Local propmaker recalls recovered tombstone prop

Now that its been confirmed as a prop, the tombstone as it appears without information blacked out. Courtesy photo

A lingering mystery over how a TV prop tombstone ended up on the front lawn of a Stevenson Ranch house diminished a little Wednesday as TV production personnel recalled working with the bluish marble headstone.

Longtime Santa Clarita resident Justin J. LaPersle has worked as the “gang boss” and prop maker for some of the biggest box office hit movies including two Pirates of The Caribbean movies, Training Day and Inception.

He’s done art department work – again as gang boss, which non-film people might call a project manager – for several hit TV shows such as Veep and Silicon Valley.

The Signal caught up with the veteran prop maker on the set of Ant Man II being shot in Atlanta, GA.

“It’s been 20 years, but I do remember the tombstone scene,” LaPersle told The Signal Wednesday. “Someone probably took it home.”

When Simi Valley toy designer Thomas Steves read about the tombstone being found March 13 on the front lawn of a home on Durant Place he was moved by the mystery and began looking for the people named on the slab.

Before he began his search, Thomas, who at one time worked in the movie industry, had a hunch the tombstone was a prop.

The bluish gray slab, left in gravel and found Monday, was engraved with the words “Timothy Daniel Beatty – born in 1949 and died in 1996 – Loving husband of Alice.”

He found Alice Beatty listed as a character on the TV series EZ Streets which ran for one season in 1996/97.

One of the show’s episodes was shot in a cemetery, where the character of Alice Beatty mourned the death of her fictional character husband, Timothy.

LaPersle said most of the episodes for the show were shot in the old postal area by the train station in downtown Los Angeles. And, that’s where Episode 4 of EZ Streets called St. Jude Takes A Bullet was shot, he said, and it called for a tombstone.

LaPersle recommended The Signal reach out to other people who worked on the Art Direction of EZ Streets.

Steves, who tracked the tombstone to the TV shows, remains convinced that someone on the production had the weighty prop tucked away in their garage.

“Somebody in the prop department must have had it,” Steves told The Signal last week.

Art department gang boss LaPersle concurs.

Now, the only lingering question remains:  who had it?

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