|Los Angeles, CA||April 4, 2023|
This small chamber in the northeast corner of Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles is the Room of Prayer. It is a columbarium filled with the cremains of individuals such as Charles Aidman, a Hoosier-turned-Hollywood actor and Broadway figure. Aidman adapted the poems of Edgar Lee Masters into the play Spoon River Anthology, which received acclaim as the “unanimous critical choice of the entire Broadway season” in 1963. Ambitiously, Aidman not only conceived of the production, but also directed it, acted in it, and devised its musical composition and lyrics. Productions of Spoon River Anthology were still being staged when I visited Aidman’s grave in 2023, three decades after his death.
If a visitor to Westwood gains access to the typically-locked Room of Prayer, they can find Aidman’s urn to the right of the entrance, in the second set of glass-covered niches from the door. In that section of the room, Aidman’s ashes are in a compartment that is in the second row from the top, and in the second column from the right.
Aidman’s first foray into acting came as a pupil at Frankfort High School in Indiana. The student-athlete broke his arm and stepped away from the tennis court and onto the stage, which the Indianapolis Star later described as “one of the luckiest arm breaks anyone ever had.” After college and service in World War II, Aidman went to New York, where he appeared in 16 off-Broadway plays. He relocated to California in 1957, where he organized a theater workshop. Aidman began to appear in a variety of television shows, typically as one-off characters. His credits included Perry Mason, Bonanza, All in the Family, and Cannon. He played a teacher in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, and was the callous (and appropriately-named) Colonel Victor Bloodworth in a 1977 episode of M*A*S*H. He also acted in two episodes of The Twilight Zone original series, as Colonel Ed Harrington in “And When the Sky Was Opened” and as Bill in “Little Girl Lost.” Decades later, Aidman served as narrator for the 1985 Twilight Zone revival, replacing the late Rod Serling.
Aidman’s urn is shaped like a book, as is that of his wife, Betty Hyatt Aidman. Betty’s epitaph, on the “spine” of the book, commemorates her as a dancer, choreographer, and beloved wife. Charles’s remembers him as an actor, director, and beloved husband. Four framed photographs of the couple are displayed in their niche as well.
Born: January 21, 1925 in Frankfort, Indiana
Spouses: Frances Garman (m. 1957-1967); Betty Hyatt Aidman (m. 1969-1993)
Military Service: Gunnery Officer — U.S. Navy
Died: November 7, 1993 in Beverly Hills, California
Cause of Death: Cancer
Interment: Westwood Village Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California
"I THINK I will be able to look back at this as the greatest experience of my life. It gives me faith that good hard work should pay off, which it so often doesn't."
- Charles Aidman
1963 on staging his Broadway production, Spoon River Anthology
Sources Consulted and Further Reading
Allison, Jane. “Aidman Helped By Big ‘Breaks.'” Indianapolis Star. December 22, 1963. https://www.newspapers.com/article/91727107/charles-aidman/.
IMDb. “Charles Aidman (1925-1993).” Accessed June 8, 2023. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0014493/.