The Last Will: Where Will These Celebs’ Fortunes Go After They Die?

Celebrities seem to have it all: talent, beauty, and of course, money. I can only imagine how incredible it must be to have Hollywood parents and being born into a glamorous world with a silver spoon in your mouth. Getting whatever your heart desires sounds amazing, right? Well, not every child born to a star will inherit their parents’ millions.

Ashton and Mila posing on the red carpet in 2016 / Amy Winehouse with a beehive hairstyle on the red carpet in 2007 / George Lucas filming on the set of one of his movies / David Gest and Liza Minnelli at a party in 2002

Photo by Eric Charbonneau, Shutterstock / Richard Young, Shutterstock / John Shannon, Lucasfilm Ltd, Paramount, Kobal, Shutterstock / Richard Young, Shutterstock

Never having to worry about covering bills or if you could afford those new pair of shoes sounds lovely. Everyone wants to feel comfortable without the stress of worrying about making ends meet, but at the end of the day, it’s all so superficial. There is only one thing that is certain in this world, and that is death. When the inevitable happens to celebrities, their money isn’t going with them. So, where is it going?

Dealing with an estate after someone dies can lead to uncovering hidden secrets, family feuds, and so much drama! Here is what some of the biggest names in Hollywood stated in their will…

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith is one of the most famous Playboy bunnies in the history of the magazine. Thanks to her career and marriage to businessman J. Howard Marshall II, Smith, managed to make almost half a billion buckeroos.

Anna Nicole Smith posing in front of a pink background

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Unfortunately, when the playboy bunny tragically passed away in 2007, the courts ruled that none of her wealth would be inherited by her little girl, Dannielynn. Not one single cent from her $475 million fortune. The only thing Smith left behind was the legacy of her outrageous, over-the-top behavior.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker was a Hollywood superstar at the height of his career when he lost his life in a horrific car crash. He was only 40 years old at the time of his terrible death, leaving his heartbroken teenage daughter his entire estate, with $25 million in assets.

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in the movie The Fast and the Furious

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Before the actor’s untimely death, he created a trust-based estate plan to make sure his daughter was taken care of. Meadow Rain Walker was his only child, so she is the sole beneficiary of the will, with her grandmother serving as a guardian. After her 21st birthday, she inherited the lot, making her a very rich girl.

George Michael

George Michael was yet another icon who passed away at the top of his career. He was skyrocketing in the music world when he suddenly died in 2016. When the news about his untimely death broke, it devastated his family and fans.

George Michael reading the paper circa the 1980s

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His boyfriend discovered Michael’s body on Christmas Day, which is another reason the news of his death was so unsettling. At the time, he had no heirs, so his entire $128 million fortune was meant to be inherited by his godchildren. Interestingly, one of his goddaughters is the daughter of Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, otherwise known as Ginger Spice.

Sonny Bono

Sonny Bono was a memorable singer, producer, politician, and actor who made waves in Hollywood. Dividing his estate could have been messy, considering he was married a total of four times. His second marriage to singer Cher is the most notable. She was the other half of the singing duo Sonny and Cher.

Sonny Bono on the Glen Campbell Show

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When Bono died at 62 years old, he didn’t have a will. That’s why his $2 million fortune was fought over in a legal battle for years. Ultimately, they decided to split the wealth evenly between his five children.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was a beauty icon and famous actress, known for her signature blonde hair and plump lips. The stunner left a hole in Hollywood after her untimely death, but she certainly left a legacy behind. The media put all of Monroe’s demons on blast, but what they didn’t publicize was the fact that she didn’t leave anything to her family after she passed away.

Marilyn Monroe with her white dress blowing upwards

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Monroe decided to leave everything to Lee Strasberg, her acting coach. To honor the starlet for the last time, Lee kept all of her belongings in his basement. They remained there until his death in 1982.

Robert Kardashian Senior

Robert Kardashian Senior is the biological father of the famous Kardashian siblings. Way before his family became reality TV stars, Robert was a superstar lawyer and part of the “Dream Team,” the group of lawyers who defended OJ Simpson in the trial of the century.

Robert Kardashian in 1995

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Kardashian was married three times. His children, Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob, are from his first wife, Kris. However, when Robert passed away, he didn’t leave anything to his family. Instead, a recent ex-wife took it all. Luckily, the Kardashians are definitely doing fine without an inheritance.

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell is a media mogul known for his hilarious comments while judging shows such as American Idol and X-Factor. The musical genius is worth over half a billion dollars! That’s right; Cowell’s net worth is a well-deserved $570 million.

Simon Cowell leaning on his arm sitting on the couch

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At his peak, Simon certainly lived it up. He traveled in his own private jet, lived in luxurious mansions, and rubbed elbows with some of the most famous and powerful people on the Planet. But Simon’s six-year-old son won’t be handed an extravagant life on a silver platter; little Eric will have to work. In his will, Simon stated that everything will go to organizations focused on dogs and kids.

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is The Virgin Group founder and one of the most extravagant billionaires on the planet. He loves spending his hard-earned money and doesn’t hold back when spending his fortune, which is valued at an astonishing 3.9 billion dollars.

Sir Richard Branson holding a teddy bear with a Virgin Atlantic hat on

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Even though Branson spends hard and knows how to party into the early hours of the morning, he leaves half of his money to charity and philanthropic enterprises. When Branson was asked what he values in life, the billionaire revealed that family, friends, good health, and happiness is all that matters in the end. He only wishes his children will follow his lead.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis

This Hollywood power couple likes to do things their own way and definitely doesn’t care what people think of them. During his appearance on Dax Shepard’s podcast, Kutcher admitted that he and his wife don’t plan on leaving their incredible fortune to their children.

Mila Kunis doing Ashton Kutcher's hair in a scene from That ‘70s Show / Ashton and Mila posing on the red carpet in 2016

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Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher would much rather give their wealth away to charitable organizations. However, if their kids want to start a business, they can count on mom and dad to invest in their ideas. They just don’t want to give their kids money for sitting around and doing nothing.

Sting

Sting and his band, The Police, are some of the most legendary names in rock and roll history. Sting himself has an estimated net worth of a whopping $400 million. This shows his strong sense of financial management that is often lacking in the rock and roll world.

Sting at a press conference in 1985

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The musician has no problem flashing his wealth to the entire world and showing off his luxurious lifestyle. At one point, he was quoted saying that he will spend most of his money while he is still alive. He said that he doesn’t expect that much will be left over for his children. This is one way of working hard and playing harder.

Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons is the legendary vocalist and lead singer of the popular rock and roll band, KISS. The iconic musician has an estimated net worth of $350 million. He has since branched into other industry endeavors, including working as a producer and starring in reality shows.

Gene Simmons posing in his outfit and face makeup

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Simmons has stated on more than one occasion that if his children want to lead the extravagant lifestyle he does, then they better work for it. In fact, he admitted that when he passes away, he will leave his children with just a small portion of his immense wealth.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was a talented artist who was taken from the world far too soon. He died back in 1970 at the tender age of 27, making him part of the infamous 27 Club – a group of famous musicians or actors who died at that age. Since his death was unexpected, Hendrix didn’t leave a will. His attorney managed his fortune until the singer’s father entered the picture and sued for the rights to his son’s music.

Jimi Hendrix posing against a royal blue wall

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At the time, Hendrix’s estate was valued at almost $80 million! It was left to his father’s adopted daughter, Janie Hendrix. The wealth is now worth $175 million, and, sadly, family members are still fighting over it.

Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay generated his wealth from his restaurant businesses and reality TV shows. The cooking mogul has become a household name with an estimated, astonishing $160 million fortune. Ramsay is never one to shy away from saying what’s on his mind, and that includes declaring that none of his four kids will receive a penny from his hard-earned money.

Gordon Ramsay posing outside of a restaurant

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Even though the celebrity chef has a tough-guy reputation, he didn’t mean it out of spite. It’s not that he doesn’t care about his kids; Ramsay explained that he just doesn’t want them to turn into spoiled brats. He would much rather they learn how to lead their own lives and make their own money.

Elton John

In 2014, Elton John finally tied the knot with his long-time love, David Furnish. Their two adorable sons Elijah and Zachary, attended their wedding and basically stole all the attention. They couldn’t have look cuter all decked out for their family’s special day.

Elton John on the Russell Harty Show circa 1974

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No matter how cute the kids are, their dads don’t want them to feel like they were born with silver spoons in their mouths. They believe that celebrity children need to learn to work hard and become successful in their own right. The couple revealed that most of their $300 million fortune will not be going to their children but to a variety of Elton John’s charities.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is a wildly successful businesswoman. Dubbed the Queen of Talk Shows, this powerhouse has an impressive net worth of $3 billion. That’s right, I said billion! She doesn’t have any children, so the world can’t help but wonder where her massive fortune is going to go once she passes away.

Oprah Winfrey sitting in a chair on her show wearing a shiny purple skirt in 2010

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When she was only 14, Oprah lost a baby. Since then, she has given all her love to her fans and her dogs. Her love for dogs is evident, and while I’m writing this article, she has five of them living under her roof. Her money will go to all different types of charities, and $30 million will be going to her doggies! But for Oprah, $30 million is pocket change.

Sean Connery

One of the most famous actors to play James Bond was Sean Connery; the role launched him into Hollywood superstardom. Upon his recent passing in the fall of 2020, the actor was worth $350 million dollars, but his plans for his wealth is going (and not going) might come as a surprise.

Sean Connery at an event in 1984

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Things weren’t always rosy and rich for Sean Connery. He admitted that as a teenager, he needed to work his butt off to earn just $2 a week. Connery believes that this experience built his strength and character. Therefore, Connery left his only son literally nothing in his will. The rugged star seems to believe that personal development is worth more than money.

Amy Winehouse

Another singer to leave this earth far too soon is Amy Winehouse. The talented musician and worldwide celebrity died in 2011 at age 27, joining Jimi Hendrix in the infamous 27 Club. A club nobody wants to be a part of.

Amy Winehouse with a beehive hairstyle on the red carpet in 2007

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Winehouse and Blake Fielder-Civil were married for two years, and before she died, the singer changed her will to ensure that her ex wouldn’t get a cent in the event of her untimely death. Her family got most of her money instead, and her parents have been using it to keep their daughter’s legacy alive.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

In 2014, the Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman shocked the nation when he died of an accidental drug overdose. The talented star kept a pretty low profile, so fans were stunned to even find out that he was struggling with addiction.

Philip Seymour Hoffman posing on the red carpet in 2009

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The Hunger Games star was featured in plenty of dramatically charged, action-packed movies and left behind three children with Mimi O’Donnell. But Hoffman didn’t like the idea of leaving a trust fund for his kids. Instead, he left his $35 million to O’Donnell, trusting that she would be wise enough to handle it appropriately.

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson created her $150 million net worth through her cookbooks and television shows. The celebrity chef came from a family that was very well-off, but that doesn’t mean she is planning on leaving a large portion of her fortune to her kids.

Nigella Lawson posing in front of a table of fruits and vegetables

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Lawson believes in hard work. She thinks that handing money over to your kids will do nothing but ruin them. She wants her children to work and learn how to make their own money in this world. Although she has the means to give them everything on a silver platter, she believes forcing them to work would ultimately be in their best interest.

Bob Marley

Bob Marley was a Rastafarian and his Jamaican movement’s belief system includes not having a will or establishing any order for his estate after his death. Marley was simply following his beliefs when he didn’t write down a will, but, as you can imagine, this decision led to a huge family feud.

Bob Marley relaxing on a sofa

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Marley passed away in 1981, after a long battle with cancer. His wife tried taking things into her own hands. She attempted to forge her husband’s will. Since then, a messy war has divided the family, with everyone trying to gain control over his assets, fortune, and even the rights to his name.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, known for being a Civil Rights activist. King met his untimely demise by an assassin at the young age of 39. Like many other people who pass away early, Luther didn’t leave a will. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out well for his family.

Martin Luther King Jr at the March on Washington behind the podium in 1963

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Since his death, King’s entire estate has been managed by a for-profit organization, with his family stuck in an ongoing war to win his fortune. Because of this long battle, they have sold all of Luther’s intellectual property rights, as well as his personal belongings, in order to cover their legal fees.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most successful actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age. But she was just as famous for getting married a total of eight times! At the time of her death in 2011, the starlet had a net worth valued at an astonishing $600 million.

Elizabeth Taylor posing on a yellow and gold armchair

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In accordance with her wishes, most of Taylor’s fortune went to charitable and philanthropic causes that were dear to her heart. Her family was left with just a small portion of her estate, and as you can probably imagine, it resulted in a massive legal battle.

Prince

Another rock and roll legend who met an untimely demise in 2016, at just 56 years old, was Prince. The musician’s cause of death was ruled an accidental drug overdose. Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence for rock stars, and many talented individuals before him have died in the same way.

Prince posing with an open shirt in front of a wall with ivy leaves growing up it

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He was dubbed one of the most influential artists in the world by Rolling Stone. Prince didn’t have any children, which is probably why it never occurred to him to leave a will. So, his $3 million estate was split between all his siblings.

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford is an Academy Award-winning actress who kept some shocking secrets hidden away throughout her life. It was only after her death in 1977 that the truth finally came out: She was married four times but didn’t have any biological children.

Joan Crawford playing the piano at her home surrounded by her children

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Instead, the starlet chose to adopt five kids. One of them ended up returning to her biological mother, while the other four did not have a great relationship with Crawford. The two eldest children were left out of the $2 million will. She gave the remaining two, who were twins, a trust fund of just $77,500 each.

George Lucas

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Star Wars franchise genius is loaded. His incredible fortune amounts to over $5.4 billion! Just like many other billionaire philanthropists, George Lucas promised to give a significant chunk of his wealth to charitable institutions.

George Lucas filming on the set of one of his movies

Photo by John Shannon / Lucasfilm Ltd / Paramount / Kobal / Shutterstock

In 2010, he wrote a letter regarding this topic. He said most of his money will go to improve education all around the world. A massive piece of the $4 billion he got for selling the rights to Star Wars to Disney will be donated, with very little going to his children.

Jackie Chan

The action movie star and director managed to create a career out of his passion for martial arts. His talent, hard work, and perseverance launched him to Hollywood superstardom, like Bruce Lee, the iconic martial arts actor before him.

Jackie Chan in a karate pose

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Since Jackie Chan worked incredibly hard and had a tough journey to make it to the top, he believes his son should work just as hard and make his own money. Nobody likes a spoiled kid! Chan admitted that he plans to donate most of this wealth to charity.

Steve McNair

When McNair died, he was adored and remembered as one of the most beloved quarterbacks and sports personalities on the planet. His death at the hands of his mistress was a heartbreaking tragedy. People all over the world were devastated and felt so sorry for his two young kids.

Steve McNair on the field lifting his helmet off

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Since he was only 36 when he died, he never really thought about writing a will. The courts ultimately ruled that his two children will get his $19 million fortune. However, it was saved in trust funds since they were still minors when they lost their father.

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is known for his amazing theatrical productions, which earned him a net worth of almost $1.2 billion! But he always made sure not to let this gigantic sum of money stand in the way of the ideas he has about his family making their own money.

Andrew Lloyd Weber writing out music

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Webber wants to leave most of his immense wealth to a number of art programs and universities. He will still give his children and family something, but he plans to donate most of it. His outlook on wealth seems to be that sometimes it is too much. Especially when it’s just handed to you.

James Brown

In 2006, the iconic musician suddenly passed away from heart failure, leaving behind a fortune of a whopping $100 million. But his family, including his seven children with his fourth wife, got absolutely nothing. He didn’t leave trust funds or anything for them.

James Brown on the red carpet in April 1982

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In his will, Brown stated that his fortune should go to underprivileged children in Georgia and South Carolina. As you can imagine, the family went to court contesting the situation, and the battle is still going on. Wow. This seems to beg the question, what about his own underprivileged kids?

Barry White

Barry White is a legendary musician, and he left a hole in Hollywood and the rest of the world when he passed away in 2003. He left behind his ex-wife, a girlfriend, and five children. Without a will, a family feud began. It’s so sad to see how many families fight over money.

Barry White posing with a woman’s hands on his shoulders

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At the center of the ugly legal battle was his estranged wife and girlfriend. They continuously argued over the dispensation of his estate. Ultimately, the court ruled on behalf of his ex-wife, giving her legal say over his wealth.

David Gest

David Gest is a recognizable music producer and television personality who famously married Liza Minelli. In 2016, he passed away, leaving behind a $10 million fortune. When he died, Gest wasn’t married and didn’t have any kids.

David Gest and Liza Minnelli at a party in 2002

David Gest and Liza Minnelli. Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

He left everything to his attorney, Edward Bearman. He wanted him to take over all his possessions, including his expensive collection of memorabilia. Gest’s sister was not happy about the lawyer taking the lot and took Bearman to court. In the end, the court respected Gest’s wishes and ruled in favor of the attorney.

Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely became one of the planet’s youngest billionaires as the founder and CEO of Spanx. She has made billions selling her line of intimate women’s apparel all over the globe. This successful venture helped her rake in the cash. She has since poured much of it into philanthropy.

Sara Blakely on the red carpet in 2013

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Blakely is extremely passionate about charity. Her main venture is helping homeless girls find jobs and guiding them back into society. The boss-lady plans to donate her wealth to charity when she passes away.

Alexander McQueen

Renowned fashion designer Alexander McQueen devastated the fashion world back in 2010 when he took his own life. The creative genius liked to keep his personal life private. Despite his talent and success, his inner demons always tormented him.

Alexander McQueen in all denim at an event in 2004

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In an interesting twist of events, McQueen left most of his wealth to his dogs, proving that he had a much softer heart than he often let on. Maybe he just felt like the dogs were the only ones who showed him true love and loyalty in this world. Still, what are dogs going to do with so much cash? It could have gone toward better causes.

Adam Yauch

Adam Yauch was always known to be protective about his music as a member of the famed band Beastie Boys. In 2012, he met his untimely death when he lost his battle with cancer at age 48. In his last will and testament, he stated that no one is allowed to use him or his music in any type of advertising campaign.

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys performing

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This statement was quite strange. Especially considering he wouldn’t be around to see any of this happen. Perhaps it was a testament to how much he valued privacy, or maybe he doesn’t want the blood, sweat, and passion he put into his music being used to sell toothpaste.

Leona Helmsley

Leona Helmsley was frequently criticized for being cruel, but it may have just been part of the image she portrayed of being decisive and opting for the highest quality hotel guests. Helmsley, who was also dubbed “the queen of mean,” made headlines in 2007 when she passed away and left chunks of her fortune to unusual entities.

Leona Helmsley on the red carpet in 2000

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Her brother got $10 million, her grandchildren were given $5 million, and her beloved dog, Trouble, inherited $12 million. What exactly will a Maltese do with all that money? I have no idea. The sum was ultimately reduced to $2 million, though. The dog’s caretaker said $2 million is more than enough to take care of Trouble for the next 10 years, or for the rest of his life (whichever comes first).

Dusty Springfield

In the 1960s, Dusty Springfield was one of the most popular and lovable pop singers in Hollywood. After she passed away, her cat got an unexpected surprise. Dusty’s cat Nicholas needed to be taken care of with very special and specific instructions.

Dusty Springfield leaning over to smell red rose bushes

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She declared that Nicholas would only be fed a particular type of imported baby food, needed to be sung to sleep with Dusty’s own songs, and had to use Dusty’s pillow and nightgown when he went to bed. That last one makes me a little uncomfortable. Eventually, Nicholas got married to another cat that belonged to one of Dusty’s friends. Now, that’s one wedding I wish I got invited to.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin is yet another rock star who met her untimely demise far too soon. Her “sex, drugs, & rock n’ roll” lifestyle caught up to her, and her substance abuse contributed to her death at only 27 years old. Her early age makes her another member of the 27 Club, joining other stars on this list like Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse.

Janis Joplin walking around San Francisco

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In her will, the singer stated that she wanted $2,500 set aside for more than 200 guests to have one last party on her behalf. It was to take place at The Lion Share, her favorite club. The party did, in fact, happen in 1970, shortly after her death.

Bob Fosse

Bob Fosse was a multi-talented artist. He sang, danced, directed, wrote, and acted. He is best recognized for his work as a choreographer, though. I mean, he earned eight Tony awards in that field. In his will, Fosse declared that $25,000 was to be split between 66 of his closest friends, so they could all go out to dinner- on him.

Bob Fosse posing on the floor when he was younger

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However, the guests who attended the dinner honoring Fosse’s memory didn’t exactly need the move. The friends on his list included high profiles names including Dustin Hoffman, Liza Minelli, and Neil Simon. But it did bring them together to celebrate Fosse’s life.

Mark Gruenwald

Mark Gruenwald was known for his longstanding relationship with Marvel, where he worked as a comic book artist. The writer and executive director is best remembered for comic books such as Captain America. Sadly, he died of a heart attack at just 43 years old. But Gruenwald was so passionate about his work that he made a rather unique request in his will.

Mark Gruenwald in a tuxedo

Source: Pinterest

His request was that his body be cremated and the ashes then mixed with ink. That ink was meant to be used for printing comic books. Remarkably, his request was followed. His remains were literally used for printing the comic book, The Squadron Supreme.

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini will always be remembered as one of the most famous magicians and illusionists of all time. But he did more than just magic. Houdini was also passionate about spirituality. He had such a strong belief in the afterlife that his will directed that his wife, Bess, should hold an annual séance.

Harry Houdini chained up in a jail cell

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This strange request was in the hopes of Houdini coming back from the afterlife and reuniting with her once again. His wife respected his wishes, but, unfortunately, Houdini never returned from the dead or contacted her after he passed away.