My Wonderful Life

Most Influential Celebrity Funerals

posted on 7/26/11 by Staff

Throughout the years celebrity funerals have garnered much attention, and with advances in technology comes the ability for all of us to tune in to live broadcasts of some of the biggest celebrity funerals in the world. Although celebrities have the ability to fund elaborate funerals, we can still take ideas from their extravagance to help plan our own final party. Here are some of the most influential funerals of the century.

John F. Kennedy: May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963

Jackie Kennedy planned every last detail of her husband’s funeral. Here are some of the most memorable considerations she made on November 23rd in 1963.

- She ordered the casket to be placed in the East Room.

- Each of his close friends received a last memento, along with a personal note. Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger, received an engraved cigar holder.

- Specific instructions as to how the programs would be placed on seats in St. Matthews Cathedral were written.

- When “Hail to the Chief” played outside of the church, Jackie whispered to a then 3-year-old John Jr., and immediately he saluted his father’s casket (pictured above).

- Worries of other security threats were heightened due to the large amount of foreign dignitaries present in Washington at one time. There were 220 of them including 19 heads of state and government, and royal family members, all from 92 different countries.

- 250,000 people viewed the casket, despite facing near freezing temperatures.

- CBS Washington correspondent Roger Mudd said of the mass numbers: "This outpouring of affection and sympathy for the late president is probably the most majestic and stately ceremony the American people can perform."

Princess Diana: July 1, 1961 – August 31, 1997

The lonely youngest daughter of divorced parents, she translated her own pain not into bitterness and withdrawal but into a genuine desire to comfort the suffering of others--people afflicted with AIDS and leprosy and breast cancer, the mutilated victims of land mines. She could have done far worse with her fortune and acquired fame.” –Time Magazine

- More than a million people congregated in London. 2,000 were personally invited to attend the service in Westminster Abbey, and tens of thousands gathered outside to catch a glimpse of the procession that took Diana to her final resting place in Althorp, 70 miles away.

- Her coffin was draped with the royal standard, white lilies, white tulips from Prince William, and white roses from Prince Harry.

- Diana’s cortege consisted of the five most important men in her life: her ex-husband and former father-in-law, Princes Charles and Prince Philip; her brother Charles, Earl Spencer; and her two sons William and Harry. Five representatives from the 110 charities Diana was associated with also joined the cortege that walked behind her coffin.

Member-submitted Photo - Weltzeituhr (World Clock), Alexanderplatz, Berlin

Michael Jackson: August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

When the King of Pop passed away, mourners around the world showed their grief with public memorials strewn across famous landmarks (see photo above). Closer to home, Michael Jackson’s funeral was planned in L.A. by Jackson’s concert promoter, AEG Live, and they certainly put on quite a show. Here were some of the details:

- Broadcast around the world, the live broadcast had 2.5 billion viewers, making it the most watched live television broadcast in the history of the world. Maybe that was fitting for the Kind of Pop.

- Queen Latifah read a poem by Maya Angelou, specifically written for the occasion.

- All of Michael’s brothers wore a single white sequined glove as a tribute to their late sibling.

- Berry Gordy’s eulogy described Michael Jackson’s title as the King of Pop,

 “I feel the King of Pop is not big enough for him. I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.”


1 Previous comment:

(1) On July 26, 2011, David () said:
Excellent post. I think eulogies are so important for a memorable funeral. I'll always remember my dad eulogizing his father with a story about giving him his last shave. He was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and didn't recognize any loved ones, but for a brief moment while my dad shaved his beard, he seemed to know there was something special between the two of them, and he smiled and thanked my dad. During the eulogy, my dad used that moment as an example of how the unconditional love between a parent and a child transcends thinking and - in the twilight of one's life - reverts to pure emotion.

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