When the founder of Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale first came to see the site in the 1910s, San Fernando Road was "an unpaved road where vehicles mired down when it rained and sank deep in dust when it didn't," writes Ralph Hancock in his book The Forest Lawn Story. One of the earliest West Coast sellers of the pre-need burial plot, Forest Lawn grew under the guidance of its founder Hubert Eaton into what has famously been referred to as "Disneyland for the dead." (Appropriate then that Walt Disney ended up there.) The lush grounds, the churches that are copies of churches elsewhere, the emphasis on fine art and sculptures were all Eaton's idea, as he sought to make his cemetery a place that took the edge off of death for the surviving friends and family of the deceased.
Eaton saw himself as The Builder, according to Hancock, and believed that it was his duty to make Forest Lawn a place where people could celebrate the lives of those who have died; he came down hard on tombstones, which he saw as gloomy, and set his sights on making the "memorial park" a place of beauty. His idea, says Hancock, was that after all the plots were sold out, the place could still make some money by opening to the public, who, for a fee, could come and enjoy Forest Lawn's "art and architectural treasures."
Eaton's philosophy was lampooned in Evelyn Waugh's novel The Loved One, but the popularity of the cemetery with the rich and famous says that, ridiculous or not, it's a desirable place to end up. Forest Lawn is known among celebrity grave-seekers as very unfriendly to snoopers hoping to find Michael Jackson's tomb or take a picture next to Walt Disney's grave. Celebrity grave-finding website Seeing Stars notes that not only does the staff not help out by providing maps or verbal directions, but "they can be downright hostile at times" to celebrity grave hunters. Maybe the next best thing to getting yelled at by a Forest Lawn staffer for trying to find Clark Gable's final real estate is this map, showing where the biggest stars in the cemetery are eternally resting.