What started as googling, quickly became a visit to California and resulted in a rather sad discovery. In Hollywood, there are so many graves of long-forgotten or barely remembered stars that once shined brightly on the silver screen. This is not how these women should be remembered. Their stories should be told. Remembering them for who they were and what they accomplished. This is why Minda Powers-Douglas is writing “Forever Silent” and she needs your help. But first, let’s meet the beautiful Marie Prevost and learn why she has become such an important part of Minda’s life.
– Minda Powers-Douglas –
Minda is the author of “Cemetery Walk,” “Translating Tombstones” and “Images of America: Chippiannock Cemetery” and is the founder and editor of TheCemeteryClub.com and Epitaphs Magazine. She teaches classes on cemetery symbolism and history as well as on gravestone rubbing, memoir writing and more. She enjoys volunteering at cemetery events and doing her part to keeping our cemeteries “alive.”
You can follow Minda on Twitter: @cemeteryminda
Help bring Minda’s book “Forever Slient” to life here: https://www.gofundme.com/foreversilentbook
Two years ago, a simple Google search led me to Marie Prevost. Since then, Marie has led me on a journey into the most beautiful era of Hollywood and into the lives of hundreds of women I may have never learned about if it wasn’t for her.
Oddly enough, a woman who has been dead for 79 years has become an important part of my life. So important that I have a tattoo of her on my back! Marie and her movie reel are a constant reminder of the history, creativity and innovation of an era that shouldn’t be forgotten.
As a taphophile (someone who loves cemeteries and learning about them), I’m drawn to the past. My three books are about cemeteries, and it makes sense that my fourth would be, too. But the topic eluded me. A trip to Hollywood in 2014 rectified that.
I saw so many graves of so many long-forgotten or barely remembered stars that once shined brightly on the silver screen. They were a part of film history! Yet there they were among the thousands of graves, some overgrown and some without a grave marker. All those Hollywood dreams, brushes with greatness or greatness achieved. For all intents and purposes, forgotten.
Everyone deserves to be remembered—from the man who founded a town to the woman in the country who raised six children by herself. Charlie Chaplin, though an icon (and deservedly so) of the silent era, did not represent the entire era. He was surrounded by actors, directors, screenwriters, set builders and countless crew members whose shoulders held the foundation of the film industry as it was being built.
So I had the topic for my new book: silent stars and their graves. But there were SO many! I decided to start with the ladies, and here I am. The one downside of this project is that the majority of stars are interred in California, and I live in Illinois. Traveling back and forth has proven to be quite costly, which is why I launched my GoFundMe campaign—to help pay for my travel expenses so that my passion doesn’t become a financial hardship on my family. It may come as a surprise to you, but books about cemeteries haven’t generally caused thousands of people to stand in line all night to get a copy. There are a decent number of us who adore a good cemetery book, but we authors aren’t exactly J.K. Rowling and we know it. We write for ourselves, fellow taphophiles and in the hopes to get more people into cemeteries to appreciate their beauty and history.
One of the saddest things about the book is that my Marie will go into the chapter of the Lost Girls. While some of these ladies were interred but given no grave markers, some were scattered literally to the winds, and others are unknown. My Marie is one of them. My assistant and I have tried tracking her down through multiple searches, including her family’s genealogy. The last I know of her is that her cremated remains were given to her sister. Her sister is now gone, and so is any trace of Marie.
I believe we live on in immortality while we are still remembered and memorialized. Marie Prevost, unfortunately, lives on based on the tripe published in Kenneth Anger’s ridiculous scandal book “Hollywood Babylon.” He (and songwriter Nick Lowe) has perpetuated the myth that Marie’s body was “eaten by her dog” after she died alone with him in her apartment and wasn’t found right away. But there’s a difference between a dog biting his mistress in an attempt to rouse her and one that makes a meal of her corpse.
This is not how Marie Prevost should be remembered. Her own story should be told. She should be remembered for who she was and what she accomplished, just like all the women I’m writing about in my book, “Forever Silent.”
Many people are contributing to the book by sharing their thoughts about why the individual stars are important to be remembered. So you don’t have to just take my word for it!
I hope you join me on this journey into the past. While I’m writing it I’m posting to my blog and website and also to my GoFundMe. I’m blessed to have people already supporting me and these lovely ladies. I’m so thankful for the generosity of friends and strangers who are becoming new friends.
Gloria Swanson said, “Life and death. They are somehow sweetly and beautifully mixed, but I don’t know how.” Join me, and let’s figure it out together.
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