Forest Lawn was founded in 1917 by Dr. Hubert Eaton, a firm believer in a joyous life after death, who was convinced that most cemeteries were "unsightly, depressing stoneyards," and pledged to create one that would reflect his optimistic 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..."
Forest Lawn's 300 acres (1.2 km²) of intensely landscaped grounds and thematic sculpture 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. Its sections include Eventide, Babyland, Graceland, Inspiration Slope, Slumberland, Sweet Memories, Vesperland, and Dawn of Tomorrow. Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper has been recreated in stained glass in the Court of Honour ‘in vibrant, glowing and indestructible colors.’ There are three non-sectarian chapels, ‘The Little Church of the Flowers,’ ‘The Wee Kirk o’ the Heather’ and ‘The Church of the Recessional. Over 60,000 people have actually been married here (including Ronald Reagan, who wed Jane Wyman at the "Wee Kirk o' the Heather" in 1940). Regis Philbin has also been married at Forest Lawn. A quarter of a million people are buried at Forest Lawn; there are over a million visitors each year including thousands of local schoolchildren on field trips.
Some of the inspiration at Forest Lawn is patriotic rather than pious, such as the Court of Freedom, with its large mosaic of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, and a 13 ft (4 m) high statue of George Washington.
The Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery is a second park solely dedicated to the preservation of American history.
The main gates of Forest Lawn - Glendale (above, right), claimed to be the world's largest wrought-iron gates, are located at 1712 S. Glendale Avenue, Glendale, California.
Interred here are many of the pioneers of the American motion picture industry. As well, Forest Lawn is the final resting place for numerous celebrities and entertainers from what is referred to as Hollywood's Golden Age.
Some final resting places, such as those of Humphrey Bogart and Mary Pickford, are secluded in private gated gardens, with no entry for the public.
Some of the people interred or entombed at Forest Lawn are listed here (those in non-public areas marked †):
Lucien Andriot, cinematographer
†Theda Bara (1885-1955), pioneer actress, leading "Vamp" star