Elizabeth Taylor

Liz Taylor graveBorn in London, England on February 27, 1932, Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of a movie star. She had beauty, glamour, a celebrity lifestyle and an enormous talent.

She was a child actress, performing in National Velvet at the age of 12 before moving on to adult roles such as A Place in the Sun at age 20 and winning an Oscar for BUtterfield 8 at age 28. Considering she was never professionally trained in acting, her skills were exceptional. Though many critics wondered if anyone as beautiful as Elizabeth Taylor could also be talented, she could play a vixen, a wounded victim or a melodramatic heroine. It seemed she had to prove her abilities all her life.

Her next film, Cleopatra, would change her life. She received $1 million for that film (the first actress to do so), and she met Richard Burton, who played Mark Anthony. They began a tempestuous relationship, causing them to marry and divorce twice and their lives would be forever bound together, some would say.

Of her seven husbands, Burton was “the love of her life.” She even said that had he not died, she probably would have married him a third time.

Taylor was dogged by the paparazzi, but she existed for her fans. Her private life played out in the magazines and scandal pages. But behind all that press was a star with a sense of morality, even though she habitually married her lovers. People remarked that she became “Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky.”

cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof_babed93bShe said once, “I’ve been lucky all my life. Everything was handed to me. Looks, fame, wealth, honors, love. I rarely had to fight for anything.”

But she did have her share of misfortune. Richard Burton died before his time and Michael Todd (her third husband), died in a plane crash at 48.

She struggled with alcohol and an overeating problem. Juggling five doctors, she managed hundreds of antidepressant and painkiller prescriptions which sent her to Betty Ford. Plus she suffered at least 70 incidents requiring hospitalization.

But she didn’t need to make movies to make money and influence the public. She marketed her own perfume and made millions. She raised nearly $300 million for AIDS and was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth II honored her with a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (an honor on the level of knighthood).

Taylor was also known for her love of jewels and her remarkable collection was the most valuable jewelry collection ever. When it was sold at Christie’s it brought in $156,756,576 and every single item sold. It generated intense interest from bidders throughout the world.

On March 23, 2011 she died of congestive heart failure. At her request, the funeral began 15 fashionable minutes late because she stated she wanted to be late for her own funeral. She’s buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif. In the Hall of Memory you’ll see a 12-foot-high, Michelangelo-like carved statue of an angel with arms outstretched, beneath which is the crypt of Elizabeth Taylor.



Susan Hayward

Hayward graveSusan Hayward died March 14, 1975 at age 57. She was born Edythe Marrenner on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York.

She attended public school and a commercial high school and had plans on becoming a secretary. Edythe started doing some modeling work for photographers in the New York area and by 1937 her beauty was in full bloom. She went to Hollywood when the nationwide search was on for someone to play the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.

Although she lost out to Vivien Leigh, she went on to carve out her future in Hollywood. She landed some bit parts, but in 1939 she landed the part of Isobel Rivers in Beau Geste. She went on to play Millie Perkins in Among the Living in 1941. She continued to receive movie roles and in 1947 she received the first of five Academy Award nominations for her portrayal of Angelica Evans in Smash Up: The Story of a Woman. Unfortunately, she did not win the Oscar.

She continued to come close to winning an Oscar until 1959 when she did win for Best Actress in a Leading Role for I Want to Live! She also won a Golden Globe for the same movie, and she earned her star on the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960 at 6251 Hollywood Blvd.

stolen-hoursIn 1973, Susan discovered she had a brain tumor. The same affliction that her character had in a movie she appeared in entitled The Stolen Hours.

Hayward eventually died of brain cancer. She’s buried at the Cemetery of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Carrolton, Georgia. You can’t miss her grave in the Chalkey plot with the elaborate curved stone headwall.


Ever wonder why people (or friends and acquaintances) want to visit cemeteries when they’re on vacation? Well there’s a word for those kind of people. It’s Taphophile and I’m a self-confessed one and have been since I lived across the street from a rather large cemetery when I was growing up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

It was a short cut and I never hesitated to take it. I found the graves, the headstones and the larger mausoleums extremely interesting and the peace and quiet of the property welcoming.

The interest has never stopped. If I’m driving and I pass a cemetery that looks interesting, I stop and wander in. If I’m on vacation I’ll look up where some of the cemeteries are and if some celebrities are buried there.

I have a Pinterest page entitled “Unique Cemeteries and Gravestones” with over 2,000 pins and over 300 followers. During some weeks, it garners me over 100 pins or more. Cemeteries and gravestones are a very popular subject.

My father always told me that there are two things you could always make money doing: being an undertaker or a grocer, because people have to eat and people are going to die.

But I digress, because the reason I’m writing this is to introduce my new column about Taphophile. I’ve accumulated several books on the subject and I’m going to post a regular column about someone “famous” who’s died, how they died, perhaps something ironic about their death, where their grave is located and, other interesting tidbits about their death.

I sincerely hope you enjoy it and if you have questions or comments, please post them.