30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals

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It may seem ironic, but whether you’re saying goodbye to a celebrity or to a member of your own family, being present for the funeral is one of the best ways to begin the healing process through mourning. It serves as a way for family and friends to find closure through one last viewing of the deceased’s body. Many dead celebrities have chosen to have open casket funerals for a variety of reasons. Some do it as a way to give one last goodbye to their fans, and others, like Emmett Till and Martin Luther King Junior, had open casket services as a way to make a final statement, even after they’d passed. This list of celebrity open casket funerals is not for the faint of heart, but these photos of celebrity dead bodies, and the stories behind them, are as tasteful as possible.

Whether you came to this list of deceased celebrities as way to learn more about the final moments of your favorite celeb, or you were simply looking to see famous people in open caskets, you've found the list that will help you find closure. Through painstaking research, we’ve verified these photos - and the stories behind them - as some of the most famous open casket funerals.  

Some of the photos on this list, like the picture of Elvis, and of Andy Warhol were taken clandestinely, but most of them were taken a photographer hired to cover the event, and they’re all as classy as possible. Keep in mind that this list is not for the squeamish. Check out this list of famous dead bodies in open casket funerals below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 
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  1. Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: user uploaded image

     

    When Elvis died in 1977, a photo from his funeral appeared on the cover of The National Enquirer. The legend of the photo is that Ian Calder, editor of the paper at the time, bribed Elvis' cousin, Bobby Mann, with $18,000 to take the photo. The picture was snapped on an Arco Flex spy camera, and is now valued at $1 million.

    See which celeb is wearing something to a funeral that would make the King blush here.

    more ABOUT
    • Age: Died at 42 (1935-1977)
    • Birthplace: Tupelo, Mississippi, United States of America
    • Profession: Soldier, Musician, Actor, Singer
    • Credits: Love Me Tender, Blue Hawaii, Jailhouse Rock, Viva Las Vegas
  2. Bruce Lee is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: user uploaded image
    In 1973, Lee died of cerebral edema while completing the ADR for his final film, Enter the Dragon in Hong Kong. Before he was flown back to Seattle to be buried, a public mourning was held for his fans, and close to 25,000 people attended a public viewing of his body.
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    • Age: Died at 33 (1940-1973)
    • Birthplace: Chinatown, California, United States of America
    • Profession: Martial Arts Instructor, Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor, Martial artist, + more
    • Credits: The Big Boss, The Way of the Dragon, The Chinese Connection, Enter the Dragon
  3. Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: videomessage777/via Youtube
    After Whitney Houston's funeral photo leaked in 2012, her friends and family were mortified. But The National Enquirer's publisher, Mary Beth Wright, said that she felt that the photo "was beautiful." The photo was published without a credit, and the magazine refused to release details on how they received it.
    more ABOUT
    • Age: Died at 49 (1963-2012)
    • Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States of America
    • Profession: Record producer, Songwriter, Musician, Film Producer, Model, + more
    • Credits: The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, The Preacher's Wife, Whitney Houston: The Greatest Hits
  4. River Phoenix is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: The Mystery Tour/via Youtube
    After River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993, his body was displayed in a private ceremony for 60 of his friends and family. However, a photographer broke into funeral home that was holding his body, took a photo of him lying in his casket, and sold it to the National Enquirer for a reported sum of $5,000.
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    • Age: Died at 23 (1970-1993)
    • Birthplace: Madras, Oregon, United States of America
    • Profession: Activist, Guitarist, Environmentalist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, + more
    • Credits: Stand by Me, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, My Own Private Idaho, The Mosquito Coast
  5. Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: via Pinterest
    After King's assassination, his body was laid in an open bronze casket in Memphis, where a bevy of mourners came to pay their respects to the civil rights leader. The wound in King's neck was still visible, and many mourners kissed the glass over King's face.
    more ABOUT
    • Age: Died at 39 (1929-1968)
    • Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
    • Profession: Civil rights activist, Writer, Minister of religion
    • Credits: Freedom Writers, I Am Curious (Yellow), The UCLA Dynasty, Pariah
  6. James Brown is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: user uploaded image
    In 2006, Robert Sabo for the NY Daily News snapped the now iconic photos of Michael Jackson paying his respects to James Brown at his funeral. Jackson was just one among thousands who gathered to pay their respects for the Godfather of Soul. 

    Source: People
    more ABOUT
    • Age: Died at 73 (1933-2006)
    • Birthplace: Barnwell, South Carolina, United States of America
    • Profession: Record producer, Songwriter, Rapper, Musician, Bandleader, + more
    • Credits: The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Going My Way, Objective, Burma!, Sands of Iwo Jima
  7. Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: user uploaded image
    After suffering a stroke while driving through the hills of Monaco, Grace Kelly died in a car crash and was committed to her final resting place at Her Serene Highness where she married Prince Rainier in 1956. The iconic photo of her body was taken by Jean Guichard.
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    • Age: Died at 53 (1929-1982)
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Profession: Fashion Model, Actor, Crown Princess
    • Credits: High Noon, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief
  8. Mickey Rooney is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 30 Photos from Celebrity Open Casket Funerals
    Photo: via Pinterest
    Funny man Mickey Rooney's life came to an end when he was 93 years old. Unfortunately, his death was marred by a squabbling family whom he had disowned late in his life. There were two services held for Rooney, and according to findadeath.com, Rooney's final photo was taken in a casket at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
    more ABOUT
    • Age: Died at 94 (1920-2014)
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Soldier, Comedian, Television producer, Film Producer, Radio personality, + more
    • Credits: The Fox and the Hound, Night at the Museum, Breakfast at Tiffany's, National Velvet
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