Grave Spotlight

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

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George Edwin Marygold

(March 13, 1898 - Feb. 6, 1929)

Nov. 3, 2010 -- By all apparent measurements, 30-year-old George E. Marygold had it all in 1929. The descentant of a pioneering Los Angeles family, he was the only child of George S. (G.S.) and Augustine Marygold.

His father, who died in 1924, was for many years the vice president and general manager of the Southern California Music Company, and also served as the first president of the Music Trades Association of Los Angeles. His French-born mother was a pianist.

George Marygold married Minnesota-born Frances W. "Fannie" Rutledge on May 17, 1922, in Los Angeles. In early 1929, they were the parents of two young boys -- 3-year-old George Edwin Jr. and 6-month-old Alfred Eugene. The family lived at 3213 W. Magnolia Ave., in Burbank.

Before he was married, Marygold worked as an electrician for Southern California Edison. By the late 1920s, he was described as "not actively engaged in business," although he had extensive real estate holdings, and was active in several civic organizations in Burbank. He was a Mason and a member of the Rotary Club and, on Feb. 8, 1929, he was to have been elected Exhalted Ruler of the Burbank Elks. It's likely that, as the only child, Marygold received an inheritance at the time of his father's death.

Marygold was also a licensed pilot, and had been flying for seven months. On the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 6, 1929, Marygold went to Glendale Airport, where his plane -- a three-seat, open biplane -- had been recently overhauled. After taking a brief test flight at the airport, Marygold decided to visit a few airports in the Los Angeles area. He stopped first at Rogers Airport, at the northwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Crescent Avenue (now Fairfax Avenue), then headed to Metropolitan Field, near Van Nuys. He left there at about 10:30 a.m.

About an hour later, Marygold was flying over Franklin Canyon near Beverly Hills at an altitude of about 3,000 feet when the engine of his plane caught on fire. Witnesses said Marygold may have attempted to extinquish the flames by diving toward the ground, but he was unsuccessful. As the engine flames grew, spread to the fuselage and reached the cockpit, Marygold had to decide whether to remain in the pilot's seat and be burned to death, or climb out of the cockpit, onto the wing.

Marygold, who wasn't wearing a parachute, decided to climb out of the cockpit, onto the wing of the plane and away from the flames, as the plane plunged toward the earth. Clinging to the wing, Marygold rode the plane to the ground, crashing in a remote area of Franklin Canyon.

Marygold was killed on impact. According to a report from the A.C. Fillbach Undertaking Company in Burbank, nearly every bone in Marygold's body was broken, but there were no burns. A watch found on his body had stopped at 11:46 a.m.

Marygold was buried in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif., on the Begonia Terrace, above the crypt containing the remains of his father, G.S. Marygold. His crypt features a facsimilie of his signature, and a winged propeller. Marygold's mother, Augustine Berger Marygold, died on March 17, 1951, at the age of 87, and is buried with her husband and son.

Marygold's widow, Frances, was 30 when her husband died. She remarried, and died on Sept. 19, 1977, in Oceanside, Calif., at the age of 79. Marygold's eldest son, George Jr., died in Sun Valley, Calif., on Sept. 22, 2001, at the age of 75. George Jr. is buried at Forest Lawn's Hollywood Hills location, in the Sheltering Hills section, next to his wife, Wilma.

Marygold's youngest son, Alfred, who was born just six months before his father died, moved to Nevada, and married Alma Ross on Dec. 21, 1963. He died in February 2013.

Beginning in the 1930s, Franklin Canyon became a popular filming location. The hitchhiking scene in "It Happened One Night" (1934), starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, was filmed in Franklin Canyon. And the opening scene of "The Andy Griffith Show," with Andy and Opie carrying their fishing poles to "Myers Lake," was also filmed in Franklin Canyon, at the Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir.

Special thanks to George Marygold's granddaughter, Kathryn Marygold-Small, for giving me permission to use the photo of her grandfather with his airplane.)

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