Have you figured out that I enjoy visiting cemeteries? I think it started 40 years ago, we were newly married and on our way from Israel to the US. We stopped in Germany to visit a college friend of Joel who had recently married a German woman. In a small town near the Rhine, she took us to the local cemetery. She wanted to show us the little Holocaust memorial there. What struck me, was that the cemetery was full of Jewish names, but the town had no Jews. Since then I find myself walking through cemeteries – to learn about the history of a place.
So when an opportunity came up to visit Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, I signed up. This was another Atlas Obscura event.I am going to have to look into the concept of Mausoleum, it appears to be a big deal. Some people not wanting to be buried in the ground. These structures are beautiful. Here is the exterior, as you can see, there is a lot of stained glass.From the inside, looking out through the windows.There was also beautiful tile work, this building was constructed in the 20s’ decorative tiles were the rage in the LA area. No use asking our guide, he was more interested in the Hollywood connections. I didn’t even ask who made the stained glass. The historical society says the glass is from LA Art Glass companyI find it very interesting, people run to Europe to see this kind of beauty. It can be found here in Southern CA, in churches and also in mausoleums. This one was designed in 1925 by Cecil E. Bryan. His specialty was designing mausoleums, and this is his crown jewel, he is buried here. This was the most expensive structure built in the LA area at the time. It shows, they used a lot of expensive materials. Some more examples of the glass. I know that spiritualism and communing with the dead was all the rage at the end of the 19th century. Is that why mausoleums became popular? Instead of returning the body to the earth, were they hoping to preserve the body in a beautiful temple in hopes that they could reunite the body and the spirit? I have no idea, just speculations on my part. A new wing was added in the 80s, guess who made the glass, yup, my buddies over at Judson Studios. One of the reason I love stained glass so much is that light is so much a part of the artwork. This artwork is in the Chapel of the Pasadena Mausoluem. Btw, these were separate from the cemetery. At some point Mountain View acquired both. The famous person buried in here is George Reeves, Superman from the 1950s TV show.
Our guide, Denny is also an actor and funeral director. His interest is in Hollywood, so he informed us of all kinds of filming that happens here. The mortuary built two large coroner examination rooms, sets for the movies. It costs a lot of money to maintain a cemetery, being close to LA, this is a perfect revenue source. They also have a fake grave out on the grounds that is often used for filming. No pictures, sorry.The cemetery is also beautiful. Sure, a lot of the grass isn’t as green as poeple might like. It is a combination of tombstones above ground and flush with the ground. It’s not cohesive like Forest Lawn, but not as haphazard as Evergreen.Of course, famous people are buried here, probably one of the most famous is physicist Richard Feynman. We can probably thank The Big Bang Theory for that. This is where Joel found out about him. So yes, the episode of the gang visiting his grave, probably was filmed right here at his grave. You’ll notice, plain and simple.Another famous person, Octavia was a local girl who grew up here in Altadena. Although when she died she was living in Seattle, someone wanted her to rest back home.
Octavia became a science fiction writer in the 1970s, Harlan Ellison was her mentor. Parable of the Sower is probably one of the best distopian novels out there. It upsets me that in order to keep feminism alive – feminists feel they must erase the successful people of the past. Today they scream about few women in Science fiction, or in the gaming industry. In order to do so, they have to erase the likes of Octavia, because it disproves their point. Needless to say, I have no time or energy for grievence groups of any kind. Me, I prefer to celebrate the likes of Ocatavia.
For those who can’t make it in person, here is a 7 minute video filmed entirely in the Mausoluem, enjoy.