Many secrets—not to mention celebrities—are buried deep in the heart of Tinseltown at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, however there is one soul who isn’t afraid of digging up the past, docent of the dearly departed, Karie Bible.
Not only is Karie an author and well-respected film historian, she is Los Angeles’ premiere cemetery tour guide, having been featured on CNN and Turner Classic Movies.
Her passion lies with old Hollywood and the distinct charms of that bygone era, which is particularly evident as she strolls the grounds cloaked in black in her vintage gowns.
Highlights of her tour include a visit to silent-screen star Rudolph Valentino’s tomb, Vampira, the great Cecil B. Demille and his extensive family, John Huston and a host of other prominent power players of the past.
Some of these lifeless luminaries you may have heard of, others not, but all have grand stories worth telling. Karie keeps them alive long after the spotlight has dimmed, and unearths several mysteries, all while showcasing her delightful Southern charm and just the right amount of sass.
Karie guides the tour with a sense of mystery, dishing out ghostly gossip (based on substantial evidence) and lurid tales from Hollywood’s checkered past, as well as illuminating her patrons with dashes of historical—and often times spine-tingling—lore.
Karie was born to do this; not only is her birthday October 31st, Halloween, but she’s heterochromatic—which means she has two different colored eyes! Thunder. Lightning. Evil laughter. Yet again, the truth is stranger—and much spookier—than fiction.
Without further ado . . .
The NewsWhistle Q&A With Cemetery Tour Guide Karie Bible
Name: Karie Bible
Date of Interview: October 2013
Age (if you want to give it up): No comment.
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas
Current town: Los Angeles
Occupation: Cemetery Tour Guide, Historian
1. What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you this week?
I recently had a lady call me and request a private tour for her daughter’s sweet 16 birthday party. She explained to me that her daughter wanted to be a medical examiner when she was older and she asked if I could show the group a dead body. I told her there was NO way I could do that. Sufficed to say, I get some pretty interesting phone calls.
2. What’s your favorite movie? And why?
That is the most difficult question in the world for me to answer! There are so many movies that mean so much to me…and for so many reasons. If pressed, I would have to say “The Red Shoes” (1948). Every frame of that films radiates passion.
3. What’s the biggest risk you took in life?
I’d say my biggest risk was moving to Los Angeles. I was in my mid-20s and had $200, a suitcase, my film degree and a beat up car. I didn’t know very many people when I moved here. My family lives 3,000 miles away in Georgia, so I was really taking a big chance. I felt like I was walking on a tightrope at the circus with no safety net below.
4. If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?
Sometimes I wish I had studied business or marketing in college instead of film. Then again, it’s really pointless to regret things because I can’t go back and change them. All I can do is learn from the past and do my best going forward.
5. What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happen on your tour?
A few years back I was giving a tour to a large group of Red Hat ladies when one of them collapsed and I had to call 911. Since it was Halloween and I was calling from the cemetery, the 911 operator didn’t believe me and thought I was pulling some sort of prank. It took a while to convince her that I was serious! The operator asked how they could find us and I said, “Well there are 50 women in bright purple sweaters and red hats–it shouldn’t be too difficult!” The paramedics arrived and the leader of the group asked me to continue the tour. I was trying to do so, but the paramedics were working on her friend a few feet away from us and I simply couldn’t concentrate until I knew the woman would survive. Then one of the Red Hat ladies came up to me and started telling me that she found the paramedics hot and sexy. Just another day at the office, right?
6. What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
When I was a teenager I was cast in a reenactment for “America’s Most Wanted”. I played the sister of a murderer. They caught the killer a few days after the episode aired!
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
My Mom once said to me that life was 10% what happens to you and 90% how you choose to deal with it.
8. Who’s your favorite dead celebrity? And why?
Rudolph Valentino is my favorite. The first time I ever saw him on film, I was hooked. He is hypnotic and there has never been anyone like him before or since.
9. Who’s your favorite living celebrity? And why?
Stars of the modern era really don’t hold a candle to stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The glamour and mystique are gone. That said, I adore George Clooney. He’s a class act.
10. What’s your strangest phobia or superstition?
I can’t stand clowns. They seem so evil even when they aren’t trying to be. I also hate being in crowded, confined spaces like a super crowded subway. So my worst fear would involve being in a crowded subway filled with clowns. That would seriously be the end of me.
11. Have you ever seen a ghost? If not, do you believe in them?
I’ve had this question posed to me pretty often due to my work. Frankly I’m rather skeptical and I’ve never bought into the whole ghost thing. I’ve been at Hollywood Forever for 11 years and never had a single paranormal encounter. The one paranormal experience I had happened at the Silent Movie Theatre. The former owner Laurence Austin was shot and killed in the lobby of the theatre in 1997 while the film “Sunrise” was playing. Rumors ran rampant that his ghost haunted the theatre in the years after his death. I never really took it seriously though. My friend Dave used to be a projectionist at the theatre and often on Saturday nights he would finish up in the projection booth and we would walk down to Canter’s for dinner. One night we were in the theatre and the entire building was locked up. We heard a very loud key rattling. We fell silent immediately and looked at each other. Apparently the former owner used to wear a big thing of keys on his belt that rattled around when he walked through the lobby. Dave asked where my car keys were. I said they were in my purse. He asked where my purse was and I said it was on the other side of the room. We sat there in total silence for a moment and then Dave said, “RUN”. We ran out of the theatre and down Fairfax as if there were flames coming out of our feet!
12. What do you want engraved on your headstone?
Oddly enough, I’ve never given this any thought. Perhaps I should have something random on there like “She enjoyed Swiss cheese.”
13. Last, but not least, is there anything you want to pitch, promote or discuss?
Come see the beauty and discover the history of Hollywood Forever Cemetery! The tour has been featured on Turner Classic Movies, CNN, The Reelz Channel and in the LA Times. To see upcoming tour dates and times, log on to http://www.cemeterytour.com
I also co-wrote a book called “Location Filming in Los Angeles” with historians Marc Wanamaker and Harry Medved. It is available on Amazon.com.
Also, sign up for the e-newsletter on FilmRadar.com. It covers repertory, revival and specialty film going in Los Angeles.
Photos Courtesy of Robert Zimiga