A Hollywood Visit
The most I ever laughed in a cemetery was in December 2011. I remember it well because a few days later my father died.
The eccentric oddball that I am, on a Disneyland vacation with my two youngest sons, Jack and Brady, I took them to Hollywood first. Talk about weirdos, they were all out on the Hollywood Walk of Fame between Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Wax Museum.
Batman, The Flash, a John Wayne Gacy Clown, a Dracula, and a Pokemon character I’d never heard of, were hustling to pose for cameras and pandering for dollars.
Then we went by the Westwood Mann Theater where in 2007, I interviewed Justin Timberlake, Mike Meyers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Julie Andrews, Tippi Hedron, Antonio Banderas, Selena Gomez, and others at the red carpet premiere of the Shrek the Third movie.
After a bite nearby, I drove us to one of my favorite LA destinations, the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary.
The intent was to show reverence and respect for entertainment history. I explained who baseball great Joe DiMaggio was and how each week, until he died, had red roses sent to Marilyn Monroe’s resting place.
It was DiMaggio, her ex-husband, who was responsible for Monroe’s funeral arrangements in 1962. He selected Westwood Cemetery because it was the gravesites location of her mother’s friend, Grace Goddard, and Goddard’s aunt, Ana Lower, both of whom had cared for Monroe as a child.
Near her crypt was Dean Martin’s, who I vividly recalled seeing perform at the Las Vegas MGM (now Ballys) Hotel Celebrity Theater in 1986.
One of the primary reasons I want to visit this cemetery is to pay respects to one of my favorite singers Roy Orbison. On this occasion I was upset because after 23 years since his death, there was still not a headstone. Because there was none before, I made a note to identify his site beforehand. Beside his grave was a newly buried site that I found out later was his wife Barbara Orbison, who passed away just two weeks before. I wonder if there’s a tombstone now?
Both sons were unexpectedly intrigued as we walked among the gravesites of television stars like Don Knotts (they knew who he was), Carroll O’Connor, Robert Stack, Bob Crane, Brian Keith, Farrah Fawcett, Sebastian Cabot, Jack Klugman, Merv Griffin, Peter Falk, Eddie Albert, Jonathan Harris and Jim Backus.
Movie stars Burt Lancaster, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Donna Reed, Janet Leigh, Karl Maldin, Eva Gabor and James Coburn.
They were especially curious about the tragic deaths of Natalie Wood, Dorothy Stratten, Heather O’Rourke, Dominique Dunne, and Victor Kilian.
Music entertainers are Beachboy Carl Wilson, Janis Joplin, Mel Torme, Minnie Riperton, Frank Zappa, Buddy Rich, Peggy Lee, Ray Conniff, and Les Brown.
Notable authors and writers included Truman Capote, Ray Bradbury, Robert Block, Jackie Collins, Harry Essex, Ariel and Will Durant.
Seeing the marker for comedian
Fanny Brice (later, Tim Conway would be laid there) made me smile.
We remained respectful and solemn until we walked by the gravesite of the man born Jacob Cohen, who later legally changed his name to Jack Roy.
The tombstone was etched “RODNEY DANGERFIELD.” The epitaph reads “THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD.”
Amongst the peaceful chirping of birds in gently waving trees, amid the serenity and beauty of that well manicured cemetery, I roared with laughter.
Hilariously funny in life, Rodney remains funny after death. Rodney passed away on October 5, 2004 in Los Angeles.
In tribute to him, here are some of Rodney Dangerfield’s memorable one-liners:
My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.
I looked up my family tree and found three dogs using it.
I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her.
I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous – everyone hasn’t met me yet.
When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.
I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.
My mother had morning sickness after I was born.
What a dog I got, his favorite bone is in my arm.
When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.
My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet.
A bike in town keeps running me over….
….It’s a vicious cycle.
Is a cow that won’t give milk a milk dud….
….or an udder failure?
I’m so good at sleeping….
….I can do it with my eyes closed.
I took a video of my shoe yesterday….
….It has some great footage.
Today at the bank, an old woman asked me to check her balance….
….so I pushed her over.
My wife says I’m absolutely useless at fixing appliances….
….Well, she’s in for a shock.
How many lawyers does it take to fill an ambulance?….
….I don’t know. No-one’s ever tried to save one.
A horse walks into a bar….
….The bartender says, ”Hey.”….
….The horse replies, “Sure.”
To improve my sex life I took Viagra and a bit of cannabis….
….I just ended up with stiff joints.
Two guys walk into a bar….
….The third one ducked
I’ve been watching women’s beach volleyball, and there was a wrist injury….
….but I should be okay by tomorrow
R.I.P. Rodney Dangerfield.
(November 22, 1921 – October 5, 2004)
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Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.