I’ve always loved walking around in cemeteries, not because I’m really that goth, but because they are carefully designed to be places of rest. They are also places of misrecognition. You are never sure how the dead are being remembered, or misremembered. As a queer and trans person, I’m always aware that gravestones may not say the right name, or place the person with the right family. You’d be surprised how many headstones just say “Mom” and “Dad.”
Hollywood Forever is a cemetery in — you guessed it — Hollywood, that might be interesting to anyone who cares about old movies. Situated between the Paramount Pictures lot and a view of the Hollywood sign, the cemetery is a shrine to stars of the silent era — Valentino, Marion Davies, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Cecil B. DeMille.
I googled different maps of the cemetery to find all of the stars, but eventually gave up on that quest and just walked around without a goal in mind.
The graves are crowded close together. Many of the headstones are emblazoned with pictures of the deceased, adding to the cinematic quality of the space.
I stumbled on Mel Blanc’s grave, the voice of my childhood hero, Bugs Bunny.
Despite what comes up on image search, this is not the grave of Alfred Hitchcock, whose ashes are scattered in the Pacific.
For a while, I’d been hearing some cries in the distance that I thought were coming from a child or an animal. I turned a corner and saw the most terrifying thing.
Peacocks! Wild Peacocks! Apparently, wild peacocks — at least 20 of them, maybe more — live in Hollywood Forever and closely guard the interred ashes of Charlie Chaplin.
I shouldn’t have been afraid of the peacocks, but Hitchcock’s “grave” had reminded me how terrifying a flock of birds can be.
I decided to turn around and go home at that point. Sometimes you just have to let things be.