Hollywood loves a good story with a little tragedy and a happy ending, especially when it’s a true story. In their latest documentary “The Young and the Dead”, the married writer/director team of Robert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman (who’s previous work includes 1992’s “Velvet Elvis” & 1997’s “Off the Menu: The Last Days Of Chasen’s) give us an intruiging blend of Hollywood’s faded glory and the future of the death care experience.
Coincidentally, this film recently aired on HBO after an episode of “Six Feet Under”.
By the late 90s, Hollywood Memorial Cemetary, the final resting place of such screen icons as Rudolf Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Jayne Mansfield, was bankrupt and the grounds had fallen into serious disrepair. Enter Tyler Cassity, a young, man from the Midwest with movie star looks and a vision, who bought the cemetary at auction in 1998 for a mere $370K. Together with several childhood friends, the cemetary underwent a major overhaul and was renamed “Hollywood Forever”, with the infinity symbol as its logo. The grounds have been restored into a peaceful and lushly romantic place (one of the partners is shown rollerblading through the park and even has his wedding there). The business itself has been transformed into an interactive, state-of-the-art facility, where lucky loved ones can have a filmed biography created for a funeral, which will be added to Hollywood Forever’s “archive of human memories”. It seems Tyler Cassity and his team have been so successful with this venture, that the Hollywood Forever Cemetary was listed in L.A. Magazine’s “101 Most Sexy Places in L.A.”. And yes, they even have a gift shop!
Through rare photos, film clips, footage of public events, interviews with Cassity and his staff, as well as anecdotes from historians and cemetary “regulars”, we’re given an inside look at this truly unique place. The quirky and the curious can actually take an online virtual tour of the Hollywood Forever Cemetary.