6 Unintentionally Hilarious Legacies of Famous Figures
It's probably a safe bet to say that we'd all like to be remembered after we pass on to that great social network in the sky. The only problem is that fate can have a downright twisted sense of humor, and it sometimes conspires to make sure that the reason you're remembered may not be exactly what you had in mind. For example, we're almost certain no one ever intended to leave a legacy quite like these.
A French Writer's Statue Becomes a Sex Symbol
Victor Noir was a 19th century French journalist who was buried in the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery after being shot down by Prince Pierre Bonaparte, Napoleon's great-nephew. According to some accounts, Noir delivered some top-notch political criticism by way of slapping Napoleon in the face, the prince then having no choice but to blow him away in self-defense. But most people don't remember Victor Noir for the brazen way he died. These days, he's simply known as "that corpse with the giant wang."
"Zut alors! Is that a blunderbuss in your pocket?!"
For reasons that can only be speculated upon, the sculptor who fashioned the statue on Noir's grave depicted him lying dead with a downright impressive crotch bulge. And thanks to the bulge, Noir took on a whole new persona in death that most men sadly never possess in life (Internet comedy writers notwithstanding): that of a full-fledged fertility god. According to legend, a woman kissing the statue's lips and giving its crotch a vigorous rub will find a husband by the end of the year, enjoy a better sex life, or even become pregnant. The legend is so popular that, while the rest of the statue has developed a greenish patina, the lips and crotch bulge look shiny and new.
A little nosey-nosey and kissy-chin have proven inevitable as well.
At one point officials erected (sorry) a fence around the statue in fear of long-term damage from all the rubbing, but the fence has since been dismantled in response to protests by throngs of women who felt they were being denied their God-given right to some bronze-hard effigy action.
And on a similar note ...
A Christian Prophet's Burial Place Becomes a Perverted Tourist Destination
High atop a mountain peak in northeastern Iran, near the border with Turkmenistan, gleams a shrine housing the tomb of Khalid Nabi, a Christian prophet predating the Prophet Muhammad who once promoted Christianity throughout the Middle East. Nabi left two important legacies on the world -- for one, his daughter became one of the first Muslims after meeting Muhammad and converting. More significantly, his resting place looks like this:
"Zut alors! So very many blunderbusses!"
Yeah, the gravestones all look like wieners. According to some commentators, there are also a bunch of headstones shaped like titties, but it's also possible that some of the wangstones just got buried the wrong way around.
"Fuck the world," said an angry, literal-minded stone giant.
It's notoriously difficult for researchers to study the graves and why they look the way they do because, Iran being a super-conservative religious state, people are afraid to look too closely at the Herculean penis stones. But that hasn't stopped Khalid Nabi Cemetery from becoming a major tourist destination for young people from around the world. Just remember, if you see any state police, the proper response is "Dicks? What are you talking about?"
Away from prying eyes, however, the site is a popular venue for tourists to celebrate ancient Persian culture by pointing, giggling, and taking opportunistic photographs of themselves hugging enormous dongs.
This is it: the pinnacle of his life. It's all flaccid from here on out.
A Heroic Naval Commander's Memorial Inspires Young Sailors (to Get Lubed Up and Mount It)
OK, we promise this whole article won't be about people molesting statues. But this entry is.
In 1857, Commander William Lewis Herndon left Havana aboard the SS Central America with a full load of passengers and millions of dollars' worth of gold. It was all smooth sailing until he floated right into the grumpy side of a cyclone. The ship took irreparable damage, but Herndon bravely saw each and every woman and child onto lifeboats. Refusing to leave his post while anyone else was still on board, Herndon and 426 other men went down with the vessel, and his courageous act was memorialized with a tall stone obelisk on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy to forever stand as inspiration to countless generations of young sailors.
Also, a tall stone obelisk happens to be perfect for doing this:
June 2011, almost three months before Don't Ask, Don't Tell's full repeal.
In an annual tradition known as the Herndon Monument Climb, upperclassmen lube up the monument with 50 pounds of lard before the plebes (first year academy students) work together to climb it -- a feat that can take over two hours and requires them to strip down to their skivvies, apparently. Once they manage to slip-'n'-slide their way up, they replace the plebe sailor cap at the top of the monument with a much more respectable peaked cap, thereby cementing their status as plebes-no-more.
Herndon's great-great-grandchildren must be oozing with pride.
After four midshipmen were injured during the 2008 climb, then-superintendent Vice Admiral Jeffrey Fowler banned the grease from the event, reducing the multiple-hour climb to a multiple-minute one for the class of 2013. However, his replacement, Vice Admiral Michael Miller, didn't hesitate to bring the sexy back as soon as he took over, saying, "Conducting the ceremonial climb in the same manner as so many previous classes helps to instill spirit and camaraderie among plebes and better links them to the many classes that have gone before them. The Herndon Monument Climb serves as a useful event in reinforcing teamwork, organization, and leadership."
If you orgasm during, it doesn't count as hazing.
A Tuberculosis Sufferer's Tragic Thrill Ride Inspires Annual Coffin Races
Over a century ago, young Emma Crawford moved to Manitou Springs, Colorado. You see, she had always dreamed of hiking up Red Mountain, and she had high hopes that the mountain air would help cure her tuberculosis. Spoiler alert: It didn't.
Indeed, the mountain was already stained with the discharge of a thousand infected lungs.
But even after she died and her fiance and 12 other men lugged her earthly remains to the top of Red Mountain to be buried in the place she loved, fate wasn't quite finished sticking it to her: In 1929, torrential rains came along and washed her coffin right the hell down to the bottom of the mountain, where she ended up as a big ol' pile of them bones to be swept up and buried in a cemetery plot of the boring, non-mountaintop variety.
To celebrate her tragic and short life, every year Miramont Castle Museum hosts Emma Crawford's Wake, an authentic re-enactment of a Victorian-era wake, as a way to pay homage to this local legend in a dignified and respectful manner. Oh, but only a few people celebrate Emma Crawford like that. The rest do it like this:
An authentic re-enactment of Victorian-era slapstick.
Every year around Halloween, people celebrate the Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Races, where they recreate Emma's post mortem thrill ride down the mountain by decorating coffins "like hot rods, baby carriages, and the Popemobile," designating one member of their team to act as their coffin-riding "Emma," and then racing them down the street. Oh, and they do it while dressed as pirates and zombies, because shit, why not?
"Why not? How about 'cause zombies would go nowhere near coffins because they-"
*gets run over by hearsemobile*
The event draws around 15,000 spectators -- three times the population of the tiny town. And while some might call it an abhorrently disrespectful way to honor a person's memory, we're having a tough time thinking of a way we'd rather be remembered. The killjoys can have their quiet, somber get-together. We'll be racing down the hill in a rocket coffin.
The "Dracula" Graveyard Becomes a Goth Tourist Mecca
Dating back to the 12th century, St. Mary's Church is a timeless crown atop a tall hill in Whitby, Northern England, endlessly looming fortress-like over the small coastal town. Its undeniably creepy churchyard is brimming with "weathered tombstones and monuments to sailors, fishermen, Royal Navy seamen, and lifeboatmen." Plus, it just so happens to be the cemetery where Dracula took his victim Lucy in Bram Stoker's classic novel, which makes it the bona fide, grade-A perfect spot for a Goth to snap him- or herself a new profile pic.
"Say cheese! I mean death! Death by cheese!"
For nearly 20 years, droves of Goths and their accompanying photographers have converged on the little port town for the twice-yearly Whitby Goth Weekend, of which using the famous graveyard as a backdrop for photo shoots is a major attraction. That's thousands of Goths, all clamoring to capture photographs of themselves with the graves in one small cemetery, twice a year for 20 years.
This being small-town Yorkshire, many are less "sullen rebel" and more "dignified enthusiast."
It got so extreme that, in 2011, the church's rector banned photography in the graveyard, stating that it was disrespectful to the descendants of those buried there for swarms of Goths to pose for photographs as they "stand, sit, or even lie on the table graves."
Even though the dead fishermen got more ass this way than they ever saw while alive.
But it turns out that having massive groups of tourists swoop into a small town twice a year is pretty goddamn good for its economy (who knew?), and despite what any grumpy church rector may have to say, the event is still going stronger than ever, with the Goths (and more photographers than anyone knows what to do with) continuing their biannual takeover of the tiny town to do whatever it is Goths do when they put on a Weekend. We're picturing Burning Man, but with way more eyeliner.
John Dillinger's "Tommy Gun" Inspires a Generation of Schoolboy Snickering
John Dillinger was one of the most notorious of the 1930s American gangsters. And you'd assume that being the top badass in a whole era of badasses would be enough of a legacy on its own. But a single photo taken at the morgue after the famed outlaw's final shootout with the FBI instantly saw Dillinger remembered for an altogether different reason:
A few visitors are looking at his face. Maybe we're talking about his face?
OK, we admit this article is mostly about dicks.
If you've stopped giggling, the bulge under Dillinger's sheet is apparently just his arm. But that didn't stop the rumor mill from banging on about John Dillinger's comically enormous shlong, and his apparent arousal at having been shot to death. And the expressions of the other people in the photo certainly seem to support the wang explanation.
It's not known exactly how or when the legend really took hold, but eventually it became widely believed that the gangster's circus tent pole was pickled and stored somewhere inside the Smithsonian Museum. The myth was so pervasive that it even made it into an episode of the classic TV show The Wonder Years, and the Smithsonian Institution itself had a form letter on file to respond to inquiries about it:
"In response to your recent query, we can assure you that anatomical specimens of John Dillinger are not, and never have been, in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution."
"We have art. Any art inquiries? No?" *sigh*
Of course, the conspiratorially minded will say that this is just a ruse, and that Dillinger's most famous asset is kept safely under lock and key for fear that he may rise from the grave and beat us all to death with it.
Jason is a freelance editor for this fine website, Cracked.com. Like him on Facebook and help him think of ideas for his kickass epitaph.
Related Reading: People get memorials wrong pretty frequently. Just ask the holocaust victims memorialized by this awful float. Or the 9/11 victims forever remembered by this huge metal vagina. And if you think those memorials were bad, check out the ones our forum members designed.