Last words are one of those things that go down in history, especially if you’re a famous or historical figure. They seem to be a reflection of a person’s life or a summary of their most important ideas. We often look to a person’s last words for guidance, wisdom, and reassurance. Sometimes, they give us what we’re looking for, but other times, a person’s last words are completely unexpected, have an interesting story behind them, or are just really funny. Here are the most memorable last words of 15 famous people—from Bob Marley to Eleanor Roosevelt. Let us know which ones surprised you the most!
15. JIMI HENDRIX
It’s hard to believe that Jimi Hendrix’s career only lasted four years, yet he’s had such a huge impact on music and is still considered an icon. The vibrant and talented Hendrix had his life cut short at the age of 27 from a drug overdose and choking on his vomit. He was at a hotel in London and a note found beside his bedside table 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.” It’s really interesting that he wrote that before he died. Some people believe that this shows he knew he was about to die, but the coroner’s report had ruled out suicide as a possible cause of death, even though he had taken 18 times the amount of sleeping pills he was supposed to take.
14. MARIE ANTOINETTE
Marie Antoinette was the last Queen of France. Her life was depicted in a 2006 movie starring Kirsten Dunst and she is infamously known for supposedly saying, “Let them eat cake,” when she heard that the peasants had no bread (except, she didn’t really say that). What she did say, however, is “Pardon me, I didn’t do it on purpose,” just before her death. The words were spoken to Henri Sanson, the executioner, whose foot she had accidentally stepped on while going up to the guillotine (the thing that chopped people’s heads off back in the day). That’s a pretty horrible way to go. What led up to this event? Well, Marie Antoinette was found guilty of depleting the national treasury, conspiracy against the State and high treason.
Nostradamus was a seer born in the 1500s. You may have last heard about him back in 2001, when it was all over the internet that he had predicted the 9/11 attacks. It was said that Nostradamus predicted, “Two steel birds will fall from the sky on the Metropolis / The sky will burn at forty-five degrees latitude / Fire approaches the great new city / Immediately a huge, scattered flame leaps up / Within months, rivers will flow with blood / The undead will roam the earth for little time." This prediction would have been very impressive, if it wasn't actually a fake (a mixture of what Nostradamus actually wrote with fiction made up by someone else). One prediction that Nostradamus did get right was his last one, “You will not find me alive at sunrise,” spoken the night before his death.
12. COCO CHANEL
If you know anything at all about fashion, you don’t need us to explain who Coco Chanel was. Her designs are iconic and live on to this day (just look at any red carpet). But, life wasn’t always glamorous for Coco. She was actually put in an orphanage and raised by nuns (who were the ones that actually taught her to sew). In 1910, she opened her first shop, where she sold hats and from there, her fashion empire began. At the age of 87, however, her health began to decline. She was working on her spring collection in 1971, but had fallen ill while staying at the Hotel Ritz, where she lived for decades. In true Chanel style, her last words were, “You see, this is how you die.” At her funeral, the legendary designer’s fashion models sat in the front row and her coffin was covered with white flowers.
11. WALT DISNEY
Like Chanel, Walt Disney was yet another legend—but in the theme park and movie industry, instead. He gave us the beloved characters of Mickey Mouse, Bambi, Snow White, and many more. So, what were this famous animator’s last words? There’s a rumor that he wrote the name, “Kurt Russell” (but misspelled it as Kirt) on a piece of paper before he passed away. Who was Kurt Russell? Well, he was a child actor that Disney had just signed on for a long-term contract. In 2009, Kurt Russell appeared on a talk show and confirmed that Walt did write his name down, but he had no idea why. Very mysterious, indeed. It’s likely that Walt had Russell in mind for an upcoming movie project, though.
10. LEONARDO DA VINCI
Leonardo da Vinci was a genius. He’s sometimes credited with inventing the helicopter and parachute (which he sketched in his famous notebooks), he’s known as one the greatest painters of all-time (Mona Lisa, anyone?), and is even called the father of paleontology (as he studied fossils and was one of the first people to have realized that they were the remains of creatures that had once lived). He accomplished more in his lifetime than most people could accomplish, even if they lived double his lifespan. Yet, at the end of his life, he said, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” Huh? Was this guy being serious? It’s really sad to know that he didn’t realize what an impact he had on the world and wasn’t satisfied with his work.
9. BOB MARLEY
Bob Marley is known as one of the greatest musicians of all-time, popularizing reggae music and giving us catchy, relaxing hits such as “Jamming,” “Three Little Birds,” and “One Love.” But, if you pay close attention to his simple lyrics, you’ll realize that this was a man who had a lot of wisdom to offer the world. Just go on Instagram or Tumblr and you’ll see thousands of people still reposting his meaningful and relatable quotes, decades after his death. Unfortunately, the star passed away at the young age of 36, after a four-year battle with cancer. His last words, spoken to his son, Ziggy, are as simple and true as we’d expect. He said, “Money can’t buy life.” He was at the top of the music industry, yet no amount of money could have saved his life.
8. KARL MARX
Karl Marx is known for his groundbreaking theories about society, economics, and politics. Amongst other things, he predicted that capitalism would be replaced by socialism and argued that the working class should organize a revolution to get rid of capitalism. Throughout his life, Marx was largely ignored, but his ideas were widely accepted after his death in 1883. His eulogy, given by his close friend, Friedrich Engels, began with the words, “On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think.” So, what were this great thinker’s wise last words? Ironically, when his housekeeper asked him if he had any last words, he shouted, “Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
7. STEVE IRWIN
Steve Irwin, best known as “The Crocodile Hunter,” entertained us all for years through his television series, The Crocodile Hunter. He was always so excited to be around animals; you could tell that this was what he was born to do. He cared about animals and wanted to protect them, so he founded the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, among other organizations. He also raised awareness of issues such as poaching. Steve Irwin lived his life doing what he loved, but, it was the same thing that caused him to die. In 2006, Steve was working on a documentary series called Ocean’s Deadliest at Batt Reef. He saw a stingray and approached it so that he could film it swimming away. He reassured his crew, “Don’t worry, they don’t usually swim backwards,” before the stingray had punctured Steve in his heart, causing him to bleed to death. His last words were simply, “I’m dying.”
6. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
To this day, Eleanor Roosevelt is remembered as one of the greatest First Ladies. She was, at first, known for being outspoken. But, she was later recognized and widely respected for her achievements in human rights. She advocated for women’s rights, minorities’ rights, and even served on the UN Commission of Human Rights. Eleanor is one First Lady that didn’t let her husband overshadow her; in fact, she even disagreed with some of his policies. At the age of 78, Eleanor’s health declined and she passed away from Tuberculosis and heart failure. The nurse that was taking care of her told her that she wouldn’t die until she had fulfilled everything God wanted her to. Eleanor replied, “Utter nonsense.” It seems like she had wanted to accomplish more but had accepted her inevitable death.
5. DEL CLOSE
Can you imagine how hard being a comedian must be? Sure, it seems like all fun and games, but comedians actually work hard to stay current and make people laugh. They probably feel a constant pressure on them to be funny or make a tense situation lighter. Del Close definitely seems to have felt that way. He was an actor, comedian, and teacher who coached many of the comedians we love, such as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Mike Myers, and more. He passed away due to a lung disease, just before his 65th birthday. Humorous, right until the end of his life, Del Close’s last words were, “I am tired of being the funniest person in the room.” He even made a request for his skull to be used in Hamlet!
4. WINSTON CHURCHILL
To say that Winston Churchill accomplished a lot in his life is an understatement. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, an officer in the British Army, a writer, an artist (he painted landscapes), and a Nobel Prize winner for literature. Apparently, that was enough for him. At the age of 90, Churchill suffered a stroke that left him ill and eventually led to his death, nine days later. What’s really weird is that his granddaughter revealed earlier in 2016 that Winston predicted the date of his death up to 10 years prior! He had stated again and again that he would die on the anniversary of his father’s death—January 24th—and he did. His last words were reportedly, “I am so bored with it all.”
3. CHARLIE CHAPLIN
There’s hardly anyone that can make a silent film as entertaining as Charlie Chaplin. The star, recognizable by his felt bob hat and toothbrush mustache, rose to fame in the early 1900s. He is considered one of the most important figures in the history of film, not only for acting but also directing. But, for someone who was famous for being silent, his last words were pretty witty. Chaplin lived a long life—he was 88 years old when he passed away from a stroke. It’s reported that his wife, seven children, and a priest were at his bedside when he died. The priest was reading him his rites and said, “May the Lord have mercy on your soul.” Chaplin replied, “Why not? After all, it belongs to him.”
2. SALVADOR DALI
If you haven’t spent at least one hour looking for hidden symbols in a Salvador Dali painting, what have you been doing with your life? Go look at one, now! Dali was one eccentric artist. His biography alone reads like a work of fiction, what with his parents believing he was a reincarnation of their deceased son, him keeping a pet bat, and being scarred for life after his dad publicly crapped his pants (yes, this is a true story). His paintings are filled with symbols, especially ants, eggs, and clocks. In fact, one of Dali’s most famous paintings is The Persistence of Memory, which features melting clocks. His last words are fitting, then. According to the book, Grave Tidings, they were simply, “Where is my clock?” Really weird how that worked out.
1. AUGUSTUS CAESAR
Augustus Caesar is a name that will always be remembered, simply because he was the first (and greatest) emperor of the city of Rome. He ended the civil war and maintained peace in Rome, allowing the city to flourish in every aspect. If you’ve ever been to Rome and admired the grand temples or public baths, you have Augustus to thank (since he claims to have built or restored 82 temples within a year and the baths were constructed under his rule). Fittingly, his official last words were, “I found Rome a city of clay but left it a city of marble.” However, his family said his actual last words were different—though they still indicate that he knew how great he was. According to them, he said, “Have I played my part well? Then applaud as I exit!” We can’t help but wonder if they obliged.