HAUNTS OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS
Most people don't have the chance to meet their heroes while they're still alive, but most anyone can pay them tribute after they've passed with a visit to their final resting places. Though there are creepy graveyards in every state and thousands of distinguished gravesites and cemeteries worth seeing around the world, here are a few of the most famous ones to cross off your bucket list.
GEN. GEORGE CUSTER
West Point, New York
The Civil War general most famous for his "last stand" at the Battle of Little Big Horn can be found in the West Point Cemetery alongside many other distinguished military men and women from throughout U.S. history. His grave is marked by a Washington Monument-esque pillar with intricate engravings at its base.
The first man to fly solo across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh rests for eternity on the island of Maui atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific. His scenic gravesite bears the inscription "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea..." and sits behind the Palapala Ho'omau Church, the first place on the island to see the sunrise each morning.
JOHNNY CASH AND JUNE CARTER-CASH
The former first couple of country music are still together in death, with matching gravestones at Hendersonville Memorial Gardens, not far from the lakefront property where they lived for more than three decades. A bench behind the flat headstones features one of Cash's most moving quotes, "Happiness is being at peace; being with loved ones; being comfortable ... But most all, it's having those loved ones."
It took 10 months to build Oscar Wilde's tomb, a sphinx-like sculpture by Jacob Epstein that stands out even in the distinguished setting of the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Thousands visit the monument each year to pay their respects, leave flowers, light candles, and even leave lipstick kiss marks, though a glass barrier was erected to make the tomb "kiss-proof" in 2011.
Another popular permanent resident of Père Lachaise is Doors frontman Jim Morrison, whose grave has an unfortunate history of defacement, having formerly featured a bust that was vandalized repeatedly and then stolen in 1988. His flat headstone is now cordoned off, but fans still find unique ways to pay tribute by pressing gum onto a nearby tree or leaving stickers on the metal barriers.
Polish romantic composer Frederic Chopin's grave is watched over by a weeping, moss-covered stone sculpture of Euterpe, the muse of music, holding a broken instrument. It's yet another example of the gorgeous grave architecture, honoring names both well-known and unknown, that makes Père Lachaise one of Paris' most popular sites.
Though fans have always left flowers and writing utensils as tributes, poet and author Sylvia Plath's simple grave in the St.Thomas' Churchyard was long the subject of controversy for the inclusion of the surname "Hughes" by her husband and fellow poet, Ted Hughes, whom some blamed for her suicide. The word was repeatedly chiseled off before being cast in bronze to stop the vandalism.
Bette Davis, actress and star of such Hollywood classics as "All About Eve," matched the acerbic wit she displayed onscreen with her choice of epitaph, "She did it the hard way," engraved on her elegant family tomb in Forest Lawn Memorial Park near the Hollywood Hills, sometimes called the "cemetery of the stars."
Another celebrated actress of Hollywood's Golden Age, Elizabeth Taylor is buried beneath an open-armed angel in a corridor near Forest Lawn's Memorial Terrace. The famously opulent cemetery is home to many more noteworthy graves belonging to Walt Disney, Michael Jackson, and Nat King Cole. Don't expect help in finding them onsite, however. For that, you'll have to look online.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
At La Recoleta Cemetery, guests can pay tribute at the beautifully Baroque gravesites of actors, writers, chemists, and 18 Argentine presidents, but most international visitors come for the simpler bronze-plaque tomb of Eva Perón, the actress and wife of President Juan Perón who inspired the celebrated musical "Evita."
Kung Fu master and martial arts film star Bruce Lee lies beneath a tree and beside his son in Seattle's Lakeview Cemetery, where visitors from around the world come to place flowers and pay their respects. His red headstone mentions only one accomplishment: "Founder of Jeet Kune Do."
South of his hometown of Seattle, legendary rock guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix's grave is marked by a marble dome in Greenwood Memorial Park, where he rests alongside his father and stepmother. The dome's pillars feature engraved portraits of Hendrix and quotes from his songs, beneath which fans place candles, flowers, and guitar picks.
Ernest Hemingway was almost as famous for his outdoorsmanship as for his sparse prose style, so it's fitting that the author is buried in Idaho's Rocky Mountains alongside his wife, son, and granddaughter. His grave in the Ketchum Cemetery is humbling and appropriately modest, just a flat slab of stone often covered by fallen brush and sometimes bottles of alcohol left as memorials.
JOHN WILKES BOOTH
The 19th century stage actor John Wilkes Booth is notorious still today for assassinating Abraham Lincoln shortly after the close of the Civil War. His body rests in the family plot in Baltimore's Greenmount Cemetery, where visitors will often leave pennies bearing Lincoln's profile atop his headstone as a small form of tribute for the late president and retribution for his murderer.
Scientist, astronomer, and originator of both the laws of motion and the theory of gravity, Isaac Newton is now buried in Westminster Abbey in the chapel of his alma mater Trinity College. An ornate memorial sculpture was erected near his grave, but the headstone itself is simple, marked with a Latin inscription translating to "He surpassed the race of man in understanding."
Nearby Sir Newton in Westminster Abbey is a simple stone commemorating the life of English naturalist, scientist, and philosopher Charles Darwin, best known for his book "On the Origin of Species," which transformed scientific thinking in the latter half of the 19th century.
MARY JANE KELLY
The final of five confirmed victims of Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly was a prostitute living in poverty when she was slain by the infamous, unidentified murderer in 1888. Though no family members could be found to attend her funeral, she's honored today with scores of flowers at the Leytonstone Roman Catholic Cemetery.
Winston Churchill, the historical icon and two-time prime minister best known for leading the Britain through World War II, was honored with an enormous state funeral attended by representatives from 112 nations upon his death in 1965. Today, he's honored at Westminster Abbey but rests at the family plot in the St. Martin Churchyard.
Regardless of how one feels about the ideas of Karl Marx, his gravesite is an impressive monument befitting the German philosopher's enormous impact on modern history. He died stateless but was laid to rest in England's East Highgate cemetery, marked with a large stone obelisk topped by a bust of his stern countenance.
William Shakespeare remains the most celebrated and likely the most influential playwright in history. Thousands of visitors to the Holy Trinity Church each year to see a garish sculpture of the author overlooking his unadorned grave, featuring an inscription meant to deter grave robbers: "Bleste be the man that spares thes stones, And curst be he who moves my bones."
Emily Dickinson's minimalist headstone in Amherst West Cemetery has no quote from the poet's oft-spiritual work, just an inscription noting she was "Called Back," followed by her date of death. Her family plot is delineated by a black iron fence where fans leave flowers in memoriam.
DOÑA AMELIA GOYRI DE LA HOZ
The gravesite of this 24-year-old woman who died with her infant son during childbirth has become one of the most revered sites in Havana's Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón for the story behind it. The legend goes that she was buried with the baby at her feet; then years later, her grieving husband had the tomb opened to discover the baby was now in her arms, as depicted in the statue atop the grave.
FLORENCE BERNADINE REES
In a cemetery also featuring the resting places of U.S. Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler as well as numerous Confederate leaders, a cast-iron statue of a Newfoundland dog draws a large amount of attention to the grave of Florence Bernadine Rees — a 2-year-old who died of scarlet fever during the Civil War.
Elmira, New York
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" author Mark Twain was laid to rest alongside U.S. veterans and congressmen in Woodlawn Cemetery, a national historic landmark with its own history as a Confederate prison camp. Still, many visitors come first and foremost to see the headstone and adjacent monument honoring one of America's most respected and enduring authors and humorists.
Cathedral City, California
"The Best Is Yet to Come," declares the headstone of legendary New Jersey-born jazz singer Frank Sinatra, who suffered a heart attack in 1998 and was buried in Desert Memorial Park near Palm Springs. He remains a big draw in a cemetery of many distinguished deceased, though his inscription mentions only two accomplishments: "Beloved Husband and Father."
LGBT VETERANS MEMORIAL
Cathedral City, California
After visiting with Ol' Blue Eyes or Sonny Bono, see the nation's first memorial specifically honoring LGBT veterans. Opened on Memorial Day 2001, the obelisk commemorates the contributions of the gay and transgender Americans who served the military with a plaque featuring an engraving of a bald eagle.
Princess Diana was mourned by the world upon her tragic death in 1997, but visiting her grave at the Spencer family estate to mourn remains a rare privilege. Only once a year, the public is permitted to see her pristine grave on tiny Round Oval Island, preceded by a path lined with 36 birch trees symbolizing the years of her short life.
Nine Mile, Jamaica
Reggae innovator and cultural icon Bob Marley died at 36 as well, and was buried in his native Jamaica, where his birthday was declared a national holiday following his death from cancer. For four days around Feb. 6, thousands of fans from Jamaica and abroad gather at the Bob Marley Mausoleum for a music festival at the site of both the singer's birthplace and final resting place.
Long-known as "the King of Rock and Roll," Elvis Presley and his mother, Gladys, were moved from their original graves in Forest Hills Cemetery due to persistent grave-tampering, so today they find their final resting place at Graceland, the singer's opulent former home and present-day tourist attraction.
A silver-screen sex symbol turned into a tragic figure by her death at the age of 36, ruled as "probable suicide," Marilyn Monroe occupies Crypt 24 of Westwood Memorial Park. The site bears only her name and years of life, but fans pay tribute by leaving flowers and lipstick smears. Now, visitors to Monroe's grave will get to see two celebrity burial sites at once. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who died in 2017, was buried in the crypt next to Monroe's. Monroe was the centerfold in the first issue of the magazine that launched a worldwide media empire.
Though he may be the most prominent author in all of Irish literature, James Joyce went into self-exile from his politically embattled homeland in 1902 and died without returning in 1941. He was buried in a plot at the Fluntern Cemetery beside his wife and child, all watched over by a small statue of the celebrated writer.
Fitting the comedian and "Saturday Night Live" star's boisterous reputation in life, John Belushi's headstone looks a little like a Halloween decoration, and bears the proud inscription: "I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on." A more humble stone bearing only the family name lies nearby in the Chillmark Cemetery on Martha's Vineyard.
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY
An eternal flame memorial marks the grave of President John F. Kennedy, whose assassination during his first term in 1963 became one of the most transformative tragedies in the latter-half of the 20th century. Kennedy's remains rest near those of his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and his brothers Robert and Ted Kennedy.
Brooklyn, New York
Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place of distinguished figures such as composer Leonard Bernstein and politician Boss Tweed, but most visitors come to pay homage to homegrown street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died of a heroin dose in 1988 at 27 years old. His headstone is frequently decorated with flowers, arts supplies and cigarette lighters left by grieving fans.
After dying in a duel with then-Vice President Aaron Burr, America's first treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton was buried in the Trinity Churchyard of Lower Manhattan. Though it remains the only active cemetery in Manhattan, the cemetery is also the final resting place of many other American statesmen and veterans, dating back to the church's founding in 1697.
A statue of the pioneering punk guitarist jams atop Johnny Ramone's permanent resting place in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which holds an annual memorial tribute to benefit a cancer research. While there, visitors can also pay their respect to well-known showbiz figures like Anton Yelchin, Mickey Rooney, or Mel Blanc, the "Looney Tunes" voice-actor whose tombstone reads simply, "That's All Folks."
Poet Robert Frost is buried with his family in the verdant setting of the Old Bennington Cemetery. The influential writer's name sits at the top of the Frost family headstone, along with a brief quote from one of his works, "I had a lover's quarrel with the world."
Easily one of the most important songwriter and rock musicians of all-time thanks in large part to his membership in The Beatles, John Lennon was murdered in Manhattan, and his ashes scattered in an area of Central Park now known as Strawberry Fields. Buskers play Beatles songs, and fans leave flowers on an "Imagine" memorial in the park and on the steps of his former home, the Dakota apartments.
No one knows where Freddie Mercury's ashes are buried, except his former partner Mary Austin, who buried them. Everyone else can pay their respects to the singer and Queen frontman at his impressive memorial statue overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreux, where Mercury spent many of his final days. Fans also turned the outside walls of his Garden Lodge mansion in London to a public shrine with graffiti messages dedicated to the deceased.
James Dean was already an influential actor and icon of teenage disillusionment by the time of his death in a car accident in 1955, at the age of 24. He's buried beneath a simple headstone often covered with admirers' kiss-marks in the Park Cemetery near his Indiana hometown, where an annual festival is held in his honor every September.
Fort Washakie, Wyoming
It's uncertain whether Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who served as a guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition, died in 1812 or 1884, and it's just as uncertain if it's really her buried beneath the grave-marker bearing her name in the Sacajawea Cemetery in Wyoming's Wind River reservation. Either way, the site is worth a stop to see her headstone alongside those of her family.
GRANARY BURYING GROUND
Dating to 1660 but still only Boston's third-oldest cemetery, the Granary Burying Ground in the heart of this historically significant city holds the graves of enduring American Revolution heroes and Declaration of Independence signers like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Crispus Attucks, and Robert Paine. Also look for a granite obelisk made from the same quarry as the Bunker Hill Monument, dedicated to the relatives of Benjamin Franklin.
As well as being the resting place of more than 10,000 souls, this 65-acre cemetery in the city that bills itself the "Granite Capital of the World" is also a sculpture gallery of original, personalized works by the stonecutters of Barre. Stone depictions of a racecar, a biplane flying near Cloud 9, and a motorcycle approaching the pearly gates are just a few of the whimsical tributes to those passed.
FORT ROSECRANS CEMETERY
Shaded with native Torrey pines and surrounded by waters of the Pacific and San Diego Bay, Fort Rosecrans Cemetery features only neat rows of white marble headstones bearing the names of more than 113,000 veterans and their dependents. The national cemetery and California historical landmark is a humbling 77-acre site open to visitors from sunrise to sunset.
This beautiful cemetery became world famous thanks to its role in John Berendt's bestselling true-crime novel "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." Though the Bird Girl statue featured on the book's cover was removed due to vandalism, visitors can explore the verdant grounds to see other ornate mausoleums and angel sculptures.
This Romanian town has been finding colorful ways to pay tribute to its dead since 1935, when artist Stan Ioan Pătraş began the tradition of making bright-colored crosses as headstones, each with poetry and images telling of the deceased's life and accomplishments. The opulent headstones are beautiful, and the inscriptions are often hilarious, revealing dirty secrets and odd foibles the deceased had in life.
Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
More than 100 temples make up Japan's largest cemetery, a sacred forested site where Buddhists frequently make pilgrimages. In addition to monuments honoring the souls of termites and puffer fish used for culinary purposes, there's the mausoleum of Kōbō-Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism, illuminated by an awe-inspiring 10,000 lanterns.
OLD JEWISH CEMETERY
Prague, Czech Republic
There are at least 12,000 headstones and 100,000 bodies buried in this overcrowded Jewish cemetery in Prague, where the soil beneath the overlapping graves contains up to 12 layers of bodies. The cemetery dates back to the 15th century.
This southern Mexico cemetery comes alive every year for the annual Day of the Dead celebrations, when Oaxacans gather to drink mescal and decorate the graves with marigolds, candles, and food to welcome the spirits of lost loved ones. But even outside of the post-Halloween vigils, the historic graveyard is a humbling and beautiful burial place.
SOUTH PARK STREET CEMETERY
Founded in 1767, this cemetery of overgrown tropical vegetation contains the final resting places of the British raj, the former colonial rulers who were honored in death with Gothic-style monuments. Look for the tomb of Major-General Charles Stuart, one of the few British rulers to embrace Hindu culture. His burial place is built to resemble a Hindu temple surrounded by stone deity sculptures.