Saturday, September 1, 2007

Lana's Final Resting Place

I had wanted to visit Lana's resting place earlier, but I couldn't work out the time. After working on clients in the morning, I found the address online and got dressed to go. I was hoping Mr. Sprocket would go with me, but he had to work in this gawd awful heat earlier in the day and was in no mood to leave the comfort of our central air conditioning. So I went alone, arriving around 4:00pm.

Lana resides at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in the Columbarium Rotunda attached to the Chapel. The cemetery grounds are lush and stately. Right as you enter the cemetery, off to the right there is a building that houses the flower shop and connected to that is the Chapel. You enter the Columbarium through the chapel. It's a small Chapel with wood pews and lots of natural light. At first, I could not find how to get into the Columbarium, because there were floor to ceiling drapes pulled across the rear wall where the doorway is, as if the room had been set up for a service. I was on my own, and it took a bit of searching to discover the entrance.

Once I pulled the drapes aside I saw the solid glass and polished wood trimmed double doors. I opened them as softly as I could and slowly entered. As you enter the Columbarium, the first thing that strikes you in the cool atrium like space, is the light that comes from the many arched windows in the far reaches of the dome. Through a large keyhole in the second floor, the natural light illuminates down on an impressive six foot tall fountain, adorned with cascading ivy. Looking down, I could see fat goldfish swimming inside the large round base. The plaque on the pedestal nearby tells the statue's history.

Morning, Noon, & Night 1928
The statuary of the three nymphs was created for the opening of the Columbarium Rotunda in the 1920's. The sculptors model was acclaimed actress Louise Fazenda.

Louise Fazenda 1896-1962.
Beyond her bathing beauty status, she was known as a wacky comedienne with odd costumes and make up. Her career began in early silent comedies for Mack Sennett and Universal's Joker Unit.

There was more on her career as an actress, but I didn't have time to copy it all. Written at the top edge opening of the keyhole space in the center of the room is the following phrase:

Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, share with me my beloved, this eternal light... MCMXXVIII

Off to the left are the stairs to the second floor. As I climbed the stairs my heart felt heavy, and my eyes started to well up with tears. Halfway up on the landing is a large easel holding a stone plaque engraved with a large tree and the following inscription:

"Show me the manner in which a Nation or community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals." GLADSTONE

As I reach the top of the steps, the circular space is awash in light. So revered and serene, this is one of the most peaceful places I've ever experienced. Even though tears are running down my face, a sense of calm overcomes me. It is quite fitting for Lana to be resting in such a space. Scattered throughout, there are several towering ficus trees and other plants as well as carved wood benches with soft cushions on which to sit. On the wall to my right, at about chest height, is Lana's glassed in niche. I am grateful that on the bench in front of Lana's niche is a box of tissues because I need them. One of the largest memorials in the room, the walls of the case are lined on each side with Lana's favorite leopard print fabric. Outside, it is adorned with fresh orchids and roses on each side, as well as a large bouquet of sunflowers and gladiolas on the floor. On each side of the bouquet are potted orchids and a little winged angel statue sits in front. The niche is surrounded by cards from loved ones, and reading the messages I become even more emotional.

You are dearly missed.

Have a great time in heaven.

I love you and miss you a lot.

I miss you Lana.

Not a day goes by and sometimes this warm feeling comes over me and I know you're guiding my career.

Miss you dearly.

Thank you for being our Angel. I know your looking out for me.

Inside Lana's niche is a large blow up of the photo that we often saw up on the Elmo during the trial. She's smiling, laughing, looking like a care free spirit in that striped top. In the center is her white urn, adorned with cherubs. Also inside the niche are fresh orchids, one of Lana's business cards, a winged angel statue, many photos of her as well as the printed program from her memorial service. On the right wall of the case, is a large reproduction print of an advertisement for her "Lana Unleashed" video and on the left, a collection of images of Lana.

Although many of the niches on the upper floor have yet to be filled, Lana does have company in three of the four smaller cases on each side of her. To the left is an artist and in the case above that, photos of an Asian man, unidentified. To the right, a rock guitarist. I admire Lana's memorial until closing time. On the drive home, I call dini to share with her my experience, and in describing the Columbarium Rotunda, I start to cry all over again.

If you ever get a chance to come to Hollywood, I highly recommend visiting Lana's niche, to breathe in the beautiful space and pay your respects. For me, it was a memorable experience.


Sprocket said...

Here is a post that I had to edit a bit from a Court TV reader:

You are to be commended for the work you are doing to chronicle the Phil Spector trial. I must admit, I got caught up in this trial almost at the beginning, and have not been able to "get free" of it. Frankly, I will be very glad when it is over, so I can get back to some other things I want to do. Though I am retired, and should have plenty of time, this "watching of the trial" and taking part in the Message Board at CTV, has really been cutting into other activities that I should be devoting time to.

Mainly, just wanted to say Hi, and tell you that I could never be a trial watcher, such as yourself.

Good luck in all your writing and your trial watching. I've done a little writing myself, but never on this subject.

barskin said...

Thank you for that beautiful and moving description of Lana's niche. I live in Boston and am unlikely to be able to see it myself, so I truly appreciate your online tour.