Hubert Eaton was the founder of Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in SouthernCalifornia. In fact, Eaton was responsible for revolutionizing the funeralindustry. He established what is now known as the “memorial park,”which just means that the gravestones are uniformly flush with the ground, togive it a more “park like” feel. He thought it made it less depressingthan regular bone-yards (it also cuts down on lawn mowing expenses). The”pre-need” program was another innovation. People could make their ownfuneral arrangements before they became necessary – basically meaning, “buynow, pay later.”
Hubert also tried something else that hadn’t been done before. He wooedcouples wishing to get married, to Forest Lawn’s horribly tacky reproductionchurches to exchange vows. Unbelievably, it worked (ask Ronald Reagan and JaneWyman), and by the time he died, over 50,000 weddings had been performed inthese locales.
Somewhere along the line, someone convinced this guy that he had good taste,and Eaton took it upon himself to invest in art. Sculptures, mosaics, even the”Garden of Mexican Heritage” graces the grounds of all the ForestLawns. Mostly it’s just crap reproductions. There’s a 25-foot statue ofMichaelangelo’s David in Forest Lawn Glendale, whereas Forest Lawn Covina hasthe “largest religious mosaic in the Western Hemisphere, measuring 172 feetby 35 feet. Only in America. Don’t even get me started on the “Last SupperWindow,” in the Great Mausoleum in Glendale. Okay, I will. It’s a hugestained glass replica of DaVinci’s Last Supper. Then they have this horriblepresentation of it, complete with unveiling, every half-hour, including thesupposedly eerie legend about the “Judas” glass breaking a few timesbefore the completion (dull stupid dull). The only thing good about the windowis that it gives us grave hunters a bit of time to have a gander at the famousgraves.
During his tenure at Forest Lawn, Huey lived at the end ofAlta Vista, inGlendale, just below the cemetery. I’ve never been to the house, but a person Ionce knew went in and said it had a secret passageway etc., but the reallyinteresting part was the incline/railway that ran uphill from his house toForest Lawn Glendale. Here’swhat’s left of it, near to that horrible Easterpainting exhibit/museum thing.
After he left active duty at Forest Lawn, Huey moved from his house onMission Road, to Beverly Hills. His house was located at 837Greenway Drive. Just around the corner from BugsySiegel’s death spot. It was in this house that Hubert bit the big one.
According to what I could gather, Hubert had been ill for quite some time. Hehad a bout with prostate cancer, as well as hardening of the arteries andosteosclerosis. Eventually the end came September 20, 1966, at 5pm. He developeda blood clot in his brain. Blammo. Done.
I know nothing of his memorial service, I’m sure his fellow cronies fromForest Lawn had a real shindig in one of the storybook churches at Glendale. Update Dec 99 – thanks to Bob Siler for this information:
Hubert Eaton’s funeral was held on September 26, andattended by 1000 business and cultural leaders including George Randolph Hearst,Joe E. Brown, Greer Garson, Ronald Reagan. Honorary pallbearers wereHerbert Hoover Jr. and Walt Disney. I swear to God. Richard Nixonwas invited to attend, but was busy doing something important.
The service was held in the Hall of the Crucifixion andResurrection, that gaudy ass place on thehill in Forest Lawn Glendale. Hundredsof employees lined the corridor. Here’s a direct quote from the paper:
“The ceremony began with an organ performance asForest Lawn’s 18 regents (directors) paraded to the front of the hall in flowingred robes and red sailor type caps. A tenor sang, “Ah, Sweet Mysteryof Life.”
This is the best part:
He was entombed in an elaborate ceremony in which hewas formally inducted as an Immortal of Forest Lawn Memorial Court ofHonor. Only five previously designated Immortals are entombed in theroom. They are Dr. Robert F. Millikan, Nobel Prize winning scientist,Carrie Jacobs Bond, the composer, Jan Styka that artist who painted the garish Crucifixionpainting housed in the building, Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of MountRushmore and Rufus B. Von Klein-Smid, former chancellor of the University ofSouthern California.
Probably all his poker buddies. Liquor in the front, poker in the rear.
Hubert is interred in the Great Mausoleum.He picked the prime spot for himself and family.
Trivia: In 1938, when they were making the film, “The Wizard ofOz,” some of the little people that were playing Munchkins in the film went on a day trip to Forest Lawn, Glendale.Herethey are.
The tiny one on the left is Nita Krebs, who played the littlest ballerina inthe Lullaby League.
More Trivia: Hubert Eaton searched for 25 years, and finally found an imageof Christ smiling, to go with all the other God awful crap they have in thosecemeteries.
I think Forest Lawn now train their employees at Stepford University, and areof no help whatsoever if you are searching for a well-known person’s grave. Ifyou ever want to make a Forest Lawn employee blow a circuit, go in to the officewith a camera, and DEMAND to know where Jimmy Stewart is buried. Go on, it’ll befun.