Edgar Allan Poe's original funeral was a disaster — it was never announced publicly, almost nobody attended, and a trainwreck destroyed his tombstone before it could be placed. So on his 200th birthday, he's getting a do-over.
The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, VA already staged a faithful re-enactment of Poe's death last week, but the funeral will be much cooler than the original travesty. According to the Associated Press, Poe's cousin Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly, and "fewer than ten" people attended the "hasty funeral." A train and derailed and crashed into a stonecutter's yard, shattering Poe's tombstone before it could be installed at his grave. Poe's enemy, Rufus Griswold, wrote him a "libellous obituary" that damaged his reputation for decades.
Sadly, there's not enough left of Poe's actual corpse to dig up and rebury in the new funeral, explains Jeff Jerome, creator of the Poe House & Museum:
When they dug up Poe's body in 1875 to move it, it was mostly skeletal remains. I've seen remains of people who've been in the ground since that time period, and there's hardly anything left.
But Jerome is still determined to make the funeral "as realistic as possible" for the packed house of fans, who are traveling from as far away as Vietnam for the event. So he's commissioned special effects artist Eric Supensky to create a new Poe corpse for the occasion, and it looks amazingly convincing. "I got chills," Jerome told AP. "People are going to freak out."
The funeral's master of ceremonies will be John Astin, better known as Gomez Addams on the Addams Family. Attendees will include actors playing Sarah Helen Whitman (a minor poet whom Poe courted), poet Walt Whitman, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alfred Hitchcock. But the first eulogy will come from none other than Poe's biggest detractor, Griswold — to give the rest of the mourners some anti-Poe vitriol to react against. [AP]