Top Ten Greatest Epitaphs

The epitaph is the last word many put out into the world, and is the way that for centuries many have summed up their life, or death, in just a few short words. In some instances, the best epitaphs are written by those who knew the deceased well, and with a shocking lack of editing, used the forum to make a statement on them or their passing. Still some others are just plain silly. Here are ten famous and infamous epitaphs.


10. Jesse James


The outlaw Jesse James was known for his Robin Hood mentality and his quick draw ability. For about a decade, James’ gang of ex-Confederates wreaked havoc on Federal banks and trains by consistently robbing them. His reputation as a southern Robin Hood may be more fairy tale than truth, but his death at the hands of fellow gang member Robert Ford is very true. Ford shot James in his home (where Ford was living at the time) in order to hopefully collect the state reward on his head. After pleading guilty to murder, Ford was pardoned by the Governor and set off to make a stage show about his killing of James and to revel in his new found notoriety. Ford met his own violent death just a few years later.


9. Jack Lemon

“Jack Lemon in…”

Jack Lemon was one of the staples of the late Golden Era of Hollywood. From his role with Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot” to the iconic “The Odd Couple” all the way to his late age films like “Grumpy Old Men”, Lemon was an icon of character acting at its finest. Over his 50 year career, Lemon earned multiple awards and starred in dozens of films, and it is this legacy that he references with a very Jack Lemon like pun on his gravestone.


8. The Maryland Atheist

“Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go.”

Cemeteries are marked by beautiful and poignant reminders of religion at every corner. From crosses to angels to stones gathered on the top of gravestones, many graves have some symbolic religious marker involved. For one Maryland atheist however, it was a chance to make a small statement while having their tongue firmly in their cheek. This gravestone, alluding to the dressed up nature of the deceased in a funeral and the atheists belief that there was nowhere further to go, makes some gasp, some offended and many laugh.


7. Joan Hackett

“Go away – I‘m asleep”

Joan Hackett was a notorious and talented actress from the 40’s and 50’s who appeared on shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Bonanza” as well as having a long and successful career on Broadway. For as much success as she had on television and on stage, she was equally known for her rather erratic and upsetting (to producers and directors) behavior. A very vocal proponent of a 10-12 hour sleep schedule, Joan would refuse to perform if she didn’t meet her sleep demands and would often hang a note on the door saying simply “Go away – I’m asleep”. Fittingly her headstone is adorned with the same saying, giving a little inside joke to her friends and colleagues in her passing.


6. Lester Moore

“Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a 44, no Les, no more.”

One day in 1880, Frank Dunston shot a man named Lester Moore to death with a .44 caliber gun. While this was not the world’s most shocking development in the days of the Wild West, the epithet with its dark humor makes it one of the most entertaining. Apparently Frank Dunston was upset at Moore, who was a Wells Fargo agent, over a package that had arrived damaged and late. So angry was Dunston that he shot Moore on the spot in a small shootout that also saw Moore shoot Dunston. Both men were killed but Moore’s name continues to live on in his unique and humorous epithet.


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