The Most Uncomfortable Moments At Celeb Funerals

Funerals are inherently uncomfortable: Everyone is grieving, most people are crying, and everyone's extra-emotional in one way or another: Between tears can come wistful reminiscing, laughing at happier times, anger at the deceased, reemergence of old grudges, and family feuds either resolving or deepening due to everyone's sensitivities being at all-time highs.

Add fame to the mix, and it can get even uglier: Battles over inheritance are often heightened because of higher incomes and higher stakes, families may find it difficult to balance their need for privacy to mourn with honoring the star for their fans, and allegations of cashing in on a celebrity's death are rampant.

These celebrity funerals, however, faced even worse issues than any of those.

From fake tan faux pas to fake guest lists to alleged sexual misconduct caught on camera to casket photos being sold for big bucks, these celebrity funerals were almost as dramatic as the lives the stars led before their deaths.

Christina Aguilera's mysterious leak at Etta James' funeral

Christina Aguilera was no stranger to fake tans, especially during her "Dirrty" and Stripped eras, but she took it too far at Etta James' funeral in January 2012. Performing "At Last," Aguilera rocked a black jacket and knee-length skirt and her signature high heels, along with classic Old Hollywood style makeup and hair ... and really unfortunate faux glow.

While her actual performance was moving and as vocally agile as any of her usual work, the songbird's work was undermined by the fact that no one could quit talking about a mysterious drip down her legs that was really visible in photos and video of the event. She seemed to notice, as she was spotted rubbing her legs together at one point in an apparent effort to hide the mess.

While it was initially speculated that she may have been menstruating, it was later revealed that Aguilera's fake tan was actually leaking down her gams. A source dished to The Daily Mail of the mishap, "Christina paid tribute to her idol, a legend and she was nervous and thus sweat on her leg caused a spray tan to streak. Any person who wants to find something negative in such a beautiful moment should be ashamed. Etta would be very disappointed. Shame on people!"

Aretha Franklin's insulting eulogy

Rev. Jasper Williams conducted the eulogy at Aretha Franklin's funeral in August 2018, and much of his speech, whether deliberate or not, actually insulted her lifestyle.

People reports that in addition to his controversial remarks regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, Williams alleged that black single mothers cannot "raise a black boy to become a man" and likened fatherless households to "abortion after birth." In addition to that being a bit of an extreme statement in any context, it's even worse when you remember — as People also pointed out — that "Franklin was a single mother to four boys." As a result, her family was displeased, to put it lightly, after the services concluded.

"We found the comments to be offensive and distasteful," Franklin's nephew Vaughn Franklin told People. "Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her. My aunt did not ask Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. to eulogize her before she passed away because dying is a topic that she never discussed with anyone ... We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with."

Williams said in a statement to the Associated Press of the family's reaction, "I understand it. I regret it. But I'm sorry they feel that way."

What was the pastor at Aretha Franklin's funeral thinking?

Ariana Grande performed "Natural Woman" at Aretha Franklin's funeral in August 2018, which is a tall enough order. It got even harder to maintain her composure when Bishop Charles H. Ellis II allegedly groped her breast in front of the entire congregation and the world and compared her to a Taco Bell menu item.


Photos from the event show Ellis gripping the petite Grande way above her waist, and some shots show the pint-sized powerhouse appearing to look downright horrified (above). Ellis later somewhat apologized, telling the Associated Press, "It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast. ... I don't know I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize." He added, "Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That's what we are all about in the church. We are all about love ... The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin."

He also said of the Taco Bell comment, which compared Grande's name to a menu item, "I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you're doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there."

Bill Clinton really, really, really enjoyed Ariana Grande

As if the awkward treatment she received by a man of God wasn't bad enough, Ariana Grande also had to deal with some seemingly inappropriate ogling by a former President of the United States during Aretha Franklin's funeral in August 2018. Videos of Grande's performance went viral not only because of her powerhouse pipes, but also because of Bill Clinton's overly enthusiastic reactions as he sat behind her taking it all in, and, at times, giving the singer elevator eyes. Yeesh. 

It wasn't a good look, for sure, but maybe the former leader of the free world was just thinking about Taco Bell after listening to Bishop Ellis? 

A picture is worth a thousand groans

According to CBS News, Whitney Houston tragically died after drowning in her bathtub while under the influence of several drugs in February 2012. As if her family didn't suffer enough, when Houston was laid to rest later that month, someone sold a photo of her deceased body in her open casket at her funeral to The National Enquirer. The publisher of the tabloid, Mary Beth Wright, told Fox News at the time that she believed the photo was "beautiful," but refused to reveal who'd taken the photo.

When speculation that an employee of Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J., where Houston's funeral was held, a spokeswoman told E! News, "We have no comment — but it was not the funeral home. [The media] are getting me in the middle. I am very angry, very upset, just like the family, just like the fans ... We don't like it because it implicates us. Whitney was a personal friend to me and my family. We would not do that."

Sources told TMZ that the family, especially Houston's mother Cissy, were heartbroken over the photo, but didn't want to investigate the snapper further.

Like mother like daughter, unfortunately

Three and a half years after Whitney Houston died and someone sold her out with a casket photo  after her passing, someone did the same to her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Brown died in a manner eerily similar to her mother — drowning while under the influence of drugs, TMZ reported. Unlike Houston, however, Brown was discovered unconscious in her bathtub in late January 2015 and remained in a coma for months before she was taken off of life support and passed away in July 2015.

TMZ reported that someone sold a death photo of Brown's body in her casket for six figures and that the Brown and Houston families were fighting over who was responsible for the snapshot and sale — with sources telling the site that the Brown family was worried the Houstons would repeat what happened to the "I Will Always Love You" singer.

Tyler Perry presents: 'This Funeral was a Hot Mess'

The casket photo sale wasn't the only drama at Bobbi Kristina Brown's funeral. Several of the late soul singer spawn's relatives allegedly argued at her memorial services. Brown's aunt, Leolah Brown, lashed out at another aunt, Pat Houston — sister-in-law to the late Whitney — during the funeral, Entertainment Tonight reported. According to a witness who spoke with TMZTyler Perry had to calm Leolah down and help remove her from the proceedings after she yelled, "Pat, you know you are wrong for this!" as Pat was about to address the mourners. 

When Leolah was outside, she told Entertainment Tonight, "Whitney will haunt Pat Houston from the grave. She will haunt her. Pat, it's not over. It has just begun." Leolah said she believed Pat was using Bobbi Kristina and Whitney's deaths for her own gain, fuming, "I have information, I have evidence, I have knowledge of who Pat really is — she is not any relation whatsoever to Krissi — she's not even a Houston. She's just being the phony person that she is."

It was a continuation of a sentiment Leolah had expressed before Bobbi Kristina's passing. reported that Leolah lashed out against Pat on social media, claiming Pat wanted Bobbi Kristina to die so she'd be able to collect her inheritance.

Fadi Fawaz's fashionably late funeral faux pas

When George Michael died unexpectedly on Christmas Day 2016, the world — especially his loved ones — were shocked and devastated. His funeral didn't go exactly as planned, according to the singer's ex-boyfriend Kenny Goss, who claimed that Michael's on-again-off-again boyfriend Fadi Fawaz held up the funeral and skipped the wake. Goss also claimed Michael's sister Melanie omitted Fawaz from her speeches, while Michael's father didn't speak to Fawaz at all.

"I have no idea why Fadi would choose to be late for the funeral ... The rest of us were there 15, 20 minutes early at least," Goss, told The Sun of Fawaz, admitting that he did not speak to his ex-lover's fellow ex. "The people on his row greeted him but I didn't see him talking to others," Goss continued, adding the caveat, "I have empathy for Fadi, and I don't want to judge him." 

Chester Bennington's funeral may have reflected a family feud

Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington died by suicide in August 2017, and his ex-wife was furious that she and their son weren't mentioned at all during Bennington's funeral, which she claimed focused only on his life after becoming a rock star and remarrying Talinda Bentley.

"My son & I have not had the opportunity to speak not even at his funeral ... no photos but one of him anywhere," Bennington's ex, Samantha Olit, wrote in a since-deleted Facebook rant (via Fox News). "[Son Draven] was never treated equally by [Bentley] & never wanted to go there because of that ... Oh thanks for not honoring the one wish my son had by sharing his prayer with his siblings & throwing the rose quarts [sic] into the ocean with him ... it was a disgusting delusional display on all people who spoke at the funeral & their characters." Oof. 

Olit accused Bennington's second wife of "capitalizing on his death" and focusing on only the last 12 years of his life after he'd become a celebrity, instead of making any mention of his childhood or his life before meeting Talinda. Olit also alleged that Bennington's father skipped the funeral, and that Bennington's parents, children's mothers (other than Talinda), and siblings were omitted from the program, which she claimed looked like a "cheap happy hour menu."

Did Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband tried to make her funeral a spectacle?

After Zsa Zsa Gabor died in December 2016, her husband, Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, reportedly sent out "fake" guest lists of celebrities he claimed were attending her services ... and who had no actual intentions of being there, including Kathy Hilton, Kris Jenner, Carol Channing, Larry King, and Quincy Jones, according to Page Six.

The late Gabor's publicist, Edward Lozzi, griped to the tab, "This funeral is fraudulent and despicable and a circus. He's invited the news, he's hired videographers ... He's padded the press release on what big stars are going to be appearing so he gets more press."

Lozzi claimed that Anhalt was using Gabor's death as a cash-grab, and was planning to use the photos from the services. "This is his last hurrah, his last party to get the most money as possible," Lozzi fumed. "She was his golden goose." Lozzi said he would throw a private funeral for her family and close friends, while Anhalt denied all allegations of "cashing in" on Gabor's passing.

It didn't end there: In January 2017, Page Six reported that Anhalt was "holding [Gabor's] ashes 'hostage' in order to get back at Lozzi and Gabor's celebrity pals" who attended Lozzi's private memorial for the late socialite. Anhalt's assistant reportedly "laughed off" the accusations.

Burt Reynolds' brother was banned

When an 82-year-old Burt Reynolds died of cardiac arrest in September 2018, the circumstances surrounding his will and his funeral caused some controversy. 

For starters, he reportedly left his son, Quinton, out of his will, but it turns out that the boy wasn't left high and dry. According to TMZ, Reynolds "created a trust years ago for Quinton's benefit and the money from the trust will continue to go to Quinton. This is typically done to avoid estate taxes." 

But others did appear to be forgotten in the wake of the actor's passing. Actress Loni Anderson – Reynolds' ex-wife and Quinton's mother — supposedly did not invite Reynolds' brother, Jimmy, to the service, reported Radar Online. "He is so sad and upset he couldn't say goodbye alongside his family," Jimmy's wife, Maria Reynolds, told the tab. Maria admitted that Jimmy and Burt were estranged, but added, "No one at the funeral knew Burt like his brother ... to leave him out of the funeral is horrible. It breaks his heart." A source close to the Reynolds family claimed Jimmy's omission was entirely Anderson's doing, which is somewhat ironic considering Burt and his ex didn't have the most cordial of relationships post-divorce.