Valhalla is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) within the town of Mount Pleasant, in Westchester County, New York, in the New York City metropolitan area. Its population was 3,162 at the 2010 U.S. Census. The name was inspired by a fan of the composer Richard Wagner, and the hamlet is known both as the home of the primary hospital campus of Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College and as the burial place of numerous noted people. Valhalla is the realm of the gods in Norse mythology.
The Kensico Cemetery was founded in 1889 in Valhalla at a time when many of the cemeteries in the city of New York were filling up, and several rural cemeteries were founded near the railroads that served the metropolis. Initially 250 acres (100 ha) in size, the cemetery was expanded to 600 acres (2.4 km2) in 1905, but reduced to 460 acres (1.9 km2) in 1912, when a portion of its land was sold to the neighboring Gate of Heaven Cemetery.
The Kensico Cemetery is the final resting place of the writer Paddy Chayefsky (The Americanization of Emily and Network), actress Billie Burke, who played Glinda, the "Good Witch of the North", in the classic film The Wizard of Oz, alongside her famed Broadway impresario husband, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. Also interred within Kensico Cemetery and Gate of Heaven Cemetery are the big band leader Tommy Dorsey; the New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno; the former CBS News president Fred Friendly; the legendary New York Yankees star Lou Gehrig; the film star and comedian Danny Kaye; the comedian and TV pioneer Soupy Sales; the virtuoso pianist, composer, and conductor, Sergei Rachmaninoff; the author Ayn Rand; NBC founder David Sarnoff; artist Robert De Niro, Sr.; and the first Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, James E. West. It is also where Herbert Howard Booth, the son of the Salvation Army founder William Booth, who was the founder of the Salvation Army Musical Department is interred. Giovanni Turini, a sculptor from Italy, who was born in 1841 and died in 1899, made the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a man he served in the fighting surrounding the unification of Italy, in Washington Square, and also the bust of Giuseppe Mazzini in Central Park is buried there, as is actress Anne Bancroft.