We just finished a two week stay at an RV park in Acton, California where the winds and threat of wildfires were a constant worry. Acton is located about forty miles northeast of Los Angeles. The Santa Ana winds were fierce, blowing dust and dirt which left us with itchy eyes and everything covered in dust. We kept a very close eye on the California wildfires and thankfully we remained safe. We had an emergency plan and stayed ready to leave quickly if we got the word. My dear friend in Paradise lost her home and everything they owned in the fire. Sara and I taught together in Charlottesville many years ago. Bill and I visited Sara and her sweet family in Paradise just seven months ago. Now the entire town is gone and the citizens are trying to pick up the pieces. The fires in Paradise and Malibu made us nervous, watchful and diligent.
In spite of all this we did manage to get into Los Angeles for some fun. One day we drove in to see a taping of the TV show “Last Man Standing” at CBS Studios in Studio City. (Even though it is shown on Fox television, it is filmed at CBS Studios). During the drive we could see smoke from the Malibu fires in the distance.
Since the taping wasn’t until 6:00 P.M. we had time to first go by Forest Lawn Cemetery at Hollywood Hills. The cemetery is huge with different sections, including an area with a statue of George Washington and a replica of the Old North Church in Boston.
We found the plaque describing the statue particularly interesting. It said, “Washington wears the uniform of the army he had led through six bitter years of war. In the midst of battle his fearless example inspired his men. When hunger stalked his weary troops he shared their lot. When his own officers betrayed him he fought on so that generals from nations across the sea came one by one to serve him proudly. And at last God granted his prayers for victory and peace. The seated figures represent the forces that shaped his life: oppression, revolution, victory and the return to peace symbolized by Cincinnatus, the citizen soldier. The portrait busts are those of Washington’s finest generals: The Marquis De Lafayette, Benjamin Lincoln, Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox.”
Many famous people are buried there but we had limited time so we only had time to find a few headstones. Among them was Gene Autry, Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher who are buried together, Stan Laurel, Liberace, John Ritter and Telly Savalas. If you are interested in what any of these grave markers look like we are posting those pictures at the end of this blog.
After grabbing a quick early dinner we headed to the studio. Four years ago we went to a taping of “Last Man Standing” and a high school friend of mine was a writer on the show. She was able to get us VIP tickets with great seats, and even though she is no longer a writer on the show, I contacted her and once again she got us VIP tickets. Even though it is only a thirty minute show, the taping took two and a half hours since each scene was shot at least twice. In recognition of the very early dinner we had before the show, halfway through the taping they served everyone in the audience a slice of pizza! Unfortunately they do not allow cell phones or cameras in the studio so we have no pictures to share. It was a fun experience and since it was 9:00 P.M. by the time we got on the road toward home, the worst of the rush hour had passed!
The museum explores the history of the American West. It has more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts including the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant in the United States.
Admission to the museum is free the second Tuesday of each month and we were lucky to visit on that day. Of particular interest to Bill was the extensive gun collection, though not as extensive as the one at the Cody Museum in Cody, Wyoming.
Many Colt revolvers were especially engraved for presidents. The pistol below was made for President Reagan.
We really liked a mural called “Spirits of the West” with famous people such as Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Marshall Dillon, Teddy Roosevelt, Gene Autry, Clint Eastwood and John Wayne to name just a few.
We also visited Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, a small cemetery tucked into a corner of a busy urban area. The cemetery is so hidden from view it is hard to find and we actually had to ask a local where the entrance was located. There we found the graves of Marilyn Monroe, Don Knotts, Eddie Albert, Eva Gabor, Dean Martin, Merv Griffin, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Donna Reed, Carroll O’Connor, Walter Matthau, Burt Lancaster, Bob Crane, Peter Falk, Florence Henderson, Jim Backus and Brian Keith. We were really struck by the simplicity of most of these graves of very famous people. We especially loved Don Knotts headstone!
Next up: more sightseeing fun in the LA area