The Many Faces of Deathcare: Famous People Who Pursued Work in Funeral Sciences

A career in deathcare and funeral science can be highly rewarding for many who enjoy being able to work closely with people to honor their last wishes, provide grief services, and plan life celebrations. This is one of the numerous reasons that many are drawn to this calling each year.

When you think of funeral professionals, you may often consider us to have a lifelong calling to serve, but many get their start in the profession or come to it later in life. This being said, you may be surprised to learn that some of the most famous people in the world also felt the calling to serve their communities in this capacity. Here are a few recognizable names connected to the funeral profession:

Angelina Jolie

While she is now a famous actress, the loss of a loved one in her teens sparked a fascination with Mortuary Sciences that has stuck with her over the years. As such, she became seriously interested in pursuing a career in the field.

“It sounds like this very strange, eccentric, dark thing to do but in fact I lost my grandfather and was very upset with his funeral,” she said during an interview on 60 Minutes. “How somebody passes and how family deals with this passing and what death is should be addressed in a different way. If this whole acting thing didn’t work out that was going to be my path.”

Andre Dawson

After an illustrious career in professional baseball for the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Florida Marlins, Andre Dawson invested some of his career earnings in restoring a funeral home with his brother in the neighborhood they grew up in. He saw his community’s need for a reliable mortuary service, so he rose to the challenge by reopening the facility as Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in 2003.

Danny Devito

Although he is a household name for his distinguished acting career, Danny Devito once got his start working as a hairstylist. From the ages of 19 to 21, he worked as a beautician in his sister’s beauty parlor where they regularly served their community preparing the hair of the deceased.

“I was a hairdresser for corpses,” Devito once revealed during an interview. “I used to go in there to the mortuary. It was only women’s hair I did, and it was usually a really old lady, and she didn’t talk back!”

Marshall White

While it certainly takes someone with a strong disposition to serve their communities during grief, Marshall White takes this to a whole new level. When he is not running his funeral home in Colorado, he is competing as an American strongman athlete. Before ever hitting the gym, Marshall attended mortuary school with the dream of opening his own funeral home.

Sean Connery

Before he became James Bond, Connery came from humble beginnings. After leaving school to support his family, he joined the Royal Navy at just 16 years old. He was discharged three years later due to health concerns and took a series of odd jobs, including one as a coffin polisher for a small funeral home in Haddington, Scotland.

In past interviews, Connery revealed that he use to regularly bleach mahogany coffins to make them look like oak for his employer. Despite this, he looked back on this time with fondness and enjoyed telling jokes about his time spent in the profession.

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg has always been a woman of many hats throughout her professional career. Surprising to many, she was also once a licensed mortuary beautician who practiced her profession at a funeral home in San Diego caring for the deceased.

In an interview with Oprah’s Master Class, Goldberg said, “You have to be a certain kind of person. And you have to love people in order to make them worthy of a great send-off.”

Thomas Lynch

Famous poet, essayist, and undertaker? Thomas Lynch is known for his extraordinary writing abilities to many worldwide, but in the funeral profession, he is best known for his role as an undertaker in his small hometown in Michigan.

He has used his gift to write extensively about his experiences dealing with mortality, including his book The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade that was later turned into a documentary by PBS Frontline.

“When you grow up in funeral service, you always have a job. But at some point, it becomes more than a job, and I can see this happening to the young people who have come here to work as high school students on work-study programs,” he told PBS. “I’ve seen it happen to Sean [his son], where you’re swinging the door at night, helping people with their coats, directing them one place or another, carrying flowers, doing all the innocuous little things that add up to taking care of a family during visitation. But when some widowed person comes out and takes you by the shoulders and said, “Thank you, I couldn’t have done this without you,” and all you did was be there, or answer the call, or show up, there’s this deep sense of having been of use to people at a time of need. And that’s very seductive.”

Are You Interested in Becoming a Funeral Professional?

At Pierce Mortuary Colleges, we pride ourselves in educating our students to be of service to their communities during some of their most trying times. If you are interested in pursuing a career in mortuary sciences, we offer an excellent environment to help you master the science of the field. But we also offer classes to truly excel at soft skills, like holding space, that will help you truly make a profound difference for your clients.

Contact us today to learn more about a career in this amazing field.