The Best Celebrity Tombstones You’ll Ever See
A tombstone is usually not the ideal way to try and summarize someone’s life, often being far too limiting in words. But sometimes, you see someone’s grave in a cemetery and you immediately understand that person’s whole essence, just with a simple word or phrase.
Some of the world’s most famous entertainers found the perfect way to keep their legacies alive and also give visitors another chuckle after they’ve passed on. From the man who voiced Bugs Bunny to some of the most famous singers of all time, take a look at which celebrities’ tombstones we won’t forget anytime soon…
Rodney Dangerfield was an accomplished comedian, actor, screenwriter, and producer, and was beloved by many. His classic comedies Back to School and Caddyshack both helped solidify his name in households all over the world. He was most notable for his quick one-liners and his go-to slogan “I get no respect!”
Dangerfield passed away in 2004 due to complications from a surgery that caused him to fall into a lengthy coma. Despite his passing, he made sure that his final words would reiterate his self-deprecating persona. Written on his Westwood Village Memorial Park tombstone are simply his words and the line, “There goes the neighborhood.”
Jack Lemmon was nominated for eight Oscars and won two of them during his acting career. He began his career in the 1940s performing on Broadway and then moved over to TV and film including roles in Save the Tiger, Mister Roberts, The Apartment, The Great Race, and Some Like It Hot.
His wit and ability to make people laugh made him famous and even after his passing, Lemmon’s wit remains intact. His tombstone reads “JACK LEMMON in,” like a title screen, implying that he is now in the ground. He is also buried near the grave of his close friend and The Odd Couple co-star, Walter Matthau.
Jackie Gleason, nicknamed “The Great One”, made people laugh out loud with his stand-up routines and acting. His show, The Jackie Gleason Show, consistently drew large audiences over several decades and his role in the Honeymooners solidified his star status.
Gleason passed away at home in 1987 after battling several ailments. His tombstone reads “And away we go!” Always a showman, his final words to the world were his catchphrase and how he signed off at the end of each episode of The Jackie Gleason Show.
Frank Sinatra reached icon status in his 82 years of life. His accomplishments in music are outstanding. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and eleven Grammys in recognition of his status as one of the best-selling musicians of all time.
The singer suffered a heart attack and passed away in 1998 by his wife’s side. A line from one of his famous songs, “The Best Is Yet to Come,” is engraved on his tombstone in Desert Memorial Park near Palm Springs. After his passing, sales soared as fans flocked to buy the album.
Dean Martin was a comedian, actor, and singer known as “The King of Cool.” Hit songs like “Sway,” “Memories Are Made of This,” and “Everybody Loves Somebody” were among his many achievements, and he hosted shows including The Dean Martin Show and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast.
Martin, a chronic smoker, had emphysema and was told he needed surgery to live. He declined and died of acute respiratory failure in 1995 at the age of 78. He’s buried in Los Angeles and his tombstone reads, “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime,” after one of his most well-known songs.
Jim Morrison, lead singer for the band The Doors, passed unexpectedly at the age of 27 in Paris. In 1971, he was laid to rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery. A headstone wasn’t placed on his grave until after ten years had passed. Unfortunately, it was later taken by thieves.
Many of his worldwide admirers visit his tomb, where they frequently leave graffiti or “love locks,” to show their support and love for the singer. His tomb reads in Greek “KATA TON DAIMONA EAUTOU” which translates to “true to his own spirit” or “true to his own demon.”
Marilyn Monroe is an icon. She is one of the most famous people of all time and her untimely passing at 36 stunned the world. The memorial service for Marilyn Monroe was held privately, but hundreds of fans mourned her loss outside the gates of Westwood Village Memorial Park.
Monroe is buried at crypt number 24 in the Corridor of Memories and people pay tribute to the blonde bombshell by visiting and kissing her tomb while wearing red lipstick. Hugh Hefner bought the crypt next to her and was buried by her side when he passed in 2017.
The passing away of Elvis Presley in 1977 saddened his legions of devoted followers. Even though his health had been deteriorating in the years preceding his passing, news that the King of Rock and Roll had died of cardiac arrest at his Graceland home at the age of 42 shocked the world.
The late singer was laid to rest in the Graceland cemetery. His tombstone oddly contains a misspelling of his middle name. Aaron should be spelled with one “a” as Elvis had spelled it “Aron” throughout his career. Some fans believe Elvis left this as a clue and that he is actually still alive.
Comedian and actress Gilda Radner was most recognized for her role on Saturday Night Live, where her geeky character, Roseanne Roseannadanna, became a fan favorite. Radner died at the age of 42 after a valiant fight against ovarian cancer which led to more awareness and research on the disease.
Being one of the rare people who can put “comedian” and “ballerina” on their headstones, she will be sorely missed in the world of comedy. She was laid to rest in the Union Cemetery at Long Ridge in Stamford, Connecticut, near the home she shared with her husband Gene Wilder.
Billy Wilder was a prolific filmmaker who created over 60 films as a writer, producer, and director. He made history by becoming the first individual to win Oscars for directing, producing, and writing all in the same year. Billy passed away in 2002.
Wilder was laid to rest in Los Angeles at Westwood Memorial Park, not far from where he lived in Beverly Hills. His tombstone reads, “I’m a writer, but then nobody’s perfect.” He was iconic and his films helped define certain decades, but he still went out on a humble note.
You may not recognize the name but if you’ve heard of Cthulu, then you know his work. HP Lovecraft was a pioneer in the horror genre and was known for being a bit weird. He spent his entire life in Providence, Rhode Island where he was born and eventually buried.
Lovecraft added his own name to the Phillips family tomb at Swan Point Cemetery. On the tomb, he has the words “I am Providence” carved into it. There’s also a mention of a letter he wrote to Lillian D. Clark back in 1926.
William Butler Yeats, an illustrious Irish poet, passed away at the relatively young age of 73 in 1939. Originally, he was buried in France, but he was then moved to St. Columba’s Church in Drumcliff, Ireland where you can find his somewhat unique gravestone.
“Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by,” it reads on his tombstone. The words come from a poem that was published a year before he passed away titled “Under Ben Bulben.” He also specified that he did not want marble or conventional phrasing on his tombstone.
A well-known comedian of the 1930s, Ed Wynn was a huge hit with audiences everywhere. He is well remembered for his role as the Perfect Fool on radio programs. Alan Tudyk’s impersonation of him as King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph has made his voice recognizable to a new generation.
In 1966, he passed away from throat cancer. Wynn and his son, Keenan Wynn, are both buried in the Forest Memorial Park. The wry inscription on his bronze tombstone is exactly what you’d expect from the witty comic. It reads, “Dear God: Thanks… Ed Wynn.”
Jesse James was a notorious criminal from the 19th century. He became famous and somehow well-liked across the country despite having committed numerous bank and railroad robberies in the Midwest. A new gang member looking for amnesty for his crimes assassinated him in 1882.
James’s passing cemented his status as a Western icon and Zerelda Samual, James’s mother, penned his epitaph which took shots at her son’s killer. It reads, “In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son. Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is no Worthy to Appear Here.”
Poet and playwright Oscar Wilde has been gone for over 100 years but women still visit his grave and leave crimson lip prints on the headstone, much like those left at the tomb of Marilyn Monroe. Thousands visit Wilde’s tomb annually, and women can’t seem to stop kissing it.
The tomb was made “kiss-proof” in 2011 by installing a glass barrier to stop visitors from getting lipstick on its marble surface as the animal fat contained in the cosmetic was damaging the stone. Wilde died in 1900 in Paris, France at age 46 and is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Joe Mafela was considered a jack of all trades. After establishing himself as a prominent actor in his twenties, the South African branched out into other creative fields, including directing, producing, and even singing. The grave marker for Mafela is quite intriguing.
The gravestone, which tipped the scales at a hefty five tons, was fashioned from marble to resemble a home’s living room, complete with a television, dining table, seats, and a book. Unfortunately, the tomb had to be removed due to its extreme weight which was causing the ground to sink.
Mel Blanc chose to go out with a lighthearted, yet touching final note. Appropriately dubbed “The Man of a Thousand Voices” for his vast vocal range, Mel voiced so many iconic cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig just to name a few.
The phrase “That’s All Folks” honors his time spent working on the Looney Toons and is inscribed on his gravestone. Ingenious as well as tragic, it succeeds in every way. Though Mel is no longer here, his voice will live on for many, many generations through his incredible work.
To many, Doc Holliday instantly conjures up images of the Wild West. Although he only engaged in one or two gunfights during his lifetime, he became notorious for his willingness to fire his weapon at any target. Holliday continues to be a source of creativity for filmmakers in the Western genre.
Given the dangerous way in which he lived his life, you can be certain he died in an epic gun battle, right? Wrong, he actually died from tuberculosis and his tombstone pays homage to that by reading simply “He died in bed.” What a mundane end to such an eventful life.
The songs “Give It To Me Baby” and “Super Freak” made Rick James famous as a musician and the Chapelle Show immortalized him as a pop culture figure. The two-ton tombstone’s weight makes it nearly impossible to move. He’s laid to rest in Buffalo, NY where Rick was born and spent his formative years.
The tombstone itself is black and sleek and features an image of Rick James holding a guitar on it. It reads, “I’ve had it all, I’ve done it all, I’ve seen it all, it’s all about love… God is love.” James’ fans flock to the grave site and leave empty liquor bottles as a tribute to him.
Don Knotts, who was widely recognized for his appearances in Three’s Company and The Andy Griffith Show, passed away at 81 years old in 2006. His simple tombstone was later replaced with an elaborate memorial that pays tribute to his life and accomplishments.
The updated bronze plaque’s inscription states “He saw the poignancy in people’s pride and pain and turned it into something hilarious and endearing.” Fans can visit Knott’s gravestone at The Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Brentwood, California.
American radio and TV host, singer, and Broadway and film actor Merv Griffin may be best known as the man who came up with the idea for the hit game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! In addition, he was the host of his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show.
Unfortunately, Griffin lost his battle with prostate cancer in August of 2007. His tombstone is classic and witty and is the perfect tribute to Merv. It reads “I will not be right back after this message.” He is buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in California.
Andy Warhol was an innovative artist who specialized in pop art. He had actually spoken about his wishes regarding his grave prior to his passing. In 1985, Warhol declared “I always thought I’d like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph and no name. Well, actually, I’d like it to say ‘figment.'”
Just two years later, in 1987, he passed away. He was laid to rest next to his mother and father near Pittsburgh. His tombstone does not contain an epitaph but it does list his name. Visitors often leave Campbell’s soup cans and coke bottles at his gravesite to celebrate his art.
Shakespeare’s legacy will live on forever and many people want to pay their respects at his final resting place. If you go, you will see a message from the poet. Visitors to the playwright’s grave in England are warned not to touch his bones or they may be cursed.
His gravestone reads “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forebeare, To digg the dust enclosed heare; Bleste be the man that spares thes stones, And curst be he that moves my bones.” According to popular belief, this is meant to deter would-be grave thieves from disturbing his remains.
Winston Churchill was one of the most well-known British prime ministers, and he guided his country through WWII. Moreover, he was instrumental in the formation of the European Union. He was probably most famous for his inspiring speeches and his words will live on for many years to come.
Churchill was sure of himself, convinced that he was destined for great things. His attitude in life was reflected on his gravestone after he passed away from a stroke in 1965. It reads, “I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another question.”
Bette Davis is synonymous with Old Hollywood and most feel that she was one of the most talented performers in the history of film. She had a long and successful acting career spanning five decades, appearing in everything from historical films and horror to her signature romantic dramas.
Her professional success was not achieved without struggle as she fought against studios who tried to sign her to unfavorable contracts. Davis passed away in 1989 from breast cancer. Director Joe Mankiewicz, a close friend of Davis’s, came up with the fitting inscription: “She did it the hard way.”
Robert Frost’s poems spoke to the world and will never be forgotten. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and four Pulitzer Prizes for his writing. “The Road Not Taken” is not only Robert Frost’s most well-known poem but also one of the most renowned poems of all time.
Frost, sadly, suffered a great amount of loss and dealt with grief nearly his entire life. Although Frost penned several phrases that would be acceptable for a tombstone, he chose one original piece. “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world,” is written on the stone.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the most well-known Founding Fathers of the United States, is often credited with the phrase “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Perhaps he regrets that now as history buffs and admirers from all around the world visit his grave and throw pennies on it.
A significant crack developed on the marble gravestone and it was long thought to have been caused by all of the pennies being tossed on it. A local restoration firm, however, has said that the crack is most likely due to moisture pooling underneath its base.
When you think of Western movie stars, John Wayne probably comes to mind. In addition to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he was a top box office draw for 30 years. Wayne was originally buried in an unmarked grave, most likely to avoid damage to the stone.
In 1999, 20 years after passing away, his grave finally received a plaque. Wayne had previously requested the words “Feo, Fuerte y Formal,” be on his grave which translates to “Ugly, Strong, and Dignified.” His family obliged and also added a quote from an interview the star gave.
Actress Jayne Mansfield had a very public personal life until her untimely passing in a vehicle crash at age 34. She left behind five children and on July 3rd, 1967, her burial was held in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, where she was laid to rest next to her father.
Her fan group erected a memorial in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Mansfield was so notorious for exaggerating her youth that her age was a point of contention long after her passing. Her fans mistakenly put 1938 as her birth year, although she was actually born in 1933.
Karl Marx is buried in London, despite the fact that he was a stateless exile from Germany at the time of his passing. In 1883, at the age of 64, Marx passed away, shortly after the passing of his wife Jenny. Whoever chose his grave marker also decided to add a bust at the top.
Walking through a cemetery and seeing a giant stone bust of a man’s head is an unusual and disconcerting sight, but it was his intellect that brought him fame. He was a philosopher, economist, and historian, and one of the most significant people in history.
Jimi Hendrix, a legendary guitarist, was laid to rest in Renton, Washington’s Greenwood Cemetery with a simple headstone after his untimely passing in 1970. However, his bones were covertly transferred to a grandiose memorial monument on November 26, 2002, the day before he would have turned 60.
A larger memorial was built to help accommodate the large number of visitors who want to pay tribute to the rock star. In the original layout, there was supposed to be a purple fountain, but it was scrapped. However, it truly is a beautiful place for fans to come and celebrate Hendrix.
Dee Dee Ramone
The Ramones, a seminal group in the history of punk rock, was formed by Douglas Glenn Colvin. Although he didn’t sing, he was the band’s most prolific songwriter. After the band broke up, he tried his hand as a hip hop singer under the stage name Dee Dee Ramone, but it didn’t last long either.
A heroin overdose caused Ramone to pass away in 2002. He was laid to rest next to his bandmate Johnny Ramone in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. His gravestone reads, succinctly: “O.K…I gotta go now,” demonstrating that wit was never far from his mind.
The comedy world suffered a major loss when John Belushi suddenly passed away in 1982 at just 33 years old. The Saturday Night Live star was laid to rest at Abel’s Hill Cemetery in Chilmark, Massachusetts on Martha’s Vineyard after he died of a heroin overdose.
The memorial stands at the cemetery’s entrance and is the actor’s second tombstone. The inscription on the gravestone reads, “I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on.” Half-smoked marijuana cigarettes, bottle tops, flowers, and other mementos are common items left by visitors.
Canadian actor and comedian Leslie Nielsen had a 60-year-long career. Airplane!, the Naked Gun movies, and the Police Squad! TV series are a few works he was famous for. His friends say he was a prankster who frequently used a hand-operated fart machine.
Nielsen passed away peacefully in his sleep from pneumonia in 2010. At his funeral, the Naked Gun soundtrack played over the speakers. He’s buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale. In jest, he chose the phrase “Let ‘er rip” as his parting message to the world on his tombstone.
Don Rickles, a legendary actor and comedian, passed away in 2017, leaving behind a sizable family to grieve the incredible loss of a great man. The Emmy winner was memorialized with a moving tombstone that read, “Beloved dad, husband, pop pop, brother-in-law, and friend.”
It continues “The world was a brighter and better place while you were here. You will be remembered forever and ever.” His body was laid to rest in California at the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery and that is where you can find this loving tribute.
Country music enthusiasts all over the world continue to honor Johnny Cash’s legacy. Songs like “Ring of Fire,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Get Rhythm,” and “Walk the Line” are so iconic that even people who don’t like country music are likely to have heard at least one.
After struggling with diabetes for years, Cash passed away in 2003. In Hendersonville Memory Gardens, close to his homeland in Tennessee, he was laid to rest beside his wife, June Carter. His gravestone reads, “I Walk The Line,” which is a fitting epitaph.
Famous country singer Buck Owens passed away in his sleep on March 25, 2006, only a few hours after a show. After his passing, his loved ones had the family mausoleum in Bakersfield, California etched with “Buck’s Place,” and he was laid to rest there.
The term “Buck’s Place” came from a nickname many gave to Owens’ concert theater. Owens and his band, the Buckaroos, had 21 singles that peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts throughout his long and successful career. He also co-hosted the hit TV variety show, Hee Haw, with Roy Clark.
Edgar Allan Poe
It should come as no surprise that Edgar Allan Poe has a one-of-a-kind epitaph. He was the author of many chilling tales and gloomy poems of the 19th century. He also made history as the first famous American author to live off of his writing alone.
In October of 1849, Poe unexpectedly passed away. There is much mystery and speculation regarding his cause of death and it is unknown to this day. He was buried in Baltimore, Maryland, next to his loved ones. The stone has the words “Quoth the Raven: Nevermore” carved into it.
Sam Kinison was an immensely popular comic, in no little part due to his characteristic scream and larger-than-life stage presence. In a funny twist, his brother Bill Kinison actually told him he “had no stage presence” as a preacher, so Sam left that profession to try his hand at comedy.
Kinison and his wife were driving to a show in Laughlin, NV when they were hit by a drunk driver, and Sam was killed. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sam was laid to rest in the family plot. The words, “In another time and place he would have been called prophet.” are engraved on his gravestone.
Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott, the guitarist for Pantera and Damageplan, was murdered in 2004 by a crazed fan who ran on the stage where Abbott was performing and shot him several times. Moore Memorial Gardens in Arlington, Texas is where he was laid to rest next to his mother.
Fitting for a rock star, Abbott was laid to rest with one of Eddie Van Halen’s guitars, while KISS member Gene Simmons gave the family a Kiss Kasket. Vinnie Paul, Dimebag’s brother and bandmate, passed away suddenly in 2018. He, like his brother, was laid to rest in a KISS Kasket as well.