Contained within Hollywood Forever Cemetery are buried many famous American personalities and actors:
Mickey Rooney, Bugsy Siegel, Toto (the dog from the Wizard of Oz), Mel Blanc (what’s up Doc?), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Estelle Getty (Golden Girls), Rudolph Valentino, Anton Yelchin (new Stars Trek movies), Cecil B. DeMille, Judy Garland, George Harrison (Beatles), Darren McGavin (A Christmas Story), Fay Wray (King Kong) and Jane Mansfield.
In 1952, Hattie McDaniel, of Gone with the Wind fame, died. Despite her expressed wish, the owner of the cemetery would not allow the first African American to win an Academy Award to be buried in Hollywood Forever. It was segregated. As of 1999, there is, however, a cento graph to Hattie McDaniel but she is still buried elsewhere.
In 1925, the Confederate Monument Association of Los Angeles along with the local chapter of United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) erected a 6 foot monument on land they purchased from the cemetery. In addition, over thirty individual burial plots surrounding the monument were also purchased for relatives of members of the UDC or Confederate Veterans and their families.
In the summer of 2017, a change.org petition called for the removal of the monument claiming that “…history has looked back and determined the Confederacy’s racist and bigoted actions as traitorous; there is no reason to celebrate them.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti weighed in and said, “public Confederate memorials I think have no place in our nation any more than you would put up a memorial to other acts of hate or division in this country. “
Tyler Cassity, president and co owner of the cemetery, told a local news agency concerning the cemetery’s position on the status of the Confederate monument, “Not only is it private property but it’s private property within private property with bodies buried there to be remembered. So to erase a part of their past, regardless of whatever personal feelings I have, professionally, I can’t do that.”
The monument read, “In Memory of the soldiers of the Confederate States Army who have died or may die on the Pacific Coast”. A quotation from Rudyard Kipling highlighted the plaque attached to the monument. “Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget –lest we forget”
On August 15, 2017, the word ‘No” was painted onto the monument. Shortly thereafter, it was covered and removed by the UDC. A spokeswoman for the Long Beach Chapter of the UDC explained the decision, “I was afraid to leave it overnight. Those calling for the monument’s removal are erasing history.” Cassity, the cemetery president, helped clarify by saying “the Daughters are a benevolent organization and don’t want to be part of the uproar. “ He added, “Some people said to him ‘If you don’t take it down, we will’. I understand everyone’s frustration but I really felt like it wasn’t our right to remove the monument. It’s kind of against what we’re supposed to be doing here, preserving history.”
Monique Edwards, who is an African American and a South Los Angeles resident commented, “Its removal was not fair and should not be done because it was an important historical reminder. “