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JUDY GARLAND When 47-year-old Judy Garland was found

dead following a drug overdose in her London home on June 22, 1969, her fans were stunned. The starlet’s body was displayed to the public in a glass-topped steel coffin, and more than 20,000 people came to pay their respects. Many of her fans stood in line for hours in

order to catch a final glimpse of their idol and many played Judy Garland records on portable players so that, eerily, her voice filled the air. She wore blue eye shadow, orange lipstick,

the silver lamé gown in which she had married her fourth husband and a single strand of pearls. A prayer book was in her hands. Her funeral, held in New York City, was closed

PHOTO: Elvis Presley’s grave

to the press and the public. But the guest list read like a who’s who of Hollywood celebrities, including Lauren Bacall, Mickey Rooney and James Mason, who delivered the eulogy. Judy Garland was $4 million in debt when she died and Frank Sinatra paid all the funeral expenses.

Guard troops to the area to maintain order. All city buildings in Memphis immediately

lowered their flags to half-mast. Elvis was embalmed and returned to

Graceland where a public viewing of the casket, ordered by Elvis’ father, Vernon, was set up in the foyer. Over 30,000 fans were let in. Though the actual funeral was closed to the

public, the entire world would eventually get a glimpse of Elvis Presley’s pallid face after one of his cousins secretly snapped a photo of the open casket and sold it to the National Enquirer for $18,000. That image, which was subsequently

plastered across the tabloid’s cover, helped sell more than 6.5 million copies, making it one of the most lucrative — albeit lurid — photographs in history. Elvis’s funeral was actually a modest affair, although it was attended by stars such as his “Viva Las Vegas” co-star Ann-Margret, James Brown, and actor George Hamilton. It began with a long procession down the

street that bore his name, a white hearse and 17 white limousines behind, ending at Forest Hill Cemetery. Thousands of tearful Elvis fans gathered outside his mansion and the cemetery while he was buried. An astonishing array of wreaths included a $200 design of a hound dog, sent by an anonymous mourner. He was buried next to his mother, Gladys,

but after a failed break-in by grave robbers they were both moved to the present location in the grounds of Graceland, in Memphis. The crypt that Elvis was interred in at Forest

Hill is empty now, preserved for tourists, but it is available for sale - at a reported price of over one million dollars.

RUDOLPH VALENTINO Rudolph Valentino, an Italian actor and

international sex symbol, became the world’s first bona fide movie star with blockbuster silent films like The Sheik. So when the 31-year-old died unexpectedly of a ruptured ulcer on August 23rd, 1926, mass hysteria ensued; several fans, overcome with grief, killed themselves upon hearing the news. His New York City memorial service

attracted nearly 100,000 mourners, who stretched for nearly 11 blocks as riot police struggled to keep the crowds from blocking the funeral procession. Decades later, it was revealed that the man

who organized Valentino’s memorial, Frank E. Campbell, had paid New Yorkers to exaggerate their grief to draw publicity to his now famous funeral parlour to the stars. Polish actress Pola Negri, claiming to be

Valentino’s fiancée, collapsed in hysterics while standing over the coffin, and Campbell hired four actors to impersonate a Fascist Blackshirt guard of honour, which claimed to have been sent by Benito Mussolini. His body was transported to Hollywood,

where a second funeral was held, complete with a small plane that dropped thousands of rose petals over the procession. Valentino had no final burial arrangements and his friend June Mathis offered her crypt for him in what she thought would be a temporary solution. However, she died the following year and was placed in the adjoining crypt. The two are still interred side by side at the

Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (now the Hollywood Forever Cemetery) in California. Over the years, a woman in black carrying

a red rose has come to mourn at Valentino’s grave, usually on the anniversary of his death. Several myths surround the woman, though it seems the first ‘woman in black’ was actually a publicity stunt cooked up by a Hollywood press agent in 1928. Several copycats have followed over the years.

JAMES BROWN Even in death, James Brown was the hardest

working man in showbusiness. The soulful singer’s passing on Christmas Day, 2006, prompted not one but three memorial services. The first included a public viewing of Brown’s

body at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, where he made his professional debut in 1956. The last was held in his hometown of Augusta, in Georgia, where more than 9,000 fans danced to live music supplied by his band, the Soul Generals. Pop icon Michael Jackson nearly stole the

show when he made a surprise appearance at the last stop on Brown’s so-called Farewell Tour. Following a eulogy delivered by the Rev Al

Sharpton, Jackson reportedly bent down to kiss Brown’s forehead and proclaimed him “my greatest inspiration.” Known for his frequent costume changes,

Brown was in his third wardrobe change in three days - a black jacket and gloves, with a ruby red shirt. After friends and relatives filed past the

coffin, a video of Brown’s last performance in Augusta and final concert in London were played and tributes were performed. Despite several requests for the capacity

crowd to behave as if they were at any other funeral, the funky rhythms that characterised the singer’s sound and life soon had everyone on their feet.

PHOTO: James Brown Credit: miqu77 /

Farewell Magazine


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