Recording artist and songwriter Janis Joplin, famous for her work in the 1960s and 70s, met a tragic death in 1970. Perhaps as a means of wanting to leave a positive memory for her family and friends, Joplin’s will set aside $2,500 for a wake party in the event she passed away.
Mark Gruenwald was best known for his work with Marvel comics and serving as Executive Editor of Captain America and Iron Man. After a fatal heart attack in 1996, an interesting request was discovered in his will: He was to be cremated and his ashes were to be mixed with ink that could be used to print comic books—and they were.
The famed magician who died in 1926 left in his will 10 random words to his wife. He stated in his will that she should hold a séance every Halloween following his death and that he would communicate with her through those 10 words. After his passing, his wife held such séances every year for 10 years, eventually stopping since Houdini did not make his presence known.
You’re no doubt aware of the historical significance of Napoleon Bonaparte, but you may not know about an odd bequest in his will. Upon his death in 1821, his will directed that his head be shaved and his hair be distributed among his friends.
Some bequests don’t involve property or anything tangible at all. When Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the classics Treasure Island and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, passed away in 1894, he left a friend something she would never forget. Annie H. Ide’s birthday fell on Christmas day and she had confided in Stevenson feeling cheated out of a real birthday. So as part of his last wishes, he left her his own birthday of November 13.
Hotel owner Leona Helmsley made more headlines in death than she did during her life. When she passed in 2007, she left 10 million to her brother, 5 million to her grandsons, and 12 million to her dog, Trouble.
’60s pop singer Dusty Springfield left very specific instructions in her will. Springfield’s will demanded that her cat, Nicholas, be fed imported baby food, live in an indoor tree house, be sung to sleep at night with Dusty’s old records, have his bed lined with Dusty’s pillowcase and nightgown, and get married to a friend’s female cat.
When actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away of an overdose in 2014, his will kicked up some family drama. Hoping to avoid turning his children into “trust fund kids,” Hoffman left everything to his girlfriend instead of his children. He also requested that his son, Cooper, be raised in three cities: New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
English author Charles Dickens was really particular about his funeral. In his will he made sure to write out wardrobe requirements for his memorial service. He requested that “those attending my funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hat-band, or other such revolting absurdity.
Marilyn Monroe was a troubled soul — maybe that’s why she didn’t have the foresight to leave her legacy to her family. Instead, Marilyn left all of her personal effects to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg. Apparently, all of her belongings sat in Lee’s basement until the day he died.