The Trumps gathered yesterday to pay tribute to their mother, Ivana Trump, 73 who died last week from an accidental fall in her home. Befitting her glamorous existence, she was prepared for burial by New York City’s legendary ‘undertaker to the stars,’ Frank E. Campbell
Yesterday, New Yorkers gathered to pay their last respects to Ivana Trump, the first wife of the former President who died last week from an accidental fall in her home at the age of 73.
Befitting the glamorous socialite who was a tabloid fixture for her outsize lifestyle, Ivana was sent off in a $125,000 gold coffin prepared by Frank Campbell’s Funeral Home—the last stop for ‘everybody who’s anybody’ in New York City.
For the famous, infamous and well-heeled of Manhattan, Frank E. Campbell mortuary on Madison Avenue has been the exclusive undertaker of choice for 124 years.
Mystery extends beyond dignified façade of this venerable brownstone in the very heart of the gilded Upper East Side. The name written in unadorned letters above a Corinthian arch where a liveried sentry nods respectfully at the mourners as they somberly walk through its fabled doors.
They have eulogized luminaries of every stripe from Judy Garland to Notorious B.I.G, John Lennon to Joan Rivers, Jackie Onassis to Heath Ledger, Jeffrey Epstein, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, George Gershwin, Rita Hayworth, and mobster Frank Costello.
In a status conscious city, where even in death (for those who can afford it) chose to go out in style — Frank Campbell’s provides the ultimate golden send-off.
Services can run in the high six figures. A silver-plated copper casket will cost you $70,000. For $2,000 to $10,000, loved ones can buy a piece of custom gold jewelry that memorializes a lock of the deceased’s hair.
Ivana’s funeral would have cost a minimum of $27,575 when the medium national average is $7,848.
The white glove mortuary prides itself on confidentiality and discretion. But most importantly: ‘no request is too big,’ provided it’s legal.
A procession of Ferraris for a car lover? Sure. A replicated room from Bungalow 8 nightclub for a known party boy? Absolutely.
And when it comes to protecting the privacy of its high- profile clients, Campbell’s doesn’t shirk. After John Lennon was assassinated in December 1980, the home used a decoy hearse and coffin to ensure a clandestine run to the crematorium.
For Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Campbell’s arranged for the former first lady to be to be embalmed in her Fifth Avenue apartment, away from the prying eyes of paparazzi who were eager to snap photos of her in a body bag. Instead, she was respectfully taken away in a casket.
Secret Service and NYPD stand outside the Frank Campbell Funeral Home yesterday as they wait for Trump’s funeral procession. The mortuary has been an institution for over a century, catering to VIPs of every stripe: A-listers, movie stars, socialites, sports heroes, rockstars, politicians, and mobsters
The Trump family poses for a photo outside St. Vincent Ferrer Church during the funeral of Ivana Trump, socialite and the former president’s first wife
The white glove mortuary is known for its spotless tradition of privacy and discretion. They pride themselves on accommodating the sometimes-bizarre and outlandish requests of its high profile clientele. ‘No request is too big,’ provided it’s legal
Located in the Upper East Side, Campbell’s Funeral Home has waked and eulogized everyone from Judy Garland to Rocky Graziano, John Lennon to Henry Cabot Lodge, Notorious B.I.G. to George Balanchine, John Lennon, Jackie Onassis, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Epstein, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, and mobster Frank Costello
The funeral home was founded by Frank E. Campbell in 1898; a young mortician from Illinois who cut his teeth building caskets for a local parlor at the age of 12.
At age 20, Campbell moved to New York City where he worked at funeral parlors owned by a minister before opening his own shop on 23rd Street and began earning his nickname as ‘the PT Barnum of death.’
The high price for a golden goodbye
The average cost of a Frank Campbell funeral is $27,575, but prices can sour well into the ‘high six figures’ depending on your needs.
Basic Services: $9,000
Dressing & Casketing: $200
Restoration: $1,500 per hour
Viewing & Visitation: $2,300
Funeral Service: $2,000
Transfer to Funeral Home: $1,100
Event Planner: $1,000 to $25,000
Additional Transfer Costs: $5.00 per mile over 35 miles
Hearse to Cemetery: $975
Service/Utility Vehicle: $675
Caskets: $1,100 – $175,000
Urns: $495 – $4,700
Alternative Containers: $1,100 – $3,500
Lunar Orbit Launch of Ashes: $12,000
Combination memorial bust and urn: $7,000
Silver-plated copper casket: $70,000
Solid Bronze Casket: $175,000
Custom gold jewelry containing lock of hair: $2,000 to $10,000
He had a knack for marketing, and was knowing for engaging the media with elaborate publicity stunts.
He was the first to use motorized hearses during a time when horse-drawn wagons were the standard, and scatter cremated remains by airplane over New York Harbor in 1916. Later, Campbell replaced his custom motor hearses with an all Rolls-Royce fleet. He also spearheaded the trend to use paid advertisements in newspapers that announced funeral arrangements and spoke of the deceased’s life, now commonly known as the obituary.
At one point, Campbell took a $1 million insurance policy out on his teenage son, Frank Jr, to make him ‘the most heavily insured boy in the country.’
Soon enough, he earned a reputation for catering to every dying wish, no matter how big, or bizarre.
One 1919 article published in the New York Herald details the story of a local woman who asked Campbell to embalm her beloved pet canary and store it until her own death. ‘Embalm him, please, and whenever the Lord calls me, place him within this jewel case and in the same casket as me.’
Part mortician – part showman, Campbell’s status as the ‘undertaker to the stars’ was cemented with the 1926 funeral of silent film star, Rudolph Valentino.
By then, Campbell has moved his parlor to an opulent location on Broadway and East 66th Street. He decorated his million-dollar death palace with rich tapestries and priceless artifacts that were once owned by Napoleon.
As news spread, a mob of 100,000 frenzied mourners swarmed the streets to see the 31-year-old silver screen heartthrob known then as, ‘the Latin Lover’ lay in state. He had died unexpectedly from a burst ulcer, the event was coined in the press as ‘the day Hollywood wept.’
Fans smashed windows as they tried to storm the building. A riot broke out that caused 75 people to be injured. One headline from the day reads: ‘VALENTINO RIOTS A MORBID ORGY.’
Adding to the hysteria, the marketing-minded mortician garnered publicity by paying women to swoon and faint outside the funeral home so that newspapers would report on it for free press.
Inside, Campbell hired actors to pose as Mussolini’s blackshirts and give the fascist salute over Valentino’s dead body…which was rumored to be a wax replica in order to preserve it from ‘wear and tear.’
Later, newspapers reported on an anti-Fascist group that stormed the funeral to chase away Mussolini’s guards. They were also hired actors.
The funeral home was founded by Frank E. Campbell in 1898. He was a master of promotion, and known for staging elaborate publicity stunts which earned him a reputation as ‘the PT Barnum of death’
Funeral home president, George Amato remembered the complexity surrounding the funeral arrangements for the accidental-overdose of Heath Ledger. ‘I was very closely involved with the people who were handling him, because he was going to be sent to Los Angeles and then Australia,’ he told The Post. For Judy Garland’s funeral (right) 20,000 diehard fans lined the streets outside the legendary funeral home to view the star in her glass-covered coffin
Sisters and socialites Lee Radiziwill (left) and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were both prepared for burial at Campbell’s. In order to preserve Onassis’ privacy and dignity, the funeral home arranged to have her body embalmed inside her Fifth Avenue apartment, away from the prying eyes of paparazzi who were eager to snap photos of her in a body bag
Rita Hayworth (left) and Joan Crawford are among the many silver screen legends that were prepared for burial at Campbell Funeral Home
Known for providing the utmost protection and confidentiality, the funeral home used a decoy hearse and casket to throw the press off track for John Lennon’s funeral in 1980. Other funeral directors often refer their high-profile clients to Campbell’s because they don’t have the facilities to handle the necessary security and privacy
Frank Campbell’s VIP Clientele:
Arts and Entertainment: Aaliyah, Ayn Rand, Fatty Arbuckle, George Balanchine, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Irving Berlin, Yul Brynner, James Cagney, Montgomery Clift, Walter Cronkite, Joan Crawford, Celia Cruz, Candy Darling, Dominick Dunne, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Lillian Gish, Lesly Gore, Rex Harrison, Rita Hayworth, Jim Henson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peter Jennings, Dorothy Kilgallen, John Lennon, Heath Ledger, Norman Mailer, Ethel Merman, Mary Tyler Moore, Notorious B.I.G., Les Paul, Joan Rivers, Igor Stravinsky, Ed Sullivan, Rudolph Valentino, Luther Vandross, Mae West, Tennessee Williams, Lauren Bacall
Politics: Robert Kennedy, Gov. Thomas Dewey, Sen. Jacob Javits, Bernard Baruch, Sen. Kenneth Keating, Henry Cabot Lodge, Mario Cuomo, former New York City mayors Robert Wagner, Jimmy Walker, Ed Koch
Business: Elizabeth Arden, Perry Ellis, Marshall Field III, William Randolph Hearst, Howard Johnson, J.C. Penney, Nikola Tesla, John Ringling, F.T. Steinway, Frank Woolworth.
Sports: Arthur Ashe, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Graziano, Billy Martin, Dick Lynch
Socialites: Oleg Cassini, Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Leona Helmsley, Huguette Clark, Sunny Von Bulow
Campbell passed away on January 19, 1934 at the age of 61. His widow, Amelia Klutz Campbell ran the funeral home until she died in 1948, and the business was sold off.
In June 1969, 20,000 diehard Judy Garland fans lined the streets outside the legendary funeral home to view the star in her glass-covered coffin.
In the crowd, pop icon Andy Warhol tape recorded many of the fans conversations, and photographer Diane Arbus took pictures.
The service was attended by a who’s who in showbusiness and society: Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Otto Preminger, Mickey Rooney, Bing Crosby, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, then-Mayor John Lindsay, and Garland’s daughters, Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft.
The sensational 1926 death of silent screen heartthrob Rudolph Valentino put Frank Campbell’s Funeral parlor on the map. 100,000 frenzied mourners lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the ‘Latin lover’ in repose. Fans smashed windows as they tried to storm the building. A riot broke out that caused 75 people to be injured
That same day, bereft mourners who attended the funeral headed downtown to the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. A clash broke out between patrons and local police – becoming a flashpoint of the gay liberation movement known today as The Stonewall Riots.
Privacy and confidentiality for the deceased and mourners is the utmost concern at Frank Campbell’s.
That being said cellphones are banned from the main chapel and the front door is protected by a team of private security guards.
With higher-profile clients, such as Ivana Trump, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Biggie Smalls, Campbell’s will beef up their security with off-duty NYPD officers.
‘We make sure our entranceway, as far as ingress and egress, is taken care of properly without having the family being inundated,’ said Frank E. Campbell president, George Amato to the New York Post in 2014. ‘
‘In the building, we have a private elevator and a private floor for the visitation that takes place. We have our security men on the front door checking the people arriving to make sure they are on the list, and they are escorted properly upstairs.’
Amato remembered the complexity surrounding the funeral arrangements for the accidental-overdose death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger in 2008. ‘I was very closely involved with the people who were handling him, because he was going to be sent to Los Angeles and then Australia,’ he told The Post.
‘There was the Warner Brothers private jet that was being used for him and the family, so there was a lot of coordination to make sure that it all went exactly the way they wanted it, and we had to maintain the privacy and confidentiality that they wanted.’
With a full-time staff of 50, Campbell’s will bend over backwards to accommodate the requests of their clientele. A list of services includes providing transportation, hiring clergy, buying flowers, arranging cremations, finding burial plots and building crypts.
Ivana’s ornate gilded coffin comes with a hefty $125,000 price tag. Basic funeral services at Campbell’s run a minimum of $27,575 while the national average funeral costs $7,848
Dominic Carella, vice president and senior counselor of the mortuary in 2011 chartered a plane to chaperone the body of salsa singer Celia Cruz to Miami in 2003. ‘We had 178 people on the flight along with the remains. It was very important that the staff and her family and friends and the remains were together, he told the NYT. ‘I was in constant contact with the body.’
One of the least traditional services General Manager Paul Horvath remembered was for a well-known artist whose family placed an airplane tire at the front of the chapel where attendees took turns painting it. ‘Otherwise, there was not a word spoken or music played.’
He also recalled how one service featured the deceased’s two Doberman Pinschers stationed like sentinels at the foot of their master’s casket. ‘They didn’t move the entire service,’ he said.
When New York Yankees manager Billy Martin died in a truck accident in 1989, baseball fans filed for hours through Campbell’s chapel past a coffin blanketed in tulips depicting the Yankee logo.
Tony Bennett attends Les Paul’s funeral at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in 2009. Paul’s tour bus was parked outside during the ceremony
Judy Garland’s daughters Lorna Luft and Liza Minnelli leave her funeral on June 27, 1969. In the crowd, pop icon Andy Warhol tape recorded many of the fans conversations, and photographer Diane Arbus took pictures. The service was attended by a who’s who in showbusiness and society: Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Otto Preminger, Mickey Rooney, Bing Crosby, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, and then-Mayor John Lindsay
The funeral that made Campbell’s famous: Riots broke out among frenzied mourners eager to catch a glimpse of the silent film star, Rudolph Valentino. Adding to the hysteria, Frank Campbell paid women to swoon and faint outside the funeral home so that newspapers would report on it for free publicity
Campbell hired a press agent to create buzz for Valentino’s funeral. He rounded up dozens of people from local saloons and flophouses and paid them $1 each to stand in the rain outside the funeral home. Crowds gave rise to bigger crowds. Mourners jammed Broadway as news spread of the star’s death. By the next day, more than 100,000 mourners collected outside Frank Campbell’s, causing cops to billy club the crowds back as they punched and kicked one another. Eventually they broke through the glass window and flooded the upstairs room to pay their last respects to the famed ‘Latin lover’
The body of the 31-year-old screen idol rests at Campbell’s Funeral Parlor in New York. Outside, fans smashed windows as they tried to storm the building. Inside, actors posing as Mussolini’s blackshirts gave the fascist salute over the body – which was alleged to be a wax dummy to save it from ‘wear and tear’
Fans of Judy Garland wait outside the funeral home to pay tribute to the star. That same day, bereft mourners headed downtown to drown their sorrows at an underground gay bar which became a flashpoint of the gay liberation movement known today as The Stonewall Riots
For the R&B singer Aaliyah’s funeral, Campbell’s funeral home arranged a horse-drawn carriage to carry her coffin to St. Ignatius Loyola Church
Heath Ledger’s body is moved from the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home to the Upper East Side on January 25, 2008. President George Amato told the NY Post: ‘There was the Warner Brothers private jet that was being used for him and the family, so there was a lot of coordination to make sure that it all went exactly the way they wanted it’
Melissa Rivers says goodbye to her mother, comedian Joan Rivers in 2014
More shocking are the revelations made in Elizabeth Meyer’s 2015 memoir, ‘Good Mourning.’ The New York Socialite pulls back the velvet curtain on some of the bizarre requests, famous cadavers and grisly circumstances she encountered while working as a funeral planner at Campbell’s.
She recalled how royalty, rockstars and socialites congregated for the funeral of a prominent Latin American party boy, whose family buried him alongside his favorite treasures: green sneakers, a Snoopy shirt, and a bottle of absinthe. She watched the funeral director ‘delicately place the dead hands around the bottle.’
Meyer converted the chapel into ‘Bungalow 8’ – complete with palm trees and a DJ. The funeral lived up to the hype, she said, ‘Hundreds of people came, arriving in their Bentleys and Rolls-Royces.’
Robert Kennedy was one of the many politicians whose status funeral was staged by Frank Campbell after he was assassinated in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles
She wrote: ‘It all felt a little empty. My fears were confirmed when I saw guests coming out of the bathroom with red noses. Suddenly it made sense why the family had asked if the upstairs bathroom had marble countertops.’
For an exotic car collector she staged a procession of Lamborghinis and arranged for his beloved $100,000 sports car to be placed in a glass box near his casket. For the guitarist Les Paul, she was asked to secure a tour bus.
Meyer also wrote about the time she organized a funeral for a man who was living a double life. Two women called for the same husband so Campbell’s organized two wakes but— strangely enough— both widows rode to the cemetery in the same vehicle.
Similarly, she recalls the requests of another client who wanted to preplan a service for himself, his wife, and his mistress. ‘It was important to him to know that they would all be buried together whenever that time came.’
Perhaps her most surreal request was when the son of socialite Sunny Von Bulow called to double check that his mother’s brain was in her head.
Sunny has been in a vegetative coma for 28 years until she finally passed away in 2008. Her husband, Claus, was famously tried twice for having poisoned her with insulin, before he fled to Europe.
Meyer confirmed via the autopsy report that Sunny’s brain was indeed still inside her body. But an autopsy report wasn’t good enough for her grieving son, who wanted visual confirmation that the brain was there, and said he would wait on the phone while she checked.
Meyer asked the embalmer to cut open Sunny’s skull and braced herself ‘for an eyeful of brains’ – instead, an ‘accordion’ of Bounty paper towels fell out in its place. When the embalmer checked Sunny’s stomach (a common place for a medical examiner to store the organs after an autopsy), the brain was missing there too.
Meyer broke the news to her son, and never heard about it again.
Campbell’s earned a reputation for catering to every dying wish, no matter how big, or bizarre. An 1919 article in the New York Herald reports a woman’s dying request to embalm her beloved pet canary and add it to her coffin when her time comes
Both Biggie Smalls and Joan Rivers were eulogized at Frank Campbell’s Chapel
Security was tight for rapper Notorious B.I.G.’s 1997 funeral’s after his gangland execution in Los Angeles. His funeral ended with a peaceful procession of limousines through his old stomping grounds in Brooklyn
Pallbearers for the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman leave the funeral home after the beloved actor died from an accidental drug overdose in 2014
Today Campbell’s is owned by the Houston-based funeral conglomerate, Service Corporation International, the largest provider of ‘death care’ in the nation. With over 1,500 funeral homes, they rake in over $2.34 billion in sales annually. Frank E. Campbell is the crown jewel in their portfolio.
Eugene Schultz the former president of the mortuary called its founder, Frank Campbell the `father of modern-day funeral services’ for his innovative approach to death care.
At a time when funeral services were traditionally held at home. Campbell saw an opportunity to put the undertaker’s services, viewing rooms and chapel under one roof.
When it comes to upscale services, Frank E. Campbell is peerless. ‘I always compare it to weddings,’ Elizabeth Meyer wrote in her memoir. ‘Funerals are the ultimate celebration. You can have more than one wedding, but you’ll only have one funeral.’