Anne Yarbrough Graves died peacefully at Providence Saint Joseph’s hospital on December 26, 2016 after a valiant but mercifully short battle with cancer. She was 76.
Annie was born November 15, 1940 in Detroit Michigan where she was a child actress and the four year old spokesperson for the Pressel Sausage Company. Dreaming of stardom, her family moved to California in the 1940’s and settled in Culver City.
Attending Culver High in the 1950’s, Annie was known for being kindhearted and funny. Head Cheerleader, Girl’s League President, Homecoming Queen – she even dated the Captain of the football team thus sweeping the high-school Superfecta.
Always a hard-worker, she went on to a modeling career at Robert Hall while working as a floral designer. Along the way, she won several 1950’s beach pageant titles including Miss Culver City and Venice Surf Festival. Acting, modeling and flowers would be the hallmarks of her life and she made every setting she touched more beautiful, whether by her creative designs or her charming, witty presence.
While modeling, she worked as Miss Clairol, and most amusingly as “Miss Naugahyde” at the Los Angeles Auto Show, displaying with a graceful gesture (which she would later repeat to great comedic effect) “my hat is Naugahyde, my dress is Naugahyde, my shoes are Naugahyde and even my purse is Naugahyde!”
She earned small roles in several movies of the era including cult favorite “The Magic Sword” with Basil Rathbone and “Runaway Girl.” She had recurring parts on both Gunslinger and Bonanza and was killed by Indians a number of times before this sad and final departure.
In 1964 she met singer Glenn Yarbrough. They married in 1967, had one daughter, Holly, in 1969. By 1971 they had “quit the biz” to sail around the world on a ’55 foot ketch they designed and built. During those years as sea, Annie cultivated her talent for writing. Excerpts of her memoir of the trip were published in the SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) magazine. She also wrote many rhyming stories for children and countless memorable poems for friends.
In the mid-1970’s Annie and Glenn co-founded one of the first artist-run labels: Brass Dolphin Records. Annie produced Glenn’s “Live at the Troubadour” album and singlehandedly maintained an international mail order company for a decade.
Later in the 1980’s, her many years of floral arranging inspired her to start one of the first dedicated custom gift basket stores in L.A. called “I’m a Basket Case” on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. Later, she enjoyed being one of the few female designers at the high-end Flower Basket next-door.
Since 1964 she lived in and lovingly cared for the Josef Van der Kar house in the Hollywood Hills. It was built by the architect for his own family in 1940 and Glenn and Annie were the second owners. Annie dedicated her life to the maintenance of the house and garden and her spirit will always dwell there.
Until his death in 2002, Mr. Van der Kar, who became a lifelong friend, always ribbed her about turning his home into a “Hollywood House” complete with an outdoor pool and lava-rock waterfall planter in his once spare living room design. But it was the mid sixties after all, and he lovingly absolved her of her architectural sins, often expressing gratitude at her adoration of the house and grounds and preservation of his work.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Luther Eldon and Marion Theresa Graves, her dear brothers, John Charles and Thomas Eldon Graves, her ex-husband and lifelong friend, Glenn Robertson Yarbrough, and her most beloved dog Nikolas.
She is survived by her daughter, Holly Yarbrough Burnett, son-in-law Robert Burnett, as well as many dear family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Annie’s memory to the Stanford Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford CA 94305. Funds designated in her name will be used to preserve the history of her beloved house in the permanent Van der Kar collection.