The Strangest Requests Left In Celebrity Wills

Celebs excel at making bizarro backstage demands — a talent that many of them take to their graves. Quite a few famous folk have decided to leave behind some rather outlandish requests in their last will and testaments, alternately demonstrating extravagant amounts of generosity, stubbornness, and eccentricity. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman used his last will and testament to seemingly diss Hollywood, albeit in a way that was extremely thoughtful to his son, Cooper. Dusty Springfield and Lauren Bacall both forked over hefty chunks of change to make sure their beloved pets continued living the luxurious life to which they'd grown accustomed. Meanwhile, Robin Williams made it abundantly clear that none of his outtakes could be used to make new Aladdin films, while Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch was adamant that his musical work never be used for advertising purposes. 

Let's take a peek behind The Great Veil and unearth some of the strangest requests that celebrities jotted into their wills. Frankly, it gets gritty.

​Harry Houdini: See you soon

Escape artist and legendary magician Harry Houdini spent the better part of his life mastering all manner of illusion. In the final phase of his existence, he became preoccupied with so-called mediums and ideas of the afterlife, alerting his wife, Bess, that he'd do his best to give her a jingle from the great beyond. (She'd know it was him because of their agreed-upon ten number code.) According to Forbes, Houdini's will also requested a séance be held annually on the anniversary of his death, which happens to be on October 31.

For those of you who don't have time to go splish-splashing into the darkest margins of the occult, The Guardian was kind enough to pop by one of these séances in 2016 — the 90th anniversary of his death. It sounds pretty underwhelming, to be honest. "We have your handcuffs, Houdini. Please, open the handcuffs," said magician Dorothy Dietrich, to no avail. 

As of press time, the spirit of Houdini has continued playing his cards very close to his ghostly breast. In fact, he hasn't made anything otherworldly or even remotely eldritch materialize on the anniversary of his death, unless you care to count the notorious 1987 séance that was hosted by William Shatner and televised live, which only succeeded in being death-defyingly dull. 

Oprah's dogs could stand (or sit) to make millions

When it's time to die, what do you think is an acceptable amount of money to leave your four sweet, fluffy dogs? If you answered $30 million, research strongly suggests your name is Oprah Winfrey, and we want to be your dog. In 2007, Extra TV alleged that the billionaire entrepreneur had gone to great lengths to look out for her two golden retrievers and two cocker spaniels. Winfrey reportedly opened up a trust fund to make sure her pooches could continue living the high life long after she crossed the threshold. 

In 2009, some busybody anonymous source told Australia's Woman's Day (via Stuff), that "Oprah's a billionaire, so $30 million is not a lot of money if you look at her entire net worth." That said, $30 million is probably still considered a great deal of money in the eyes of a golden retriever. 

According to Extra TV, a representative for Oprah insisted there was no veracity to these claims at all, but he might have said this just to throw other opportunistic canines off the scent.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry: Beam me up

The Final Frontier, indeed. In April 1997, Texas-based company Celestis proudly trumpeted the first "public memorial spaceflight service ever conducted." A veritable Who's Who was aboard this Founders Flight, and they were all quite dead. According to Motherboard, the bounty of fabulous dead people included bits and pieces of Timothy Leary, space physicist Gerard O'Neill, and, as The New York Times reported, "fragments of Gene Roddenberry," the celebrated creator of Star Trek

According to Forbes, Roddenberry's last will and testament made it clear he wanted his ashes traveled "where no man has gone before," and he clearly wasn't just whistling Dixie. According to Newsweek, this was actually Roddenberry's second posthumous visit to space: NASA Astronaut James Weatherbee reportedly carried some of Roddenberry's ashes with him aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in October 1992 — about a year after Roddenberry's death in October 1991.

If the thought of Roddenberry's ashes floating forever in space fills you with implacable sadness, we have additional news that will stir your spirits. According to Space, the ashes of Roddenberry's wife, actress Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who passed away at age 74 on Dec. 18, 2008, were scheduled to be shot into the galaxy in 2009 to keep him company. 

Eugene Roddenberry, Jr., son of Gene and Majel, said the late couple would "carry their spirits, their memories, and the message of their life's work into the cosmos." In 1996, Majel herself told CNN: "It's somewhere to be a little celestial, perhaps, to find your place out there in the stars."  Well, we sincerely hope they did.

​Bob Fosse: Dinner's on me

It pays to be kind in this life. This simple fact was demonstrated by the last will and testament of choreographer/director Bob Fosse, the man behind legendary Broadway hits such as The Pajama Game and the director of the film adaptation of Cabaret. In his will, Fosse left a cool $25,000 for 66 artist friends "to go out and have dinner on me," which breaks down to $378.79 a head.

As The New York Times reported, Fosse died of a heart attack in September 1987, minutes before the premiere of a Sweet Charity revival. The lucky benefactors of Fosse's ghostly generosity included Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Liza Minnelli, Neil Simon, Ben Vereen, and Roy Scheider (who portrays a thinly fictionalized version of Fosse in the incredible 1979 film All That Jazz.) In short, Fosse provided all the makings for one hell of a party.

"I have made this provision so that when my friends receive this bequest they will go out and have dinner on me," Fosse wrote, in a letter included with his will. "They all have at one time or another during my life been very kind to me. I thank them."

​You can't call Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch a sellout

Don't expect to hear Beastie Boys' "Car Thief" in a Honda commercial anytime soon. According to Rolling Stone, the late Adam Yauch — better known as Beastie Boy MCA — added a note to his will that unambiguously prohibited the use of his songs and "artistic property" for advertising. 

Yauch died in May 2012, and according to Diffuser, the surviving members of the band have gone to great lengths to honor his request. They won a $1.7 million lawsuit against Monster Beverage in 2014 after the company used Beastie Boys' hits "Sabotage" and "So What'cha Want" in a video on its web page. Even more ballsy: The company offered a download of a Beastie Boys medley. 

In addition, Rolling Stone reported that Beastie Boys settled out of court with toy company GoldieBlox in 2014, after it used their song "Girls" without permission. "Make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads," the band said.

It's worth noting that "Sabotage" was prominently featured in the 2016 trailer for Star Trek: Beyond, so perhaps the remaining Beastie Boys have somewhat amended their outlook in recent years.

Jack Benny: Roses from beyond

It's a story that strikes that perfect balance between sweet and unsettling: For decades, the late Jack Benny and his widow Sayde Marks (better known as Mary Livingstone) delighted radio listeners with their unique brand of comedy. They were also a real-life couple and remained married for almost 50 years, according to The New York Times, but according to Snopes, it wasn't always the most harmonious union. Benny was something of a philanderer, and Livingstone was caustic and demanding, but they genuinely loved one another and stayed together until his death in December 1974.

Shortly after his passing, Livingstone wrote a loving ode to her late husband in McCalls, revealing that Benny had including some rather special directions in his will to demonstrate his undying devotion to his her (via Snopes.) "Every day since Jack has gone the florist has delivered one long-stemmed red rose to my home," she wrote. "I learned that Jack actually had included a provision for the flowers in his will. One red rose to be delivered to me every day for the rest of my life."

Though it sounds suspiciously like the stuff of urban legend, Snopes confirmed that this ghostly tale of romance, radio, and roses is entirely true.

​Farrah Fawcett snubbed her lover, but not her ex

When Charlie's Angels actress Farrah Fawcett passed away in June 2009, after a three-year battle with cancer, her last will and testament caused a stir. She left her deeply troubled son, Raymond, $4.5 million, and she left a generous $100,000 to ex-lover Gregory Lawrence Lott, reported Radar Online, but she apparently didn't leave her boyfriend of 18 years, Ryan O'Neal, anything. According to The Telegraph, O'Neal had even asked Fawcett to marry him in her final days.

Upon learning of his generous parting gift from Fawcett, Lott told the Sunday Express that "this news that I am indeed in her will and Ryan is not raises some serious questions about why he prevented me from seeing the love of my life in her final months." Meanwhile, O'Neal did his best to dismiss Lott in the tabloids, calling him a "disgruntled ex-boyfriend from the sixties."

According to People, Fawcett's decision was likely not a snub to O'Neal, but rather a nod to the fact that he was already perfectly wealthy due to making some rather prudent real estate investments over the years. "Farrah's and my relationship was based on a deep love and respect for one another and for our son Redmond," O'Neal wrote in a statement. He said they'd discussed the best way to handle her finances, and ultimately decided together that their son should receive the bulk of her estate. "These were Farrah's wishes and I am perfectly happy with them," O'Neal wrote.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Son, please skip Hollywood

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose in his New York City apartment in February 2014. He left the whole of his estate to Mimi O'Donnell, his "friend and companion," and mother to his three kids. One intriguing provision in Hoffman's 13-page will, written when his son, Cooper, was only 1 year old, made it quite clear that he wanted the boy raised far away from from the wiles of Hollywood.

According to CNNHoffman stated: "It is my strong desire, and not direction to my guardian, that my son, Cooper Hoffman be raised and reside in or near the borough of Manhattan in the State of New York, or Chicago Illinois, or San Francisco, California." If that proved impossible, Hoffman asked his son to make a concerted effort to visit those three cities at least twice a year. "The purpose of this request," Hoffman wrote, "is so that my son will be exposed to the culture, arts and architecture that such cities offer." 

Considering the fact that Hoffman accumulated vast fame and fortune by starring in Hollywood films such as Boogie Nights and The Talented Mr. Ripley, his exclusion of Los Angeles speaks volumes.

​Lauren Bacall's dog: living the high life

Add scrappy papillon Sophie to the curiously voluminous list of dogs who benefited enormously from generous provisions in a celebrity will. According to the American Kennel Club, both Lauren Bacall and her late husband, Humphrey Bogart, were bonkers for pooches. In his lifetime, Bogart owned Scotties, Sealyham terriers, and a Newfoundland, while Bacall was a fan of the cocker spaniel. 

In later years, Bacall could often be seen tooling through the streets of Manhattan with Sophie in hand. Her four-legged friend was named after Bacall's grandmother and enjoyed plenty of media coverage over the years. One could say she was something of a celebrity in canine circles. When a seeing-eye dog lunged at Sophie at a book signing for Bacall's revised edition of By Myself and Then Some, the actress lovingly quipped to the Chicago Tribune, "All big dogs think Sophie is a bird." She also said Sophie was her one true love: "We adore each other — a same sex marriage, you know."

Following the actress' death in August 2014, it was revealed that she'd forked over $10,000 to ensure Sophie could continue to live a life of luxury. According to the New York Daily News, she also left money for two employees — $15,000 to Ilsa Hernandez and $20,000 to Maria Santos — and $250,000 to each of her grandsons. The heft of her estate reportedly went to her children and to actor Sam Robards, who was entrusted to look after Sophie.

​Robin Williams: No more Aladdin

Fans of Aladdin had good reason to be doubly crushed following Robin Williams' tragic suicide in August 2014. According to the New York Post, there were more than enough outtakes from Williams' 1991 recording sessions to splice together a fourth installment of Disney's Aladdin franchise, but none of it could be used due to a request in Williams' will forbidding anyone from using his name, past recordings, or taped appearances for 25 years after his death. 

"When he was on form, the hyperactive motormouth we love from Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire was making 30 jokes a minute," said an anonymous Disney executive. "Now, because he insisted on a final say on such material, [the jokes] will remain in the vaults." 

It's important to note that Williams' reasoning probably had nothing to do with sticking it to fans, or even sticking it to Hollywood executives like the one quoted above. According to the Post, the request was likely made in order to spare his widow, Susan, and their three kids from suffering exorbitant estate penalties from any posthumous earnings for Williams-related projects. In the meantime, it sounds like we'll have to wait until the year 2039 for the pithy purple genie to come out of the bottle again. 

​Leona Helmsley made her Maltese a millionaire

The name of Leona Helmsley's dog was Trouble — but certainly not Financial Trouble. As The New York Times reports, when the eccentric hotelier and investor died in August 2007, she left $12 million for the care of her trusty white Maltese, who was left with her brother, Alvin Rosenthal. According to The New Yorker, Helmsley wrote that when Trouble died, the pooch was to be "buried next to my remains in the Helmsley Mausoleum," located at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Westchester County, N.Y. 

According to Reuters, Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Renee Roth ultimately ruled the dog would only inherit a comparatively paltry sum of $2 million because Helmsley was "mentally unfit" when she wrote up her will. That still boiled down to roughly $100,000 a year, and a lot of that wealth went to paying "a full-time security guard," since Trouble reportedly received death threats on the regular (via NPR). 

In 2011, ABC News reported that the "richest lapdog in the world" had died (of natural causes) at the age of 12 in Sarasota, Fla., after living a glamorous life that included being scooted around town in a chauffeured stretch limousine. At the time of the millionaire Maltese's demise, NPR reported that Trouble had been "living the retired life" alongside Carl Lekic, then the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle hotel. 

And now we know what it's like to feel jealous of a dog.

Dusty Springfield really loved her cat

It was unquestionably a sad day when the world lost legendary pop singer Dusty Springfield in March 1999, but hopefully you didn't spend too much time feeling bad for her pedigree cat, Nicholas. 

A month after her death, it was revealed that the "Son of a Preacher Man" singer left an exceedingly thoughtful provision in her will. According to the New York Post, her then-13-year-old cat was to be fed only the most delicious baby food imported from the United States to Britain, all while shacking up in an exceedingly well-appointed 7-foot tall indoor tree house, complete with scratch pads aplenty and a whole lot of catnip.

When it came time for Nicholas to get his shut-eye, Springfield requested that a stereo system play her most celebrated hits, while Nicholas napped in a fluffy bed lined with the same pillowcase on which Springfield had once rested her head and the nightgown she was wearing when she died. Springfield also wanted Nicholas to marry the female cat owned by one of her close friends, Lee Everett-Alkin. "It's what Dusty wanted," he told the Sunday Mirror (via the New York Post). 

And now we know what it's like to feel jealous of a cat.