celebrity death

For Fans of Final Resting Places

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Who doesn’t love a good cemetery? Cemeteries offer nature, sculpture, and history rolled into one. Realizing that every person resting in a cemetery has a one-of-a-kind life story is an awe-inspiring thought. I always want to know more about how people lived their lives.

An entertaining way to learn about who’s behind some of those markers is to watch a series of YouTube vlogs entitled “Hollywood Graveyard.”  Its host, Arthur Dark, does an admirable job of noting the beauty of cemeteries as he presents facts about their notable inhabitants. Most of the graves he visits are those of famous people many adults will recognize: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, and so on. Others are celebrities from years gone by whose fame faded long ago. Ironically, it’s the people I’ve never heard of who often have the most interesting stories.

For instance, I’d never heard the name Ub Iwerks even though I was quite familiar with his contributions to the entertainment industry.  Mr. Iwerks was Walt Disney’s right-hand man for many years. In addition to contributing to the creation of dozens of beloved animated characters, he is also credited with illustrating Mickey Mouse as we know and love him today.

Then there’s the even lesser-known Tamara De Treaux, an actress who stood 2’7” tall. Her diminutive stature kept her from being a leading lady but it didn’t stop her from becoming part of movie history. She was the person inside the costume of “E.T.”

Even familiar people can have unfamiliar backgrounds. Baby Boomers may remember Julie London and Bobby Troup as the married couple who starred in the 1970s television series “Emergency.”  Prior to their stint as television stars, Julie recorded over 20 albums of pop and jazz standards which are now mainstays on online music sites and top radio stations. Her husband had a no less impressive career as a jazz composer and musician, writing the standards “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” and “Girl Talk.”  

While cemeteries are historically the most common site for final resting places, today we have other options. Online tribute sites can tell a detailed story about a person’s life through photographs, videos, stories, and mementos. QR codes linked to memorial websites can be attached to urns. Social media platforms offer conversion of people’s profiles into memorial sites.

Still, a physical location, whether it be an earth burial, urn or scattering garden, suggests a permanent connection. There’s something sad about having nowhere to go to pay tribute to people like former Beatle George Harrison, actor Christopher Reeves and John F. Kennedy, Jr. whose cremated remains were scattered in places unknown or inaccessible.

We don’t have to be famous to have input about how—and where–we’ll be remembered. Many helpful tools are available through the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program that make it easy and even fun to give this information to others. After all, sharing stories with young people, passing along cherished recipes or noting accomplishments that made us proud may be the most enduring way to keep memories of us alive.


By Mark Allen, CEO & Executive Director
This post was originally written for the Have the Talk of a Lifetime blog.

2016 Trends that Shaped Funeral Service–Part I

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In many people’s minds, 2016 will be remembered as the year celebrities dropped like flies. According to Legacy.com, the number of celebrity deaths was comparable to previous years, but three factors made it appear that celebrities were dying in droves: 1) a higher-than-average number of those who died were either A-list or legendary stars; 2) many musicians died who had extremely loyal fan bases; and 3) the average age of celebrities who died this year was about 10 years younger than usual.

Aside from celebrity deaths, growing pains continued to reach every aspect of funeral service. During the last 12 months we saw some outrageous trends, some of which have already used up their 15 minutes of fame. Other news stories highlighted shifts in public preferences that merit our continued attention, even if these changes seem undignified to some traditionalists.

Part I of this blog will examine five topics which drew national, and sometimes international, attention to funeral service in ways that are relevant to serving families in the near future. Next week, Part II will examine five more topics.  Read the rest of this entry »