No matter how famous you are in life, we all end up in the ground. In a cemetery, every person is simply a headstone. How you stand out amidst the sea of death? These famous people knew the answer: create a clever epitaph.
Those who referenced their movies and songs or carved jokes into their tombstones will still be remembered decades from now. Here are the wittiest and hilarious celebrity tombstones.
Mel Blanc Used One Of His Thousand Voices
Mel Blanc earned the nickname The Man of a Thousand Voices for a reason. He has voiced memorable cartoon characters including Tweety Bird, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat, Marvin the Martian, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, the Tasmanian Devil, and Porky Pig.
His work with Looney Toons was immortalized on his tombstone with the phrase “That’s All Folks.” It manages to be clever but heartbreaking at the same time.
Doc Holliday, The Most Famous Old West Shooter
Doc Holliday is one of the most recognizable Old West outlaws. During his life, he was nationally famous for being a trigger-happy gunman, even though he only got into one or two gunfights. Today, Western film makers still use Holliday as inspiration for their plots and characters.
So how did he die? In the midst of blazing gunfire? According to his tombstone, “He died in bed.” Yeah, Holliday died from tuberculosis, not a gun wound.
Merv Griffin Will Not Be Back
Merv Griffin was an American radio host, band singer, Broadway actor, and television host. Most people know him for creating the game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! which still run today. He also hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show.
In August of 2007, Griffin passed away from prostate cancer. His gravestone in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery states, “I will not be right back after this message.”
Leslie Nielson Makes Fart Jokes Even In Death
Leslie Nielson was a Canadian actor and comedian. His most famous works include Airplane!, The Naked Gun series, and the Police Squad! TV show. Those who knew him say he was a practical jokester who often pranked people with his hand-controlled fart machine.
In 2018, Nielson died in his sleep after a battle with pneumonia. His body lies in Fort Lauderdale’s Evergreen Cemetery. As a final joke, he wrote “Let ‘er rip” as his epitaph.
Winston Churchill Challenged His Maker
As one of the most famous British Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill led his country through World War II. He also helped establish the European Union. His speeches will be quoted for years to come.
Self-confident and brash, Churchill believed himself to be a man of destiny. After he died of a stroke in 1965, his gravestone reflected his attitude. It says: “I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another question.”
Jack Lemmon In…
Jack Lemmon was an actor who won two Academy Awards and was nominated for eight more. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Lemmon acted in Save the Tiger, Mister Roberts, The Apartment, The Great Race, and Some Like It Hot. He was well known for his comedy and quick wits.
Lemmon continued his wit even in death. His tombstone is formatted like a title screen: JACK LEMMON in,” suggesting that he’s literally in the ground.
Dee Dee Ramone’s Gotta Go
Douglas Glenn Colvin founded the punk rock band the Ramones. He was also the band’s more prolific writer, although he played the base instead of sang. After the band, he embarked on a short-lived career as a hip hop singer, Dee Dee Ramone.
In 2002, Ramone died of a heroin overdose. He was buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery near his bandmate, Johnny Ramone. His epitaph simply says, “O.K…I gotta go now,” proving that he was witty until the end.
Dear Ed Wynn: Thanks…
Ed Wynn was a popular comedian in the 1930s. He is most noted for his Perfect Fool character that he played on radio shows. He died in 1966 due to throat cancer. Modern audiences may recognize his voice, since Alan Tudyk imitated it for King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph.
Wynn’s grave resides in the Forest Memorial Park alongside his son, Keenan Wynn. His bronze grave marker reflects his sense of humor: “Dear God: Thanks…Ed Wynn.”
Rodney Dangerfield Ruined The Neighborhood
Rodney Dangerfield was a popular comedian, actor, screenwriter, producer, and author. You might recognize him from comedies such as Back to School and Caddyshack. Above all, Dangerfield became famous for his one-liners and his catchphrase, “I get no respect!”
In 2004, Dangerfield died after several weeks in a coma. He was buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park, and his gravestone listed his final one-liner: “Rodney Dangerfield…There goes the neighborhood.”
Billy Wilder Is Just A Writer
For over 50 years, Billy Wilder wrote, produced, and directed over 60 movies. He became the first person to win Academy Awards as a director, producer, and screenwriter all at the same time. After defining the ’30s and ’50s with his films, Wilder passed away in 2002.
Wilder is buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, near his Beverly Hills home. His gravestone says, “I’m a writer, but then nobody’s perfect.” It’s the perfect exit for an influential man remaining humble.
Jesse James Takes A Final Stab At His Killer
Jesse James gained celebrity status in 19th-century America through being an outlaw. Despite robbing trains and banks across the Midwest, he garnered national fame and sympathy. In 1882, he was killed by a new gang recruit who wanted to collect amnesty for his crimes. After his death, James became a legendary figure of the Wild West.
James’s mother, Zerelda Samual, wrote his epitaph for him. “In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son,” it reads, “Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is no Worthy to Appear Here.” Ouch.
Frank Sinatra Promoted His Songs Even In Death
Even those who aren’t a fan of jazz have at least heard about Frank Sinatra. As one of the best-selling music artists of all time, he won the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and eleven Grammy Awards.
Sinatra died next to his wife in 1998 after a heart attack. His tombstone in Desert Memorial Park references one of his songs: “The Best Is Yet To Come.” After he died, sales for this album skyrocketed.
Dean Martin’s Sometime Is Now
Dean Martin, appropriately nicknamed “The King of Cool,” was a comedian, actor, and singer. Along with hosting shows such as The Dean Martin Show and Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, he also performed several hit singles such as “Sway,” “Memories Are Made of This,” And “Everybody Loves Somebody.”
A heavy smoker, Martin died of acute respiratory failure in 1995. In crypt in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery says, “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.” Those are lyrics from his hit song, in which he also sings, “My sometime is now.”
Robert Frost And His Lover’s Quarrel
Robert Frost’s poetry will never be forgotten. He won four Pulitzer Prizes for his work and a Congressional Gold Medal. On top of that, he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature three times. Unfortunately, Frost also grappled with depression throughout his life.
Although Frost wrote many lines that would be fit for a tombstone, he chose one original piece. “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world,” the stone says.
Bette Davis Did It The Hard Way
Bette Davis is considered one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history. From the 1930s to the 1980s, she acted in historical films, horrors, comedies, and most famously, romantic dramas. However, her career didn’t come without a fight. She often fought against studios who were pushing her into constraining contracts.
In 1989, Davis died from breast cancer. Her friend, director Joe Mankiewicz, suggested an inscription that fit Davis’s character: “She did it the hard way.”
John Wayne Didn’t Get What He Wanted
John Wayne is one of the most famous Western movie directors of all time. He was a top office draw for three decades and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. His gravestone, in Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery, is solemn. But it wasn’t what Wayne initally wanted.
According to his son, Wayne wanted his tombstone to read “Feo, Fuerte y Formal,” which translates to “Ugly, Strong, and Dignified.” Despite his request, others chose a quote that came from his 1971 interview with Playboy.
Jackie Gleason’s Final Sendoff
Best known for his verbal and visual comedy, Jackie Gleason brought the world to tears with his stand-up and acting jokes. His show, The Jackie Gleason Show, maintained high ratings for decades. He also acted in films and produced incredibly popular “mood music.”
In 1987, Gleason died in his Florida home from multiple illnesses. He ended his life with the same sendoff that he gave during every Jackie Gleason Show episode, which is also his catchphrase: “And away we go!”
Johnny Cash Walks The Line
Even today, country music fans around the world celebrate Johnny Cash’s work. Even those who dislike country star have at least heard songs like “Ring of Fire,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Get Rhythm,” and “Walk the Line.”
In 2003, Cash died of diabetes complications. He was buried near his Tennessee hometown in Hendersonville Memory Gardens next to his wife. His tombstone appropriately says, “I Walk The Line.” His wife, June Carter, placed the name of her final album on her grave: “Wildwood Flower.”
Edgar Allan Poe Is Nevermore
No one should be surprised that Edgar Allen Poe’s epitaph is unique. The 19th-century author is best known for his horror stories and dark poems. He was also the first well-known American writer to earn a living through his writing alone.
Poe died in October of 1849 under mysterious circumstances. He shares his grave with his family in Baltimore, Maryland. On top of the stone, a half-moon depiction of a raven says, “Quoth the Raven: Nevermore.”
HP Lovecraft Was As Creepy As Ever
If you’ve ever referenced Cthulu, you know at least a bit of Lovecraft’s work. HP Lovecraft was a horror writer who forever transformed the genre. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island, where he also died 46 years later.
Lovecraft joined his parents on the Phillips family monument in Swan Point Cemetery. His tombstone reads, “I am Providence.” It references a letter he sent to Lillian D. Clark in 1926. The city is now well known for being Lovecraft’s home.
Jim Morrison’s Grave Is Totally Defaced
The lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison passed away at the age of 27 in Paris. He was buried in Division 6 in Père Lachaise cemetery on July 7, 1971. His grave didn’t have a headstone until ten years after his death. Then, it was stolen.
Fans from around the world visit his gravesite and often deface it. Fans also add “love locks” which are padlocks that have two peoples’ names on them, locked to a fence or gate as a symbol that they’ll be together forever.
Rick James Has Seen It All
Rick James was a musician most well-known for his hits, “Give It To Me Baby” and “Super Freak.” He’s buried in Buffalo, New York where he was raised, and his tombstone weighs two tons, so it won’t be stolen.
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.” Fans stop by and leave empty liquor bottles as a tribute to James.
Fans Leave Campbell’s Soup For Andy Warhol
Pop art legend Andy Warhol is buried in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he grew up. In 1985, Warhol said, “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.'”
That’s not what ended up happening, however. He was buried alongside his parents and the Andy Warhol Museum streams live video of his gravesite on its website so fans can see it whenever they please!
The King Of Rock And Roll Is Buried At Graceland
Elvis Presley was an icon of rock and roll, and fans were devastated when he passed away in 1977. His health was declining in the years leading up to his death, but it was still shocking to hear that the King of Rock and Roll had died of cardiac arrest in his Graceland home at the age of 42.
He was laid to rest at Graceland. Unfortunately, his middle name on his tombstone is misspelled. “Aaron” should be “Aron”.
Fans Kiss The Tomb Of Marilyn Monroe
Although Marilyn Monroe’s funeral service was private, hundreds of mourning fans gathered outside of the cemetery gates at Westwood Village Memorial Park. Monroe was later entombed at Crypt No. 24 at the Corridor of Memories, where fans visit and kiss her tomb, wearing red lipstick.
News of her passing made front-page news in the United States and Europe. At just 36-years-old, there were also many conspiracy theories surrounding her death. When Hugh Hefner died, he was entombed next to her.
Jayne Mansfield’s Fan Club Listed Her Incorrect Birth Year
Actress Jayne Mansfield tragically died in a car accident at the age of 34. Her funeral took place on July 3, 1967, in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, and she was buried next to her father.
However, a cenotaph, pictured here, was placed in the Hollywood Forever Ceremony by her fan club. Mansfield had a reputation for lying about her age, and the confusion carried on even after her death. Her fans incorrectly listed her birth year as 1938, when in fact, it was 1933.
John Belushi And Rock And Roll
Comedian and Saturday Night Live star John Belushi was taken from us too early in life. Following his drug overdose, Belushi’s tombstone was placed deep inside Abel’s Hill Cemetery located in Chilmark, Massachusetts.
This tombstone is actually the second for the actor and serves as a memorial near the cemetery entrance. The tombstone reads “I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on.” Visitors often leave tokens of their appreciation including half-smoked marijuana cigarettes, bottle caps, flowers, and more
Comedian Gilda Radner was most well-known as a cast member for Saturday Night Live, especially for her beloved geeky character Roseanne Roseannadanna. Sadly, Radner passed away after a tough battle with ovarian cancer at the age of 42.
She’s very missed in the comedy world and is one of the few people who can claim both “comedian” and “ballerina” on their tombstone. She’s buried at the Long Ridge Union Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut.
Sam Kinison’s Friends Did Him Right
Comedian Sam Kinison had an enormous stage presence, including his trademark scream. He used to be a preacher, but ironically, his brother Bill Kinison said that Sam “had no stage presence” as a preacher and so he abandoned that career to give comedy a try.
Sam was buried in the family grave plot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His tombstone includes the quote, “In another time and place he would have been called prophet.”
Joe Mafela’s Massive Tombstone
Joe Mafela did it all. The South African became a successful actor in his 20s and grew his career to include directing, producing, and even singing, too. Mafela’s tombstone is pretty interesting. Weighing in at five tons, the tombstone was designed to be a marble replica of a living room, including a TV, dining table, chairs, and a book.
The tombstone had to be removed once after it was initially set because they found that it weighed too much and was sinking into the soil.
Oscar Wilde’s Tombstone is Covered in Kisses
Similar to Marilyn Monroe’s tomb, when women visit poet and playwright Oscar Wilde’s grave, they don red lipstick and kiss it, leaving behind lip prints. Wilde’s tomb receives thousands of visitors each year and women would not stop kissing the tomb.
In order to prevent people from kissing it, a glass barrier was erected in 2011, an attempt at making the tomb “kiss-proof”. Wilde passed away in 1900 in Paris.
Don Knotts Turned Pain “Into Something Hilarious And Endearing”
The iconic comedic actor Don Knotts, best known for his roles in Three’s Company and The Andy Griffith Show, died in 2006. He was originally given a plain headstone but it was later replaced with this more ornate one which depicts him in scenes from throughout his life and career.
The inscription reads, “He saw the poignancy in people’s pride and pain and turned it into something hilarious and endearing.” Knotts’ final resting place is in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Brentwood, California.
Karl Marx’s Tombstone Includes a Giant Head
Although he was living stateless and exiled from Germany upon his death, Karl Marx is buried in London. Whoever chose his tombstone elected to create a bust to sit on top. It’s very unique and rather jarring to walk through a cemetery and spot a larger-than-life head carved of stone, but it was his mind that made him famous.
A philosopher, economist, historian, and one of the most influential people in history, Marx died shortly after his wife Jenny, at the age of 64, in 1883.
William Shakespeare Will Curse You
Who wouldn’t want to visit William Shakespeare’s gravesite? One of the most legendary figures to have ever lived, Shakespeare threw some words of fire at the world when he passed away. The playwright’s gravesite in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, warns everyone not to touch his bones or be cursed.
People believe it’s a warning to grave robbers not to dig up his grave in an attempt try to rob him of his valuables.
Visitors Cracked Benjamin Franklin’s Headstone By Tossing Pennies
One of the most famous of the United States’ founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin was known for ‘coining’ the popular expressing “a penny saved, is a penny earned.” He might regret that now, as admirers and history lovers from around the world toss pennies onto his grave when they visit.
In fact, the coin tossing led to a crack in his headstone. Franklin is buried next to his wife Deborah at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jimi Hendrix Was Moved To This Memorial Site
After the guitar legend Jimi Hendrix passed away unexpectedly in 1970, he was buried under a simple headstone at Greenwood Cemetery in Renton, Washington. On November 26, 2002, the day before he would have turned 60 years old, his remains were secretly moved to this elaborate memorial site where fans could come to visit.
The plans originally called for a purple fountain, which wasn’t built. But this is a lovely site for fans and loved ones to come pay tribute to the rock legend who was taken too young.
Don Rickles’ Headstone Is A Touching Tribute
When comedian and actor Don Rickles passed away in 2017, he left behind a large family to mourn his loss. They honored the Emmy-award winner with a touching headstone reading, “Beloved dad, husband, pop pop, brother-in-law, and friend.”
“The world was a brighter and better place while you were here. You will be remembered forever and ever.” Rickles’ final resting place is at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in California.
Buck Owens Rests At “Buck’s Place”
Country music star Buck Owens died in his sleep on March 25, 2006, just hours after performing. He’s interred in his family’s Bakersfield, California mausoleum, which his loved ones had inscribed with “Buck’s Place” after his death. The term is what many use to refer to Owens’ music hall, officially called “Buck Owens Crystal Palace.”
During his illustrious career, Owens and his band the Buckaroos had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts. Along with Roy Clark, he also co-hosted the beloved television variety show Hee Haw.
Vinnie Paul And Brother Dimebag Darrell Were Buried In ‘KISS Kaskets’
After Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott was killed onstage by a deranged fan in 2004, he received a proper rock star sendoff. He was interred next to his mother at Moore Memorial Gardens cemetery in Arlington, Texas. KISS frontman Gene Simmons donated a Kiss Kasket to the family, and Abbott was buried with one of Eddie Van Halen’s guitars.
Sadly, Dimebag’s brother and bandmate Vinnie Paul died unexpectedly in 2018. He was also buried in a KISS Kasket and rests next to his mother and brother.
W.B. Yeats Wrote This Epitaph
The celebrated Irish poet William Butler Yeats died in 1939, at the age of 73. He was first buried in France but later moved to the churchyard of St Columba’s Church, Drumcliff, Ireland.
The epitaph on his tombstone, “Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by,” was from his poem Under Ben Bulben, which was published just a year before he died. He also left behind instructions that his grave should consist of “no marble, no conventional phrase.”