Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can’t still have some fun
1. Ed Headrick, Inventor of the Frisbee
Even though it’s been around for decades, the Frisbee is still the preferred park toy of both man and dog. It has been an absolutely huge success and we have its inventor, Ed Headrick, to thank. Besides designing the actually toy, Ed also invented the game of disc golf, built the first disc golf course and founded various associations related to the sport. It was pretty clear that this was his greatest passion in life.
Naturally, Ed wanted to continue his passion even after he was gone. While he was alive, he liked to compare the Frisbee to a new religion called “Frisbeeterianism”. In his own words: “When we die, we don’t go to purgatory. We just land up on the roof and lay there.” This brings us to his last wish. Even though he wasn’t around anymore, Ed still wanted to fly and he did so by becoming part of the Frisbees he loved so much. His ashes were incorporated into a limited edition series of discs with most of them going to his friends and family.
Bonus Fact: The name of the toy is actually a flying disc. The term “Frisbee” is a registered trademark belonging to the Wham-O Toy Company.
2. Pope Formosus
If you are ever reading a Top 10 or a Best Of about popes, Formosus is unlikely to make the list. He only had a short reign between 891 and 896 and still was full of troubles and controversies. In fact, not even the Catholic Church liked him all that much. That is how he ended up taking part in the Cadaver Synod…after his death.
The papacy during the Middle Ages saw some really, really weird stuff but this is special, even by those standards. Formosus’ body was dug up, dressed in papal clothes, placed on the throne and then was put on trial for allegedly obtaining the papacy illegally.
Formosus might have been spared if his successor, Boniface VI, remained in power. However, he was pope only for 15 days after which he supposedly died of gout. The man who followed him, Pope Stephen VI, really had it in for Formosus. Unsurprisingly, the dead pope was unable to defend himself and was declared guilty. There was little that could be done in terms of punishment to a dead man but his papacy was declared null retroactively in the hopes of wiping him from history. In reality, all this entire bizarre event managed to do was to ensure that a pope who otherwise would have been insignificant and forgotten became one of the most memorable popes of all time. Well Done!
3. Ines de Castro, Portuguese Noblewoman
Not all exhumations need to have negative consequences. Every once in a while it is possible to be exhumed and declared Queen of Portugal. That is what happened to Ines de Castro, a Portuguese noblewoman who became the lover of King (then Prince) Peter I.
All of this happened in the 14th century so parts of the story are bound to be apocryphal, but overall it is a tragic love story that puts Romeo & Juliette to shame. Peter and Ines loved each other, but King Afonso IV, Peter’s father, opposed their union. He tried to have them separated on numerous occasions and failed time and time again. The king eventually decided to have Ines killed. Three men of his supposedly captured Ines in a monastery and beheaded her in front of her young child.
Stricken with grief, Peter tracked down the men and captured at least two of them. He showed them the same mercy they showed his lover by executing them in public by ripping out their hearts. Later, when Peter ascended to power and became King, he declared that he actually married Ines in secret and decreed that she would be officially named Queen of Portugal. Peter didn’t have any proof of this, but when you’re king, your word tends to be enough. The legend even says that when Ines was exhumed and declared queen, she was placed on the throne and the entire court had to kiss her hand and swear allegiance.
4. Mark Gruenwald, Comic Book Writer
Although his name might not be familiar to a lot of people, comic book fans will be happy to know that he worked on some of their favorite comics throughout his nearly 20-year long career with Marvel. He was editor for some of the company’s most popular series including Thor, Iron Man, Captain American and The Avengers. He was also an occasional penciler and writer, most notably working on Captain America for a full ten-year period.
Gruenwald died suddenly at age 43, but he still had time to make his last wish clear. He wanted to become a part of the comics he loved so much. Although this often gets passed around on the internet as an urban legend, it is, in fact, true. Marvel fulfilled Mark’s last wish by taking his ashes and mixing them with printing ink. It was then used for the first printing of the trade paperback compilation of one of Mark’s favorite series, Squadron Supreme.
5. Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star TrekWhen it comes to adventures, Gene Roddenberry went somewhere where very few live people get to go, let alone dead ones. Where else could the man who brought Star Trek to the masses possibly want to go? Space, of course.
Gene didn’t just create Star Trek because he thought it would be successful. He was genuinely passionate about space travel. He never got the chance to explore the world past our planet, but his ashes did when they were carried aboard the Columbia Space Shuttle during a mission in 1992.
And that wasn’t all. Gene didn’t just go on one space adventure, he went on two. Five years later, more of his ashes were carried aboard a Pegasus XL rocket launched into orbit. Unfortunately, this mission did not end as well. About a month after it was launched, the rocket (and all of its contents) disintegrated into the atmosphere.
Bonus Fact: The Pegasus XL rocket was launched by a private company. Its sole mission was to carry the ashes of people who wanted to be blasted into space. Besides Gene, 23 other people were aboard the rocket including Timothy Leary, the psychologist who became famous for his experiments and advocacy of LSD.