The Funeral At Forest Lawn

"This beloved star made her entrances perfectly. She did not overplay. Fellow troupers, you don't have to call a second time for people like our beloved friend.Whenever there was a call, she always came; witness her U.S.O. experiences entertaining troops in Europe and Africa and the Pacific" ~ From Carole's eulogy

Carole's fans were shocked and saddened when she died on July, 5, 1948. Tragically she had taken her own life at the young age of 29. Her married lover Rex Harrison discovered her body in her Pacific Palisades home. On Saturday, July 10, Carole was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. The service was held at 12:30 PM at Forest Lawn's Church of the Recessional. The small chapel was filled with flowers including a cross made of white gardenias, Carole's favorite flower, and a large bouquet of roses from her former boss Darryl Zanuck. Dorothy Ross, Carole's sister, greeted mourners as they entered the church while her nine year old niece, Diane Carole, knelt by the coffin and cried. Clara Ridste, Carole's mother, was inconsolable. She sobbed throughout the funeral and was heard saying "Oh my baby, I'll pray for you, everyday". When she saw Carole in the coffin she was so overcome by grief that she fainted.

Bishop Fred L. Pyman

Cesar Romero and Eddie Sutherland

Carole's estranged husband Horace Schmidlapp, her brother Lawrence Ridste, and her father Alfred Ridste were also there. Alfred had a strained relationship with Carole and had not seen her in six years. Her close friends Cesar Romero and Pat O'Brien were pallbearers and they both cried during the funeral. Dick Haymes was supposed to be a pallbearer but he was delayed in Chicago. Dozens of Carole's friends attended the funeral including Van Johnson, her stand-in Florence Wasson, actor Willard Parker, and director Eddie Sutherland. Rex Harrison and his wife Lilli Palmer arrived at the cemetery with two bodyguards. Lilli wore a dark blue dress because she felt it was inappropriate to wear black to the funeral of her husband's mistress. The couple refused to look at Carole in her coffin and left the service early. Carole had been raised a Catholic but she was denied a Catholic burial because she had committed suicide.

Carole's coffin

Carole's mother and her niece Diane Carole

The service was conducted by Bishop Fred L. Pyman of the Evangelical Orthodox Church in Santa Monica. Fred L. Scott sang "The Lord's Prayer" and "In The Garden". Carole's mahogany coffin was lined with peach silk cushions. She was buried wearing her favorite blue beaded dress and her signature gold cross necklace. Her niece Sharon said that Carole looked so beautiful in her coffin she thought she was still alive. Carole had requested gardenias in her will but instead two blue orchids were pinned to her dress. A rosary and a bouquet of roses were placed in her hands. The roses had been sent by one of Carole's childhood friends. Her make-up was done by her longtime make-up artist Ben Nye. Thousands of fans came to the cemetery to watch the funeral. Many of them tried to get autographs from the celebrities who were there. Cesar Romero held onto Carole's mother to shield her from the emotional crowd. When the service was over the fans descended on Carole's grave and took all the flowers. Bishop Pyman said it was the most revolting thing he had ever seen.

Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer

Carole's grave at Forest Lawn

The epitaph on Carole's tombstone says "TO OUR BELOVED CAROLE WHOSE LOVE, GRACIOUSNESS AND KINDNESS TOUCHED US ALL - WHO WILL ALWAYS BE WITH US IN THE BEAUTIES IN THIS EARTH UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN". Many of Carole's relatives and fans still bring flowers to her grave on a regular basis. Forest Lawn is located at 1712 S. Glendale Avenue. The cemetery is open every day from 8AM until 5PM (6PM during the summer). Carole's grave is plot 814 in the Everlasting Love section. She is buried next to the curb at the top of the hill. It is across the street the Cathedral Slope section. Broadway actor Robert J. Montgomery is in the grave next to her. You can also visit the Church of the Recessional which is up the road from her final resting place. Many other celebrities are also buried at Forest Lawn including Olive Borden, George Burns, Spencer Tracy, and Clara Bow.

The crowd at the funeral