Is John Belushi Really Buried in His Martha’s Vineyard Grave?
Legendary comedian John Belushi died in 1982, but legends about his grave still persist 40 years later.
Belushi is buried on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard – but not in the spot where you’ll find his gravestone. There are also persistent rumors that he is buried in his home state of Illinois alongside his parents.
Belushi took the comedy world by storm in 1975 as one of the original “Not Ready for Primetime Players” on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. That led to a film career in hit movies such as Animal House and The Blues Brothers. However, success led to excess and Belushi died of a drug overdose in March of 1982. He was just 33 years old.
He died at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, but his favorite place was Martha’s Vineyard. He and his wife Judy had gone there on vacation and fell in love with the island, eventually getting their own place there. When he died, Judy Belushi had her husband buried in Abel’s Hill Cemetery in the island town of Chilmark.
Belushi’s slate stone grave is engraved with a skull and crossbones in the old New England style, with the epitaphs “Here Lies the Body of John Belushi” and “I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on.”
Across from the gravestone is a rock monument with “Belushi” carved into it.
Not long after Belushi was buried here, people started to complain about those who came to visit his final resting place, with beer and liquor bottles scattered everywhere, cigarette butts, all kinds of trash, and motorcycles tearing across the surrounding graves. There were even rumors that some overzealous fans tried digging up his body.
At the request of Judy, Belushi’s body was moved in 1983 to an undisclosed area of the cemetery to protect it.
The story of Belushi not being buried in the spot where his gravestone stands has led to some confusion as well. It has led to the false notion that his body was exhumed and removed from the Vineyard altogether, and was instead re-interred next to the grave of his parents at the Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois.
There, on the headstone for father Adam and mother Agnes, is a photo of Belushi, stating “In Loving Memory of Our Son John A. Belushi” and “He Gave Us Laughter.” His portion of the stone dominates, leading many to mistakenly believe that it is actually John’s grave as well as that of Mr. and Mrs. Belushi.
However, this is what is known as a “cenotaph,” which is a memorial to someone that is not located in the same place where their body is buried. Agnes Belushi had it added to the stone following her son’s death.
When next you find yourself on Martha’s Vineyard, be sure to stop by the grave of John Belushi (although good luck finding the spot where he is actually buried) and see what people leave as tribute. You’ll find everything from marijuana to little plastic samurai swords, a reference to one of his most popular SNL characters.
Just remember to be respectful of all the other people buried there, too.