Western RoundUp: Final resting places, leading ladies
In my recent Western RoundUp column, I shared photos of the final resting places of a number of Western buddies and supporting Western players.
This column focused on male actors, and this time we’re going to share the tombstones of a baker’s dozen leading actresses from “A” and “B” westerns.
We begin by paying our respects to Oscar winner Loretta Young, who is buried with her mother in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Movie fans may not associate Young with westerns, but she’s done some very good ones, including the delightful ones The Lady of Cheyenne (1941), in which she helps get women the right to vote in Wyoming in the 1860s. This is a film I was really hoping for to come out on DVD! Young also starred in the western comedy with Gary Cooper and Dan Duryea Here came Jones (1945) and best of all she starred in a tale of settler pioneers alongside William Holden and Robert Mitchum. Rachel and the stranger (1948).
All three of Loretta Young’s sisters are buried at Holy Cross, and two of them have appeared regularly in B-Westerns. Loretta’s eldest sister, Polly Ann Young, appeared in several 1930’s westerns alongside the likes of John Wayne, Buck Jones and Tim McCoy. Wayne was actually a good friend of the Young family, and his first marriage took place in Loretta Young’s backyard.
Another sister of Loretta Young, actress Sally Blane was originally born Elizabeth Jane Young. She appeared in “B” westerns alongside Hoot Gibson and Randolph Scott in the ’30s. Sally was married to actor and director Norman Foster, who directed Loretta in the aforementioned film Rachel and the stranger; later he ran Disney’s Davy Crockett and Zoro for television. Foster is buried next to his wife.
Actress Joan Leslie is also buried at Holy Cross. Leslie starred in several fine 1950’s westerns; are my favorites man in the saddle (1951) with Randolph Scott, woman they nearly lynched (1953) with John Lund and Audrey Totter and anniversary path (1954) with Forrest Tucker; The latter is a Technicolor film worthy of a Blu-ray release. All three titles are worth seeing.
Also in 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 appearing in films such as The Three Mesquiteers Western Hit the saddle (1937) and Tex Ritters Trouble in Texas (1937). After changing her name to Rita Hayworth, she starred in it The Renegade Ranger (1938) with George O’Brien and Tim Holt. As I discussed here in a 2019 column, “B” westerns have provided numerous actresses with training and a path to greater fame.
Our final stop at Holy Cross is the Mausoleum, the final resting place of Marguerite Chapman. Chapman’s westerns contained the fine Relentless (1948) alongside 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 a mention here for her starring role in the outstanding Anthony Mann western The bare spur (1953), which also starred James Stewart and Robert Ryan. Leigh’s remains are in Westwood Village Memorial Park.
Cathy O’Donnell also starred alongside James Stewart in an excellent western directed by Anthony Mann. The man from Laramie (1955). She is at Forest Lawn Glendale alongside her husband, the producer Robert Wyler, and his brother, the great director William Wyler, whose westerns are a part The big country (1958).
Patrice Wymore starred in the acclaimed film alongside her husband Errol Flynn Rocky Mountain (1950). She is buried in Forest Lawn Glendale next to Flynn, whom she outlived by more than half a century. Wymore also starred opposite Kirk Douglas in The big trees (1952).
Julie Bishop, who is buried under her married name, is also in Forest Lawn Glendale. She was one of the wonderful actresses who starred in one of my all-time favorite westerns, The women west (1951), directed by William Wellman; I wrote about the locations of this film here in 2021. Early in Bishop’s career, she appeared under the name Jacqueline Wells in “B” westerns alongside 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, resides at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar. She was one of Gene Autry’s most-recurring leading lady, opposite him in 10 films. Her last western was song of the prairie (1945) opposite Ken Curtis, who later became known for singing with the Sons of the Pioneers and as Festus on television gun smoke.
Virginia Mayo is buried next to her husband, actor Michael O’Shea, at Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California. Mayo has done well in a number of westerns; favorites belong Colorado Territory (1949) with Joel McCrea, The proud (1956) with Robert Ryan, Fort Dobbs (1958) with Clint Walker and westward (1959) with Randolph Scott. The latter film tends to be ignored as a minor title in Scott’s collaborations with director Budd Boetticher, but on its own I find it quite entertaining to watch.
Finally, we visit actress Gloria Grahame at Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, California. Grahame starred in one of my favorite lesser known westerns, reckless (1949), which I discuss here in Hidden Gems, Vol. 2. Grahame also played Ado Annie in a western musical, Oklahoma! (1955).
We are very fortunate that all of these ladies have made wonderful contributions to the Western film genre.
For more photos of western star burial sites see my posts from May 2019, February 2022 and November 2022.
– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub
Laura can be found on her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she has been writing about film since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film buff, Laura loves classics like Disney, film noir, musicals and westerns. She regularly reports on classic film festivals in Southern California. Laura will be writing all about westerns at the Western RoundUp for CMH.