This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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OTR STARS BURIED WITH FORMER BASEBALL GREATS
by Joe Webb
(From Radio Recall, April 2005)
Most of my family "lives" at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, NY which is just north of the Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287) by one exit and on the east side of the Sprain Brook Parkway. Fred Allen is buried there, in a grave as unassuming as one can have. Radio’s most intellectual comedian has only a modest grave marker for eternity in this cemetery. I’ve never seen flowers near it or any other signs of Allen’s visitors.
A dear friend of mine, sound effects man Ed Blainey, who died in 1979, is buried here as well, in Section 2. Ed worked for ABC for several years, finishing his career on TV's All My Children, and you can occasionally hear his work on Dark Shadows reruns. But his favorite was doing the opening for radio’s Terry and the Pirates.
Others finding their final rest at Gate of Heaven are film star Jimmy Cagney and two prominent NY Yankees: slugger Babe Ruth as well as player and manager Billy Martin. People still visit the Ruth grave often, leaving baseball items, like cards, Yankee hats, bats, and other memorabilia.
The cemetery rules are stretched a bit for his grave and the management has always been a bit forgiving about the items left. Martin's grave doesn't get the same "traffic" but people occasionally leave things there as well. The cemetery office (closer to the Bronx River Parkway side) has a map with various grave locations indicated.
Ruth’s teammate, Lou Gehrig is buried in the Kensico Cemetery, just "next door" to Gate of Heaven, but I've never had a chance to visit it.
For more information on OTR stars and other celebrities buried in the Manhattan region, I recommend a 1987 paperback “Permanent New Yorkers: A Biographical Guide to the Cemeteries of New York” written by Judi Culbertson and Tom Randall, which is available from Amazon and several other on-line book dealers.