Meet You at the Cemetery Gates: A Chat with Hollywood Forever Tour Guide Karie Bible
Life after death.
CategoryMusic + Culture
Written byBryan Fahrbach
Photographed byDiana Lundin
As Halloween approaches, your thoughts may naturally turn to tricks and treats, scary movies, haunted houses and, quite possibly, cemeteries. But for Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s in-house tour guide, Karie Bible, cemeteries are a year-round, lifelong destination. Rather than a place of fright or dread, for Karie they are full of peace, nature and the fascinating histories of their residents. We chatted with her about the origins of her interest in cemeteries and what one will discover on one of her tours.
Where are you from originally, and how did you end up in Los Angeles?
Karie Bible: I was originally born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas and then my family moved to Georgia. I fell in love with movies when I was about 6 or 7 years old and told my parents that I was going to run away some day and come to Hollywood. It took a bit longer than I’d hoped, but I finally moved to Los Angeles permanently in 2000.
How did you become a cemetery tour guide?
KB: I grew up literally around the corner from a cemetery, and my brother and I used to ride our bikes there. It wasn’t creepy to me. It was peaceful and beautiful… every single headstone has a story behind it …. I first visited Hollywood Forever when I moved here in 2000. I fell in love with it immediately and asked around to see if there was a tour guide. There wasn’t one, and I thought maybe I could do it. I hadn’t been a tour guide before, but I learned quickly… A big part of it is being friendly, personable and knowing how to present information.
What can people expect to learn or discover on your tours?
KB: I really try to make history come alive. There are so many residents on the tour who have been badly maligned or misunderstood, such as Virginia Rappe, Marion Davies, etc. I try to peel back the layers and show people that there is more to the story. The goal is to humanize these residents and ask people to take a closer look. I also encourage people to see the films and read the books about them. I do have viewing and reading lists on my website.
What is something interesting you’ve learned while researching and leading these tours?
KB: A few years ago, a lady on my tour told me she met Jayne Mansfield and asked if she could tell the group about it. Of course, I said YES. She had been a schoolteacher in Los Angeles a long time ago … where many of the students were children of celebrities. She said that none of the celebrity parents were involved in the school with one exception, and that was Jayne …. Apparently, she would come to open house night at the school, PTA meetings, and was a very loving, hands on parent. These stars may have been sex symbols, movie stars, icons, etc., but they were real human beings first and foremost. People tend to forget that.
What do you hope people who take one of your tours will take away from it about the cemetery, its residents, or Hollywood in general?
KB: I really hope that people who take the tours walk away with a great appreciation for the history. Many of these residents were incredible artists and pioneers who built the film industry. They were at the ground level innovating and blazing the trail for everything that would come afterward. So many of them were discarded or forgotten, and they deserve better. The biggest thrill I get is when people email me and say they are going to check out the movies and read the books I suggest during the course of the tour. That’s really what motivates me to get out of bed!
To book a cemetery tour with Karie, visit cemeterytour.com, and to check out her web series where she discusses the lives and careers of Hollywood stars and cooks their recipes, visit hollywoodkitchenshow.com.
The 11-day festival kicks off February 13.