Harry, saw your pics in the personal gallery about Jolly John Larkins. I have to admit, I've never heard of him, can you enlighten me?
And Joe, I also saw your pics in the gallery of your RV trip to Canada. I live in Canada, and have done my fare share of camping in Quebec and Ontario, but never have I seen views like that! Those were beautiful pics of wetern Canada, and what an incredible place to camp!
It's funny you should ask about the photos of Jolly John ... so sit back and I will tell you the story.
I usually don't broadcast it, but I belong to a Yahoogroups email list called Hollywood Underground, which is a group of people whose hobby is to take photos of celebrity graves. OK, I will let that sink in. :-) ... Actually the group is full of interesting people ... most are big Old Hollywood buffs. We have 200 members, but I would say about 50 people are very active in the group.
One of our members, Steve Goldstein, has a web site for his hobby: www.beneathlosangeles.com. Recently, he got an email out of the blue ... from Australia!!!! A woman wrote that she was looking for the photo or location of her great-grandfather, who was a well-known Vaudevillian and Negro actor for Paramount and MGM in the 20s and 30s. Her grandmother (his daughter) had never met her father ... she was born out of wedlock in the Depression, and ended up being farmed out to foster homes. Recently, they acquired a scrapbook of his career, and the Grandmother was in heaven looking at it, but it also brought up lingering sadness that she did not know where he was, etc, other than they knew he was buried in Los Angeles. (All of the family is in Australia.)
My friend Stave posted an email to the Hollywood Underground group to see whether anyone had any info on the man, whose stage name was Jolly John Larkins, but whose real last name was Smith. Incredibly, one of our members had his death certificate ... that he had had for 24 years! Plus, he had a map of the cemetery in which he was interred.
He mailed all to me, and I scanned them and then emailed to Australia. This success beget our next mission -- to get a photo of his grave.
So Friday I headed to LA by train and met Steve. We headed to Evergreen Cemetery (which was one of the few cemeteries that allowed negroes to be buried on its grounds ... albeit in the far section of the cemetery). Today, it is located in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles ... a particularly bad area of LA. On Friday about 2 p.m. -- in 100 degree heat -- we braved the heat, and armed with a map of the cemetery, we went to find the headstone (even if there were one).
After we found a landmark (the large headstone of Rochester from the "Jack Benny Show" it became a matter of wandering row upon row till we found Mr. Larkins. About 8 mins later, Steve discovered the headstone -- and not only that, it had a photo on it!
We took the photos and emailed them to the Granddaughter and her mother (who was going to bring them to the Grandmother). We got an email from each -- the mother was crying, after finally coming face-to-face with her grandfather. And also knowing how happy her mother would be.
So this was a story of serendipity.
Oh, and by the way, our Hollywood Underground group is having its *Eighth* annual dinner Oct. 1st, and I am the chairman for this year's event. Guess where dinner will be held at??? This link will give you the answer:
Wow Harry, what an amazing story - so glad I asked! The woman in Australia must be so pleased! Isn't it nice that something you're involved with can help out a total stranger and make their day? What an intersting group you belong to! Thanks for the reply.
Lisa just took these photos today at Forest Lawn-Glendale ... I think they are particularly artsy ones of Jean Harlow, Alan Ladd and Irving Thalberg (creative director at MGM during its Golden Age ... his wife was Norma Shearer (who is buried under Arrouge)
Luanne, it's not the same group, but both folks who own the sites belong to the group. Scott from www.FindaDeath.com is a good friend of mine ... here is a link to the story I wrote about his tour in LA:
Great story, Harry. It's really nice when you can do something humane for somebody, isn't it? You never know, when you get involved in a hobby, which direction it might take. In this case, obviously, your hobby made some people very happy. Good going!
Harry, I loved the article. Both of the sites I spoke of, I keep up with. I call it keeping up with Hollywood history, my kids call it "Mom seeing dead people" lol Please thank your friends for a great site. I'm a looker, not a contributor, but get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
It's a common reaction ... I have got all kinds of questions -- about ghosts, do we wear black, etc etc.
In all honestly, people would be surprised how normal the group is, and how much information they harbor. About 5 members have published books, numerous people from the entertainment industry are members and several people working in the cemetery industry but who hold a lot of esteem for actors from the past, etc. are part of the group. A great member was named "mortician to the stars" by the Enquirer.
And, I point proudly, that we have paid for cemetery markers for two Hollywood personalities -- the director of the first talkie, "The Jazz Singer," Alan Crosland, and Florence Lawrence, who was the first silent star who was billed by name. For 70 plus *years* both were in unmarked graves.
Further, the creator of the group was the instigator for having '40s star Ann Sheridan sprung from vaultage, and having her cremains interred at Hollywood Forever Cemtery in a $27,000 niche donated by the cemetery and in an urn donated by one of the members, when before she was in a glorified closet.
These are people who do good and honor the past in Hollywood.
__________________ Harry Martin
Moderator - Mexico and G/L message boards