Hello Again, Dear BLA-ers:
Today we had the pleasure of being profiled in the Beach Reporter, a local weekly here in the South Bay. Here is the interview by Annie Lubinsky in her Beach Books column:
Beach Books: 'L.A.'s Graveside Companion: Where the V.I.P.s R.I.P.,' by Steve Goldstein by Annie Lubinsky
(Updated: Thursday, August 5, 2010 4:58 PM PDT)
Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the "Tarzan" books, is buried under a tree in front of his old office building on Ventura Blvd. Actor Ted Cassidy, who played Lurch in the television series "The Addams Family," is at rest in the backyard of his former home in Woodland Hills. And the dog who played Dorothy's beloved Toto in "The Wizard of Oz" lies under a parking lot near the Ventura freeway.
Such are the discoveries that Redondo Beach resident Steve Goldstein and others like him make as they search for the final resting places of people who were famous, infamous or just plain interesting.
Goldstein, who grew up in the Boston area, became interested in finding the graves of our country's founding fathers. "It's endlessly fascinating, because you're standing in history," Goldstein said. "You wonder what their lives were like and who their relatives were. Each grave represents a story."
When he moved to California, Goldstein continued to wander around cemeteries and started finding fascinating graves. Until the Internet was available, he didn't realize that others shared this hobby. He took pictures of the graves he found and put them on his website, www.beneathlosangeles.com, which he started 12 years ago. Soon people were telling him "You should write a book."
Beach Books: 'L.A.'s Graveside Companion: Where the V.I.P.s R.I.P.,' by Steve Goldstein
Goldstein at first envisioned a coffee table book with color photos and chapters on silent film stars, scientists, comedians, murder victims, matinee idols and child stars-a very expensive book to produce. "Finally, Schiffer Books agreed to publish it, if I would make it a tour book and go cemetery by cemetery," he said. "The book is written as if I'm walking through the cemeteries with you."
"L.A.'s Graveside Companion: Where the V.I.P.s R.I.P." guides readers through 400 graves in 12 Los Angeles-area cemeteries. There are 270 black and white photos. "It can be enjoyed in comfort of your own home or as a cemetery field guide," Goldstein said. "I also like to think of it as a history book."
Goldstein wanted to recreate the experience of walking through a cemetery and making discoveries-such as one that caused him to fall to his knees in astonishment. Walking near the lake at Inglewood Cemetery, he came upon a marker that read "The Little Mouse."
"It was the grave of the infant son of Charlie Chaplin, Norman Spencer Chaplin, who lived for only three days in July 1919," Goldstein said. "The Little Mouse" was Chaplin's affectionate name for his son. The dates confirmed that this was the grave Goldstein had long been searching for.
Goldstein was able to use his knowledge to help an 83-year-old woman from Australia learn more about her biological father, Jolly John Larkin, a famous vaudevillian in 1930s. "I have a friend in Ohio who collects death certificates of old comedians, and he learned that Larkin's grave was at the Evergreen Cemetery in downtown L.A.," Goldstein said. "That was an exciting find, and to this day I'm friends with the family. We also found his house. That kind of thing puts a positive spin on this hobby-we helped an 83-year-old grandmother reconnect with her father."
Goldstein does encounter people who raise an eyebrow when they hear of his passion for finding graves. "Soon they're asking, do you know where this one or that one is buried, and then they get interested and drawn in," he said. "They always come around eventually." Goldstein appeared at the El Segundo Author Fair in June, and the lively question-and-answer period at the end of the panel discussion revealed that people either have a story to tell or a question about who's buried where.
Goldstein is working on the next book, "Son of Graveside Companion," that covers more of Inglewood Cemetery and includes Woodlawn and Westlake Village Cemeteries, plus updates and a few essays.
He's also on the lookout for one more grave, that of Thomas Ince, a filmmaker and studio head who built the studio that is now Culver Studios. "He is known as the father of the western. He died aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst, was briefly buried at Hollywood Cemetery, then dug up and reburied," Goldstein said. "The day we find him will be very exciting."
Find the book
"L.A.'s Graveside Companion: Where the V.I.P.s R.I.P." is available at www.beneathlosangeles.com, on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble in the California section.
Thank you, Annie, and thank you Readers!
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