Famous Last Words of the rich(ish) and famous(ish)…
I’m always on the lookout for interesting little titbits of content to share on our social media channels and as such have developed a TINY obsession with ‘Famous last words’. There is something fascinating about the last thing that is uttered before someone dies. Do these famous last words give us a glimpse into the workings of human brain before it well… powers down one last time.
Some final words are touching sentiments of love and gratitude, some are clearly hallucinating. They can be poignant, profound, insightful, funny even. Or perhaps, beautiful pearls of wisdom that loved ones can carry with them, while others really are just a final opportunity to deliver some brutal home truths to those gathered around the bed. Mine will probably be something dreadfully mundane. The total opposite of that which you’d wish to be remembered for…
I often share these on Twitter and Facebook but these famous last words of the rich and famous really deserve a post of their own. So, in no particular order and by no means a definitive list, here is a SELECTION of my favourite famous last words…
Famous Last Words
UPDATE – this has to be the greatest ever famous last words I have ever heard.
“I see that you have made 3 spelling mistakes.”
Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras, French Aristocrat (1744-1790)
Supporter of the House of Bourbon during the French Revolution Thomas de Mahy was sentenced to death for his part in “planning against the people of France”. He was also a stickler for good grammar – his last words uttered upon reading his death sentence.
“You will not find me alive at sunrise”
Nostradamus, Apothecary and soothsayer (1503-1566)
One last self-fulfilling prophecy from Nostradamus. Who, many are saying predicted President Trump’s ascent to power. Way back in the 16th Century, Nostradamus wrote… “The great shameless, audacious bawler. He will be elected governor of the army: The boldness of his contention. The bridge broken, the city faint from fear.” It’s pretty accurate…
“Good. A woman who can fart is not dead.”
Louise-Marie-Thérèse de Saint Maurice, Comtesse de Vercellis (1749-1792)
While letting one rip on her deathbed. That’s my kind of woman.
“I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.”
Johnny Ace, R&B singer (1929-1954)
Johnny met his end while (foolishly) playing with a pistol backstage during a set break at one of his own gigs. Not the origin of the saying ‘famous last words’ but definitely the embodiment of it.
“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”
Oscar Wilde, Author/Playwright (1854-1900)
Known for his brilliant wit and flamboyant style Wilde’s last words did not disappoint. It’s not known how much longer the wallpaper survived following his death.
“It’s a long time since I drank champagne.”
Anton Chekhov, Author/Playwright (1860- 1904)
Terminally ill Chekhov enjoyed one final glass of champagne with his wife after which he laid down on his bed and promptly died.
“Nothing but death”
Jane Austen, Author (1775-1817)
Asked by her sister, Cassandra if there was anything that she wanted Austen replied with “Nothing but death”. Falling into the ‘genius whose life is cut tragically short’ category Austen’s early death at just 41 has been attributed to many things from cancer to arsenic poisoning and as we approach the 200 anniversary of her death we’ll never know the truth.
“Money can’t buy you life”
Bob Marley, Musician (1945-1981)
Diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of one of his toes – not caused by UV damage or a football injury. Citing religious reasons Marley decided against taking Doctors advice to have his toe amputated which meant that cancer spread throughout his body, proving fatal 3 years later. Marley died aged just 36 leaving a legacy of music enjoyed the world over to this day and some of the most profound famous last words featured on this list.
“Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!”
Karl Marx, Philospher (1818-1883)
Shouted by the German philosopher at his housekeeper after she asked if he had any last words. Marx later died from bronchitis and pleurisy, after 15 months of ill health.
“Die, my dear? Why, that’s the last thing I’ll do!”
Groucho Marx, Comedian and Actor (1890-1977)
Enjoying the longest life of any of the Marx brothers, Groucho delivers one last quip. This from the man who once said: “I intend to live forever, or die trying.” Like the rest of us will, he died trying.
“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”
John Sedgwick, Union Army General – American Civil War.
Uttered moments before a Confederate sniper proved that hitting an elephant from that distance would be no problem at all, killing him outright. Sedgwick’s unfortunate last words are often attributed to the origin of the saying ‘famous last words’.
“Yeah, country music”
Buddy Rich, Drummer (1917-1987)
While being prepped for surgery a nurse asked him if there was anything he couldn’t take. The answer…. country music, Bobby sadly didn’t survive the operation.
“I’ve had 18 straight whiskeys… I think that’s a record”
Dylan Thomas, Poet (1914-1953)
This one is up for debate but I liked it so I thought would keep it in. Thomas was well known as a heavy drinker and had spent most of the day drinking in bed, arising only to keep not one BUT two drink dates. 18 straight whiskeys would obviously do some damage to a person. However, the bartender that served him said that he couldn’t have consumed even half of that. Although how could he know what had been consumed during the bed session?
Thomas was found in a coma and died in New York of pneumonia and a fatty liver a few days later aged just 39. Not before his wife Caitlin had been flown out, been to see him, left, got drunk, went back to the hospital, threatened to kill the Doctors, been put in a straight jacket and committed. Busy day.
“Bring me a bullet-proof vest.”
James W. Rogers, Murderer (1910-1960)
Convicted murder Rogers never lost his sense of humour it seems, made this quip while standing in front of his firing squad. Presumably, his request was declined.
“Don’t die like I did”
George Best, Footballer (1946-2005)
The greatest footballer in the world – according to Pele. The man who once said “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered” Best was well known for his hard partying and even harder drinking which, ultimately, was the cause of his demise used his last words to issue a stark warning to anyone following in his footsteps…
‘I told you I was ill’
Spike Milligan, comedian (1918-2002)
Not exactly his last words but the words inscribed on his headstone – the full inscription reads; Love, Light, Peace. I told you I was ill. Would you expect anything less from Milligan a lifelong bi-polar sufferer, comedy genius and original Goon?
Tallulah Bankhead, actress (1902-1968)
Known for her outrageous personality and devastating wit Tallulah Bankhead struggled with substance dependency much of her adult life. She died aged just 66 of pleural pneumonia, emphysema, malnutrition and possibly flu it’s not surprising her last words were one final request for codeine and bourbon.
These are examples of eloquent and insightful famous last words from people who lived their lives in the public eye. Last words are notoriously unreliable and, like Chinese whispers, over time such utterings evolve, become distorted or with artistic license ‘improved’ slightly. Unfortunately, as we cannot corroborate authenticity with the source (as they’re dead) we’ll just have to take these with a pinch of salt. This famous last words post is meant for your enjoyment only.
Future Legal Services provide a full end of life planning service – from writing your Will to LPAs and pre-paid funeral plans we’ve got you covered. The only thing we can’t do is write your last words for you! If you would like to talk to us about putting a new Will in place, updating an existing one or ANY of our other services please either email us here or call 01322 664885 during office hours – we close at 4pm on a Friday!