The Funeral At Forest Lawn


"Carole lived a full life. She met so many people and was loved by so many. She did more, saw more, experienced more and learned more in her few, wonderful, generous years than most people ever know or experience in a life three times as long." ~ Dorothy Ross

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. In his eulogy he said "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." 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 butterfly dress and her signature gold cross necklace. Her niece Sharon recalled 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.

The dress Carole was buried in

Carole's grave at Forest Lawn

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. 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. Carole's grave is plot 814 in the Everlasting Love section. She is buried next to the curb at the top of the hill.

Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer                                                                                           The crowd at the funeral