Tony Brenna

Veteran reporter Tony Brenna offers his new novel, Honey Trap: A Thriller

The Day They Threw Peter Lawford Out of His Crypt

Jan 19, 2024 by Tony Brenna

          Would you plonk down between $200,000 and $400,000 to spend eternity next to the remains of Marilyn Monroe?

          That’s what it may cost to buy a crypt next to the “Some Like It Hot’” star in Westwood, Los Angeles, where cemetery owners Pierce Brothers will soon auction off that special space.

          The news got me thinking about the days in 1984 when I was at the same place, helping in the fight to keep Marilyn’s best friend, actor Peter Lawford, in his niche in the Memorial Park Wall.

          A problem had arisen between Peter’s widow, Pat (Seaton) Lawford, and the cemetery because she couldn’t find the cash to pay for Lawford’s continued interment alongside Marilyn. In life, the two screen stars had been so close that Peter was the last man to speak to her the night she overdosed.

          At the time I wrote conscience-pricking stories calling on the wealthy Kennedy family to pick up the tab – because at one time the decadent actor had been married to John F. Kennedy’s sister, Patricia Kennedy, with whom he fathered four children.

          When the Kennedys refused to pay, oh what a fracas it caused, but they stuck to their guns refusing to finance the interment of the man who once fixed up JFK with a bevy of Hollywood actresses – including Marilyn with whom the former president had a long affair.

          Peter had become a close friend and contact of mine, leading to my acting as best man at his hospital-bed-wedding to the much younger Pat Seaton, his fourth wife. He would have been deeply embarrassed by the world discovering he’d died broke and was being thrown out of the posh Westwood Memorial Park.

          There I was, with his widow when she angrily pulled the urn holding his ashes out of the wall – and posed for pictures while denouncing the Kennedys for being too cheap to pay the bill. I scored the exclusive headline: “Peter Lawford Evicted From His Crypt.”

          When his widow asked what we should do with the ashes, I suggested chartering a yacht to scatter Peter’s remains at sea, something he’d told me he wanted done during our frequent partying at my Laurel Canyon home.

          Leaving the rest of the press behind, we set sail on a rented yacht on a windy day, with the widow clutching the urn, as a New York Post helicopter hovered over us, trying to “steal” a picture.

          To avoid being scooped, I ordered the yacht’s skipper to turn into the wind as we dumped Peter’s ashes, shaded by sail and away from the Post’s prying long lens.

          But that was a mistake, too.  Peter, it seemed, got the last laugh on us.  In an ultimate act of rebellious, gritty mirth, his ashes blew back in our faces on the wind.

          I could almost hear him say, “You’re not getting rid of me that easily!” as Patricia and I were left spitting and coughing.

          Peter had been an amazing story subject for me.

          I helped finance his final years – with cash from story payments from the National Enquirer.

           I visited him at the Betty Ford Clinic when he was detoxing simultaneously with Liz Taylor; I took part in his fourth wedding then I entertained his bride on her wedding night (because Peter remained in hospital); I was at Peter’s bedside when he died; I organized his disinterment and finally scattered his ashes at sea. How much more can you ask a reporter to do?

P.S. You can see the news story about the upcoming auction by clicking here.