Recently a Puerto Rican man paid a funeral home to embalm him and leave him standing in his living room for three days. Surely 24-year-old Angel Pantoja Medina has become a celebrity in death but he can’t be the most famous stiff on display – so let’s run down the list of the world’s most famous dead on display…
Sure, he may have been an absolute ruler in life for 19 years and considered by many to be a deity but in life this guy has popularity in the mickey mouse range. He’s been a top tourist attraction for hundreds of years — now that’s an afterlife.
The pied piper of communism Vladimir is considered by many to be the father of Russian communism which is famous for casing the deaths of twenty million. In life he only stood for 53 years, but he’s been on public display (minus a few war years) since 1924. Newlyweds frequently visit the communist icon, apparently looking to get a leg up on a frigid marriage.
In 897, Pope Stephen VI accused former Pope Formosus of perjury and violation of church canon. The problem was that Pope Formosus had died nine months earlier. Stephen worked around this little detail by exhuming the dead pope’s body, dressing it in full papal regalia, and putting it on trial. He then proceeded to serve as chief prosecutor as he angrily cross-examined the corpse. The spectacle was about as ludicrous as you’d imagine.In fact, Pope Stephen appeared so thoroughly insane that a group of concerned citizens launched a successful assassination plot against him. Now that counts as a two for one special.
The dead “Bodies … the Exhibition" as it turns out may have ‘volunteered’ to be mummies. The New York museum displaying them was made to display on its Web site and with a sign at the entrance, a statement explaining that it is not able to confirm that the bodies being displayed were not Chinese prisoners who may have been victims of torture and execution. I guess that explains the surprised look on their faces.
Ötzi the Iceman
The man from about 3300 BC (53 centuries ago),in the Schnalstal glacier found between Austria and Italy. He is Europe’s oldest natural human mummy, and was found by two German tourists in 1991. The body was so well preserved that scientists actually were able to perform an autopsy and identify his last meals (which included meat and possibly bread). 5’4 Otzi also had some tattoos. Otzi was apparently killed by an arrow to the shoulder and was evidence of world’s first crime scene.
Good Pope John
Known affectionately as "Good Pope John" and "the most loved Pope in history" to many people, on September 3, 2000, John was declared "Blessed" by Pope John Paul II, the penultimate step on the road to sainthood. Following his beatification, his body was moved from its original burial place in the grottoes below St Peter’s Basilica to the Altar of St. Jerome and displayed for the veneration of the faithful.
The Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC. He was found in 1950 buried in a peat bog in Denmark, and was mistaken for a recently deceased murder victim. The stomach and intestines were examined and tests carried out on their contents The barley that was found in his stomach was found to contain large amounts of ergot fungus found on rotted rye. Ergot is an hallucinogenic substance, so it’s possible it was a suicide, or he went crazy and was misdiagnosed as a witch.
The mummified body of Elmer McCurdy was found in the darkened fun house at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, California, on December 7, 1976. Ready to film an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, the director wasn’t happy with a dummy hanging from a rope in one part of the fun house, so he asked a crew member to move it. When the man grabbed the dummy, its arm came off exposing the arm bone of a real mummy.
Juanita / The Ice Maiden
Juanita (also known as "The Ice Maiden") was discovered on the top of Mount Ampato near Arequipa, Peru, on September 8, 1995 by Johan Reinhard and his assistant, Miguel Zarate. She was 12 to 14 years old when she was sacrificed and is believed to have died about 500 years ago. Now the descendants of the Incas value children as what is referred to as "anchors" in the United States.
On the morning of August 27, AD 79, a small cloud emanating from Mount Vesuvius formed over the Roman town of Pompeii. The residents weren’t’t worried until the cloud began to release ash and stones. Super-hot, super-fast gases roared down the mountainside. They did not reach Pompeii itself, but by 7:30 in the morning, it was over. Everyone who had not already escaped was killed, buried in various kinds of material from the volcano. Pompeii which was an ancient version of Club Med turned into a city of mummies.
Honorable mention: Disney on Ice, it was long rumored that the Disney icon’s remains frozen to be thawed out at a later date. Some even clung to the belief that Walt Disney was on public display somewhere in Disneyland disguised as everything from a Pirate to one of the characters in the Haunted Mansion. This is apparently a myth (as far as we know) and may have been circulated by a rival amusement park to creep people out. This is however the case for the "splendid splinter" Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams whose has been preserved for a later date. After Williams died July 5, 2002, his body was taken by private jet to the company in Scottsdale, Ariz. There, Williams’ body was separated from his head in a procedure called neuroseparation, according to the magazine.
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