I don’t do this often, but today I ask my readers for your help with a cause that’s extremely close to my heart. About a year ago, I was watching one of my favorite YouTube channels, Hollywood Graveyard, which tours the cemeteries and graves of classic film stars and celebrities in Los Angeles and beyond. While watching, I began to notice that there were a number of movie stars that had unmarked graves or whose ashes are stored in utility closests and basements, or other locations not fitting for entertainers of their caliber. At first I sat silently and allowed time to pass, hoping that someone would help these iconic actors and filmmakers find proper resting places and receive marked graves. Unfortunately the longer I waited, the more I found stars who remain in this terrible situation, and ultimately I’m the kind of person who can’t witness tragic circumstances without trying my best to do something about them. So, I reached out to a number of people who I believed could help me, and finally I met the wonderful Jessica Wahl, who has the most experience in this field of anyone I know. She’s successfully marked the graves of three silent film actors: Katherine Grant, Corliss Palmer, and most recently Joseph Keaton, father of the brilliant comedian Buster Keaton. The first star who grabbed my attention as someone in need of my help was supporting actor Thomas Mitchell who, according to most sources, is currently interred in the basement vault of The Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles, CA. This broke my heart, and over time I’ve been able to reach out to Thomas’ great-nephew as well as an employee of The Chapel of the Pines, who is currently conducting the search for his ashes in their vast storage system. It’s a time-consuming proccess, which meant that it was time to move on to helping other stars while the search for Thomas was underway. Within the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to find the next of kin of quite a few stars on our list, but another actor who has remained in the forefront of my mind has been none other than Edmund Lowe.
Who is Edmund Lowe, you may ask? Edmund was born on March 3, 1890 in San Jose, CA to a local judge. Not much is known about his upbringing, but his career began in the early days of cinema with films like The Olive (1915). Slowly but surely he established himself in Hollywood as a dashing leading man in over a hundred films such as Port of Call (1926), where he met second wife and silent film star in her own right Lilyan Tashman, but his greatest silent achievement was undoubtedly What Price Glory (1926) alongside Victor McLaglen and Dolores del Río. He continued to work steadily as an actor throughout the remainder of the silent era and through the transition into sound features, excelling specifically as an understated love interest for scores of glamourous girls of the silver screen such as Leila Hyams in Part Time Wife (1930), Myrna Loy in Transatlantic (1931), Jean Harlow in Dinner At Eight (1933), and Mae West in Every Day’s a Holiday (1937). Lowe even took a turn in the part of iconic detective Philo Vance in The Garden Murder Case (1936) the same year that he married his third wife, costume designer Rita Kaufman, but by the mid-1940s his time as a leading man was at an end. He secured a variety of supporting roles in movies, radio, stage, and television in the coming years, even snagging one more lead as David Chase in the successful television series Front Page Detective (1951-52). After a few more roles in successful movies like Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and The Wings of the Eagles (1957), Lowe’s last credited appearance was opposite Sophia Loren in Heller in Pink Tights (1960), which he unfortunately was unable to complete due to illness. He ultimately passed away on April 21, 1971 at the age of eighty-one in The Motion Picture Television Home and was buried in an unmarked grave at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California.
When I first discovered that Edmund Lowe’s grave was unmarked, I was astounded. I was always under the impression that if ordinary people had marked graves, it was nearly impossible for any motion picture star with an adoring public to go unmarked. However, as I’ve worked with Jessica over the last few months, I’ve realized what an issue this continues to be. I’ve learned that dozens of legendary figures in cinema, from Academy Award winners to Disney voice actors, are buried in unmarked graves, which makes it nearly impossible for their final resting places to be recognized and adored by their fans. Our list currently has the names of over fifty stars in all, which we’re slowly but surely working through to establish next of kin and make the phone calls that prove necessary in marking their graves. It’s not an easy task, and even if we’re lucky enough to find a family contact for a star, it doesn’t guarantee that the person will return our call or even care enough to give us permission to give a star a proper resting place. It’s a sad but incredibly necessary job that we’ve given ourselves, but the time that I put into this cause was made worth it a million times over when I established contact with David Kaufman, the son of Edmund Lowe’s stepson. David has been so incredibly kind to me and to our organization, recognizing the work that we’ve put into what we do. I was so glad to speak with him about his father and his relationship with Edmund. It warmed my heart to hear stories about an actor I admire so much coming directly from a member of his family, and together we shared a few theories about why his grave could have been left unmarked in the first place. As I’ve noticed in most of these cases, he was unaware that Edmund had no grave marker, and ultimately he gave us permission to rectify the situation. It was and is such a huge win for our cause, especially when I had originally given up hope that Edmund had any surviving relatives, but now there’s more work to do.
I implore you to help us and help Edmund Lowe receive the grave marker that he’s deserved for nearly fifty years. Please donate to our GoFundMe here and spread the word about our cause. The more people in the classic film community know about Edmund, his life and career, and about this injustice, the faster we’ll be able to make a difference for him.