Visiting the Maestro: The Final Resting Place of Bernard Herrmann in Elmont, New York

Musically I count myself an individualist. I believe that only music which springs out of genuine personal emotion is alive and important.

Bernard Herrmann

You know when something just clicks with you? And the incredible satisfaction that comes with it. That’s how I feel about the music of Bernard Herrmann.

Recently, I’ve noticed that Herrmann has a special quality that sets him apart from his contemporaries. And I’ve gone on a quest to find out what that is.

I’m still completing that task as I’m about half way through his biography by Steven C. Smith which is fabulous. If you’re interested in taking a deep dive into the man, I highly recommend it!

One of my favorite features on the blog is Classic Movie Travels where I get up close and personal with classic movies in the form of visits to museums, landmarks, star’s birthplaces, etc.

Today, I’m retracing my steps and taking you along with me to New York to the final resting place of this incredible and influential composer.

Beth David Cemetery

About a thirty minute drive from New York City where Herrmann was born, lies the Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, New York.

The town holds no glamour for its most celebrated patron. On a busy road bustling with public transportation and businesses lining the sidewalks, pedestrians scurry about probably having no idea of the legend beyond its gates.

Upon entering Beth David Cemetery it was not too difficult to find the Herrmann family plot. According to The Bernard Herrmann Society, Section BB2 and the Old Konstantine Benevolent Society can easily be found at the intersection of Beth Israel and Washington Avenues (the small roads within the cemetery).

Abraham Herrmann

With his huge tombstone, I was quickly able to find the patriarch of the family, Abraham Herrmann. But then the search was on. You see, this was the most packed cemetery I’ve ever seen, making the search for the composer a lengthy one.

Ida Herrmann

Just when I was about to quit, I found Ida, the matriach, and directly across from her was Bernard.

Note: For those who are wondering, as I did, the PC sticker on the stones signify “perpetual care” for the groundskeepers.

Bernard Herrmann

The moment I saw his headstone was a sobering one. Here was one of my idols – the man who wrote the music for some of my favorite movies, those which have formed me into the fan and person I am today.

Fully immersing myself in the moment, I began thinking about the music he’s written and what it means to me. I silently thanked him for staying true to himself and writing the music that was on his heart instead of adhering to the tried and true methods of film composing or the fads that were calling with their siren song.

I hate all cults, fads, and circles. I feel that a composer should be true to his own instincts and tastes, and develop these to the best of his ability, no matter what the present vogue may be…

B.H.

When I approached Bernard’s tombstone from the left side, something caught my eye. Beside the bush directly in front of his grave, an admirer left a copy of the soundtrack from Vertigo!

In that moment, I had goosebumps all over. The fact that someone was so touched by his music and left his masterwork in appreciation was a surreal experience.

Immediately, I wished I had brought a token of my appreciation, but then my husband so wisely said, “I don’t think you could have done better than that,” as he pointed to the Vertigo album. And you know what? I don’t think I could have either.

I was surprised and a little sad that Herrmann had been laid to rest in such an unassuming location.

In my mind, he should be alongside the great talents of yesteryear in the big, fancy celebrity cemeteries of California; but for a man who hated Hollywood, though it gave him great success, I’m sure this is the way he would have wanted it, to be beside his family in his home state of New York.

I will be forever grateful to Herrmann for his individualism, chutzpah, sensitivity, and beautiful gift that he continually gives to our world.

His music always feels “real,” not manufactured (I don’t believe he ever wrote a note he did not feel), truly encompassing the essence of humanity in all its complexity, fragility, horror, and beauty.

Bernard Herrmann

June 29, 1911 – December 24, 1975

I am not interested in music, or any work of art, that fails to stimulate appreciation of life, and more importantly, pride in life.

B. H.

This post is my contribution to The Bernard Herrmann Blogathon hosted by myself! For more musical treats, head on over HERE and read the rest of the contributions celebrating this great composer.

Ready for another adventure? Here’s more of my Classic Movie Travels!

On the Road with “I Love Lucy”: My Trip to Jamestown, New York (Part 1)

  • Desilu Studios
  • The Lucy Desi Museum
  • Lucy Desi Murals

On the Road with “I Love Lucy”: My Trip to Jamestown, NY (Part 2)

  • Lucy’s Birthplace
  • Lucy’s Childhood Home
  • Lucille Ball Memorial Park & Statues
  • Lucy’s Final Resting Place

Grace Kelly Beach: Her Secret Hideaway in Newport, Rhode Island

For more Bernard Herrmann check out my review of Prince of Players (1955), a hidden gem featuring a solid cast and terrific score from the master!

Grace Kelly Beach: Her Secret Hideaway in Newport, Rhode Island [UPDATE]

Hello, readers! Some of you may remember an early post on The Classic Movie Muse where I recounted my visit to Newport, Rhode Island, and the story behind Grace Kelly’s stay there while filming High Society (1956), her last Hollywood film. If you haven’t read that post, click here.

Recently I went back to Newport and discovered MORE of this soon-to-be princess’s hideaway…

I was there on a glorious sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, when to my surprise a whole new area of the beach appeared to me. This time around I was visiting at low tide, and the water that had hidden the shore on my last visit had gone, leading me to discover a new, expansive rocky cove.

I noticed an escarpment that looked like it had been traversed many times in the past, but not recently. Was this the path Grace took to and from the beach before the inn staff had built the staircase for her?

As I said in my initial post, I feel so honored to be able to walk in the footsteps of Grace Kelly, and no visit is complete without a time of reflection and thinking of Grace herself. She was a great lady who went after what she wanted with abandon. She was loving, passionate, and gentle. A star whose light on earth was dimmed too soon, but will continue to glow in the cinematic heavens forever.

It’s hard for me to believe how this place, a cherished spot of one of the most famous personalities in history, is still so obscure and unknown; but to me, that is part of the mystery and the beauty that is Grace Kelly Beach.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

On the Road with “I Love Lucy”: My Trip to Jamestown, NY (Part 2)

Happy New Year to all! I trust you have had a safe and happy holiday season with friends, family, and loved ones.

The very first post that I published on this blog was Part 1 of my trip to Lucille Ball’s hometown, Jamestown, New York, where I visited the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and other sites around the city honoring the famous couple. To begin this new year, I thought it only fitting to start with Lucy once more and finally give you Part 2 of my trip.

But first, some trivia! A really fun aspect of the I Love Lucy show (besides the obvious) is how the zany and lovable Lucy Ricardo character mirrors Ball’s own life in several ways.

  • Lucy Ricardo was born in Jamestown, New York, just like Lucille Ball
  • Marion Strong, one of Lucy Ricardo’s friends, was Lucille Ball’s childhood friend
  • Lucy Ricardo mentions playing the saxophone in Celoron High School, the high school Lucille Ball attended

Bonus! The word “McGillicuddy” (Lucy Ricardo’s maiden name) was something that she and her friends called each other when they were young.

Lucille Ball had these similarities written into the script, no doubt adding a personal connection to the material, as well as enjoyment for her as a performer.

Before my trip, I read Lucy’s autobiography to further enhance my experience so I could put the pieces together while I was there. It was really fun seeing these places come to life and picturing Lucy in her stomping grounds before she took Hollywood and the world by storm.

Reading her book and seeing where she came from has led me to a greater understanding and appreciation of Lucy not only as a beloved and talented performer, but as an individual. I recommend both for Lucy fans and for those who are curious to learn more about the queen of comedy.

Now, off to Jamestown…

Lucy’s Birthplace

On August 6, 1911, in this little brown house, Lucille Ball came into the world delivered by her grandmother Flora Belle Hunt. There’s not much to see as the house is privately owned, but it’s definitely worth a drive by. The address is 69 Stewart Avenue in Jamestown.

After her birth, Lucy and her mother reunited with her father in Montana. Three years later they moved to Michigan when Lucy’s father died from typhoid fever at the tragically young age of twenty-eight. Lucy and her mother returned to Jamestown, her mother remarried, and looking for work out of state, she sent little Lucy to live with her husband’s parents. It wasn’t until Lucy’s grandparents bought a home in nearby Celoron that the family lived together under one roof again.

Lucy’s Childhood Home

In Celoron, NY, is the home where Lucy spent most of her childhood. Formerly 59 W. 8th Street, it is now 59 Lucy Lane.

I was eight and a half years old when we all moved into the little three bedroom house on Eighth Street in Celoron…I loved every inch of that weathered shingled house. It had a front porch and a back shed, and a small, dark front parlor separated from the front hall by portieres. These were the stage curtains for our innumerable productions as (brother) Freddy and I grew up.”

lucille ball

Sadly, the happiness of being together lasted only a short while for Lucy’s family. After an accident in the backyard that caused a neighborhood friend to be paralyzed, Lucy’s grandfather was put under house arrest and the house was auctioned as the result of a lawsuit. Lucy, fifteen years old, convinced her mother to let her go to New York City and enroll in drama school.

Presently the home is privately owned, but there are rumors that the owners plan on making it available for tours one day. Whether or not this is true, I’m not sure, but one can only hope! There is a whole website dedicated to the house, its history, and even an online shop. You can check it out by clicking here.

Lucille Ball Memorial Park

Many of the inspirations for our stage plays came from the fine productions we saw on summer evenings at Celoron Amusement Park, which was just a hop, skip and a jump from our house across a daisy field and a railroad track.”

lucille ball

To Lucy, it was known as Celoron Amusement Park. Today, it is Lucille Ball Memorial Park – the home of two statues of the famous resident with quite an interesting story of their own. “Scary Lucy,” unveiled in 2009, earned her name because she looks nothing like Lucille Ball. What was the artist thinking?! (I couldn’t even bear to take a full picture of her!) Both fans and locals revolted, and another statue was erected in 2016, “New Lucy.” This elegant and beautiful statue is worthy of her namesake as she stands proudly, welcoming visitors to the park.

Celoron Amusement Park was very important in Lucy’s life. In her book, she describes the place as a type of Disneyland, a fanciful escape from everyday life. Not only did she have one of her first jobs there as a teen selling hamburgers, she also witnessed plays as well as vaudeville shows. It was here that she gained a love of theater, spectacle, and show business.

Lake View Cemetery

The most humbling part of my trip was visiting Lucy’s final resting place at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown. A line of red hearts lead the way through the cemetery to the Hunt family plot where she is buried along with her parents, brother, and grandparents.

At this moment of my visit I realized that I was the closest that I would ever be to Lucy. A sobering moment, indeed.

In this post I couldn’t even begin to cover Lucy’s life story and all that she accomplished, but it goes without saying that this woman has taught me so much about life. She has touched the world by her presence. She has been through so many hardships, but always managed to pull through with her wit, intelligence, and strength.

You know the saying Live, Laugh, and Love? That saying has been attributed to a poem called “Success” and I think it can certainly be applied to Lucy’s life.

LIVE

I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.L.B.

LAUGH

I’m happy that I have brought laughter because I have been shown by many the value of it in so many lives, in so many ways.L.B.

LOVE

Love yourself first and everything falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.L.B.

Thank you, Lucy, for the lessons, the laughs, and for being you.

Grace Kelly Beach: Her Secret Hideaway in Newport, Rhode Island

I love walking in the woods, on the trails, along the beaches. I love being part of nature. I love walking alone. It is therapy. One needs to be alone to recharge one’s batteries.

— Grace Kelly

Soon-to-be princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly was 26 years old when she agreed to marry Prince Rainier. She was at the top of her game having just won an Oscar for The Country Girl, and she held Hollywood and the world in the palm of her hand. Before settling into her royal role, however, she had one more role to play – that of Tracy Lord in the MGM film High Society (1956).

Hollywood hit the road and headed to Newport, Rhode Island, for on location shooting and Grace became a summer resident at the elegant and historic Castle Hill Inn. She secured a cottage of her own with a small beach only steps away from her room. Seeking a place for relaxation and privacy, Grace would visit the beach and enjoy her free time there.

The staff of the inn noticed how often Grace would venture down to the beach and how unwieldy it was for her to climb back up the rocky hill. They soon had a staircase built for her to make her hideaway all the more accessible, and it was christened “Grace Kelly Beach.”

-Images are my own unless otherwise noted-

When I visited Grace Kelly’s beach I couldn’t help but think of what Grace was thinking and feeling during this time of her life. After all, she was about to leave her home country to become a ruler in a foreign one. Was she reticent about leaving her friends and family behind, having to learn another language, and having to live up to the public’s expectations?

Grace arriving at the 1956 Academy Awards ceremonies-her last appearance in Hollywood as a working actress. A month later she wed Prince Rainier.

Image: Public Domain

Grace Kelly brought undeniable warmth, charm, and elegance wherever she went; although she is gone, she is not forgotten. Grace is one of my favorite actresses and it was both a thrill and an honor for me to discover and visit a place that was so special to her. If you’re a fan, be sure and capture this piece of royal Hollywood history for yourself!

UPDATE: I discovered more of Grace Kelly Beach when I visited a second time at low tide. You can read about it by clicking here.

This post is my contribution to The 5th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon hosted by Musings of a Classic Film Addict, The Flapper Dame, and The Wonderful World of Cinema. Thank you, ladies, for hosting this Grace-filled event!

Be sure to stop by their blogs and read the other lovely posts honoring the one and only Grace Kelly. For day 1 click here, day 2 click here, and day 3 click here.

Want more Grace? Check out my post Grace and Kate: The Princess and The First Lady of Cinema, then read about Grace as the ultimate Hitchcock blonde in my review of Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

On the Road with “I Love Lucy”: My Trip to Jamestown, New York (Part 1)

One of the greatest gifts to mankind is laughter, and one of the greatest gifts to laughter is Lucille Ball. God has her now but thanks to television, we’ll have her forever.”

bob hope

Perhaps no other person in history has captured the love of the world as Lucille Ball. Her face is said to have been seen by more people than any other. The TV show that she created with her husband has been voted the best show of all time (according to a poll taken by ABC News in 2012), winning five Emmy’s and numerous awards, inventing reruns, and changing the way that TV would function in the homes of countless Americans.

This woman came from a small town in the Lake Chautauqua region of New York State; yet, no matter how successful she became she always considered this place her home and visited frequently. The town is very proud of their most famous resident, as they should be, and they honor her and her husband in many charming ways.

Come along with me to Jamestown to celebrate America’s First Couple of Comedy…Lucy and Desi Arnaz!

I am so glad the idea for this post came to me not long ago, for it perfectly coincides with “I Love Lucy Day” (yes, it’s a thing)! On October 15, 1951, ‘Lucy’ aired its first episode, and the world indefinitely became a better place.

Here’s to Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred! Happy 68th Anniversary!

Desilu Studios

Right in the center of town are two adjacent museums dedicated to these two talented entertainers and their artistic achievements. Desilu Studios is all about I Love Lucy. Inside you’ll see original costumes, props, re-created sets, Emmy awards, and lots of other goodies that you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll learn the history behind the show: it’s inception, creators, and the filming/editing machine that changed TV forever – the “three headed monster.” (Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite. I visited him on display.)

A delightful surprise to see on display was the door that served as the entrance to Studio A at CBS Columbia Square Studios, located on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Many celebrities from yesteryear used the door in making their appearance on radio shows and later, on television. In addition, Lucy and Desi used Studio A to produce the pilot for I Love Lucy.

The list below is only a partial list of Hollywood greats who have used the door. Touching the handle was the closest I’ve been to so many stars at one time! Admittedly, I felt like Lucy when she’s out “hunting” for movie stars at the Brown Derby and she says, “I have a feeling we’ve run into a whole nest of them!”

(Note that William Holden is on the list, but he probably wasn’t covered in pie…yet.)

Lucy Desi Museum

The Lucy Desi Museum takes you through the personal story of these two legends. We learn about their hometown roots, how they got into show business, their movie/stage careers, how they met, and their life together as a family.

I really enjoyed seeing this side of the museum. It is loaded with personal items and correspondence, photographs, costumes, and beautiful works of art.

I loved reading Lucie Arnaz reflect on the time her dad painted a picture for her when she was sick. The happiness that the Arnaz family shared could also be felt when viewing a portrait of Lucy kissing her cow, The Duchess of Devonshire. Simple, everyday, priceless moments.

Desi’s chair from his office at Desilu Studios can be seen at far right, as well as the picture of Lucy that hung on the wall beside it.

Murals

Lucy is ever present in Jamestown, even on the sides of buildings! These gorgeous murals were painted by the father and son team, Gary Peters and Gary Peters, Jr. The “California, Here We Come” (top left) mural holds the distinction of being the largest I Love Lucy mural in the world, spanning 1800 square feet.

Read more about Gary Peters and his process of painting these amazing murals in this great article.

I missed the fifth mural on my visit, but it’s on my list for the next time I return!

  • Check out the official website of the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum here.
Lucy’s movie projector from her Beverly Hills home

How are you celebrating “I Love Lucy Day”? Let me know with a comment below and be sure to share your favorite episode!

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!