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6 Unforgettable Male Celebrity Funerals – Part 1

Published: April 19, 2024

Some of the great male celebrity funerals from the entertainment industry are shown below. Discover where they were born, their early life, achievements, cause of death, funeral details and who attended the funerals of these unforgettable icons.

1. Benny Hill

Benny Hill

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Died on this day: Benny Hill passed away on April 20, 1992, aged 68.

Early life: On January 21, 1924, the vibrant soul known by the world as Alfred Hawthorne Hill but fondly remembered as Benny Hill made his entrance in Southampton, Hampshire. He came from a family with a circus clown lineage and developed his passion for comedy early on. He initially worked various jobs before pursuing a career in show business, taking on the nickname “Benny” in honour of his comedic inspiration, Jack Benny.

Achievements and contributions: Hill became a beloved British comedian known for his slapstick comedy, wordplay, and parodies. He gained widespread recognition for “The Benny Hill Show,” which aired from 1955 to 1989. His humour style was a mix of innuendo, physical comedy, and absurd sketches that entertained audiences for decades.

Cause of death: Hill’s well-being waned in the late 1980s. A minor heart attack hit him on February 24, 1992, with doctors proposing bypass surgery. However, he declined the offer. A week later, kidney failure emerged, but he also rejected dialysis. On April 20, 1992, coronary thrombosis claimed his life at his Teddington residence in London. Interestingly, Hill’s sizeable estate underwent extensive probate, and his will allocated his riches among nieces and nephews.

Funeral details: Benny Hill’s funeral occurred on April 28, 1992, at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton. He was buried near his birthplace in a private ceremony attended by family and close friends.

Some celebrity funerals can be small

Although many of Hill’s fans lined the roads to the cemetery, the funeral service was a small private affair attended by Hill’s relatives and close associates, totalling about a hundred.

2. Charlie Chaplin

Charle Chaplin

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Died on this day: Charlie Chaplin, the legendary actor, comedian, and filmmaker, passed away on Christmas Day, December 25, 1977, aged 88.

Early life: Born on April 16, 1889, in London to Hannah and Charles Chaplin Sr., both music hall entertainers, Charlie Chaplin’s upbringing was marked by hardship. After his parent’s separation, he and his half-brother Sydney faced a tumultuous childhood in workhouses and charity homes.

Achievements and contributions: Chaplin’s career was marked by his iconic “Little Tramp” character, appearing in numerous silent movies. He revolutionised comedy and filmmaking with his creative genius, directing, producing, and composing music for his films. He co-founded United Artists Studio, enabling artists’ creative control.

Cause of death: As time went on, Chaplin’s health gradually declined, eventually leading to his passing due to natural causes, primarily attributed to his deteriorating well-being, at his residence in Switzerland.

Funeral details: Chaplin’s funeral occurred on December 27, 1977, at the Corsier-sur-Vevey Cemetery in Switzerland, where he had lived in his later years. The event remained intimate, with family, dear friends, and a handful of colleagues in attendance.

Celebrity funerals for family and friends

In attendance were Chaplin’s close relatives, including his spouse, Oona O’Neill Chaplin, along with their children, companions, and creative partners from his illustrious journey. His longtime collaborator and friend, composer David Raksin, delivered a eulogy.

3. Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

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Died on this day: Elvis Presley passed away on August 16, 1977 aged 42.

Early life: Tupelo, Mississippi, cradled Elvis Presley’s arrival on January 8, 1935. Later, at the tender age of 13, his family embarked on a new chapter in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Achievements and contributions: Elvis Presley’s dynamic interpretations of songs and provocative performance style made him a cultural phenomenon of the 20th century. Thanks to his rockabilly tunes, notably hits such as “Heartbreak Hotel,” he soared to the vanguard of the rock and roll surge.

Cause of death: During the 1970s, Elvis Presley encountered health hurdles triggered by a blend of prescription medication misuse and various concerns. His well-being declined, affecting his performance. August 16, 1977, witnessed a sombre discovery: within his Graceland bathroom, he lay unresponsive. Despite earnest attempts to rouse him, victory eluded him, and at 42, cardiac arrest took him away, leaving an irreplaceable void.

Funeral details: Presley’s funeral occurred at Graceland on August 18, 1977. A multitude of fans assembled outside to honour him and his funeral parade was graced by approximately 80,000 individuals. They lined the path to Forest Hill Cemetery. His final resting place is beside his mother, Gladys, in Graceland’s Meditation Garden. 

Secret filming

The funeral was attended by many fans, friends, and family members. Fans gathered to witness the procession, and Elvis’s cousin, Billy Mann, secretly photographed the body for publication. His fiancée, Ginger Alden, also became involved in media coverage after his death.

4. John Lennon

John Lennon

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Died on this day: John Lennon passed away on December 8, 1980 aged 40.

Early life: Arriving into this world on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England, John Lennon became a prominent presence in the British rock band, the Beatles. Raised by his maternal aunt after his parent’s separation, Lennon showed his musical talents (at an early age) and became involved in the skiffle craze. He formed The Quarrymen, which later evolved into the Beatles.

Achievements and contributions: John Lennon impacted music and culture incredibly. Co-founding and co-writing with Paul McCartney for the Beatles, he played a crucial role in shaping their triumph and sonic landscape. His collaboration with McCartney gave birth to timeless tracks, and his solo journey produced striking songs and albums that touched on societal and political matters. The legendary “Imagine” emerged as a worldwide anthem for unity and harmony.

Cause of death: On the evening of December 8, 1980, Lennon was fatally shot by Mark David Chapman, an obsessed fan, outside his residence, the Dakota, in New York City. Chapman had planned the killing over several months, and his actions were motivated by jealousy and Lennon’s fame. Lennon was hit by four bullets fired from a .38 special revolver.

Funeral details: John Lennon was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, the next day following his death. Instead of a traditional funeral, his wife, Yoko Ono, requested that a global ten-minute silence be observed in his memory.

Attracting a public presence

Celebrity funerals can attract a large public following. This stars funeral was no exception. Following Lennon’s tragic death, an outpouring of grief swept the world. Fans gathered outside Roosevelt Hospital and the Dakota to mourn his passing.

5. Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

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Died on this Day: Marvin Gaye passed away on April 1, 1984 aged 44.

Early life: Arriving into the world on April 2, 1939, in Washington, D.C., Marvin Gaye faced a tough start, shaped by his father’s harsh treatment. Yet, even in those early years, his musical gifts shone through. With a heart full of song, he embraced singing in his church and school, setting the stage for his future melodies.

Achievements and contributions: Marvin Gaye was a key architect of the Motown melody during the 1960s. Bestowed with monikers such as the “Motown Maestro” and the “Soulful Sovereign,” he forever changed R&B and soul with his innovative offerings. 

Cause of death: Merely a breath away from his 45th birthday, Marvin Gaye’s realm was engulfed by the sombre touch of tragedy on April 1, 1984. A dispute with his father, Marvin Gay Sr., turned fatal as he was shot and lost his life in their Los Angeles residence. The unexpected and devastating outcome culminated in a heated disagreement between them.

Funeral details:

On April 5, 1984, Marvin Gaye’s final farewell happened at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. More than 10,000 individuals gathered to pay their respects, making it a poignant and star-studded occasion that mirrored his profound imprint on the world of music. Notable attendees included his Motown colleagues, ex-wives, Anna Gaye and Janis Gaye, and his siblings, mother, and three children. Stevie Wonder delivered a moving performance of “Lighting Up the Candles,” while Smokey Robinson and Dick Gregory delivered heartfelt eulogies. Gaye’s open-casket funeral featured him wearing one of his costumes from his final concert tour, symbolising his enduring presence in the hearts of his fans.

Attracting prominent musicians

The funeral brought together various people touched by Marvin Gaye’s music and legacy. Motown colleagues, fellow musicians, family members, and fans united to pay their respects to the talented artist. Eulogies from prominent figures like Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson added a heartfelt touch to the event.

6. David Bowie

David Bowie

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Died on this day: David Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016 aged 69.

Early life: London, England, welcomed David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947, marking the inception of a remarkable journey. Evident from the outset was his profound captivation with melodies and rhythms. The year 1963 witnessed the commencement of his music odyssey, following a stint of exploration in the realms of art, music, and design. 

Achievements and contributions: David Bowie’s impact on music and culture is immeasurable. His career was marked by constant reinvention and experimentation. He transitioned through various musical genres, from glam rock to plastic soul and even electronic music.

Cause of death: At the age of 69, Bowie passed away following his struggle with liver cancer. He had been diagnosed with the disease 18 months before passing but kept his condition private.

Funeral details: Per his wishes, Bowie’s funeral was private. He had requested not to have a traditional funeral ceremony. Instead, he was privately cremated in New Jersey shortly after his death. 

Celebrity funerals and direct cremations

Despite the enormous popularity of this star, the funeral was a simple direct cremation with no one attending. Celebrity funerals do not have to be a media circus, and Daviud Bowie proved this point. Despite his wealth he opted for the most private and possibly cheapest funeral.

If you would like to learn more about locating low-cost funerals, low-cost headstones, natural burials, DIY funerals, free financial help from the Government and charities as well as bereavement support, then please visit Save Funeral Costs™

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