Discovering the Annie Laurie Chair at Forest Lawn Glendale
My obsession for classic Hollywood manifests itself in many ways including book collecting. If it’s a studio history, a portrait compilation or a memoir I just have to have it. Needless to say I was super excited when I received Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays 1920-1970 by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory. A compendium of holiday themed studio portraits it’s a fun peek into the Golden Era publicity machine.
As I was looking through the book I came across a lovely portrait of Gail Patrick holding a bouquet of Easter lilies. She sits in an ornate chair which the caption states is “the famous Annie Laure chair at the Week Kirk O’ the Heather in Forest Lawn Cemetery.” What now? What’s this famous chair I’ve never heard of? I though perhaps it no longer existed but a quick internet search proved me wrong. Of course, once I knew it was still around I had to go see it for myself.
Annie Laurie was a 17th Century Scottish woman and the basis of a poem by William Douglas. The legend is that William was in love with Annie and wrote the poem in her honor. Though their love was not to be her legend endures in a famous Scottish ballad.
At Forest Lawn the Wee Kirk O’ The Heather is a reproduction of the church in which Annie Laurie worshiped and is a popular wedding spot. In fact, Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman were married here in 1940.
Annie Laurie’s Wishing Chair sits just outside of the chapel and, according to Forest Lawn, is made of the same stones from the original church in Scotland. I’m not sure I quite buy that but it’s a nice story.
The story is that if a bride and groom sit on the chair and recite a Scottish wedding poem their marriage will be filled with good luck.
It’s certainly a sweet story but I doubt I’ll ever have the occasion to test it out as Forest Lawn isn’t high on my list of wedding venues. Despite not wanting to get married there I do have a special place in my heart for the cemetery. I know it can be a bit over the top but where else but Hollywood (or nearby Glendale) will you find a place that painstakingly recreates a famous Scottish chapel.
And the Wee Kirk O’ The Heather is so quaint! I really enjoyed walking around, peeking in the windows and reading all about the legend of Annie Laurie.
All too often the LA locations I read about in books are long gone and it’s lovely to see a little bit of Hollywood history still around. As small as the wishing chair is it still is a unique part of Los Angeles and I’m glad I found it.