Of all the forms of art, memorials to the dead – whether a pyramid, table, urn, or commemorative stone – may be the most lasting. Throughout the world people are fascinated by these memorials especially if they mark the final resting places of the famous and infamous. We take you graveside for a look at the lives, deaths and tombstones of 7 figures whose legends are immortal:
#1: Jules Verne - Buried in Cimetière de la Madeleine (Amins, France)
Jules Verne is considered the father of modern science fiction. By 1902, he was extremely sick and nearly blind from diabetes. On February 8, 1905, he suffered a several diabetic attack from which he never fully recovered. Newspapers around the world covered every change in his condition for the six weeks until his death.
#2: Elvis Presley - Buried at his Graceland Estate in Memphis, Tennessee
In the first month after Elvis’s death, over one million people visited his crypt. Ten days after his burial, four men were arrested for plotting to steal the body and hold it for ransom. Following this incident, the bodies of Elvis and his mother were transferred to Graceland.
#3: Charlie Chaplin - Buried in Vevey Cemetery (Corsier-Sur-Vevey, Switzerland)
Charlie Chaplin died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his wife Oona and his children at his home in Switzerland. In a twist that might very well have come out of one of his films, Chaplin's body was stolen not long after he was buried from his grave near Lake Geneva in Switzerland by two men who demanded $400,000 for its return. The men were arrested and Chaplin's body was recovered 11 weeks later.
#4: Harry Houdini - Buried in Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York
In the days before his death, Houdini met with three students at Montreal’s McGill University. One of them allegedly asked Houdini if it was true that he could withstand heavy punches to the stomach. Houdini replied that he could provided he had warning and could brace himself. Wrongly thinking that Houdini had given his consent, one of the students delivered four sharp blows. Later that day, Houdini developed severe pain and a high fever, but gave four more shows before checking into a hospital. His appendix had not only been ruptured, but he also had developed gangrene. Though the story surrounding his death is still debated, what is known is that Houdini died from peritonitis on Halloween − October 31, 1926.
#5: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - Buried in St. Peter's Churchyard (Bournemouth, Dorset, England)
Mary Shelley became world famous for her Gothic horror novel Frankenstein. Despite her literary success, her life was marked by depression, financial hardship, and a number of tragedies, including the death of her mother 10 days after childbirth, the deaths of three of her own infant children, and the drowning death of her beloved husband Percy. It’s believed she died from a brain tumor.
#6: James Dean - Buried in Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana
Rebel Without A Cause star James Dean was an overnight sensation before his death in a head-on crash while driving his Porche Spyder to Salinas, California. The death of the 24-year-old actor caused hysteria not seen since Rudolph Valentino’s passing in 1926. After his accident, his L.A. house and New York apartment were broken into by crazed fans who stole virtually everything. Pieces of his wrecked car were also sold as souvenirs. His tombstone has been stolen three times, including the most recent incident in 1998.
#7: Al Capone - Originally buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois; reinterred at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois in 1958
After serving several years in prison, notorious gangster Al Capone, in failing health, was released into the custody of his wife and son in 1939. Towards the end of his time served, prison records described him as “recognizably insane.” His health continued to deteriorate after his release, exacerbated by syphilis and dementia, and he had violent outbursts. One day after his 48th birthday, Capone had a stroke and died a week later surrounded by his family. In 2013, memorabilia from the mobster went on the auction block including 23 photographs of Capone’s corpse lying in his $2,000 bronze casket.
From the Bio Archives: This article was originally published in 2014.