Even in death a celebrity may want to make a good impression. Many celebrity gravestones serve as shrines to their work and larger-than-life personas. A place where fans can visit and feel close to their idol and source of inspiration. A memorable gravestone can also remind fans of who they were, at their essence, and often some are just downright funny. Only the best can turn a graveyard into a stage, but if anyone can it’s the 35 celebrities on this list!
1. Mel Blanc Is Going Out In Style
Mel Blanc is the talent behind the voices for some of America’s most beloved cartoon characters. From Barney Rubble on The Flintstones to Bugs Bunny and his iconic “What’s up doc?” in Looney Tunes, his talent for cartoon voice-over work earned him the nickname, “The Man of A Thousand Voices.”
Blanc’s talent made such an impact on American culture that both he and his character Bugs Bunny were given stars on Hollywood Boulevard. One of Blanc’s most memorable lines, and the one that was immortalized on his gravestone, was delivered by quite a few of Blanc’s fan-favorite characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig — “That’s all folks!” A send-off which was usually followed by a wink and a smile.
2. Rodney Dangerfield Finally Got Some Respect
Rodney Dangerfield’s headstone inscription is a jab at himself, and an arguably suitable pick for the popular comedian. Known for his catchy, self-deprecating humor, Dangerfield made popular his catchphrase, “I get no respect!” which he would shout in front of audiences much to their enjoyment.
Dangerfield was used to making audiences laugh with recognizable roles in movies like Caddyshack and Back to School. Aside from in film, his late-night television monologues would be filled with lines like, “When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother!” Even in his grave, it seems like Dangerfield couldn’t help but crack one last joke.
3. Leslie Nielsen’s Love of Flatulence
Comedy actor Leslie Nielsen is well known for his roles as Dr. Rumack in 1980’s absurd satire Airplane! and as Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun crime comedy series. As an actor, he reacted to the silliness of his surroundings with a hilariously straight-faced, deadpan delivery (“I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley!”). Airplane! propelled Nielsen to fame, and by career’s end he had acted in over 100 films and 150 TV programs.
Nielsen was famously a big fan of slapstick comedy, particularly when it involved flatulence. In an interview from 1996 the actor promised that his epitaph would be in reference to his love of gas and whoopee cushions. Well, Nielsen fulfilled that promise, with his tombstone reading, simply, “Let ‘er rip.”
4. Jesse James’ Notorious Death and Tombstone
The iconic outlaw Jesse James, known for robbing banks, stagecoaches and trains was already a Wild West celebrity by the time of his death in 1882. James was killed by fellow outlaw Robert Ford, who it was later discovered had been in cahoots with the governor of Missouri, Thomas T. Crittenden in a desperate bid to be rid of the legendary outlaw.
After his death crowds gathered in the tiny house in St. Joseph, Missouri for a glimpse at James’ body. At last he was laid to rest in a grave in Kearney, with a memorable gravestone written by his mother. Not one to mince words, it reads, “Murdered Apr. 3, 1882, By a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is Not Worthy to Appear Here.”
NEXT: This clever gravestone made our jaws drop!
5. Robert Frost’s Now-Famous Love Affair
When Robert Frost died on January 29, 1963 he left behind a piece of his heart in his many award-winning poetic works. Boasting a Pulitzer Prize and a Congressional Gold Medal, the most notable of Frost’s works include the collections, “A Boy’s Will” and “North of Boston.”
The now-famous line, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world,” comes from his poem, “A Lesson For Today.” Written in 1941, the poem’s ending was requested by Frost to be carved onto his gravestone. As written by Frost the full line read, “And were an epitaph to be my story I’d have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
6. Jackie Gleason Gives One Last Hurrah
Jackie Gleason’s big, brash on-stage presence on Broadway helped him catch his big break in 1949 for the television show The Life of Riley. Audiences loved him and he soon caught the attention of some major studios as well. Three years after Life of Riley aired, CBS gave Gleason the show for which he’s most remembered, The Jackie Gleason Show.
Gleason relied on his Broadway experience to help him spice up the show with a variety of dance and musical numbers. One of his most popular musical numbers, “And Away We Go,” became a trademark of his. “Away we go” became so associated with the comedian during his life, that it was inscribed on the stairs leading up to his gravestone as both a memorial and one final pun.
7. Dean Martin Goes Out On Top
Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Dean Martin made it to the top of the Hollywood heap and died in his Beverly Hills home overlooking the city of Los Angeles, at the age of 78. The singer’s star started to fade slightly from 1958 to 1964, but Martin would prove himself to be timeless.
It was in 1964 that Martin released his song, “Everybody Loves Somebody.” Although industry insiders assumed that Martin would never be able to compete with more modern musicians, the song reached number one on Billboard, knocking The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” down to number two. This unlikely musical achievement is remembered in the epitaph on Martin’s memorable gravestone.
8. Rick James Wanted To Keep Rocking On His Tombstone
The first ever super freak was none other than James Ambrose Johnson Jr, or better known by his stage name, Rick James. His most famous album, “Street Songs,” was released in 1981 and included popular hits like, “Give It To Me Baby” and of course, “Super Freak.”
In 1997 James had to halt his career after numerous health problems forced him into an early retirement. It wasn’t until 2004 that his career was revived in the current cultural conversation after he appeared on Chappelle’s Show, chronicling an episode of his wild partying days. Alas, that same year James died from heart failure. Unfortunately for Chappelle’s Show fans, the epitaph does not include the famously funny “I’m Rick James…” quote from the show.
NEXT: You won’t believe how original some of these gravestones are!
9. Jayne Mansfield Fans Would Do Anything For Her
Jayne Mansfield’s sadly short-lived albeit successful career took her to Broadway and eventually the big screen. Famous for films such as The Girl Can’t Help It and Too Hot To Handle, Mansfield is remembered as one of Golden Age Hollywood’s most iconic blondes. Off-screen however, Mansfield was known for her reportedly tumultuous personal life and publicity stunts including her numerous “wardrobe malfunctions.”
Mansfield was unfortunately taken before her time in a car accident and was buried in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, next to her father. The tombstone was shaped like a heart, but back in California a group of fans had a different idea. A cenotaph placed in the Hollywood Forever Ceremony purposely put her birth year incorrectly, listing it as 1938 rather than 1933 as a tribute to the actress who had a reputation for lying about her age.
10. Jack Lemmon’s Final Casting Credits
Far from a grumpy old man in his twilight years, Jack Lemmon went out with a lengthy list of accolades. Remembered for his roles in The Odd Couple, Some Like It Hot, and The Apartment, Lemmon had lived an extraordinary life before his arrival in Hollywood. The actor was both a Harvard graduate and served as an officer in the U.S. Navy.
Known for his wry wit and comedic timing, Lemmon likely wanted to make a lasting impression before moving on. With nearly 100 acting credits to his name over the course of his career Jack Lemmon had his epitaph inscribed, “Jack Lemmon in,” and then nothing but the ground. Even in death Lemmon knew how to get the last laugh.
11. Merv Griffin Commits to His Jokes
Come on down and learn all about the man behind internationally celebrated game shows, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune — media mogul and television personality, Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. Before becoming the owner of television production companies, Merv Griffin Enterprises and Merv Griffin Entertainment, Griffin himself hosted his own adored series, The Merv Griffin Show.
Home to quite a few Hollywood heavyweights, Griffin is interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Griffin often joked with interviewers how he wanted “I will not be right back after this message” written on his tombstone. He’s only half right though, nowadays, although he’s not around for our live entertainment, anyone can go on the internet and see Griffin on stage with his ear-to-ear grin.
12. Doc Holliday’s Mysterious Gravestone
Coming from a well-to-do family, Doc Holliday was born John Henry Holliday in Griffin, Georgia 1851. He initially pursued dentistry, earning him the moniker, “Doc.” Doc left Georgia for the Wild West after being diagnosed with tuberculosis, believing the climate would help ease his symptoms, and instead found something else.
While traveling through the American Southwest, Holliday became a gambler, which was actually a respectable profession of the era. Unfortunately by age 36 he did in fact lose his fight with tuberculosis and was interred. Nobody has claimed to know where exactly, but it is generally believed he is in Linwood Cemetery. Even the late “doctor’s” epitaph admits that it’s still a mystery.
13. William Shakespeare’s Warning Is Taken Seriously
After William Shakespeare died the world famous playwright wanted to be sure that nobody would be tempted to move his bones since grave robbing was not an uncommon crime of the era. On his gravestone the scribe issues a warning, “Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.”
Essentially, anybody who touches Shakespeare’s bones will be cursed. Considering the number of awful deaths that befell the characters in his plays, it might be a warning best taken seriously. Even when the grave received repairs in 2008, workers were careful not to move anything, just in case it disturbed the bones of one of history’s most celebrated authors.
14. The Wonderful Irony of Oscar Wilde’s Tombstone
It’s too bad an aging portrait couldn’t keep Oscar Wilde around forever. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Wilde is memorialized as an important playwright and author. The premiere writer challenged the moral sensibilities of the time, particularly with his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. However, he was later arrested and eventually convicted for charges relating to homosexuality, which was illegal in the United Kingdom at the time.
Wilde’s imprisonment for following his heart was acknowledged on his tombstone which reads, “A kiss may ruin a human life.” Admirers of the late author have since adorned the grave marker with kisses, actually causing the stone to erode. As a result, French authorities put up a barrier and began fining 9,000 Euros to anyone caught kissing Wilde’s tomb. Kissing the memorable gravestone may not ruin a life anymore but it will get expensive!
NEXT: How was everyone at the funeral not laughing after reading the epitaph on these next ones!
15. John Belushi Is Still Partying
Famous for his impressions of Henry Kissinger, Ludwig van Beethoven, and James T. Kirk, John Belushi first rose to fame during his four year tenure on Saturday Night Live. Although, producer Lorne Michaels initially didn’t want to give him an audition. Personally however, Belushi struggled with substance abuse, a vice which would eventually claim his life.
It would seem as though fans were wishing that they’d had the chance to share just one last drink with the famous comedian. As a result, his gravestone, which reads “I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on,” is often piled with empty bottles. One last round for Belushi and his fans.
16. Billy Wilder Admits a Hard Truth
Originally hailing from Berlin, Billy Wilder got his start in the late 1920s. As the Nazi party rose to power the Jewish writer and his family escaped Germany for Paris before moving to Hollywood. There, Wilder became a successful writer, and for directing major motion pictures like Sabrina, Some Like It Hot and The Apartment.
During World War II, Wilder worked primarily in film noir, putting out Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. But, by the 1950’s the late writer wanted to make a change towards comedy. His comedy writing was so well received, that he was awarded both an Oscar and a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work. Even on the way out he still had one more joke, leaving behind one of the more memorable gravestones.
17. Joe Mafela’s Extravagant Tombstone
Despite growing up under South Africa’s brutal apartheid system, Joe Mafela had already begun acting by age 22. 10 years later in 1974 he starred in South Africa’s first all-black film, Udeliwe. But then, with the advent of South African television in 1976, Mafela switched his focus to becoming a TV star.
After a career that spanned decades Mafela passed away in a car accident in March of 2017. His extravagant tombstone reflected his contributions to television, and is rumored to have cost up to $20,000. While some fans criticized the somewhat lavish resting place, others defended the late actor’s choice, with one fan tweeting, “You can’t expect Joe Mafela to have a similar tombstone to your grandfather. That’s Sdumo, Jubalani Cebekhulu, Wonke Wonke buried there!”
18. Peter Falk’s Touching Epitaph
Steven Spielberg once said of Peter Falk, “I learned more about acting from him at that early stage of my career than I had from anyone else.” It’s true that the late actor had more than enough experience in the entertainment industry to pass along. Falk’s best known role was as the lead in the television series, Columbo, which impressively ran on and off from 1968-2003.
Not only successful in acting, Falk was also lucky in love. He married actress Shera Danese in 1977, and the two even appeared together in numerous episodes of Columbo. After his death the Columbo star left his wife his $5 million estate along with a touching tribute to her on his memorable gravestone.
19. Frank Sinatra Leaves Behind A Hopeful Promise
One thing is certain, Frank Sinatra definitely did it his way. The “My Way” singer sold more than 150 million records worldwide, going out as one of the best selling music artists of all time. TIME (rightly) listed Sinatra as being one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. He could sing, he could dance, he could act — there wasn’t much Sinatra couldn’t do.
Sinatra passed away in 1998 at the age of 82, and was laid to rest in a cemetery near Palm Springs, California. Presumably to help him on his journey, the late singer was buried with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of Camel cigarettes. Armed with the two trustworthy companions, his epitaph came from a quintessentially Sinatra song, “The Best Is Yet To Come.”
20. Bette Davis Doesn’t Take The Easy Way Out
“I did it the hard way,” is a seemingly fitting epitaph for this legendary trailblazing actress. Known for her range of characters across multiple genres including drama, film noir and comedy, Bette Davis is regarded by the American Film Institute as one of the most important leading ladies Hollywood has seen.
Davis holds a number of firsts within the entertainment industry. She is the first person to earn ten Academy Award nominations. The iconic silver screen star was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, and became the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She’s certainly not one to take the easy route.
21. Winston Churchill’s Brilliant Send-Off
The man responsible for leading Britain through World War II was no king, but he certainly had a funeral procession worthy of one. Churchill’s coffin was taken by barge up the river Thames where the dockyard workers had organized the cranes to dip in salute before reaching Waterloo station for a special reason.
Even though Waterloo was out of the way, Churchill had requested that his coffin pass through there if Charles de Gaulle (President of France) outlived him as a jab towards his former ally. Before his death, Churchill is reported as saying, “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Hopefully the two are managing to enjoy each other’s company.
22. Walt Disney
During his life, Walt Disney was a pioneer in the animation industry, and helped to produce some of what could arguably be considered the most recognizable cartoon characters in history. He opened one of the most famous theme parks in the world, Disneyland, and still holds the record for the most Academy Awards earned by a single person.
Disney passed away in December of 1966 from complications arising from lung cancer. In spite of his warm and charismatic persona Disney was a very private man and his funeral reflected that, being open to just friends and family. Even though his memorable gravestone is located in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, rumors persist that he was frozen and entombed beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
NEXT: These next ones manage to be funny and beautiful at the same time.
23. Andy Warhol
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol became a leading figure in the New York art scene from the late 1950s until his death in 1987. He was known for hosting a myriad of figures at his art house; everyone from struggling artists to Hollywood celebrities. Warhol would film many of these struggling artists and immediately after declare them famous, giving rise to the expression “15 minutes of fame.”
When the artist died, he was buried next to his parents, 20 minutes outside his home city of Pittsburgh. The grave was simple, but fans soon decorated it with many of Warhol’s famous subjects. Particularly cans of Campbell’s Soup, Chanel perfume, or Coca-Cola.
24. Jimi Hendrix
At age 15, Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar. 12 years later he was the world’s highest paid performer and the headliner at the historical Woodstock Music Festival. Only a year after Woodstock, Hendrix died from a drug overdose, going down in history as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
Although Hendrix’s initial resting place was a simple tombstone in Renton, Washington, by 2002 his remains were secretly moved by fans to what might be described as a shrine to the legendary guitarist. In spite of the structure’s already impressive design, fans initially planned for a bronze statue and purple fountain which were scrapped.
25. Ed Wynn
Ed Wynn was a pioneer in the field of entertainment radio, performing his radio skits as an actual stage show in front of a live studio audience. Wynn made the transition to television and eventually provided his talents to several Disney films including the voice for the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and as Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins.
Wynn died in 1966, at age 79, from throat cancer. Reportedly, Walt Disney was one of the beloved comedian’s casket bearers and his tombstone was a simple bronze marker which reads, “Dear God: Thank…Ed Wynn.” Red Skelton, a comedian discovered by Wynn, stated at his funeral, “His death is the first time he ever made anyone sad.”
26. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, better known simply as Laurel and Hardy, were a comedic duo during the Classical Hollywood Era of the late 1920s to the early 1940s. Before they teamed up, the duo were already well known, each having made numerous on-screen appearances. Together they starred in over 107 films, and have remained an inspiration to innumerable subsequent comedians.
The comedic duo may not have been buried together, but the appreciation society that they inspired made sure to unite them via the epitaphs on their tombstones. In preparation for his death, Laurel warned, “If you cry at my funeral I’ll never speak to you again!” Likely, the two wanted to remain dedicated to their craft even after they were gone.
27. Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allen Poe’s death was as complex as his life. He was originally buried in an unmarked grave in Baltimore in 1849. Fearing the community would forget where he was buried a gravestone was ordered. Before it could reach the cemetery however it was destroyed in a freak train wreck.
So donations were made, and a beautiful monument was designed for the late poet. The monument was a disaster, it mislabeled Poe’s birthday and was too big for the spot it was meant to be in. Finally, in 1875 the people gave up putting a gravestone and just moved the body to a different cemetery with a separate tombstone already waiting. Reportedly, the gravestone with the raven on it was placed to commemorate his original resting place…but is placed in an incorrect spot.
28. Jules Verne
Jules Verne was a French author, poet, and playwright whose works had major influences in the avant-garde and surrealism literary genres. Verne was known for diligently researching his subjects before writing about them, and his detailed writings about journeys to far reaching lands earned him the title, “Father of Science Fiction.”
Verne was buried in the Cimetiere de la Madeleine in AMiens, France. The statue in front of the memorable gravestone was actually designed directly after Verne’s death mask and depicts the artist bursting out of his grave. Perhaps as a nod to one of his most famous works, Journey to the Center of the Earth.
29. Sir Isaac Newton
It’s hard to begin describing Newton’s accomplishments, there are just so many. Perhaps it’s his discoveries on the laws of motion and gravitation which were published in the book, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. The book as been described by many as one of the single greatest contributions to science.
Newton made it to the age of 84, dying in the year 1727, making him the oldest member of this list. He was given the honorary distinction of being buried at Westminster Abbey. There, a statue of the late scientist depicts him relaxing underneath a globe, finally taking a break after progressing human knowledge by leaps and bounds.
30. Louis Armstrong
If Elvis is the King of Rock and Roll, then Louis Armstrong might be considered the King of Jazz. His career spanned from the 1920s all the way through to the late 1960s, during which he was considered a “crossover” entertainer, meaning his music was able to unite all peoples in a racially divided America.
Armstrong’s gravestone is simple, but his funeral was anything but, and was attended by over 25,000 people. The epitaph simply says “Satchmo,” was one of his nicknames which he earned by apparently having a large mouth. Initially he was called “satchel mouth” but the name was combined to just “Satchmo,” which stuck.
31. Billy Mays
Known for his appearances on the Home Shopping Network, and later through his own company Mays Promotions, Inc, Billy Mays’ impassioned sales pitches made him a recognizable at-home figure. His distinctive attire, voice, and beard could often be seen and heard moving products like Fix-It, OxiClean, and Kaboom to name a few.
Mays died in his home in June 2009 from heart failure. During his funeral, the pallbearers wore Mays’ wore blue shirts and khaki pants in honor of the late salesman. Mays’ memorable gravestone has a photo showing off the classic Billy Mays look, along with a simple epitaph that just says, “Pitchman.”
32. Fans Fell In Love With Dee Dee Ramone
Ramone’s bassist and occasional lead singer Dee Dee Ramone is recounted in his biography as being the most prolific of all the band’s members. Although he had some trouble singing and playing bass simultaneously, he’s still credited for writing some of the Ramone’s most popular songs like “53rd &3rd,” “Commando,” “Wart Hog,” “Poison Heart,” and “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg.”
Unfortunately, Dee Dee Ramone passed away before his time due to complications related to substance abuse. Still, Ramone was so beloved by his fans that his gravestone can frequently be found covered with lipstick kisses. His epitaph was short and sweet, and simply read, “O.K…I gotta go now.”
33. Marilyn Monroe Is Still Getting Kisses
Marilyn Monroe was both an actress and idol of the 1950s and 60s. In spite of her struggles with mental health, her frustration at being underpaid by film studio executives led her to build her own studio in 1954, and take control of her career. It was then that Monroe starred in her most acclaimed and unforgettable films, such as The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, and The Misfits.
The iconic blonde is buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, with her body entombed at Crypt No. 24 at the Corridor of Memories. Today, fans flock to the site to come kiss the beloved beauty queen’s gravestone, which is now adorned in lipstick marks of eternal adoration and affection. Hugh Hefner actually purchased the crypt next to Monroe’s and was buried there when he passed in 2017.
34. Sam Kinison’s Career Turnaround is Memorialized
Comedian Sam Kinison started his working life perhaps a little unexpectedly as a Pentecostal preacher. His “fire and brimstone” style of preaching, punctuated with passionate shouts however, went on to influence his comedy routine. Kinison’s stand-up was largely influenced by his former job, and nothing was too taboo, including jabs at the Bible, Christianity and even Evangelist scandals.
Kinison’s life was sadly cut short on April, 10 1992 when he was in an automobile accident. Noteworthy comedians of the day including George Carlin, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, and Rodney Dangerfield all paid homage to the impassioned funnyman in subsequent performances. Still, Kinison wasn’t going out without one last joke on his memorable gravestone, laughing at the idea of his life had he stayed a preacher.
35. Fans Are Still Partying With Jim Morrison
During his life as front man and lead vocalist of The Doors, Jim Morrison was known for his wild and unpredictable performances. His fans fell in love with his uninhibited personality so much, that Morrison became regarded as being essentially the human embodiment of the counterculture movement of the 1960s.
Sadly, Morrison passed away abruptly in Paris at the age of 27. Seeing as the cause of death remains a mystery, fans are left to speculate on his too-soon departure. The Parisian graveyard where he is buried, the Père Lachaise Cemetery, has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Today, fans commemorate his life by leaving anything from flowers, to bottles and cigarettes on this revered gravestone.
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