10 Famous Men and Their Famous Graves
Few countries observe All Saints' Day with the same devotion—and celebration—as we do. But even while we were all crowding the local cemeteries to pay our respects to our dearly departed, there are places in the world where visitors flock year-round to the final resting places of celebrities, rock stars, and other famous men.
Take a break from the undas crowds and take a peaceful stroll with us to visit other cemeteries through the magic of social media:
JIM MORRISON, 1943-1971
The gravestones at the 300-year-old Pére-Lachaise cemetery in Paris contains hundreds of famous names, including that of Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Molière, Max Ernst, and Oscar Wilde—but the most famous belongs to rock star Jim Morrison. More than 45 years after Morrison died, his grave is still a busy tourist attraction, and is arguably the most famous grave in the world.
In 1991, the grave underwent a massive clean-up in anticipation of the deluge of visitors following the release of The Doors, Oliver Stone's Morrison biopic. Tributes have become noticeably become milder since the marker's heyday as a graffiti-covered monument to the rock god, especially since the cemetery's administrators have ordered metal railings to deter would-be vandals and keep tourists at a respectful distance.
The graveside customs change over the years. A decade or so ago, it was tradition for visitors to leave letters, song lyrics, poems, and drawings. Last year, it was customary to leave locks and friendship bands on the barricade. Currently, there is a "gum tree" nearby where visitors leave used-up pieces of chewing gum. Very rock and roll.
Here's a photo I took of Ian Astbury of The Cult at Jim Morrison's graveside in— Kevin Cummins (@KCMANC) February 8, 2013
Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise Paris pic.twitter.com/yhk7odYs
BOB MARLEY, 1945-1981
Nine Mile, Jamaica
Marley's all about good vibes, even in death. His mausoleum is found near his childhood home in the village of Nine Mile in Jamaica, and comes with its own souvenir shop, guided tour, and never-ending stream of spliff-smoking tourists.
Incidentally, the annual concert held in Marley's honor has been renamed the Nine Mile Music Festival after the location. Fans bring canned goods to the concert to be given to the less fortunate, gathering an estimated 2 million cans over the years.
JOHN BELUSHI, 1949-1982
There is no comedian more rock n' roll than John Belushi, and his epitaph reflects that. "I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on," it reads.
Though visitors come to have a drink and take a photo with the distinct tombstone, Belushi himself isn't quite there. At the request of his wife, Belushi's remains have actually been moved to an unmarked grave not too far away from the tombstone.
BRUCE LEE, 1940-1973 and BRANDON LEE, 1965-1993
There's a lot of superstition around martial artist Bruce Lee's death. The story goes that, when Bruce Lee was a child, his parents believed that there were spirits after him, and they always took steps to prevent Bruce from being taken away to the netherworld. The demons were supposed to have cursed their family for three generations, and so when Bruce died suddenly at age 32 and at the peak of his career, many of his fans pointed to the curse.
In 1993, forty years after Bruce's death, a biopic called Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was released. In it, a dream sequence shows Bruce fighting off a demon who suddenly leaves Bruce to go after his son, Brandon. Two months before the film was released, Brandon Lee, also then working as an actor in Hollywood, died in a freak accident on the set of The Crow.
JOHNNY CASH, 1932-2003 and JUNE CARTER CASH, 1929-2003
The love story between Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter, was the subject of the biopic Walk the Line. In real life, the country music couple was married for 35 years before June died due to complications following heart surgery in 2003. The Man in Black couldn't live without her, and died just four months later. Tragically, one of June's children from a previous marriage, Rosie Nix-Adams, also a country music singer, died in accident just a month after Johnny Cash.
Johnny and June are buried together near where there home was, in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In 2006, a British poll named a letter written by Johnny Cash to June Carter for her 65th birthday to be the most romantic love letter of all time.
So this was a special one... This man and this woman as songwriters and as a couple I have looked up to since I was a kid! Johnny Cash's music had such an authentic realism to it and he never held back what he had to say.. he wrote and sang about the truth whether it was good or bad... I hope one day I can write a song he would of wanted to record! Rest In Peace Johnny & June thank you for you life and music #johnnycash #junecarter #walktheline #rip #music #hedersonville #nashville #countrymusic
OSCAR WILDE, 1854-1900
If there's anybody at all who could give Jim Morrison a run for his money at Pére-Lachaise, it has to be playwright and writer Oscar Wilde.
Wilde wasn't even originally interred here. His body was originally buried at the Bagneux Cemetery outside the city, but was transferred to Pére-Lachaise in 1909. Over the years, visitors have tried to pay tribute to Wilde's wild life in a number of wild and sometimes questionable ways. The carving of an angel that adorns the tomb was depicted with a full set of male genitals, but that has since been vandalized and lost. In 2000, artist Leon Johnson installed a replacement for the missing parts done in silver.
Some time over the decades, it became tradition for women to kiss Wilde's headstone and leave lipsticks stains on it. This was cleaned up in 2011, and a glass barrier was since installed to prevent any further marks.
MICHAEL JACKSON, 1958-2009
Forest Lawn, Glendale
After his controversial death in 2009, Michael Jackson's resting place was to be the subject of much speculation and debate within his family. Though his ranch at Neverland was the first and obvious choice, the King of Pop was eventually laid to rest at the at the Forest Lawn cemetery, primarily due to security concerns. "Many aspects of the Great Mausoleum in Glendale, Calif., would have delighted Michael Jackson," wrote Bryan Alexander in Time magazine shortly after the funeral. "It is, in its way, a kind of necrological version of his Neverland, filled with Hollywood pomp, kitsch and idiosyncrasy: rolling hills; art so classic, it's almost camp; and an impressive collection of the relics of the famous dead. But above all, Michael Joseph Jackson's family will take comfort in knowing that their often reclusive son will probably be undisturbed by prying fans and press."
The gates to the mausoleum are kept under lock and key, though that hasn't stopped fans from at least laying tribute outside, or sneaking photos while visiting other graves within. The cemetery, which is also the final resting ground for many other Hollywood celebrities, throws a celebration in honor of Dia de los Muertos that's open to the public.
JAMES DEAN, 1931-1955
He was a big star in real life, but his premature death at the age of 24 cemented his status as legend. At the time of his death, his career was still being launched, and in fact, he remains the only actor to have received two posthumous Academy Award nominations—for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1955, for East of Eden, and then again in 1956 for Giant.
Now remembered as the ultimate embodiment of cool, his surprisingly modest tombstone nevertheless attracts plenty of tributes, in the form of kiss marks, cigarettes, and coins.