Celebrity grave sites – unique stops for tourists

Time Magazine recently published a list of the “Top 10 Celebrity Grave Sites”.  They are very popular places for tourists to visit.  In fact, people from all over the world visit them every year.  Half of the list belongs to popular musicians; the rest belongs to movie stars, an author and a member of the British royal family.  Many of these celebrities died prematurely and their deaths were surrounded by mystique which persists to this day.

The most popular site is that of Princess Diana, whose burial site is on the Spencer family estate, Althorp, in North Hampshire, England.  During the summer, tourists can visit a shrine on the grounds but not her actual resting place.

The grave of Bruce Lee is ranked #2.  His grave in Seattle’s Lakeview Cemetery still draws visitors from all over the world, including a trio of Mongolians who trekked 3,700 miles to pay their respects on the 53rd anniversary of his birth; the trip reportedly took seven months and wore out five pairs of boots. He remains the greatest Kung Fu teacher ever and a box-office smash.

#3 is the resting place of Marilyn Monroe.  She is buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, the burial site of many Hollywood celebrities.  She was the iconic female sex-symbol of the ’60s and has lasted as a sex-symbol to this day.  According to Limousine driver Benny Hill, who offers tours of celebrity graves, her crypt is not only the most frequently visited at the cemetery, but the most discolored from constant fondling. According to Hill, it’s “the dirtiest one there. You look at the wall and there is lipstick, fingerprints, handprints.”

According to Time Magazine, the 4th most popular grave site is that of Elvis Presley.  He died of a prescription drug overdose and was first buried in a mausoleum in Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis, TN.  However, vandalism was a major problem; some thieves even tried to steal his body.  So his grave was moved to Graceland, his former home.  Admission to Elvis’ grave is part of the Graceland tour.  Although he’s been dead since 1977, 600,000 people still visit his grave-site every year.

Jim Morrison takes the 5th place.  This musician is buried at Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.  Although other famous musicians and writers are buried there, Morrison’s plot is the most visited site there.  Although there are conflicting reports about the cause of his death, people agree that his grave site is one of the most disrespected celebrity sites in the world.  His grave has been the site of drug parties and his marker has been defaced with graffiti.

In 6th place is the grave of Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae singer.  In 1991 the government of Jamaica declared his birthday as a national holiday.  Since then, thousands of fans have held an annual music festival near his grave – a mausoleum that was built a few feet from his childhood home in the village of Nine Miles, Jamaica.

The Irish writer, James Joyce, is next in 7th place.  Surprisingly, he is not buried in Ireland.  In 1902, he left Ireland because of political turmoil and died after undergoing ulcer surgery in Switzerland.  After his death, he was buried in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich.  His wife tried to move Joyce’s body to Ireland but the Irish government denied her request.

Frank Sinatra, who was buried in Desert Memorial Park near Palm Springs, CA with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of Camel cigarettes, is in 8th place.

In 9th place is John Belushi.  He died of a drug overdose in 1982 and the public attention his grave-site on Martha’s Vineyard got was unmanageable.  His tombstone got trashed and fans continually littered the area around his grave.  His widow then moved his remains to another site in the same graveyard, away from the tombstone.  However, rumors also persist that his remains are now buried in Illinois with his family.

The last celebrity in Time Magazine’s list is country music singer and composer, Johnny Cash.  He died in 2003 and is buried next to his wife, June Carter, in a cemetery in Hendersonville, TN.  The site draws many people, who travel to the site to pay their respects.  Some of them leave guitar picks and money behind.

Some other famous writers whose grave-sites are frequently visited are:

  • Oscar Wilde, who is buried in Pere Lachise in Paris, died more than 100 years ago and yet people still visit his grave.
  • Mark Twain (whose real name was Samuel Clemens), was born 175 years ago.  Yet 2,000 to 3,000 people per year visit his grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, NY.
  • William Shakespeare lived from 1564  to 1616; today, thousands of people visit his tomb in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England at the Holy Trinity Churchyard.

For more information about funerals and burial options, go to www.diesmart.com.

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