In 1922 King Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered. The boy king of Egypt lived to be about 18 years old and had what's possibly the most lavish burial in history. When British archeologist Howard Carter unearthed Tut's tomb, he had to break through four sealed doors and a room full of treasures before he arrived in a secret chamber full of riches that astounded the world: King Tut's mummified body lay in a 243-pound sarcophagus made of solid gold.
The world's most famous mummy—and the artifacts he wanted to take with him to eternity—have since toured the world, and even today they continue to amaze us. No one can compete with Tut, but that doesn't mean they don't try. Here's a look at some modern-day celebrities who have had their own very lavish burials.
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson, the gonzo journalist and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, laid out very specific (albeit strange) plans for his death. On August 20, 2005, a private memorial was held in Aspen, Colorado, with his family and close friends. From atop a tower, Thompson's ashes were shot from a canon he had designed in the shape of a fist clutching a peyote button. Red, white and blue fireworks were accompanied by Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." The event was financed by Thompson's close friend, actor Johnny Depp.
He may be best known for creating his own line of sausages, but Jimmy Dean's true love was music. So it's only fitting that when the actor and country singer passed away in June 2010, he was buried in a 9-foot-tall piano-shaped granite mausoleum. The piano cost $350,000, and overlooks the James River in Virginia. On the tomb was inscribed a line from Dean's 1961 Grammy-winning song "Big Bad John": "Here lies one hell of a man."
Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962, at age 36. Though coroners ruled it a probable suicide from drug overdose, conspiracy theorists have a list of suspects, from a disgruntled housekeeper to mobsters to Robert Kennedy. Monroe was buried in her favorite Emilio Pucci dress, in what was known as a "Cadillac casket"—the most high-end casket available, it was made of heavy-gauge solid bronze and lined with champagne-colored silk. Lee Strasberg delivered a eulogy before a small group of friends and family. Hugh Hefner bought the crypt directly next to Monroe's, and Monroe's ex-husband Joe diMaggio famously had red roses delivered to her crypt for the next 20 years.
A legend in his death, the story of Tupac Shakur's "funeral" is definitely stranger than fiction. Though loyal fans insist the rapper still lives, his former rap group, Young Outlawz, say it ain't so. After Shakur was shot to death in September 1996, the Outlawz held a memorial for him on the beach, where they say they smoked the late rapper's ashes. Shakur's mother was also present for the solemn occasion. Whether or not she too puffed the commemorative pipe, we may never know.
When singer Celia Cruz passed away in New Jersey in July 2003, her adopted country put on a memorial fit for a Cuban queen. Cruz's body was taken to Miami to lie in state for a viewing by more than 200,000 fans. The Queen of Salsa's body was then flown back to New Jersey, where tens of thousands more fans paid their final respects—including Hillary Clinton and New York Governor George Pataki. To top off the tribute, Cruz's body was carried in a glass-encased, horse-drawn carriage from a funeral home on Manhattan's Upper East Side behind a caravan of limousines, along Fifth Avenue, to her funeral at the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral. There to pay their respects were Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Marc Anthony and Rubén Blades. Patti LaBelle performed "Ave Maria."
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