Very few of us actually think about what we’re going to say before we do say it, and we rarely take note of how many words we’ve used in a sentence. It’s just a way of life, right? Yet, if you were to count how many words you use a day, you would be surprised. According to one wordsmith and Scrabble extraordinaire, Gyles Brandreth, the average person says more than a whopping 860 million over the course of their lifetime… Which is a lot! Yet, have you ever wondered what your last words might be?
Over the course of history, the world has been blessed with thousands of people who have made a dent in history. They have all had their own impact on the world, inspired others, and created their own legacies. Whether they made a name for themselves as a musician, an artist, a politician a philanthropist, or even an actor, these people have all had the pleasure of being rich and famous while making a real difference in the world. Because of this, the world enters a state of mourning when these famous faces pass away, and we all come together to remember the life and times of these people. Indeed, after the death of former President John F. Kennedy, over 300,000 people lined the streets in the freezing cold to remember his memory.
When Diana, Princess of Wales, left the world in 1997, more than a whopping 1 million people from around the world traveled to the streets of London to pay her respects to her coffin. After the death of the American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr, his birthday was deemed a public holiday for everyone to remember him. Although the world mourns together in silence, our voices can be heard across the globe.
As we remember those who have truly made a difference in our lives, we often look towards the words of the deceased to remember them. This could be in the form of a quote they recited over the course of their career, this could be a poignant lyric within one of their songs, or it could be a segment of a famous speech that has stuck with us for centuries. Yet, one of the greatest ways to truly know these famous faces and to remember them properly is to look deeper at their last words. Some of these will make you cry, others will make you feel empowered, and a few will overwhelm you with emotions. These are the last words of the famous and the infamous…
The legendary Sinatra died of a heart attack aged 82. His final words were recorded as ‘I’m losing it.’ He will forever be remembered as one of the most important singer-songwriters ever.
Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and 1984 are still some of the most important reads in literary history, despite being written many years ago. He last said ‘At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves.’ Orwell never reached this age, dying at 46.
Hemingway’s decline over the years was attributed to heavy drinking, although a genetic disorder inherited from his father may have played a part. He killed himself with his shotgun after saying to his wife ‘Goodnight, my kitten.
The Apple CEO lost his fight with cancer in 2011, aged 56. His final words according to those there were ‘Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow…’ which he repeated many times before his death.
The Godfather of Soul eerily predicted his death in 2006. His final words were ‘I’m going away tonight.’ We guess some people just know when their number is up. He died the following day.
John F. Kennedy
Kennedy’s historic last words were to his friend in Dallas. His friend said ‘You cannot say that Dallas hasn’t given you a nice welcome.’ He replied ‘No, you certainly can’t.’ He was killed moments later.
After being shot, a New York police officer desperately tried to keep Lennon conscious by asking him ‘Are you John Lennon?’ to which the fallen pop star said ‘Yes, I am.’ Those were the last words ever spoken by him.
James Dean died in a car collision after racing his Porsche 550 Spyder in California in 1955. His final words to his friend traveling with him before the crash was ‘That guy’s gotta stop…He’ll see us.’
Malcolm X was killed by three members of the Nation of Islam in 1965 after leaving their group. His last words to them were ‘Now, now, brothers. Be cool, be calm.’
Joe DiMaggio died thinking of his lost love. His hope-filled final words were ‘I’ll finally get to see Marilyn,’ meaning his first wife Marilyn Monroe, who had died years earlier.
Like many on our list, Capote dealt with his demons. The cause of death was listed as liver disease, with other notes of phlebitis and drug intoxication. His final word was ‘Mama.’
Whitney’s death was caused by accidental overdose and was unsurprising given her decline into drug addiction over the years. No-one knows if her overdose was accidental or deliberate, but her final words were ‘I’m gonna go see Jesus.’
Walt Disney’s final thoughts were written down on paper, though no-one will know for sure what they were in reference to. He simply wrote the name of child actor Kurt Russell on a piece of paper.
Freud suffered from cancer but didn’t die of the disease. Instead, he asked his friend Max Schur to end his life with a massive dose of morphine. Freud’s last words before death were ‘This is absurd!’
The actor and comedian was a staple in many lives until his passing in 2014. Who could forget his hilarious turns as Mrs. Doubtfire, as Teddy Roosevelt in the hilarious Night at the Museum films, and as the empathetic Sean in Good Will Hunting, a role for which the funnyman won an Academy Award. At the time of his passing he was married to graphic designer Susan Schneider Williams. In a heartbreaking interview with Good Morning America she says his last words to her were “goodnight, my love.”
While reflecting on his legacy of building a magazine and TV empire, ladies man Hugh Hefner gave his final interview to People Magazine in March 2016. “It’s nice to look back on very sweet moments,” he said. “I just think I’m very, very blessed.” Hefner passed away from cardiac arrest and infection at this infamous home in Los Angeles. At the time was married to model and TV personality Crystal Hefner (previously Harris). He was 92 years old.
Fawcett’s star rose after she was cast as the tough-as-nails Jill Munroe in the action series Charlie’s Angels. There was no stopping this A-lister and she went on to star in the drama The Apostle, as well as the crime drama series The Guardian and even her own reality series Chasing Farrah. She was diagnosed with sphincter cancer in 2006 and underwent treatment immediately after. Before her passing in 2009, she allegedly told her longterm partner, Ryan O’Neil: “I’m happy, I’m ready.”
Tragic actor Ledger suffered from depression and had trouble sleeping leading to his accidental overdose of prescription drugs. His final words were to his sister “It’ll be fine, you know. I just need to get some sleep.”
Chaplin’s priest was called to administer the last rights as his time became near. When the priest got to the final line ‘May the Lord have mercy on your soul’ Chaplin said ‘Why not? After all, it belongs to him.’
Michael’s last words were ‘more milk’ which was a reference to the powerful anesthetic he became addicted to. He died after being administered a lethal dose by his physician Doctor Conrad Murray.
Elvis died in a way undignified for a king while sitting on the toilet. He said he was ‘Going to the bathroom to read’ and died of a heart attack minutes later.
Eleanor Roosevelt was being comforted by her nurse who said to her that she would ‘Only die when she had fulfilled everything God wanted her to.’ Eleanor refused to believe her saying ‘Utter nonsense!’
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Martin Luther King’s final words were to Ben Branch, a musician. He said to him ‘Ben, make sure you play Take my Hand, Precious Lord in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.’
Despite writing many a beautiful word in his works, death brought an unnatural silence to the man. He only managed to utter the name of his wife Valerie before his death from emphysema, aged 76.
Coco Chanel died in the luxury and opulence of the Ritz Hotel she had lived in for over 30 years. She prepared her spring catalog and was noted to have said ‘See, this is how you die!’ before slipping away.
Churchill had endured 11 strokes by the time he died. The British Prime Minister stated ‘Oh, I am so bored with it all,’ before his death. For someone known for their battle cries and uplifting speeches, his final words were somewhat subdued.
Marie Antoinette’s final words were to her executioner. She was believed to have said ‘Pardonnez Moi, monsieur’ – ‘excuse me, sir’ after accidentally standing on his feet. She died at the guillotine moments later.
Desi spoke to his ex-wife Lucille Ball before his death. Despite them being separated for many years, they still remained good friends. Ball said she loved him and he said ‘I love you too, Honey. Good luck with your show.’
It is still not known for sure if Kahlo killed herself deliberately or her death was accidental. Her last words written in her journal say ‘I hope the exit is joyful and hope to never come back.’
Despite his ill health the actor and comedian kept his good humor. He died of pneumonia aged 100 and said ‘surprise me’ when his wife asked him where he would like to be buried.
Oscar Wilde’s final words were never going to be something boring. The witty writer stated ‘The wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.’
Austen suffered greatly with her health in her last years but refused to see a doctor. She died in 1817 stating “I want nothing but death.” She was 41-years-old.
When Jimmy was faced with death, his final thoughts were of his wife, who had died the year before. He said “I’m going to be with Gloria now.” The year before he had refused to have the battery in his pacemaker changed.
Groucho died aged 86 from pneumonia. The ever witty comedy legend’s last words were as funny as any line he had said on screen. “Well, this is no way to live.”
Bing Crosby died of a heart attack following a game of 18-hole golf in Spain. His final words to his buddies were “That was a great game of golf, fellas.”
Rich had a brain tumor that needed to be surgically removed. He died of heart failure following the surgery. His last words were to the nurse. She asked him if there was anything he couldn’t take, to which he replied “Yeah, country music.”
Prince had looked increasingly frail in his later weeks, but he publicly addressed them during a concert where he said “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.” He died not long after.
Barry White was admitted to hospital with a suspected stroke, but he didn’t think it was that serious telling medical staff “Leave me alone, I’m fine.” He died on his wedding anniversary.
Lucille died aged 77, three years after the death of her ex-husband Desi Arnaz from complications relating to surgery. Her final words saw her asking for “my Florida water” – her favorite perfume.
after a lifetime of abuse and exploitation, serial killer Wuornos murdered seven men. Her last words were “I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the Rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movies, big mother ship and all, I’ll be back.”
Two days before Joan’s death she gave away her beloved dog, Princess Lotus Blossom. Despite suffering a heart attack, she still managed to chastise her housekeeping yelling “Dammit! Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”
Wayne died of stomach cancer, having successfully fought off lung cancer previously. While usually thought to be said to his wife, his final words were to his daughter “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl; I love you.”
Roosevelt followed the assassinated McKinley in 1901 to become the 26th President of the United States. His profound final words were “Please put out the light.” Whether he meant to physical or metaphorical light has been well-debated.
Bowie’s final words: “Music has given me over 40 years of extraordinary experiences. I can’t say that my life’s pains or more tragic episodes have been diminished because of it…It has been my doorway of perception and the house that I live in.”
Bogart was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which could be attributed to his heavy smoking and drinking. He became too weary to climb the stairs, but still maintained his humor, saying “I should have never have switched from scotch to martinis.”
Marvin Gaye’s father killed Marvin after he interrupted an argument between him and his wife. Marvin was shot at point blank range in the heart. His final words were to his mother “He hates me, and I’m never coming back.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic’s words couldn’t have been more perfect for someone in his line of work. After becoming deathly ill with cancer, he wrote his last words “I’ll see you at the movies.”
Two years after Abbott and Costello split, Costello died of a heart attack. His final words were not poetic like some. He simply said “That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.”
Gleason died of metastatic cancer aged 71. His final words were “I always knew what I was doing.” Whether this was a reference to his heavy smoking, is unknown.
Amelia said before her ill-fated Atlantic flight: “Please know that I am aware of the hazards. Women must try and do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others”
Karl Marx was stoic even in death. While sitting in an armchair slowly succumbing to pleurisy and bronchitis, he said “Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” He died moments later.
Bronte was pregnant when she died aged 38. Her words to her husband before her death were “Oh I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us, we have been so happy.”
Ballerina Pavlova was told that she would die without an operation to cure her pneumonia, but she wouldn’t dance again. She chose death. Her last words were “Get my swan costume ready,” a reference to the dying swan in Swan Lake.
Barrie is known for writing Peter Pan. When he died of pneumonia in 1937, he left the rights to the novel to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. His last words were “I cannot sleep.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
We now regard Da Vinci as one of the finest artists of all time, but he didn’t hold himself in that regard. His final words were “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”
Johnny Ace took a break from his concert in 1954 and had a couple of drinks with some friends of his backstage. Showing off, he decided to fool with a gun. His last words were “I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.” He died of an accidental gunshot.
Lenin had many strokes in his later years and finally succumbed to a coma which he never woke from. His last words were to a dog “Vot sobaka” or “Good dog” as it had brought him a dead bird.
Lead Belly died in 1949 and was influential to Kurt Cobain of Nirvana as well as others from the Seattle grunge scene. His last words were to his doctor. He said “Doctor, if I put this here guitar down now, I ain’t never gonna wake up.” He didn’t.
Bo Diddley died of heart failure aged 79. His death was not surprising, and he was surrounded by his extended family. He died after hearing the gospel song Walk Around Heaven on the radio, put a thumbs up and said “wow.”
Lombardi had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, but sadly death comes to us all. He died of cancer surrounded by his wife, parents, grandchildren, and children. His last words to his wife were “Happy Anniversary; I love you.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle died at home with his beloved wife by his side. He turned to her and said “You are wonderful” then grasped at his chest and died.
Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano
Luciano was one of the biggest mob leaders of all time. He died of a heart attack after talking to a director about making a movie of his life. His last words were “Tell Georgie I want to get in the movies one way or another.”
Benjamin Franklin died aged 84 in bed. In his final moments, his daughter urged him to move position to breathe a little easier. His reply was “A dying man can do nothing easily.”
Peace loving George Harrison died aged 58 of cancer. His final words were to ex-Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr, to whom he said “Love one another.”
Dali lived to the ripe old age of 84 before dying of heart failure while listening to Tristan and Isolde. His final words were ‘Where is my clock?’ Perfect words for someone who once made clocks a feature of one of his works.
The whiskey distiller that gives the black label brand its name died of blood poisoning in 1911. His final words were befitting of someone with his line of work “One last drink, please.”
Nimoy died from COPD complications in 2015. He’ll always be remembered for his role as Spock in Star Trek. His final words on Twitter said ״A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.״
Hendrix died at 27 after taking a sleeping pill overdose. It’s not known if he meant to take his life, but a poem by his bed read “The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye. The story of love is hello and goodbye until we meet again.”
Nostradamus was said to be one of the greatest prophets of all time. It’s believed that he predicted his death. He wrote “Demain, au soleil levant je ne serais plus,” which translates as “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I will be here no more.”
Thomas drank up to 15 pints a night, dying after suffering from pneumonia and not avoiding the demon drink. He fell into a coma and didn’t wake. His final words were “I’ve had 18 straight whiskeys…I think that’s the record.”
Josephine was the first black woman to star in a movie and an incredible dancer. She aided The French Resistance in WWII and was also a party animal. Her final words were “Oh, you young people act like old men! You’re no fun!”
Hitchcock didn’t know for sure what would happen when he died, but he did deride other’s views. He said ‘One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.
Harriet was a humanitarian, abolitionist and ‘Mother’ of the African civil rights movement. She died aged 90 singing the song ‘Swing low, sweet chariot.’ Not a bad song to mark the end of your life.
Edgar Allan Poe
While the cause of Poe’s death has never been officially decided upon, the circumstances surrounding it are very odd. He was found wandering the street in someone else’s clothing. When approached, he yelled ‘Lord help my poor soul.’
Orson Welles died aged 70 of a heart attack. His final words were spoken on a friend’s answer machine and showed his concern for others. He said ‘This is your friend. Don’t forget to tell me how your mother is.’
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald attended the theater but had to be helped out part of the way through due to a heart attack. As he was dying, he became worried that people would think his ill health was something else stating ‘They think I’m drunk, don’t they?’
Sir Roger Moore was famous for his role as James Bond in seven of the franchise’s films between 1973 and 1985. The actor passed away in on May 23rd, 2017 at the age of 89. His last interview was October of 2016, where he mentioned how he met Frank Sinatra, “We became friends the year that a friend of his had died, and the same time a friend of mine had died. Frank said to me ‘I’ve got to get younger friends’ and he called me ‘kid,’ and I became his younger friend!”
Princess Diana died in France after a high-speed car chase. Her car was chased by paparazzi and crashed into a tunnel. Her final words were to the paramedics who treated her were allegedly, “My God, what happened?”
Marley died of cancer aged 36. His melanoma was discovered under his toenail, and due to his religion, he wouldn’t have the toe removed. His final words were to his son, Ziggy ‘Money can’t buy life.’
Errol Flynn died in Vancouver of a heart attack after complaining of pains in his leg on a flight. His last words were “I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Tragic Amy joined the gaggle of musicians who have died age 27 after a well-documented problem with alcohol. She died of accidental alcohol poisoning. Her last words were ‘I don’t want to die.’
Fans and colleagues alike were devastated when British actor Leslie Grantham passed away on June 15, 2018 of a mysterious illness. A number of his friends were able to visit him in his last days to say goodbye. His friend Joe Tracini shared that as he was leaving Leslie’s last words that he shouted at Joe were, “What am I f***ing dying or something?”