In life, celebrities capture our hearts and our imaginations. We dream of being famous singers like Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley. We live vicariously through our favorite movie stars and cheer for our favorite sports heroes as if they were part of our own family. It is no wonder, then, that we are fixated by celebrity memorials, years, or even decades after they have passed into our history.
As in life, some celebrities choose to stand out among us mere mortals into death by commemorating extravagant memorials. Some celebrities decide that they would like to be laid to rest in a special place, be it Hollywood or the Pacific Ocean. Others choose a more humble resting place.
Let’s take a look at 10 famous celebrities and their chosen burial sites and memorials in the United States and Europe.
- Billy Graham- 11/7/1918 to 02/21/2018 (aged 99 years). Nearly a centenarian, Billy Graham dedicated his life to his church, with an estimated 2.2 billion radio and television broadcasts, he may have preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone else in the history of Christianity. Despite such widespread recognition, Billy Graham choose to be buried in a very understated manner with a simple grave marker next to that of his wife, Ruth.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Donaldson
- Elvis Presley- 1/8/1935 to 8/16/1977 (aged 42 years). Known as “The King of Rock and Roll”, Elvis was a rock singer and actor and considered one of the most important figures of twentieth century pop culture. He is known all over the world by his first name. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and moved to Memphis, TN with his parents in 1948. His death was first attributed to congestive heart failure, but was later determined that drug abuse may have been a contributing factor.
Elvis had a still born twin brother who is buried in an unmarked grave in Mississippi. A cenotaph was placed at Graceland in his memory.
- Marilyn Monroe – 01/01/26 – 08/05/62 (aged 36 years) Born Norma Jean Baker in Los Angeles, CA, Marilyn Monroe rose to stardom after being discovered while working in a radioplane factory in 1944 during WWII. Although she died at the young age of 36, she continues to be a film legend and major pop culture icon. During her short career, Marilyn Monroe was a top-billed actress, with her films grossing $200 million. She became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and is best known for playing comic “blonde bombshell” characters. Her death was caused by an overdose of barbiturates at her Los Angeles home on August 5, 1962. This was ruled a probable suicide, but several conspiracy theories have been proposed in the years following her death.
- Sir Isaac Newton – 01/04/ 1643 – 03/21/1727 (aged 84 years) was born on Christmas Day (according to the Old Style Calendar of the time, in a hamlet in England. One of the most influential scientists in human history, Sir Isaac was a mathematician, theologian, astronomer, and physicist. He authored several books and was a key figure in the Scientific Revolution. Many of his breakthroughs in calculus, mechanics, and optics are still used as a foundation for math and science courses across the world. He is buried at Westminster Abbey in London, England. His tomb is among the most ornamental features at the Abbey.
- William Shakespeare – 04/23/1564 -04/23/1616(aged 52 years) Considered one of the greatest playwrights in history. Shakespeare used unparalleled poetry and vibrant, multifaceted characters to express universal truths about the human soul. His work continues to influence the arts today and has been translated into more languages than any other printed work except the Bible. Shakespeare’s imagination with the English language is beyond compare. He is credited with popularizing or inventing over 2000 words, phrases and expressions; about half of which are still in use today. Along with fellow Brits, Sir Isaac Newton and Dr Stephen hawking (#10 below), Shakespeare is buried at Westminster Abbey in London, England.
- Marie Curie – 11/07/1867 – 07/04/1934 (aged 66 years) The first woman in Europe to receive a doctorate in science, Marie Curie was a scientist with degrees in mathematics and physics. She was also the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physics for the co-discovery of radioactivity in 1903. In 1911 she was awarded an unprecedented second Nobel Prize for Chemistry, for her discovery of radium and polonium, the isolation of radium, and the study of the nature and compounds of radium. Marie is laid to rest at the Pantheon in Paris, France.
- George Washington – 02/22/1732 – 12/14/1799 (aged 67 years) George Washington a Revolutionary War Continental General, first president of the United States, and one of the founding fathers of the United States. He was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia on the family plantation of Wakefield. He died on December 14, 1799, from a condition of acute throat swelling at his home in Mt. Vernon, Virginia where he is laid to rest.
- Harriet Tubman – 1/29/1820 – 03/10/1913 (aged 93 years) Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist. She became known as the most famous guide of the Underground Railroad, a secret network of routes and safe houses that was used to help slaves escape to freedom. She was born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland and escaped in 1849 to Philadelphia. She returned to Maryland to rescue her family, and eventually helped dozens of other slaves escape via the Underground Railroad. Tubman died at age 93 of pneumonia and was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY.
- Agatha Christie – 09/15/1890 – 01/12/1976 (aged 85 years) Agatha Christie was an English author. She is one of the most famous mystery writers and the best-selling novelist of all time. Among the world’s most widely published books, her works are said to come in third, behind only Shakespeare’s writings and the Bible. She died of natural causes in 1976 at the age of 85 in Wallingford, Oxfordshire and is buried in the nearby churchyard of St. Mary’s.
- Dr. Stephen Hawking – 01/08/1942 – 03/18/2018 (aged 76 years) Stephen Hawking was an English Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist, Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge and author of international bestseller A Brief History of Time. He collaborated with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology, explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking had a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that gradually paralyzed him over the decades. He was still able to communicate using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device. He is buried at Westminster Abbey in London, England.
In a fitting tribute to the man who spent much of his life contemplating the nature of the universe, his memorial stone in the floor of the Abbey depicts an image of a black hole, one of his favorite subjects.
*Bio courtesy of Wikipedia
If any of these celebrity grave markers has given you questions or inspiration for a headstone or memorial marker for a loved one, give us a call at one of our custom memorial showrooms: 585-589-6500. We know the requirements of every cemetery in the Rochester metropolitan (Hart Monument), Greece (ROC Memorials & Monuments) greater Batavia (Oakley Monument) and Albion (Brigden Memorials) areas, plus many in surrounding communities.