Final words uttered on people’s deathbeds seem to hold such weight and interest for people. They are even more interesting when there is record of them from famous people who made a huge impact on the world. Here is a list of 40 famous celebrities and historical figures whose last words sometimes lived up to their larger than life personalities, and sometimes – well see for yourselves. In some cases, it makes you think maybe you should plan something for when the time comes.
Steve Jobs seemed to have a habit of creating major change, so you know his final words would be tremendously thought provoking and interesting. After his death, the internet has attributed the following words as Steve Jobs last:
“At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.” The famous last words go on to discuss how material achievements don’t matter and only the pursuit of knowledge and happiness are what are important.
Of course, with the internet being the way it sometimes is, this was all completely made up. In fact, Jobs’s sister, Mona actually quoted his real last words in her eulogy for him. Jobs actually repeated the phrase “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW” after looking at his sister, Patty, his children, and his partner, Laurene. Maybe it doesn’t hit the nail on the head the way the fictional last words do, but there is real depth and meaning in these nonetheless.
John Adams was one of the founding fathers of the United States. Serving as the 2nd United States President and helping draft the Declaration of Independence. As he was on his death bed, he uttered one final sentence that his son recorded in his journal.
The last words of former U.S. president John Adams were recorded in a journal by his son. “About one afternoon [1:00 p.m.], he said, ‘Thomas Jefferson survives,’ but the last word was indistinctly and imperfectly uttered. He spoke no more.”
With his final breath, John Adams felt some solace in the fact that Thomas Jefferson remained alive as the only living founding father of the US. Sadly, Adams could have had no idea that he actually survived Thomas Jefferson, who had passed away just five hours before. Amazingly, they both died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.
Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home in Seattle in April, 1994, tragically having commited suicide. The suicide note he left read as follows:
“I don’t have the passion anymore. And so, remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Also, for his family he wrote, “Please keep going, Courtney, for Frances. For her life, which will be so much happier without me. I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!”
So tragic to read words like these from any suicide victim leaving us all to wish we could have gotten them the help they needed.
Krikey! This man’s death really hurt. Wildlife expert and bigger than life personality Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray in Australia in 2004 while working with wildlife as only he knew how. Justin Lyons, his cameraman as there to witness the accident and reported what had taken place to Studio 10, of Australian TV. “He calmly looked up at me and said, ‘I’m dying.’ And that was the last thing he said… those were his final words.”
Bob Marley died from a melanoma that was originally found under one of his toenails. He succumbed to the cancer in May of 1981 at the young age of 36. Through popularizing reggae music and Jamaican culture, he became a global icon. As his illness worsened he boarded a flight home to Jamaica but his condition became significantly worse and he had to land in Miami. The melanoma had spread to his lungs and brain and he died in a hospital there. His The final words he spoke to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life.”
Lucille Ball, star of I Love Lucy was married to her co-star Desi Arnaz for 20 years before they divorced in 1960. Nevertheless, they remained close and grew even closer all the way until Desi’s death in 1986. Lucy took it hard and was seen weeping at Desi’s funeral. The following few years she began to suffer from heart disease, suffering from a heart attack in 1988. She finally passed in 1989. Her last words, "My Florida water", about her favorite perfume, were spoken in response to being asked "Is there anything you want?" while lying in her hospital bed.
The popular 1950’s teenage icon, James Dean was well known for his portrayal of rebellious and angsty teenagers. That’s why his death in a car crash feels so fitting to the personalities that he portrayed in his films. On top of that, Dean was trying to maneuver himself into an auto-racing career, so it’s typical for people to assume that his car accident was the result of some maniacal driving or extreme speeding. In truth, there seems to be some differences of opinion with regards to whether or not he actually was speeding when he had his final accident. On September 30, 1955, Dean’s Porsche collided with a Ford Coupe on US Route 466. Rolf Wütherich, who was a German mechanic and a passenger was thrown from the car and survived, but Dean suffered fatal injuries including a broken neck. According to Wütherich, the movie star said about the Ford Coupe, “That guy’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.”
FDR served as the 32nd Predisent of the United States, serving from 1933-1945, when he died in office. He is the longest serving President in US history, having broken the tradition of Presidents only running for two terms, he succeeded in being elected for four straight Presidential terms. FDR notably had the honor of dealing with both the Great Depression and WWII during his presidency.
Unfortunately, FDR had a lot of health issues over his time as President including reduced lung capacity, hypertension, acute bronchitis, and acute congestive heart failure. In the end, he actually suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage while being served lunch. He said, "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head” just before slumping forward in his chair, unconscious.
The Godfather of Soul died on Christmas of 2006 at age 73. The world renowned singer and performer who wrote songs like “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” passed away sadly from heart failure after an unbelievably successful career in music. He was with his friend and manager Charles Bobbit when he said, “I’m going away tonight” before passing just a few hours later.
It was spread around for a long time that Humphrey Bogart’s final words were “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.” You can actually still find this spread around if you search the internet a bit. But in reality, his final words were a lot less quotable. The last thing Bogart said was while he was in his hospital bed to his wife Lauren Bacall. She left the hospital to pick up their kids from school when Bogart said “Goodbye Kid. Hurry back.” By the time she returned he had slipped into a coma that he never awoke from.
British teen idol and pop star, Adam Faith died of a heart attack at age 62 in 2003. He was known for his hit singles and was the first UK artist to have his first seven hits reach the Top 5. Faith had heart problems for many years, all the way back to an open-heart surgery in 1986.
In early March in 2003, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died at North Staffordshire Hospital. His last words reportedly were "Channel 5 is all *, isn't it? The * they put on there. It's a waste of space."
James French was a seemingly psychotic criminal who killed a driver in West Virginia who was kind enough to give him a ride when he was hitchhiking in 1958. He was given a life sentence in the state of Oklahoma despite having asked for the death penalty. After he wasn’t given the death penalty, he even tried appealing multiple times to receive it. Eventually, he knew it wouldn’t happen and went about committing a second murder in prison, strangling another inmate, Eddie Lee Shelton.
French’s last words are famous. Just before the electric chair being turned on to electrocute him, French addressed reporters, “How’s this for your headline? ‘French Fries.’” Nevertheless, a reporter who was there revealed that he actually had additional last words. When he was asked in the end if he had any last words, his response was “Everything’s already been said.”
The world was astonished when Michael Jackson was reported dead on June 5, 2009. His career was extremely impactful, and he became one of the most famous pop stars in known history. As it turned out, Jackson had been giving a cocktail of medications to help him sleep by his personal physician Conrad Murray that ended up killing him. Murray was actually convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served two years in prison. Murray detailed that Jackson’s final words were, “Let me have some milk.” Apparently, Jackson had become so reliant on the cocktails Murray would give him that he began referring to them as “milk” and his final words reflected how much he felt he needed it.
Vic Morrow was a well-known actor and director who died tragically on the set of the filming of The Twilight Zone: The Movie along with child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. A helicopter scene was being shot when an explosion effect went off earlier than it was supposed to. The helicopter spun out of control and took the lives of these three actors too soon. Co-star Dick Peabody documented what took place at the end stating that Morrow held the two child victims and said, "I've got to be crazy to do this shot. I should've asked for a double." These ended up being Morrow’s last words in life. After an investigation there actually wound up being civil and criminal action that lasted around ten years.
Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was famous for a lot of things. From his seemingly unbreakable Major League Baseball hitting streak record (he recorded a hit in 56 straight games) while with the Yankees, to his on and off, sometimes great, but sometimes strained relationship with Marilyn Monroe. Despite the strangeness of their relationship and a marriage that lasted just 274 days, DiMaggio never seemed to waver in his feelings for Monroe. When she was admitted to a psychiatric clinic, he arranged for her release, and when she died, he was the one who arranged her funeral. After that, he continued to send roses to her grave multiple times per week. In 1999, when DiMaggio died, his attorney recorded his last words as “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”
John Barrymore, one of the patriarchs of the American acting dynasty and grandfather of Drew Barrymore was a star of stage and screen in the early 1900’s. He is actually attributed with some rather quotable last words. “Die, I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.” In reality, his last words were not quite so theatrical. He was apparently in a conversation with his brother in which his final words were, “You heard me, Mike.”
Terry Kath, guitarist and lead singer on a lot of early hits for the band Chicago definitely got into the Rock and Roll lifestyle, becoming a known substance abuser. But it was his love of firearms that ended up producing his final downfall.
After a party at his the home of Don Johnson, the band’s roadie and technician, Kath was found playing with his firearm, spinning them on his fingers, and even putting unloaded weapons to his head and pulling the triggers, it became obvious that Johnson was extremely uncomfortable with his behavior. Kath said, "Don't worry about it ... Look, the clip is not even in it." These would be his last words. After he said them, Kath held the weapon to his head to show Johnson that there was no danger, and the rest of the story became a tragedy.
The amazingly funny and amazingly talented Chris Farley succumbed to his substance abuse issues, dying to an overdose at 33 years old. He was most well-known for his time on Saturday Night Live as well as his film, Tommy Boy. At the time of his death, he was with a woman who he had paid to keep him company. She reported that before leaving him alone in his apartment his last words were simply and sadly “Please don’t leave me.”
Montgomery Clift’s life and career was a wild ride from incredible stardom and through periods of being completely unable to be employed. He suffered from strange diseases (some of which were not discovered until his autopsy) and even one nearly fatal car accident ten years before his death. Clift costarred with stars like Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and John Wayne and in his early years was developing a persona as one of the original method actors in Hollywood along with Marlon Brando and James Dean. As Clift was getting ready for bed, Lorenzo James, his private nurse went to check on him and asked him if he wanted to watch The Misfits which was airing on television, and was a movie that Clift starred in. Clift replied, “Absolutely not!” and had a heart attack that night.
President John F. Kennedy was famously assassinated while driving in an open top convertible through the streets of Dallas. Sitting in front of him was Nellie Connaly, the First Lady of Texas. As they rode through the crowds in the streets, she turned to him and said “Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you" – to which Kennedy replied "No, you certainly can't.” These were his final words.
Motown legend Marvin Gaye died too young at 44. He was fatally shot in the heart by his father after a dispute in his home. He had been breaking up arguments between his parents for days but one time the altercation between Marvin and his father, Marvin Sr., became particularly tense. After this one Marvin said, “I’m going to get my things and get of this house. Father hates me, and I’m never coming back.” Moments later Marvin Sr. stormed into his room and shot him with the very weapon Marvin Jr. gifted him to protect himself with just a year earlier.
The King, Elvis Presley died to increasing heart problems paired with significant substance use. When you put his weight, heart issues, and dozens of substances together in his system, it unfortunately led to a cardiac arrest from which his girlfriend, Ginger Alden found him on the bathroom floor. As Ginger’s story relays, Elvis was having trouble sleeping so he slipped out of bed saying “I’m going to the bathroom to read” and those were the last words the King ever uttered.
Famous American physicist Richard Feynman was a brilliantly quotable scientist famous for his analysis of science itself and when you read his quotes and lectures you get the sense that he was almost philosophical in his pursuit of science. This is actually somewhat evidenced in his last words which were “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.” Feynman died of cancer at the age of 69.
Bob Hope – a man famous for comedy, acting, golf, dancing and so many other talents lived to the ripe old age of 100. In his old age, there was even a death scare about 7 years prior to his actual death when an obituary for him was accidentally released and his death was announced.
On his deathbed, his wife Dolores asked Hope where he wanted to be buried and he responded, “Surprise me.”
Marie Antoinette was the final queen of France before the French Revolution and she paid for it with her death as she was sentenced to be executed by guillotine for high treason. People have heard of her “Let them eat cake” quote which actually probably came from the writings of Jean-Jacque Rousseau and was very unlikely to have actually been said by her. As she was being led to the guillotine, she uttered her last words “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur. Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès” which translates to “Forgive me, sir. I did not do it on purpose.” She was referring to having accidentally stepped on her executioner’s foot.
Muhammad Ali, originally Cassius Clay Jr. got his nickname “The Greatest” for being just that – the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. He suffered from Parkinsons for many years before his death. Ali’s family reflected on his last words, taking comfort in him saying that he felt no pain. He said to his younger brother Rahaman Ali, “I’m in no pain. No pain. Don’t cry for me, Rahaman. I’m going to be with Allah. I made peace with God. I’m okay.” Then he turned to Rahaman and asked “How do I look?”
Hollywood’s grittiest cowboy has endured a lot of criticism over the years for his political views. He was always known as a staunchly conservative republican. In a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, he voiced unpopular support for the Vietnam War and topped it off with comments in support of white supremacy, and other derogatory remarks directed at minorities.
As Wayne was fading quickly from cancer, his family came to make sure they could be with him in his last days. His daughter, Aissa, sat with him and held his hand asking him if he knew who she was. Wayne’s last words were “Of course I know who you are. You're my girl. I love you."
King George V, the current Queen of England’s grandfather died in January. Rumors swirled that his last words were “Bugger Bognor!” speaking about an English town where he was told he would be well enough to visit again soon. That myth was put to rest when then Prime Minister Baldwin revealed that he spoke to his secretary. “How is the Empire?” Then, when his secretary assured him, “All is well, sir, with the Empire” the King smiled and lost consciousness. And finally, the real last words of King George V were revealed by a private diary to be a quiet mumble directed at his nurse who was giving him sedative to help him sleep. To her, he said simply “** You.”
Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy was a funny-man, constantly joking and finding humor in life. Even right up until his death in 1965, just minutes before he died, he told a nurse that he wanted to go skiing. The nurse replied that she had no idea he liked going skiing. Laurel responded, “I’m not. I’d rather be doing that than this!”
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby Jr. was a famous American singer, comedian and actor. He was extremely successful as an actor and singer becoming a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses over the course of his career. One other thing Bing Crosby loved was golf. He was an avid golfer and he collapsed and died of a heart attack on a golf course in Spain in 1977. Crosby’s last words there were “That was a great game of golf, fellas.”
James Bond creator Ian Fleming bad a heart attack on August 12, 1964. The 56-year old’s cheeky last words were directed at his ambulance workers when he said, “I am sorry to trouble you chaps. I don’t know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days.” That’s the kind of line you’d expect from James Bond himself!
As we’ve seen so far, it seems sometimes these larger than life characters have some discrepancies in what their last words were and what we hear their last words were reported to be. In Groucho’s case there appears to be two separate versions of what his final spoken words were.
Many people say his last words were “Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do” to his wife. These would be so fitting to have been Groucho Marx’s final words, but perhaps that makes them a little less believable.
Others have a sadder version of his last words to his wife, “This is no way to live!“
Keith Moon of The Who was absolutely and inarguable one of the greatest rock and roll drummers in the history of music. He also lived that hardcore rock and roll lifestyle full of benders and substance abuse. On night in 1978,l Moon asked Walter-Lax to make him a meal, which she refused to do. He then said, “If you don’t like it, you can ** off!” Walter-Lax found him dead of an overdose the next day.
In one of the more tragic Hollywood stories, actress Debbie Reynolds passed away a few hours after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher, better known to most as Princess Leah. In an unbelievable series of events it was almost like Reynolds willed herself to die out of grief for the loss of Fisher. Her son Todd remarked that her final words were, “I want to be with Carrie” just before she passed.
Dimebag Darrell, less commonly known as Darrell Abbot was a heavy metal lead guitarist and songwriter of Pantera and Damageplan who was shockingly murdered while on stage on December 8, 2004 in Columbus, OH. A psychotic fan rushed the stage with a weapon and shot him fatally along with three others before the incident was over. His last words were “Van Halen!” which is what he would shout when it was time to rock out during a set.
Princess Diana was involved in a deadly car crash in Paris in 1997 that was publicized on TV channels across the world in real time. The tragedy rocked the world and led to swirling reports on the nature of the crash, how it was caused, and what had happened. It took 20 years for the French Firefighter on the scene to reveal her last words though which were, “My God, what’s happened?” It’s possible she had further words with her children over the phone, but these have never been revealed.
Karl Marx was one of the most influential figures in all of human history. A famed philosopher, economist and socialist, he was one of the founders of the concepts of communism. His most well-known writing is “The Communist Manifesto” which led to much of the socialist and communist beliefs we know of today. When he died in 1883 he was asked if he had any last words, to which he replied, "Last words are for fools who haven't said enough." He might as well as have been one of the Marx brothers!
Actress Farrah Fawcett died of cancer at age 62 in 2009. She spoke her last words in reference to her son Redmond. Redmond led a troubled life of addiction and prison convictions for various reasons. At the end of her life Fawcett was with her friend Mela Murphy who revealed that her last words were her son’s name “Redmond.” Murphy relayed that “I told her I’d take care of him, that I’ll always be there for him. I said, ‘You can go now.’ It was just a few hours before she died.”
The Kennedy family has definitely suffered more than almost any family in history. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s brother, was tragically assassinated similar to his brother in 1968. He would have been a presidential candidate in the near future if not for his murder. After he was fatally shot and as he was dying, he asked ““Is everyone okay?” And his final words ended up being, “Don’t lift me,” as a medical attendant raised him onto a stretcher.
The world was stunned to learn that hilarious and beloved actor Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014. Fans had no idea someone so joyful was suffering from some deep depression. Williams wife Susan was with him behind closed doors and revealed his difficulty with Lewy body dementia and how hard things had gotten for him. In a 2016 article, Susan revealed her experience with her husband that night stating that his last words to her were “Goodnight, my love,” at least leaving with some peaceful words to remember him by.