Hollywood Forever

Wandering through Hollywood Forever cemetery on Easter Sunday, past the DeMille family plot, I came across two guys–one English, the other an Angeleno–deep in conversation about Sidney Bechet. Sidney’s not in Hollywood Forever–he’s interred somewhere in France, I think–so why they were talking about him I have no idea, but delighted, I joined in. We talked about what a great soprano saxophonist he was, and what a hellraiser, and what a lousy shot. The French adored him, the Englishman said. But they put him in jail, I said. Yeah, he said, but they also raised him a statue. We laughed. A grieving family around a fresh grave gave us the evil eye. We moved on. More jazz talk. I let drop I’d been a columnist. I know where all the bodies are buried, I said. Well, they were buried everywhere. It’s a cemetery. I did show them where Art Pepper’s ashes lay, in the mausoleum. We talked about what a great alto saxophonist he was, and what a hellraiser, and how he got jail but no statue. I dropped Laurie Pepper’s name, just to be hip. It echoed in the marble corridors. Outside on the lawn again, we passed show biz people on location for their very last scene. There’s Mickey Rooney, I said. There’s Fay Raye. And there are the Fairbanks, at the end of that long reflecting pool. We stood at its edge, reflecting. Are there any Barrymores in the cemetery, the Englishman asked. Are you kidding, I said. They wouldn’t be caught dead here.

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