10 Famous Funerals Even More Extravagant Than Fidel Castro’s

Published December 8, 2016
Updated February 5, 2018

Even for famous figures like these, these ten weird funerals here are as unexpected, eye-catching, and puzzling as they come.

Weird Funerals

Yamil Lage/Getty ImagesA guard of honour stays by the tomb of Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba on December 4, 2016.

Fidel Castro — the controversial former ruler of Cuba — was laid to rest on Sunday after a four-day funeral procession across the country. With tens of thousands of mourners lining the streets and a 2.6 ton granite boulder used as a crypt, the magnitude of the event seemed proportional to the legacy of the 90-year-old man it honored.

But after looking at some of the most monumental, pricey, and truly weird funerals and memorials throughout history, Castro’s giant parade may seem almost understated:

Michael Jackson

Michael
Tickets to the pop icon's 2009 memorial service at the Staples Center in LA sold for more than $10,000. But that was chump change compared to the funds coming out of Jackson's estate.

In addition to his $35,000 burial outfit, costs included a $3,682 framed photo of the singer, a $15,000 bill from the funeral designer, and -- most importantly -- a $10,800 bar tab.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Andrew Jackson

Parrot
The seventh U.S. president had a way with words. The same can be said for his pets.

Jackson's loudly cursing parrot interrupted the solemn scene of his owner's 1845 funeral. According to a friend's recollections, the bird had to be carried from the house for the service to proceed.
Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II
The Vatican pulled out all the stops to honor the first non-Italian pope in nearly half a millennium.

John Paul II's 2005 funeral services drew an estimated 3 million pilgrims to Rome, requiring 1,000 firefighters, 11,900 police officers, 400 soldiers, 4,000 medical interventions, 3 million bottles of water, and 3,600 port-a-potties.

Mourners waited in the three-mile long line for up to 24 hours in order to pay their respects.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

John Lennon

Lennon
Rather than hold a traditional service, Yoko Ono (Lennon's widow) asked that people share a moment of silence to "pray for John's soul" at 2 p.m. on December 14, 1980.

An estimated 100,000 fans gathered in Central Park for what became a day-long memorial. At exactly 2 p.m., the park fell silent.
Henry Ray Abrams/Getty Images

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee
In 1973, the most famous martial artist in history passed away unexpectedly -- ironically enough -- while starring in a film called "Game of Death." Still, the movie's producers decided the show must go on.

Using the 40 minutes of Lee footage they already had, a number of barely passable Lee stand-ins, as well as scenes of mourners and Lee's corpse from his actual funeral, they cobbled together a full-length film.
Gabriel Bouys/Getty Images

Princess Diana

Princess Diana
A staggering 2.5 billion people tuned in to watch footage of Princess Diana's funeral procession, which went from Kensington Palace, to St. James' Palace, to Westminster Abbey.

Costing approximately $11. 9 million, the 1997 ceremony featured Elton John singing a specially written version of "Candle in the Wind." That day, the People's Princess was buried on an island on her family's estate and, for the first time in history, the British flag above Buckingham Palace was flown at half-mast.
Wolfgang Rattay/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan
A president known for his showmanship, Reagan died as he had lived.

His 2004 service included a rider-less black horse carrying the president's boots turned backward, F-15 planes flying above Constitution Avenue, and a group of 1,200 soldiers responsible for transporting the body from California to D.C., and then back to California again.

The real cost with any presidential death, though, is in the national day of mourning. Officials estimate that the paid time off for government workers after Reagan's death cost the country more than $423 million.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter
After the legendary writer committed suicide in 2005, longtime friend and admirer Johnny Depp made sure he went out with a bang. Literally.

Thompson's ashes were shot into the sky from a cannon along with an impressive display of fireworks.

Watching the display, guests like Bill Murray, Lyle Lovett and Sean Penn were instructed to enjoy the sounds of ice clinking in their glasses of whiskey.
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Joseph Stalin

Stalin
The bloodthirsty Soviet leader managed to kill even after he himself had passed away.

When a mass of people crushed toward Moscow's Hall of Columns to view his body, an estimated 500 mourners were trampled to death.
Vasily Maximov/Getty Images

Gene Roddenberry

Space Funeral
The Star Trek creator had an obvious fascination with space. It makes sense, then, that he and a few like-minded friends would have the world's first space funeral.

Roddenberry's ashes -- along with those of well-known physicists, engineers and activists -- were launched into orbit for five years by a company which now specializes in space-funeral services. The cost of having your remains float around the planet is a surprisingly reasonable $2,995.
Robyn Beck/Getty Images


Intrigued by these weird funerals? To learn more about the unique ways people grapple with death, check out this list of unusual funeral rituals.

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