This Is Where These Famous People Have Their Ashes Scattered

Celebrities are always ahead of the latest trends, from fashion to consumer goods, all the way up to funerals. Yes, seriously. Cremation as a whole has steadily increased over the last century, and famous people have been at the forefront of that.

So there are lots of famous people who have been cremated going back decades. But what happens to the ashes of famous people? Celebrities love their fancy houses and such. Do they get equally lavish places where their ashes are scattered? The answer, surprisingly, is not really.

In a great many cases, celebrities' cremains end up being spread in a lot of the same places anyone else's would. (No, not Disney World, though that may not be as much of a myth as Disney would like you to believe.) It's usually in ordinary places that meant a lot to them when they were alive, although sometimes there's some celeb-worthy drama and mystery as well.

Kurt Cobain ended up in a few different places

Legendary musician Kurt Cobain had a short life but made a huge impact on the world. A member of the infamous "27 Club," Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994. He left behind a wife, a daughter, and an uncountable number of fans and future musicians his work would influence.

Cobain was cremated, per his request, and then his ashes ended up being split up, according to The Guardian. Some were spread into the Wishkah River in Aberdeen, Washington, a place so impactful on Cobain's life that the rest of Nirvana named a posthumous live album after it. More unusual was that some of his ashes were taken to a Buddhist Monastery in Ithaca, New York. His widow, fellow rocker Courtney Love, brought the ashes there for the monks to purify. This took several months, and it's alleged that Love never actually returned to pick them up

Weirdest of all are Love's claims that she kept a portion of Cobain's ashes for herself in a bear-shaped handbag, even taking it on tour with her. In 2008, Love claimed that these ashes were stolen, but when an Australian artist named Natascha Stellmach said that she had located and now possessed them, Love reversed her claim and said they were never stolen at all, according to MusicRadar. It's unclear exactly which of these stories are true.

John Lennon's ashes were spread near where he died

Former Beatle John Lennon, one of the most revered songwriters and musicians of the 20th century, met a tragic end when he was murdered outside his New York City home by an obsessed fan, Mark David Chapman, on December 8, 1980. The world mourned Lennon's passing. Chapman was arrested and remains in prison as of 2020.

Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, had him cremated, and she took these ashes into Central Park, scattering them right across the street from the apartment building where John was killed, according to Central Park Conservancy. While the precise location of his ash scattering isn't known for certain, the approximate location has been turned into a memorial for Lennon called Strawberry Fields, after the Beatles' song "Strawberry Fields Forever." Now, fans gather there to celebrate Lennon's life and music and mourn his untimely death. It's a designated quiet zone in Central Park, meaning that any noise that might disrupt mourners is prohibited.

Lennon's Beatles bandmate George Harrison was also cremated after he died in 2001, though his ashes were scattered far from his home in Los Angeles, according to Billboard. Instead, they were poured into the Ganges River in India, per Harrison's request, and according to his spiritual beliefs as a Hare Krishna. The tradition, over three millennia old, involves cremating the dead directly by the riverside and then submerging the ashes in the holy waters.

Robin Williams is with his mother

Robin Williams was a comedy hero to generations of fans, but also harbored a struggle with deep depression. He ended up losing this battle and committed suicide on August 11, 2014. His family, friends, colleagues, and fans were devastated. People from all over came together to discuss how mental health is stigmatized and how difficult it can be for those who need help to get it, something that sadly continues to be the case today.

Williams expressed a wish to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in some place that might have seemed a little ordinary for an oddball like Williams: San Francisco Bay. Williams had been a longtime resident of San Francisco and even got his start doing stand-up comedy there, so he definitely considered it home, but there was also a very particular reason he wanted his remains to be placed there.

In 2001, a little more than a decade before his own death, Williams' mother, Laurie Williams, died. She, too, had been cremated and had her ashes spread in San Francisco Bay, according to the New York Daily News. With his final request, Robin Williams simply wanted to rest in the same place as the mother he had so beloved. Kinda brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

David Bowie rests on a Pacific island

Known for his musical acumen as well as his endless nicknames, David Bowie was one of the most successful artists of the 20th century, and while his output was more limited in the 21st century, he was certainly no slouch. By constantly updating his sound and experimenting with new genres, there wasn't an era in rock music where he wasn't an enormous star.

The same day of the release of his final album, Blackstar, on January 10, 2016, Bowie lost his fight with liver cancer, something that he had kept concealed from the public for several years, according to The Guardian. The shock of his passing broke hearts all across the world, and was just one of several celebrity deaths that would occur over the cursed year of 2016.

But much like in his life as a musician, actor, and all-around high-class kind of guy, Bowie requested his remains be handled in a way a bit different than most folks. He had no funeral, per his will, and his remains were directly flown out to Southeast Asia, specifically, the Indonesian island of Bali, where he was cremated and scattered at an unnamed location there, which was said to be in line with Buddhist rituals native to the island, according to The Independent. His family was present for the ceremony, but it was otherwise private.

Gary Coleman's ashes got tied up in legal issues

Actor and TV personality Gary Coleman got his start on Diff'rent Strokes, the legendary 80s sitcom that made him a star. But being a child actor is hard, and Coleman had frequent struggles with his finances and his health, as he suffered from a lifelong kidney disorder that contributed to his smaller stature, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

After Coleman's death on May 28, 2010, stemming from a fall at his home, there was some legal wrangling regarding his will. Coleman was cremated after death and requested that his friend Anna Gray receive his ashes. However, Coleman had married Shannon Price in 2007 and wrote an amendment to his will naming Price as executor of his estate. While the two divorced in 2008, the amendment was still part of his will, and Price argued that she was still his common-law wife, according to RadarOnline.

Price planned to take Coleman's ashes and sprinkle them at Golden Spike Park in Utah, the site of the completion of the first transnational railway, according to SF Gate. Turns out, Coleman was very into trains, something many people aware of his public persona never knew. However, after four years, the courts found that Price didn't qualify as Coleman's common-law wife and the ashes were turned over to Anna Gray, according to Hollywood. Gray has said she scattered the ashes in a secret location. Perhaps another set of train tracks?

Carrie Fisher's ashes ended up in a very Carrie Fisher place

Carrie Fisher was most famous for playing Princess Leia in the original trilogy of Star Wars movies (a role she reprised in the sequel trilogy, including a posthumous appearance), but her greatest impact didn't necessarily come from her on-screen work.

Fisher was also a prolific writer of novels and memoirs. In the aftermath of the Star Wars hoopla of the 70s and 80s, Fisher began chronicling her struggles with mental health and drug use, according to People. Her straightforward and blunt discussions of these subjects won her a great deal of praise. So when Fisher died on December 27, 2016 after a cardiac event on a plane four days earlier, no one was more distraught than the fans of her writing, many of whom cited her work as helping them confront their own struggles. 

In a nod to her latter-day work, her family chose to inter Fisher's ashes in a very suitable container: A giant Prozac pill. It's worth noting that the container was not purchased for this purpose. Fisher actually owned it herself before her death and reportedly loved it, according to Rolling Stone. It wasn't even meant to be an urn, just a regular container, but her brother, daughter, and other members of the family thought that she would have found it a very fitting place for her remains.

The exact location of Freddie Mercury's ashes is a mystery

Freddie Mercury was a musical powerhouse in the latter half of the 20th century. As frontman of Queen, Mercury was a tremendous artist and influenced multiple generations of musicians up until his tragic death in 1991 from AIDS-related complications. Mercury's story was so powerful, it even got turned into an Oscar-winning film, 2018's Bohemian Rhapsody.

In accordance with Mercury's will, he was cremated, but what happened after that is a mystery. Mercury requested his ashes be given to his ex-girlfriend and long-time friend Mary Austin. According to Austin, Mercury told her that he wanted his ashes scattered someplace secret, a place only she herself would know. Even his parents would have no idea where his remains were. After two decades, though, it seemed that the mystery was accidentally solved.

In 2013, a fan visiting Kensal Green Cemetery in London, England stumbled across a plaque memorializing Farrokh Bulsara, Freddie Mercury's birth name, and the birth and death dates on it matched up to Mercury's, according to Time. They took photos and posted them online, only for the plaque to disappear not long after. Austin later denied the plaque's location was where she scattered Mercury's ashes, for her part, so it's still not completely clear just where he ended up, according to Spin.

Albert Einstein's ashes were scattered in a very appropriate place

Swiss patent clerk/professional smart guy Albert Einstein is one of the greatest figures in modern science for his groundbreaking work in physics. Considered to be one of the brightest minds of his era, and certainly one of the smartest of the 20th century, Einstein's theories and formulae have made it into pop culture, something that rarely happens with science. If you ask someone what E equals, chances are, they can reply, "MC squared."

When Einstein died in 1955, he was cremated, which was especially uncommon for that time. In fact, Einstein's cremation was exceptionally unusual in one other way, too: His brain was removed beforehand so that it could be studied, according to NPR. Einstein's ashes, meanwhile, were spread somewhere very fitting: On the grounds of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, according to Wired.

As for Einstein's brain? Turns out, it was actually stolen. The pathologist who removed it, Thomas Harvey, didn't have permission to take it. It ended up getting him fired, but he kept the brain for decades hoping some brain experts would perform tests on it. When researchers finally took a look at it in the 90s, they found that Einstein's brain was, on the whole, pretty normal. Apparently, with brains, it's what's on the inside that counts.

Marlon Brando's ashes are scattered in Death Valley

Iconic method actor Marlon Brando starred in dozens of films throughout his career but was most famous for his appearances in A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, and perhaps his best-known role, as Don Corleone in The Godfather. Late in life, Brando was an actor's actor, meaning that while he wasn't a big box office draw (several of his last films ended up being huge bombs), he was still widely respected and revered by Hollywood for his work in advancing the craft of acting.

After his death in 2004, Brando ended up somewhere very hot. No, not there, and not just the cremation oven, either. A portion of Marlon Brando's ashes were scattered in one of his favorite places: Death Valley, better known as one of the hottest places on Earth, according to the Houston Chronicle. While that might seem like a weird decision, Brando apparently loved Death Valley and visited it several times in his life. The other portion ended up in the much more hospitable locale of Tahiti.

The kinda gross part is that Death Valley is notoriously dry and dusty, meaning that those ashes are probably still blowing around in the desert winds. So if you ever end up visiting Death Valley, good news! That gust of wind might have blown a big plume of Marlon Brando right into your face. Wait, that's not good news at all, is it?

Tupac Shakur's ashes may have ended up being smoked

Tupac Shakur was a brilliant rapper and budding actor who lost his life far too soon. On September 13, 1996, while riding in a car driven by friend and business partner Suge Knight, Shakur was shot after leaving a Mike Tyson boxing match. He died a few days later in the hospital. While his death and the aftermath feature a whole lot of mysteries and questions, one thing we do know is what happened to his remains. Sort of.

Shakur was cremated but had no public funeral. Instead, his mother, Afeni Shakur, had a private memorial for him with only close family and friends present. That was the official story. But years later, another narrative began to emerge. Tupac's friends and labelmates The Outlawz began to claim that they had rolled some of Shakur's ashes into a joint and smoked it together, inspired by a line in his song "Black Jesus," in which Tupac says, "last wishes, n****s smoke my ashes," according to XXL.

The Outlawz claim this happened on a beach in L.A. sometime after the private ceremony, and they also say that Shakur's mother joined in. She denies this and, in fact, if this event actually did happen (there's no evidence to corroborate the story to date), she's accused The Outlawz of stealing a portion of Shakur's ashes for their impromptu and truly unique send-off of their friend, according to NME.

Hunter S. Thompson was blasted out of a cannon

Prolific cultural commentator Hunter S. Thompson, author of books like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Where the Buffalo Roam, was notorious for never running out of things to say about the world around him. Tragically, on February 20, 2005, Thompson's typewriter went forever silent after he committed suicide at home. His family were heartbroken, but they followed Thompson's very unusual final wishes all the same.

First, Thompson requested an enormous party instead of a traditional funeral, with lots of food and alcohol, and this evening would be capped off by something completely one-of-a-kind: An enormous cannon, shaped like a fist, was to be built on Thompson's property, into which his ashes would be loaded and fired. Not only that, but there would be a fireworks display. Said fireworks were also loaded up with his ashes, according to the New York Times.

This all really did take place, of course, and Thompson's friends and colleagues from throughout his life showed up. In the end, the 157 foot tall cannon filled with Thompson's ashes was fired by none other than Johnny Depp, who played Thompson (under the pseudonym Raoul Duke), in the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a performance with which Thompson was apparently very pleased. The two became friends after, and Depp was actually the one who helped bankroll Thompson's elaborate funeral, according to The Guardian.

Truman Capote's ashes ended up in an auction

Truman Capote was an American author and socialite whose very personality made an outsized impact on the world around him. On top of that, he also wrote what is possibly the first true crime book, In Cold Blood. There are other books that came before that might count, but the true crime genre definitely owes a ton to Capote and his book.

On the flipside of Capote's success and popularity were years-long battles with drugs and alcohol. These ended up killing him in 1984, one month shy of his 60th birthday, in the form of liver disease, according to the LA Times. When Capote was cremated, half of his ashes were given to his friend Joanne Carson (ex-wife of TV host Johnny) and the rest to his partner, Jack Dunphy. When Dunphy himself died a few years later, he was also cremated and his portion of Capote's ashes were scattered with his own in Long Island, New York, according to The Rake.

Carson's portion had a bit of a rocky history, though. They were stolen at two different points, but recovered each time, according to Vanity Fair. Carson held onto them until her death, and in 2016, items from her estate were auctioned off, including Capote's ashes. The auctioneers started the bidding at $6,000, which seems kind of low for one of America's greats. Mercifully, they sold for much more, at $43,750.