Western RoundUp: Final Resting Places, More Western Filmmakers

Final Resting Places: More Western Filmmakers

This month we’ll be taking another of our unique tours through Western film history, paying tribute to a variety of actors as we visit their final resting places.

We begin with longtime “B” Western star Johnny Mack Brown. I was glad to finally locate his final resting place at Forest Lawn Glendale after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. The onetime college football star had a long film career, beginning in silent movies; he appeared in countless “B” films, including many playing characters named either Johnny Mack or Marshal Nevada Jack MacKenzie. Brown also offered excellent support in the Rod Cameron Western Stampede (1949). He’s interred along with his daughter.

Johnny Mack Brown Resting Place
Johnny Mack Brown

Herb Jeffries was a unusual ’30s “B” Western star; of mixed-race heritage, he played a black singing cowboy in a quartet of Westerns released from 1937 to 1939. His movies included interestingly titled films such as Harlem on the Prairie (1937) and Harlem Rides the Range (1939). Jeffries’ film career was fairly short, and he focused mainly on singing from the ’40s on, including a few years performing with Duke Ellington. Jeffries lived to be 100, and his final resting place is at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Herb Jeffries Resting Place
Herb Jeffries

Another singing cowboy, Ken Carson, is buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whitter, California. As a member of the Sons of the Pioneers, Carson appeared onscreen frequently in Roy Rogers films from 1943 to 1946. He also voiced the Wise Old Owl in Disney’s lovely So Dear to My Heart (1948). Carson died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1994. His gravestone features a guitar and references his career as a singing cowboy.

Ken Carson Resting Place
Ken Carson

Oscar-winning actress Donna Reed first appeared in Westerns early in her career, playing the leading lady in “B” films such as Apache Trail (1942) and Gentle Annie (1944). Throughout the ’50s she appeared in a number of good Westerns, including Hangman’s Knot (1952) with Randolph Scott, Gun Fury (1953) with Rock Hudson, and Backlash (1956) opposite Richard Widmark. She then moved on to TV success starring on The Donna Reed Show (1958-66). She’s buried at Westwood Memorial Park.

Donna Reed Resting Place
Donna Reed

Under her birth name Laraine Johnson, Laraine Day was George O’Brien’s leading lady in a trio of his excellent RKO “B” Westerns, released in 1938 and 1939; along with O’Brien’s “B” films with Virginia Vale, these are great favorites of mine. Later in 1939 she moved to MGM, where as Laraine Day she played beloved nurse Mary Lamont in the Dr. Kildare movie series. She made one Western at MGM, The Bad Man (1941) starring Wallace Beery. Thanks to her marriage to baseball manager Leo Durocher, which lasted from 1948 to 1960, Day was also known as “the First Lady of Baseball.” She’s at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Laraine Day Resting Place
Laraine Day

While she didn’t have an extensive career in Westerns, British actress Binnie Barnes was memorable appearing opposite Randolph Scott in one of the very first Westerns I wrote about for Classic Movie Hub, Frontier Marshal (1939). She also starred opposite John Wayne in In Old California (1942). Over the course of her career Barnes worked with actors like Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson, but she told an interviewer the best actor she worked with was none other than Wayne. Barnes married the adoptive son of actor Joe E. Brown and is buried in the Brown family plot at Forest Lawn Glendale.

binnie barnes resting place 2 images
Binnie Barnes

Oscar-winning British character actor Donald Crisp, known for films like How Green Was My Valley (1941) and National Velvet (1944), may not spring to mind as a Western actor, but he added his considerable gravitas to a number of fine Westerns, including Ramrod (1947), Whispering Smith (1948), The Man From Laramie (1955), and Saddle the Wind (1958). He’s buried at Forest Lawn Glendale.

Donald Crisp Resting Place
Donald Crisp

Character actor Jay C. Flippen worked steadily in Westerns throughout the ’50s, appearing in a trio of fine Anthony Mann Westerns, Winchester ’73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), and The Far Country (1954). His other Westerns films included Devil’s Canyon (1953), Man Without a Star (1955), and Night Passage (1957). His wife was movie and TV screenwriter Ruth Brooks Flippen. He’s at Westwood Memorial Park

Jay C Flippen Resting Place
Jay C Flippen

Richard Farnsworth had an interesting career, beginning as a stuntman in 1937. Farnsworth was on the stunt crew for many Westerns, including favorites such as Angel and the Badman (1947) and Red River (1948). Farnsworth later moved into acting, receiving Oscar nominations for Comes a Horseman (1978) and The Straight Story (1999). His son, Diamond Farnsworth, also worked as a movie stuntman. Richard Farnsworth’s final resting place is at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Richard Farnsworth resting place
Richard Farnsworth

We’ll conclude this month with a trio of actors who appeared in movie Westerns but are best known for their TV Westerns. Clayton Moore appeared in numerous supporting roles in “B” Westerns beginning in 1937 and running into the 1950s, but of course he’s best known as TV’s immortal The Lone Ranger (1949-57). He’s buried at Forest Lawn Glendale.

Clayton Moore Resting Place
Clayton Moore

Chuck Connors appeared occasionally in Western films, including The Hired Gun (1957), before becoming a major Western TV star as The Rifleman (1958-63). His gravestone at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills pays tribute to his most famous Western role, along with his sports careers with the Dodgers, Cubs, and Boston Celtics.

Chuck Connors Resting Place
Chuck Connors

Hugh O’Brian first appeared in movie Westerns in 1950, playing a supporting role in Gene Autry’s Beyond the Purple Hills (1950). He appeared in numerous Westerns throughout the ’50s, many for Universal Pictures, before hitting it big in the title role in TV’s The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-61). He’s at Forest Lawn Glendale.

Hugh OBrian Resting Place
Hugh O’Brian

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