Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)

Forest Lawn Memorial Park is a privately owned cemetery in Glendale, California, United States. It is the original and current flagship location of Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries, a chain of six cemeteries and four additional mortuaries in Southern California.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Forest Lawn's Great Mausoleum
Coordinates34.125°N 118.240°W / 34.125; -118.240 (Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale)
Owned byForest Lawn
Size300 acres
No. of graves250,000+
No. of interments250,000+
Find a GraveForest Lawn Memorial Park


Forest Lawn Memorial Park was founded in 1906 as a not-for-profit cemetery by a group of businessmen from San Francisco. Dr. Hubert Eaton and C. B. Sims entered into a sales contract with the cemetery in 1912. Eaton took over the management of the cemetery in 1917. Although Eaton did not start Forest Lawn Cemetery, he is credited as being the "Founder" of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park for his innovations of establishing the "memorial-park plan" (eliminating upright grave markers and bringing in works by established artists) and being the first to open a funeral home on dedicated cemetery grounds. Eaton was a firm believer in a joyous life after death. He was convinced that most cemeteries were "unsightly, depressing stoneyards" and pledged to create one that would reflect his optimistic, Christian beliefs, "as unlike other cemeteries as sunshine is unlike darkness." He envisioned Forest Lawn to be "a great park devoid of misshapen monuments and other signs of earthly death, but filled with towering trees, sweeping lawns, splashing fountains, beautiful statuary, and ... memorial architecture."[1] A number of plaques which state Eaton's intentions are signed "The Builder." Frederick Llewellyn, Eaton's nephew, became CEO of Forest Lawn in 1966. In 1987 he was succeeded by his son, John Llewellyn, who is the current Chairman of Forest Lawn.[2]

Most of its burial sections have evocative names, including Eventide, Babyland (for infants, shaped like a heart), Graceland, Inspiration Slope, Slumberland (for children and adolescents), Sweet Memories, Whispering Pines, Vesperland, Borderland (on the edge of the cemetery), and Dawn of Tomorrow.

The original Forest Lawn participated in racial segregation and "for decades refused entrance to blacks, Jews, and Chinese".[3]

Forest Lawn Museum

The Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale was founded in 1957 and displays art, artifacts and also regularly hosts rotating fine art exhibits. The museum has hosted solo exhibitions for Henri Matisse,[4] Winslow Homer,[5] Ian Hornak,[6][7] Francisco Goya,[8] Rembrandt, Marc Davis[9] and Reuben Nakian[10] among many others.

The objects in Forest Lawn's permanent collection represent specific locations and peoples from around the world. There are sections for India, Africa, the Middle East, East and Southeast Asia, the United States, South America, Australia and Europe. Perhaps the most famous object owned by Forest Lawn's permanent collection is William Bouguereau's 1881 painting Song of the Angels, regarded as one of the most important examples of Bouguereau's work in the United States.

The permanent collection also includes one of the largest and most well respected stained glass collections in North America with over 1000 pieces primarily from France and Germany dating from 1200 A.D. through the present. The stained glass collection includes portions of William Randolph Hearst's former collection and works by Albrecht Dürer and Viet Hirsvogel the Elder. The Museum also houses Western bronze sculptures, Italian marble statues, American historical artifacts, paintings, world cultural artifacts, and one of the Easter Island statues (mo'ai), rescued from the bottom of a boat where it was used as ballast. It is named "Henry". These art pieces are put in storage or hidden behind temporary walls when a special display is on site.

Statuary and art

The six Forest Lawn cemeteries contain about 1,500 statues, about 10% of which are reproductions of famous works of art. Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper has been recreated in stained glass in the Memorial Court of Honor at the Glendale location ‘in vibrant, glowing and indestructible colors.’ There are also a number of full-sized reproductions of other Renaissance sculptures, including Michelangelo's David and Moses. This cemetery is the only place containing a complete collection of replica Michelangelo sculptures, which were made from castings taken from the originals and use marble sourced from the original quarries in Carrara, Italy.

Some of the inspiration at Forest Lawn Glendale is patriotic rather than pious, such as the Court of Freedom, with its large mosaic of John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence and a 13-foot (4.0 m)-tall statue of George Washington. On display in the "Hall of the Crucifixion" is the panoramic painting by the Polish artist Jan Styka entitled The Crucifixion. It is the largest permanently mounted religious painting in the world, measuring 195 feet (59 m) in length by 45 feet (14 m) in height. The main gates of Forest Lawn Glendale are claimed to be the world's largest wrought iron gates.[11]


Forest Lawn Glendale has three non-denominational chapels: "The Little Church of the Flowers", "The Wee Kirk o’ the Heather" and "The Church of the Recessional", which are all exact replicas of famous European churches. Over 60,000 people have been married here, including Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman.

More than 250,000 people are buried at Forest Lawn Glendale, and over a million people visit it each year.

Forest Lawn's 300 acres (1.2 km2) of intensely landscaped grounds and thematic sculptures were the inspiration for the biting commentary of Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel The Loved One and Jessica Mitford's acerbic The American Way of Death. Many commentators have considered Forest Lawn to be a unique American creation, and perhaps a uniquely maudlin Los Angeles creation, with its "Disneyland-type theme park" approach to death.

Great Mausoleum

The Great Mausoleum was fashioned after Campo Santo in Genoa, Italy and contains many of the most highly sought after interment places within Forest Lawn Glendale. Within the portion of the Great Mausoleum accessible to the general public is the Court of Honor where individuals are inducted as "Immortals" by Forest Lawn's Council of Regents. The rest of the structure is protected by cameras and is closed to the public unless they have a "loved one" interred here. Time magazine described it as the "New World's Westminster Abbey". In 2009 Forest Lawn Glendale became the focus of intense media interest surrounding the private interment of Michael Jackson in the privacy of Holly Terrace in the Great Mausoleum.[12][13][14][15]

Notable interments

See also


  1. Llewellyn, John F. (2018). Birth of a Cemetery: Forest Lawn Memorial-Park,Tropico Press, Glendale. ISBN 9780966580174.
  2. Llewellyn, John F. (1998). A Cemetery Should Be Forever, p. xviii. Tropico Press, Glendale. ISBN 0-9665801-2-5.
  3. Ehrenreich, Ben (1 November 2010). "The End. - Features". Los Angeles Magazine. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. "Matisse creates poetry in motion". tribunedigital-glendalenews-press. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  5. "Winslow Homer Engravings on Display". tribunedigital-glendalenews-press. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  6. Poundstone, William (18 June 2012). "Ian Hornak at Forest Lawn". Blouinartinfo. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  7. "Welcome to the Official Website of the Ian Hornak Foundation". Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  8. "Art Review: Editorial etchings". tribunedigital-burbankleader. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  9. "Hitting the Marc". tribunedigital-glendalenews-press. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  10. "Around Town". Glendale News-Press. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  11. "Entrance Gates (Forest Lawn)". Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  12. "In a Private Service, Last Goodbyes for Jackson". The New York Times. 3 September 2009.
  13. "Michael Jackson tomb remains a mystery". The Associated Press. 4 September 2009.
  14. "Michael Jackson - No one is forgetting". TMZ. 8 November 2009.
  15. "Michael Jackson's Family Drops Extra Security At His Tomb". Radar Online. 29 March 2010.

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