. De Toth was married for several years to Veronica Lake, the star of one of his best Westerns, Ramrod (1947); Lake’s leading man in that “Western noir” was Joel McCrea. De Toth also directed several Randolph Scott Westerns, including Man in the Saddle (1951) and Riding Shotgun (1954). His most impressive Western might have been Day of the Outlaw (959), which I wrote about here in my column on “Snowy Westerns.”

Andre De Toth final resting place
Andre De Toth

Multi Oscar winner William Wyler is buried at Forest Lawn Glendale alongside his brother Robert and Robert’s wife, actress Cathy O’Donnell. Wyler worked on all types of films over his long career. He started out working on silent Western shorts; his feature-length Westerns included an early version of the “3 Godfathers” story called Hell’s Heroes (1929); The Westerner (1940) with Gary Cooper; and an all-star cast in The Big Country (1958).

William Wyler final resting place
William Wyler

Cecil B. DeMille isn’t always associated with Westerns, but he made several over his long career, including The Plainsman (1936) and North West Mounted Police (1940) with Gary Cooper and Union Pacific (1939) with Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck. DeMille is in the DeMille family plot at Hollywood Forever.

Cecil B DeMille final resting place
Cecil B. DeMille

Michael Curtiz was another versatile director who worked in every genre. He made multiple Westerns with Errol Flynn, including Dodge City (1939), Virginia City (1940), and Santa Fe Trail (1940). Two of those films costarred Olivia de Havilland, who years later would appear opposite Alan Ladd in Curtiz’s The Proud Rebel (1958). I wrote about The Proud Rebel here in 2020. Curtiz is buried at Forest Lawn Glendale.

Michael Curtiz final resting place
Michael Curtiz

Errol Flynn is likewise buried at Forest Lawn Glendale, alongside his wife Patrice Wymore. Aside from his Westerns made with Curtiz, Flynn was in several other Westerns, including Silver River (1948), Montana (1950), and Rocky Mountain (1950). The latter film costarred Wymore.

Errol Flynn final resting place
Errol Flynn

The great cinematographer Archie Stout is also at Forest Lawn Glendale. Stout worked extensively with both John Wayne and John Ford, with his films including Angel and the Badman (1947), Fort Apache (1948), and Hondo (1953), as well as second unit work on She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), and Wagon Master (1950).

Archie Stout

Nicholas Musuraca is most commonly associated with his cinematography of film noir titles such as Out of the Past (1947), but he also filmed many Westerns. He worked on several Tim Holt “B” Westerns both before and after Holt’s service in World War II. He also shot Devil’s Canyon (1953) with Dale Robertson and Virginia Mayo. Musuraca is interred in the mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Nicholas Musuraca final resting place
Nicholas Musuraca

The great cowboy star Tom Mix is at Forest Lawn Glendale. In recent years I’ve loved getting to know some of Mix’s silent Westerns, such as Just Tony (1922). In addition to his silent films, Mix appeared in sound Westerns through the mid ’30s. Mix tragically died in an Arizona car accident at the age of 60.

Tom Mix final resting place
Tom Mix

Earlier this year I paid my first visit to San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California. A number of prominent filmmakers are buried there, including three-time Oscar winner Walter Brennan. Brennan made many Westerns in his long career, including William Wyler’s The Westerner (1940), in which Brennan won an Oscar for playing Judge Roy Bean. Other favorites include My Darling Clementine (1946), Red River (1948), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Far Country (1954), and Rio Bravo (1959), which I reviewed here.

Walter Brennan final resting place
Walter Brennan

Another Rio Bravo cast member, Estelita Rodriguez, is also at San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Rodriguez played Consuelo in that favorite Howard Hawks Western. She also appeared in numerous Roy Rogers Westerns.

Estelita Rodriguez final resting place
Estelita Rodriguez

We’ll close this month’s tour of final resting places with a tribute to Virginia Vale, who is interred at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills under her birth name, Dorothy C. Howe. Vale was George O’Brien’s leading lady in half a dozen of my all-time favorite “B” Westerns; she would later tell an interviewer that O’Brien was “a gem of a fellow.” At her request she even designed some of her dresses for the films, which were later reused in other RKO Westerns. She was later a longtime competition judge for the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Virginia Vale final resting place
Virginia Vale, born as Dorothy C. Howe

For additional photos of the burial sites of Western filmmakers, please visit my columns from May 2019February 2022November 2, 2022November 29, 2022, and April 25, 2023.

– 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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2 Responses to Western RoundUp: Final Resting Places, A Tribute to Western Filmmakers

  1. Peg says:

    Your posts are always interesting and informative. Thanks!

  2. Walter S. says:

    Laura, I really enjoy your tributes to these moviemakers by your bringing us along with you to their gravesites. These moviemakers, both in front and behind the cameras, made for us many enjoyable and informative hours.

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