Celebs Who Requested The Wildest Funeral Arrangements
While it’s true that everyone faces death with certainty, not all final wishes follow tradition. Per Legal Zoom, most people will generally request that their last wishes reflect how they really feel and what they actually want, particularly “regarding the type of funeral, final interment, and other matters that cannot be taken care of in a will” — however weird these requests may sometimes be.
For instance, consider what then 22-year-old Justin Bieber — who was at the height of his career the same year in which 68-year-old music icon David Bowie and fellow music legend, 57-year-old Prince, died — reportedly requested back in 2016 for his own final bow. According to a source cited by the Mirror, the Biebs was allegedly busy “making meticulous plans” for his funeral, including wanting his tombstone to be equipped with a “solar-powered headstone,” complete with a 3D hologram, so that fans could still feel close to him and his music years after his death. To be fair, it’s unclear whether there’s any truth to this report, as the pop star never commented on it. But either way, to each their own, as only the future will tell if Bieber actually sticks to this alleged burial plan.
Meanwhile, plenty of other famous folks’ funeral arrangements and will requests have been even stranger — and the following offbeat burial plans actually happened after their own respective deaths. Keep scrolling for the eye-opening cases of celebs who requested the wildest funeral arrangements.
Janis Joplin loved to party, so she arranged her own rager of a wake
Janis Joplin was dubbed “the hippie queen of show business,” stated the Los Angeles Times, which also noted that this unmistakable talent from Texas was “the biggest female star in the history of rock ‘n’ roll when she died” in October 1970. Meanwhile, Joplin’s obituary referred to her life as a “brief, mad existence.” This traditional tribute further stated that “her incendiary stage performances, her masochistic tango with the bottle, her tumultuous love life, and her fatal dalliance with drugs” defined the singer-songwriter, who only lived to age 27, during her short time on earth.
In true Joplin form, the artist made sure her reputation stayed intact once she died. She used her will — amended only days before she died of an accidental heroin overdose, per Far Out magazine — to put her distinctive mark on her death. Joplin requested a wake, but not just any ordinary wake: She wanted an “all-night” party, and she paid for it in advance. According to AP (via Findery), the invitations noted that “the drinks are on Pearl,” the name Joplin’s intimates called her. The actual festivities, which featured a Grateful Dead appearance, took place at her favorite Marin County, California bar, the Lion’s Share, and some 200 folks reportedly turned up for it.
Joplin reportedly wanted this wake so her “friends [could] get blasted after [she was] gone.” In order to help fulfill her wishes, some of the guests brought hash brownies as a party, erm, wake favor.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Jimmy Dean was laid to rest in an expensive 'piano-shaped' mausoleum
Country singer, actor, television host, and sausage king Jimmy Dean was so enamored with music that he planned to be buried in a “$350,000 piano-shaped granite mausoleum,” CMT reported. The tomb, where the remains of lanky six-foot, four-inch star are said to be planted, is nine-and-a-half feet long. Likely located close to or on his 200-acre estate, the site is reportedly in Varina, Virginia, close to the James River and Richmond, where his funeral service was held. The venue, Grove Avenue Baptist Church, welcomed weatherman Willard Scott and country musician George Hamilton IV, both of whom addressed Dean’s mourners (via CBS News).
Dean is remembered for his first hit song — the 1961 Grammy-winning “Big Bad John” — which is allegedly memorialized within his rather odd mausoleum, all thanks to a line from the top tune’s lyrics. After Dean, who was 81 years old at the time of his death in June 2010, was interred, the words, “Here lies one hell of a man,” were said to have been inscribed into the granite, along with his birth and death dates, per CBS News.
Joan Rivers always went big with whatever she did, including her funeral
Joan Rivers died as she lived — out loud. Nothing was off limits. To wit, the outspoken comedic icon even spoke up about her funeral needs well before her death at age 81 in September 2014, doing so in a peculiar way: The details were later printed in the funeral service program. “I want my funeral to be a big showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action,” she’d said, according to The New York Times. “I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on.”
Per E!, Rivers previously joked about her funeral in her “I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me” book, claiming she wanted “‘Blue Velvet’ singer Bobby Vinton singing ‘Mr. Lonely,’ ‘Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents,’ and ‘a wind machine so that even in the casket, my hair is blowing just like Beyonce’s.'” Her more serious wishes were granted, promised NBC News. Hoards of onlookers and reporters showed up near Manhattan’s Temple Emanu-El as limos dropped off invited guests, including Howard Stern, Whoopi Goldberg, and Hugh Jackman, ABC News stated. Inside the synagogue, the Gay Men’s choir harmonized on show tunes and actor Audra McDonald belted out “Smile.” The service ended with NYPD bagpipers playing “New York, New York” as mourners piled out (via E!).
Later, “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush tweeted (via NBC News) that Rivers’ funeral was “the best ever” and that the service was “irreverent, to say the least.”
Hunter S. Thompson went gonzo all the way
67-year-old gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson died by suicide on February 20, 2005. But long before his tragic death, he made it clear that he wanted to go out in an appropriately gonzo way: The controversial writer asked that his ashes be shot out of a cannon at his funeral.
The festivities, which took place at Thompson’s Colorado home that August, were replete with fireworks while Norman Greenwood’s 1969 hit song, “Spirit in the Sky,” was played, according to the NYS Writer’s Institute. Then, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Lyle Lovett, and a troupe of Tibetan drummers performed at the funeral. In a tribute to the man who called himself “The Jew,” The New York Times wrote, “With a deafening boom, the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were blown into the sky from a 153-foot tower as relatives and a star-studded crowd bid an irreverent farewell to the founder of ‘gonzo journalism.'”
Many celebs were reportedly on hand for Thompson’s send-off, including Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, Senator George McGovern, and Senator John Kerry. Johnny Depp, who portrayed Thompson in 1998’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” was there, too, and was said to have picked up the $3 million tab for the costly event (via The Guardian). After all, in order for the counterculture icon to go out in the style he preferred, the massive tower itself needed to be built. FYI: The tower’s top carried, per NYS Writer’s Institute, “Thompson’s signature symbol, a double-thumbed clenched fist clutching a peyote button.”
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Elizabeth Taylor was eternally — and 'fashionably' — late
Elizabeth Taylor, who died at age 79 in March 2011, requested that she be “fashionably late” to her own funeral. According to People, the service — which took place at iconic Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, a suburb of Los Angeles — was delayed by 15 minutes. This was just enough time for the Hollywood icon’s remains to be totally ready to show up in a closed casket “draped with gardenias, violets, and lily of the valley.” Per People, “The private service was held one day after Elizabeth Taylor passed away, as is Jewish custom.”
The enduring star with the violet eyes was “interred in The Great Mausoleum” at Forest Lawn, which is “the same resting place” as the star’s close personal friend, Michael Jackson. As reported by The Guardian, Time magazine called Taylor’s final resting place “the new world’s Westminster Abbey.” Among famous folk who are buried there besides MJ are James Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, and Clark Gable.
Meanwhile, more household names, as well as regular citizens, were amongst the 40 people who attended the multi-denominational service presided over by Rabbi Jerry Cutler. Per People, actor Colin Farrell gave a reading, as did Taylor’s close relatives, including son Michael Wilding, daughter Liza, and grandson Tarquin Wilding. Grandson Rhys Tivey played “Amazing Grace” on the trumpet, a fitting tribute for this national treasure.
Charles Dickens demanded a funereal dress code
Charles Dickens’ funeral arrangements were more about what he didn’t want rather than about what he wanted. Indeed, the famous Victorian author had very specific rules about what mourners were to wear to the service upon his death, Smithsonian Magazine reported: “Dickens used his will to request that ‘those attending [his] funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hatband, or other such revolting absurdity.'” Per the outlet, his will also stated that he should be “buried in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner; that no public announcement be made of the time or place of [his] burial; that at the utmost not more than three plain mourning coaches be employed.”
So, when Dickens did die at the age of 58, only 14 mourners — presumably appropriately dressed — were present at the funeral, which took place on June 14, 1870. Per The Guardian, the renowned and understated writer’s ceremony “had taken place almost unnoticed.”
Of note: One of Charles Dickens’ other dying wishes was ignored, according to BBC News. His will stated, “I conjure to my friends on no account to make me the subject of any monument, memorial or testimonial whatsoever. I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works.” However, this was not to be, as a bronze statue representing the modest man was erected in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England — his birthplace — on the 202nd anniversary of his birth in 2014, 144 years after his death.
Luke Perry's funeral arrangements reflected his care for the environment
In his final contribution for saving the environment, Luke Perry asked to be buried in an “eco-friendly” mushroom suit created for dead people to wear to their grave, BBC News reported. The actor’s daughter, Sophie, announced on Instagram that she’d delivered this final request from the “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Riverdale” thespian — who died at age 52 in March 2019.
Science Alert claimed that Perry’s chosen funereal garb “digests your body after you die.” Calling the funeral industry “toxic-riddled,” the outlet stated, “The idea is that the mushrooms [in the jumpsuit] will begin to grow from your body once you’ve been buried, slowly digesting you, while neutralizing any environmental contaminants you harbor — such as pesticides, heavy metals, or preservatives — in the process.” Science Alert also noted that the mushroom suit depends on “mycoremediation, which is the ability for mushrooms to clean up toxic contaminants in the environment.”
Meanwhile, according to Cake, the clothing Luke Perry chose to wear following his death is “biodegradable … [causing] far less pollution and damage to the environment than traditional burial attire. The outfits are also much more affordable than a typical casket or coffin [if one doesn’t choose to be cremated].” So how much does this garment made of “organic cotton … with mushroom spores sewn into the fabric” cost? About $1,500, per the publication, which compared that price to “a typical burial,” which reportedly runs from a low of $6,000 to a high of $9,000.
Pringles inventor Fred Baur's final resting place was Pringles-related
Fred Baur may not be a household name, but his 1967 invention continues to get attention from the general public. For those who are curious, Baur is the guy who came up with the famous snack in the cardboard can stacked full of saddle-like shaped chips called Pringles. When this innovative man — who held a PhD in organic chemistry and served as one of the Navy’s aviation physiologists — died in May 2009 at age 89 (via The Guardian), he wanted his ashes to be put in one of those inimitable containers before being buried.
According to Time, Baur came up with other inventions — such as “a freeze-dried, just-add-milk ice-cream product called Coldsnap” — but no other products brought this inventor the attention that Pringles did. “He was so proud of the achievement, he wanted to go to the grave with it,” the outlet reported. Larry Baur, the oldest of the inventor’s sons, asserted that his dad concocted the idea for his final wish back in the ’80s. After that, the idea became a family joke.
However, as Time concluded, when Alzheimer’s ultimately took Fred Baur’s life, a funny bit turned into reality after his kids hit up Walgreens to buy “a burial can of Pringles” ahead of the funeral. The siblings “briefly debated what flavor to use,” with Larry standing firm, saying, “Look, we need to use the original.” With that, the famous snack and its inventor became one and the same.
Prince Phillip rode to his funeral in a special vehicle
Prince Philip remained an individualist his entire life — even after he died at 99 years old on April 9, 2021. When alive, being unique was sometimes difficult for the Duke of Edinburgh, especially after he married Queen Elizabeth II. He had been a career Navy man, but was sometimes considered a rascal with “a naughty sense of humor,” according to Reader’s Digest. Per the outlet, Time magazine previously claimed that when Philip met his future wife’s dad, King George VI, the monarch reportedly found him to be “irritat[ing]” due to “his loud, boisterous laugh and his blunt, seagoing manners.”
Given his infamous personality traits, it’s no surprise that Philip sought to retain this distinctiveness through to the end of his life. He did so by conjuring up a nifty way to ride in his own funeral procession. Back in 2003, he began to devise his own version of a hearse to accommodate his casket by reconfiguring his Land Rover Defender TD5 130, a heady off-road vehicle, per Hello!. Telling trained technicians to create a convertible top in the back of the vehicle to be used for his final farewell, Philip also called for the customized hearse to be painted “military green.”
Prince Philip was reportedly in charge of these and many other modifications that would serve as this royal’s unconventional ride to his final resting place, allowing the queen’s husband’s quirks shine through even after death.
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