What is the last thing you would like to say to the world? A stanza from your favorite poem that perfectly describes your legacy? Some profound quote on the meaning of life? A cheeky quip?
Gravestone epitaphs are our last chance for a “mic drop” — the final punchline to the divine comedy we call life.
We rounded up some of the most inspiring, downright beautiful, weird, and cheeky epitaphs etched into the gravestones of famous people.
“I will not be right back after this message.”
Gravestone of: Merv Griffin (1925 – 2007)
Location: Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles, California
Merv Griffin, the man behind America’s favorite game shows like “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” died in 2007 at age 82 after a long-time battle with prostate cancer. During his 25-year run, the iconic talk show host interviewed everyone from Rosa Parks to Andy Warhol. Griffin revealed his cheeky final sign-off, “I will not be right back after this message,” on an episode of “The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder.”
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“I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on.”
Gravestone of: John Belushi ( 1949 – 1982)
Location: Abel’s Hill Cemetery in Chilmark, Massachusetts
The “Saturday Night Live” funnyman died of a drug overdose in 1982 at the young age of 33 at the Chateau Marmont hotel. Belushi’s tombstone has a skull and crossbones with the inscription, “I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on.” His fans took the epitaph too seriously and trashed the grave continuously in the name of rock n’ roll, forcing funeral workers to move the body to an unmarked grave nearby.
Gravestone of: Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)
Location: Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, California
The gritty novelist died in 1994 of leukemia aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel “Pulp.” Bukowski’s tombstone offers somewhat discouraging advice to aspiring writers. In a 1963 letter to John William Corrington, the poet explained the phrase: “Somebody asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try.”
“OK…I gotta go now.”
Gravestone of: Dee Dee Ramone ( 1951 – 2002)
Location: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Douglas Colvin, a.k.a Dee Dee Ramone, died of a drug overdose in 2002 at age 49. His tombstone is fittingly adorned with the Ramones seal and the line “O.K… I gotta go now.”
Since 2020, a group of punk-loving ducks have been flocking to Ramone’s gravesite every day thanks to a cheeky experiment by an LA couple. Coyote Shivers and his partner Pleasant Gehman brought five ducks to Dee Dee’s gravesite and fed them using a “dinner bell” dubbed “Duckskrieg Bop” (a version of “Blitzkrieg Bop” but with quacks). “Ramones Ducks” have become daily visitors to the legendary’s bassist grave thanks to this strategy.
“Go away – I’m asleep.”
Gravestone of: Joan Hackett (1934–1983)
Location: The Abbey of The Psalms Mausoleum, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
Joan Hackett, one of the most celebrated theater and movie actresses, passed away at the premature age of 49 from ovarian cancer. She is buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s Abbey of The Psalms Mausoleum, where her epitaph reads: “Go Away – I’m Asleep.”
“Let ‘er rip.”
Gravestone of: Leslie Nielson (1926 – 2010)
Location: Fort Lauderdale’s Evergreen Cemetery, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Leslie Nielsen died in 2010 from pneumonia at age 84. The “Airplane!” and “Naked Gun” star was a master of slapstick comedy with a career spanning over 60 years.
Surely one might think Nielsen wasn’t serious when he announced his epitaph would be “Let’er rip.” Well, he was serious, and don’t call me Shirley. As it seems, the funnyman had such a penchant for toilet humor that he took it to the grave. Literally!
“There goes the neighborhood.”
Gravestone of: Rodney Dangerfield (1921 – 2004)
Location: Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
One-liners master Rodney Dangerfield, who died in 2004 at age 82, got one last laugh on his gravestone with the final punchline, “There goes the neighborhood.” The legendary comedian who famously claimed “I don’t get no respect” was proven wrong when shortly after his passing, his widow held an event in which the word “Respect” was written in the sky as guests released butterflies into the air.
“I’m a writer, but then, nobody’s perfect.”
Gravestone of: Billy Wilder (1906 – 2002)
Location: Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary, Los Angeles, California
Eight-time Academy Award winner Billy Wilder died of pneumonia in 2002, aged 95. Wilder is regarded as one of Hollywood’s most brilliant filmmakers, with a career that spanned over five decades. The brilliant mind behind “Some Like It Hot” used the movie’s final line as one last self-deprecating quip etched into his tombstone, reading, “I am a writer, but then nobody’s perfect.”
“The best is yet to come.”
Gravestone of: Frank Sinatra (1915 – 1998)
Location: Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California
Ole’ Blue Eyes died in 1998, aged 82, after suffering two heart attacks. Although we all secretly wish his epitaph would read “I did it my way,” the singer’s family chose the lyrics of another classic.
A nod to Sinatra’s 1964 hit, “The best is yet to come,” was carved into his original tombstone until 2021, when it was mysteriously changed to “Sleep Warm Poppa.”
Gravestone of: Jack Lemmon ( 1925 – 2001)
Location: Westwood Village Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California
Hollywood’s favorite tragi-comedian, Jack Lemon, died in 2001 of bladder cancer at age 76. Leaving behind a legacy of more than 50 movies, including “The Apartment” and “Some Like it Hot,” was apparently not enough for the iconic actor, who left his final marquee etched into his tombstone, which simply reads “Jack Lemon in.”
“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
Gravestone of: Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Location: Parish Church of St Martin’s, Bladon, United Kingdom
Sir Winston Churchill died in 1965, aged 90, after suffering a final stroke. He is buried in the quiet cemetery of the Parish Church of St Martin’s at Bladon near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. A master wordsmith, Churchill left his final speech for his tombstone, which reads: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
“Bless be the man that spares these stones, and cursed be he that moves my bones.”
Gravestone of: William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
Location: Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52. The complete epitaph on his gravestone reads, “Good friend for Jesus sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Bless be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.” The Bard penned this witty couplet to prevent his corpse from being dug up for research purposes, which was a common activity during the 1600s.
“That’s all folks.”
Gravestone of: Mel Blanc (1908 – 1989)
Location: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
“The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Mel Blanc died in 1989, aged 81. The voice behind Daffy Duck, Tweety Pie, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and many other popular cartoon characters used the beloved Looney Tunes’ tagline “The-the-the-that’s all folks” as his final sign-off etched into his headstone.
“True to his own spirit”
Gravestone of: Jim Morrison ( 1943 – 1971)
Location: Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
Jim Morrison died in 1971 of a heart attack aged 27. The flamboyant frontman of “The Doors,” who spent the last months of his life in France, was buried in the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The epitaph on the “Lizard King’s” gravestone comes from the Greek inscription: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ, which literally translates to “according to his own daemon” but is usually interpreted as “true to his own spirit.”
“Grace, dignity and elegance personified.”
Gravestone of: Joe DiMaggio (1914 – 1999)
Location: Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, California
Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio died in 1999 at the age of 84. “Joltin Joe” was known as one the greatest baseball players who ever lived. His brother Dominic described the iconic athlete in a short but touching epitaph: “Dignity, grace, elegance personified.”
“Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, I’m Free at Last!”
Gravestone of: Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968)
Location: National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia
Martin Luther King Jr died in 1968 at age 39 after being fatally shot by James Earl Ray. “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m Free at last,” the moving words that the civil rights leader once boldly spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are carved into his tombstone, embodying his faith and inspirational spirit.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Gravestone of: F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 –1940)
Location: Old Saint Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery, Rockville, Maryland
The Jazz Age wordsmith Francis Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940s at the premature age of 44. On his grave is fittingly etched the closing line of “The Great Gatsby,” the novelist’s greatest work.
“Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.”
Gravestone of: Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963)
Location: St. Thomas’ Churchyard, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, England
The poet Sylvia Plath died in 1963 at age 30. For her epitaphs, Plath’s husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes borrowed the wise words of Wu Ch’eng-En’s novel “Monkey” “Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.”
“She did it the hard way.”
Gravestone of: Bette Davis ( 1908 – 1989)
Location: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California
Old Hollywood legend Bette Davis died in 1989 at the age of 81. Davis, revered as one of the greatest actresses of her generation, was known as a stickler for getting every detail right and her obsession with perfection made her a rather “difficult” co-star.
Her tombstone bears the enduring line “She did it the hard way,” which sums up her everlasting legacy.
“I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
Gravestone of: Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)
Location: Old Bennington Cemetery, Bennington, Vermont
The four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Frost died in 1963 at the age of 88. Frost’s epitaph, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” is the last stanza of one of his less-known poems, “The Lesson for Today.”
“And were an epitaph to be my story
I’d have a short one ready for my own
I would have written of me on my stone
I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
Gravestone of: Ludolph van Ceulen (1540 – 1610)
Location: Pieterskerk, Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands
Ludolph van Ceulen was a German-Dutch mathematician and the first man to calculate the value of Π (or pi) to 35 numbers. It took the brainiac 25 years to come to the record-breaking digits (give the man a break, he did the calculations by hand). Fittingly, those very digits are etched into his tombstone.
“You’ve Come Home.”
Gravestone of: Lucille Ball (1911 – 1989)
Location: Lakeview Cemetery, Jamestown, New York
The beloved comedian died in 1989 at the age of 77. Ball was originally buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. In keeping with Ball’s wishes to be buried near her mother, her ashes were moved to her birthplace in New York. Fittingly, her tombstone reads, “You have come home.”
“To yesterday’s companionship/ And tomorrow’s reunion”
Gravestone of: Rita Hayworth (1918 – 1987)
Location: Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California
Rita Hayworth was one of old Hollywood’s most glamorous and beloved stars. She died at age 68 from complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease on May 14, 1987, at her home in Manhattan. The headstone of “Gilda” is inscribed with a tender sentiment from her daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan: “To yesterday’s companionship and tomorrow’s reunion.”
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.