There is a secluded cemetery in Los Angeles tucked away in an area known as Westwood Village. The neighborhood is home to UCLA and Holmbly Hills. Tens of thousands of people drive by on their way to Beverly Hills, or Bel-Air completely unaware of the hidden memorial park. Popular restaurants and classic movie houses (along the iconic Sunset Blvd.) attract thousands of visitors just yards away from the historic spot.
Quite a number of celebrities and movie stars are buried in Southern California due to the fact that they lived and died in Los Angeles. Tourists come to L.A. just to see the grave site of their favorite actor/actress — many of whom are interred at Forest Lawn.
There is only one entrance to Westwood Village Memorial Park, and you could drive by and not even know it was there. But if you’re looking for the crypt of Marilyn Monroe you won’t find it at Forest Lawn. That’s right … Monroe was buried at Westwood Village.
Strolling through the park you’ll discover the final resting place for a number of Hollywood notables:
Truman Capote, Donna Reed, Eve Arden, Eva Gabor, Walter Matthau, Don Knotts, Mel Torme, Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, Roy Orbison, Carroll O’Conner, Jack Lemmon, Bob Crane and George C. Scott.
It’s an odd feeling to be standing at the graveside of people who were once bigger than life — and now they lay as dust under the soles of your feet. I am haunted by memories of the uncounted hours spent watching my favorite movies over and over again.
There was a caretaker polishing the marker at Marilyn Monroe’s crypt. The marble had been discolored by thousands of palm prints and kisses. (Or think of the millions of fans who visit Graceland to worship Elvis Presley.) We idolized these people.
I heard a pastor this week speak of the idolatry of entertainment. Said the pastor, “Entertainment is idolatry. It is a diversion — an escape from reality.”
Your television can be an idol. How much time do we spend in front of the TV? At the movies? On the computer? Whatever diverts our attention from God can be an idol. It could be music, sports or social media. Honestly, do we give as much time to the Lord?
I love movies. I could watch TCM all day. That’s why I don’t have cable TV. The world does not want you to spend quality time with God. It’s so much easier to turn on the television than open the Bible. If only we had spent all that time learning about Jesus …
Will Marilyn Monroe be in heaven? That is a judgment for God to make. There is one who overcame death — one who escaped the tomb. You won’t find his remains on earth nor did he undergo decay (Psalm 16:10). He sits at the right hand of the Father with outstretched arms if only you will receive him.
The grave is an ignoble end for a man, or woman. But we know that physical death is only a release of the soul and, for a Christian, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
First century Christians (Jews) celebrated Christ’s resurrection every day. Of course, they weren’t distracted by 24-hour movie channels. How refined we have become to observe the victory of life one day a year (Easter). Even then we are distracted by colored eggs and chocolate bunnies.
With regards to those buried at Westwood I can only offer this — there will be no classic films in heaven. All the works of the flesh shall be burned up at the coming of the Lord. If we can’t spend 5 minutes a day with God then how do we expect to spend an eternity with Him?
All else is vanity — all else is idolatry. (See Ecclesiastes 2.)
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