be the best-known place to see a living celebrity, but when it comes to
documenting their deaths, Dover, Ohio has a leg up.
The Toland-Herzig Famous
Endings museum, located within the Toland-Herzig Funeral Home in the town
of Dover (about 80 miles south of Cleveland), houses the largest collection of
funeral memorabilia in the country, including items from the services of movie
stars, sports heroes and US presidents.
1,500-piece collection grew from founder John Herzig’s hobby as an autograph
collector. After requesting an autographed photo of boxer Joe Louis from
another collector, Herzig received the photo along with a box of other related
items, including the boxer’s 1981 funeral program. After that, Herzig continued
to seek out documents, recordings and other items related to celebrity deaths.
The museum displays
funeral programs for Princess Diana and Michael Jackson, an original crypt marker
for Humphrey Bogart, documents from the memorial service for the Titanic victims
and the guest list for the private funeral of Marilyn Monroe. The collection
also includes newspaper clippings and audio recordings related to the deaths of
US Presidents Lincoln, Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan, and a mourning ribbon from Lincoln’s
funeral in 1865.
inscribed flashlight from the funeral of James Doohan (who played Scotty on the
original Star Trek film) and a cookie with the cartoon face of actor Rodney Dangerfield
that was handed out to guests at his funeral are among the museum’s stranger items.
The museum is
open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, and does not charge for
admission. Four times a year, Herzig also hosts “An Evening to Remember”, a presentation
that focuses on five or six of the celebrities represented in the museum. Large
groups can request guided tours throughout the year.