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Last laugh is on them; CELEBRITIES' GRAVESTONE GAGS After spending their lives raising a chuckle, some performers can't resist keeping up the humour even after they die. BRIAN McIVER looks at some dead funny characters...

COMIC Freddie Starr has become the latest celebrity to share a killer joke after his death.

At his funeral this week, he had the Elvis Presley song Return to Sender carved into his coffin.

Freddie, 76, who died of a heart attack at home in Spain last month, won headlines across the country with his last laugh.

He joins a notable list of performers and comedians who have used their funeral, coffin or gravestone to entertain or amuse those left behind...

MERV GRIFFIN The US chat show host and TV personality's most common TV saying lived on after his death in 2007. His headstone was engraved with the line: "I will not be right back after this message."

SPIKE MILLIGAN One of the most famous British examples of death humour comes from legendary Goon Show star Spike, right, whose gravestone is engraved with the phrase: "Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite" which is Irish Gaelic for "I told you I was ill."

FRANK CARSON The grave of the Northern Irish comic, left, in Belfast is like a miniroutine. His two catchphrases"It's a cracker" and "It's the way I tell them," are engraved alongside the joke: "It's quieter down here now, God help them up there!" RODNEY DANGERFIELD The US stand-up and comedy actor died in 2004 and, as the king of the outrageous gag, he made sure his gravestone was just as entertaining. His epitaph reads: "There goes the neighbourhood."

MEL BLANC The voice of Looney Tunes characters like Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig was known as "the man of 1000 voices", which is engraved on his stone, alongside the bittersweet farewell he was renowned for signing off the cartoons with: "That's all Folks."

LESLIE NIELSEN The Airplane! and Naked Gun comic, left, actor's gravestone has three simple words: "Let 'er rip."

JACK LEMMON The acclaimed comedy star, below, best known for The Apartment, Some Like it Hot and The Odd Couple, left a perfect sign-off with his gravestone. Echoing his famous billboards, it reads: "Jack Lemmon In" just above the earth.

BILLY WILDER The writer and director of some of the funniest movies ever made, including The Apartment and Some Like it Hot. he went out with a classic line.

Reciting the immortal final gag of Some Like it Hot, Wilder's tomb reads: "I'm a writer but then nobody's perfect."

ROBERT FROST The ever-wise and quotable American writer, signed off his gravestone with an enigmatic and wryly funny message: "I had a lover's quarrel with the world."

EDGAR ALLAN POE The famously macabre and grim author of The Raven had his most famous story quote etched into his headstone, alongside a picture of the bird, for a fitting end. It reads: "Quoth the raven, Nevermore."

Ed Wynn." US actor Ed Wynn, famous for Mary Poppins and as the voice of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, went simple with a brass plaque saying: "Dear God, thanks, Ed Wynn."

FRANK SINATRA The singer either paid tribute to one of his most famous song titles, or was sure of his afterlife chances. His grave reads: "The Best is yet to come."

OSCAR WILDE The writer's gravestone is bedecked with lipstick-covered kisses. He has nothing funny carved into the stone but his final words to pals were: "Either these curtains go, or I do."

GRAHAM CHAPMAN THE late Monty Python star was the subject of one of the most hilarious and colourful eulogies ever told when castmate John Cleese paid tribute.

He said: "Graham Chapman, co-author of the Parrot Sketch, is no more.

"He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky.

"And I guess that we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only 48, before he'd achieved many of the things of which he was capable and before he'd had enough fun.

"Well, I feel that I should say, 'Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries.' "The reason I think I should say this is - he would never forgive me if I didn't, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf.

"Anything for him but mindless good taste."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 15, 2019
Words:750
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