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Searching 6 feet under for celebs

History buffs recommend their favorite cemeteries in the West for stars, notorious figures and VIPs.

October 25, 2009

It's only fitting that Tombstone, Ariz., which gained fame for a shootout, has a rough-and-tough gunslinger grave site.

Check out the political commentary on the epitaphs of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury, killed as they battled Wyatt Earp and his posse at the O.K. Corral.

Want a taste of headstone humor? Try this: "Here lies Lester Moore / Four slugs from a .44 / No Les / No more." And this one recalls George Johnson (wrongly sentenced to hang for buying a stolen horse): "He was right / We was wrong / But we strung him up / And now he's gone."

Those are among the favorites of a group of history buffs knowledgeable about what lies beneath us. "Ironically, it's a way to see history come alive," says Steve Goldstein, who runs BeneathLosAngeles.com with his brother Ken and is the author of "L.A.'s Graveside Companion."

Patricia Brooks became an accidental graveyard tourist when her son promised to take her to see celebrities when she visited him in California. Turned out they went to cemeteries -- not quite what she had envisioned. But she has since written three books on the subject, including "Laid to Rest in California," which she co-wrote with her son Jonathan, a freelance writer.

To see their choices, go to latimes.com/cemeteries.

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