Can someone actually become wealthier after they die? In this revealing hour-long factual series viewers will find out how rich the famous actually were when they died and the surprising fortunes being made years after they’re gone. Celebrity Legacies gives the full story on who tried to lay claim to the inheritance and who finally got it. Plus, which celebrities lived lavishly but passed on penniless and who inherited their debts? Celebrity Legacies also looks at how some celebrity’s fortunes have grown since they passed and how some are still making the highest-paid lists years after their death. Celebrity Legacies will explore the stories and estates of Whitney Houston, James Gandolfini, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger among others. Celebrity Legacies is produced by CMJ Productions.
James Gandolfini’s portrayal of brutal yet sensitive mob boss Tony Soprano on HBO’s The Sopranos made him a household name and one of the highest paid actors on TV. The world was in shock when he died at just 51 years old. His very public last will and testament caused a media frenzy that had the press pouring over all the details of his estate. Leaving two young children from two different marriages, Gandolfini’s legacy may see battles for years to come.
Charismatic lead singer of The Doors, was a legendary rock and roll idol, a poet and a visionary. When he died in a Paris bathtub at just 27 he left a musical legacy that would endure for decades and all his worldly possessions to his girlfriend. But when she died shortly after, Morrison's fortune and legacy went to the last two people he'd ever want controlling it - her parents. And not many – including Jim’s parents – are happy about it.
The tragic story of Anna Nicole Smith and the daughter she left behind.
Whitney Houston's stratospheric rise and tragic descent are documented.
John Lennon, founding member of The Beatles, was one of the greatest singers and songwriters of all time. A peace activist and multi millionaire Lennon was shot dead by a crazed fan. He left a legacy that will live forever and a giant fortune to his wife Yoko Ono. He also left a disgruntled son, Julian, who wages a battle lasting almost two decades for his share of his father's fortune and history.
Elvis Presley, the pelvis-whirling rock 'n roll icon was at one point one of the highest-paid entertainers in the world. But his lavish lifestyle and over-the-top generosity with friends and family whittled away his fortune. When he died suddenly at age 42 his legacy ends up in the hands of the person who had manipulated and controlled his world when he was alive. But his family battles to put it where it belongs – in the hands of his beloved daughter Lisa Marie Presley.
A look at the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Kurt Cobain, front man, guitarist and primary songwriter for the multi-platinum grunge band Nirvana, is credited with bringing punk rock into the mainstream during the 80s and 90s. But after disappearing for a week Kurt is found dead from a gunshot blast. He’s just 27. He leaves behind a daughter, a huge legacy and no will. Kurt could never have predicted where his music would end up and how many people would be profiting from his legacy.
Bob Marley - the king of reggae - revolutionized music and had an everlasting affect on society. When he died at 36 he'd changed the world with his music - and created a multi-million dollar legacy. But without a will and with 11 children, 7 baby mommas, and 21 ex band members, the battle for his name and fortune was dirtier than he could have ever imagined. Though Marley cared little for money, in the years since his death, his fortune grew larger than life. With his empowering message came a powerful fortune.
The life and legacy of Aaron Spelling (1923-2006), who produced such iconic TV series as "Charlie's Angels," "The Love Boat" and "Beverly Hills, 90210."
Hailed as perhaps the greatest young actor of his generation, Australian actor and heart throb Heath Ledger headed to America in the late 1990s to take a shot at Hollywood stardom. In just a few years, he established himself as a bonafide superstar, winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Brokeback Mountain and delivering an iconic performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. But when he died of a drug overdose at just 28-years-of-age, he left behind a small fortune – and even more scandalously, a possible love child.
Ray Charles revolutionized American music and was catapulted to legendary status as a music pioneer. The blind piano man with the distinctive voice is credited with virtually inventing soul music. His tumultuous personal life left him with 12 children by 10 different women. When he died at age 73 Ray left a messy estate that had loved ones dragging his name through the courts for years. He was the first major recording artist to get control over his recordings with a big label creating a lifetime of valuable intellectual property. It earned him a fortune that keeps growing to this day.
One of the greatest Hollywood stars of all time, Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t just a beauty – she was a talent. The winner of two Academy Awards, Taylor lit up the screen from the 1940s through to the ‘70s, when she began devoting less time to acting, and more to the philanthropic work that truly captured her heart. After her death in 2011, following years of illness, her legacy remains – as does a simmering controversy over the division of estate.
The life and legacy of Tupac Shakur (1971-1996).
The life and legacy of John Wayne (1907-1979).
George Harrison helped reinvent rock and roll and became one of the biggest rock stars of all time.
Chronicling the life and legacy of Marlon Brando (1924-2004).
After shooting to stardom in the late 1970s as a pin-up girl, Fawcett secured her status as one of Hollywood’s hottest heroines by starring on the classic TV series Charlie’s Angels. After leaving the series at the peak of it’s popularity, Fawcett reinvented herself as a serious actress, known for portraying tough women in terrible situations. Tragically, it was a persona that would mirror itself in real life after Fawcett was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. Following her death, the men in her life continued to fight – not just over her possession, but over her legacy.
When guitar player Jimi Hendrix died at age 27, he left a mountain of debt, no will and a legacy.
Perhaps the greatest sexy symbol of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe was more than a Hollywood star – she was an icon. Yet the story of Norma Jeane Mortenson is a tragedy about a young woman who dreamed of being loved by the world, achieved stardom, and yet died alone, the victim of her addictions and loneliness. But in death, the legend of Marilyn Monroe only grew and with it, the demand for her image – and the willingness of strangers to exploit it.
Forever remembered as the teenage rebel who died too young, James Dean only made three films before his early, untimely demise in 1955. Nonetheless, the legend that grew from his story turned him into an even bigger star in death than he had ever been in life. The irony of his posthumous fame is that though he died with little money in the bank, in the decades that followed, his name and his face came to be worth millions… Provoking an endless fight over who controlled his legacy and who got to pocket those millions.
The Prince of Soul, Marvin Gaye pushed the limits of rhythm and blues like no artist before him. When he was shot dead by his father he left a legacy that can be heard in the most successful black singers that came after him and more than 9 million dollars debt. When Gaye was alive he was too busy spending his fortune on his addictions to make a will, leaving 3 children, 2 ex-wives and more than 20 creditors hell bent on getting their share.
A Hollywood rebel with dangerous predilections for drugs, booze and violence, Dennis Hopper was a true original. Though he constantly skirted the line between star and outcast, for more than four decades he maintained a career that any actor would envy. But upon the public announcement that he was dying, Hopper shocked the world – and his family – by announcing his desire for a divorce. And the ugly battle that followed his passing would rival any of the dust-ups he started while he was alive.
The hardest working man in show-business, James Brown was arguably more essential to the development of modern music than any other man – including Elvis. But he was also a hard man to love, notorious for his numerous addictions, as well the numerous women he loved – and children he fathered. Upon his death in 2006, those he loved – either for years or for just a little while – began turning on one another, in a rough and tumble battle for the money he’d left behind.
The life and legacy of Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
Diana Spencer, the People's Princess, shook up the palace and took charity work to a whole new level. When she died in a car crash after being pursued by the paparazzi, she left a legacy that would change the laws of British media and a more approachable royal family. She also left about 100 charities, 17 god children and an estate that would be fought over for almost a decade.