The Famous Last Words - of Famous People

What would your last words be?
Most people, I would think, die with a sigh, on life-support, or in their sleep - or in a coma.Those awake probably either die with a fearful expression - or with a gentle smile. And if they say anything, it's mostly words expressing love to their loved ones.
Here is what some famous persons, allegedly, said;

"Dying words are a very special form of quotation. Some are rehearsed and contrived; others are spontaneous and witty. Whatever the motivation or preparedness, 'famous last words' may be in the form of epitaphs, letters or even suicide notes, but are often impromptu sayings coined by and spoken by the dying person for the first (and, of course, last) time on their deathbed. The list below gives us a glimpse into the character of the celebrated individuals who uttered their 'famous last words' before expiring."

(*Some of the last words was not actually spoken at the time of death, but are the last words spoken by them.)

John Quincy Adams
(1767–1848) - This, is the last of earth. I am content.

Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626) - For my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations, and the next ages.

Todd Beamer
(1968- 2001) - Let's roll.

George Best
(1946-2005) - Don't die like I did.

Humphrey Bogart
(1899-1957) - Goodbye Kid. Hurry back.

(circa 563 BC - circa 483 BC) - Siddhattha Gautama - Work hard to gain your own salvation.

Donald Campbell
(1921–1967) - Hallo, the bow is up… I'm going… I'm on my back… I've gone. Oh.

King Charles II
(1630–1685) - Let not poor Nelly starve.

Erskine Childers
(1870–1922) - Take a step forward, lads. It will be easier that way.

Kurt Cobain
(1967-1994) - It's better to burn out than to fade away.

Oliver Cromwell
(1599–1658) - My design is to make what haste I can to be gone.

Salvador Dali
(1904-1989)- I do not believe in my death.

Diana, Princess of Wales
(1961-1997) - My God. What's happened?

Isadora Duncan(1878–1927)
- Adieu, mes amis. Je vais à la gloire. (Farewell, my friends. I go to glory.)

King George V (1865–1936) - Bugger Bognor!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) - Mehr Licht! (More light!)

Joe Hill (1879–1915) - I will die like a true-blue rebel. Don't waste any time in mourning - organize.

Henrik Ibsen(1828–1906) - On the contrary....

Michael Jackson (1958–2009) - I love you more

Stan Laurel(1890-1965) - I'd rather be skiing...

Hugh Latimer (circa 1485–1555) - Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, as (I trust) shall never be put out.

Robert E. Lee(1807–1870) - Strike the tent. (attributed)

John Lennon(1940-1980) - I'm shot...

Spike Milligan(1918-2005) - I told you I was ill.

Sir Thomas More (1478–1535) - This hath not offended the king.

Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758–1805) - Thank God, I have done my duty.

Captain Lawrence Oates (1880–1912) - I am just going outside and may be some time.

Barbara Olson (1955–2001) - What do I tell the pilot to do?

Lord Henry Temple Palmerston (1784–1865) - Die, my dear Doctor, that's the last thing I shall do!

Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007) - I believe that a life lived for music is an existence spent wonderfully, and this is what I have dedicated my life to.

William Pitt (1759–1806) - I think I could eat one of Bellamy's veal pies. (attributed)

Pope John Paul II (1920–2005) - Let me go to the house of the Father.

Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977) - I hope I haven't bored you.

Sir Walter Raleigh (circa 1552–1618) - I have a long journey to take, and must bid the company farewell.

Cecil Rhodes (1853–1902) - So little done, so much to do.

Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941–1995) - Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues.

General John Sedgwick (1813-1864) - They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.

Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) - “What is the answer?” No answer came. She laughed and said, “In that case what is the question?”

Lytton Strachey (1880–1932) - If this is dying, then I don't think much of it.

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) - Relax - This won't hurt.

Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) - One of us must go. (attributed, probably apocryphal)

Ludwig Wittgenstein - Tell them I've had a wonderful life.

The words, I guess, many would like to say are;
"À Tout le Monde, à tous mes amis, je vous aime, je dois partir"

("To everyone, to all my friends - I love you - I must leave".)


Ian Gordon

There are also the last words of Steve Jobs, on his deathbed, "Oh wow... oh wow... oh wow..."

Before Jobs spoke his last words, he "looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life's partner, Laurene, then over their shoulders past them."
What were Jobs' final words? "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow," Simpson recalled

Ian Gordon

Paul McCartney wrote a song about what were allegedly Picasso's last words:

McCartney says he was on vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica where he "snuck" onto the set of the film Papillon where he met "Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen". After a dinner with Hoffman, with McCartney playing around on guitar, Hoffman did not believe that McCartney could write a song "about anything", so Hoffman pulled out a magazine where they saw the story of the death of Pablo Picasso and his famous last words, "Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can't drink anymore." McCartney created a demo of the song and lyrics on the spot, prompting Hoffman to exclaim to his wife: "…look, he's doing it…he's doing it!"'s_Last_Words_(Drink_to_Me)

These quotations are interesting, but often need to be put into context. Some of them such as those of Spike Milligan and Oscar Wilde appear to have been said much earlier, rather than being a spontaneous reaction during the final moments.

Ian Gordon

These quotations are interesting, but often need to be put into context. Some of them such as those of Spike Milligan and Oscar Wilde appear to have been said much earlier, rather than being a spontaneous reaction during the final moments.
I was thinking that too. For example, Kurt Cobain's were a final line in a suicide note. Meaningful last words to me would be words spoken on a deathbed, or as you say spontaneously at the moment before death or not long before.
These quotations are interesting, but often need to be put into context. Some of them such as those of Spike Milligan and Oscar Wilde appear to have been said much earlier, rather than being a spontaneous reaction during the final moments.
I was thinking that too. For example, Kurt Cobain's were a final line in a suicide note. Meaningful last words to me would be words spoken on a deathbed, or as you say spontaneously at the moment before death or not long before.
Yeah, and that's why I wrote this before the quotes;
(*Some of the last words was not actually spoken at the time of death, but are the last words spoken by them.)
Most people, I think, don't have anything profound to say at the time of their death. I doubt we hear people quote Dylan Thomas;
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day!
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Do not go gentle into that good night."
....or quote Sean Penn's version of Psalm 23:4, in Casualties of War;

Most are probably pretty meek, and not up for dramatics.
60 Most Amazing Last Words Ever Spoken
From clever quips to renouncements of faith, we count the incredible dying words of sixty people

Sir Winston Churchill was a celebrated writer and politician who twice served as the UK’s Prime Minister. He died in 1965, with his health deteriorating after a stroke. Seems he was ready to go, though; his last words were: ‘I’m bored with it all.’


Pancho Villa was a Mexican political–military leader and viva la revolutionist! In 1923, he was gunned down in his vehicle during a banking trip to Parral. His dying words were: ‘Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.’


Emily Dickinson was a celebrated American poet who lived a life of seclusion. She died in 1886 after being bedridden for months. Her last words were: ‘I must go in, for the fog is rising.’ Her many cats purred in acknowledgement.


Carl Panzram was an American serial killer, rapist, arsonist and burglar who was sentenced to execution in 1930. With his final words, Panzram chose to mock his executioner: ‘Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re screwing around.’


Bessie Smith was a popular American blues singer. During her run, she influenced many jazz vocalists and earned the nickname The Empress of the Blues. Bessie died affirming her devotion to the big man upstairs. ‘I’m going,’ she said, ‘but I’m going in the name of the Lord.’


Joan Crawford was an Oscar-winning American film and television actress. Apparently she was not on speaking terms with her maker, as she reportedly died in 1977 while yelling at her praying housekeeper. Her final words were: ‘Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!’


Wilson Mizner was a famous raconteur, entrepreneur, and a successful playwright. He died in 1933. While Mizner was on his deathbed, an attending priest said, ‘I’m sure you want to talk to me.’ To which Mizner replied: ‘Why should I talk to you? I’ve just been talking to your boss.’


Oscar Odd McIntyre was a famed American newspaper columnist who died in 1938, aged fifty-three. His last words were said to his wife, Maybelle: ‘Snooks, will you please turn this way? I like to look at your face.’


Ethan Allen was an American Revolutionary War patriot and politician. He died in 1789, hours after suffering an apoplectic fit during a routine business trip. An attending physician attempted to comfort him, saying: ‘General, I fear the angels are waiting for you.’

‘Waiting are they?’ Allen replied. ‘Well, let ’em wait.’


Charlie Chaplin was a legendary comic actor and silent film star, who died in bed in 1977. An attending priest said ‘May the Lord have mercy on your soul.’ To which he replied: ‘Why not? After all, it belongs to him.’

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill was born in the Broadway Hotel. He died at age sixty-five in a Boston hotel, and acknowledged this peculiarity with the following dying words: ‘I knew it! I knew it! Born in a hotel room and, goddamn it, dying in a hotel room.’


Johnny Ace was an American R&B singer who released a string of hit singles in the 1950s. He died in 1954 of a self-inflicted gun wound during one of his concerts. His last words were: ‘I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.’


Louise-Marie-Thérèse de Saint Maurice Comtesse de Vercellis’s dying wish was to be free of the confines of being a lady. She let one rip while dying, then said: ‘Good. A woman who can fart is not dead.’


Jimmy L. Glass was a convicted murderer who was sentenced to die by electrocution on June 12, 1987 in Louisiana. After a failed escape attempt, Glass uttered these smart-allecky last words while seated on an electric chair: ‘I’d rather be fishing.’


Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist. It’s thought the cause of Lenin’s death was syphilis. His last words were: ‘Good dog,’ which he said to a dog that had brought him a dead bird.


Leonardo da Vinci was a hugely influential fifteenth-century artist who died in 1519. Despite painting the legendary Mona Lisa, Da Vinci did not think too highly of his own abilities. His dying words were: ‘I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.’


Jessica Dubroff was a seven-year-old pilot whose final words – ‘Do you hear the rain? Do you hear the rain?’ – were uttered over the phone to her mother as she ran her own single-engine propeller aircraft somewhere in Cheyenne, USA. The plane had suffered an engine breakdown seconds after takeoff. On that fateful morning in 1996, the young pilot, her father and her instructor died on board.


Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt was the first woman to be executed by the military tribunal of the federal government of the United States. She was found to be involved in an assassination conspiracy against the late US president Abraham Lincoln and uttered these last words during her 1865 public execution: ‘Please don’t let me fall.’


Jane Dornacker was an American actress and rock musician. In 1986, she was giving a live traffic report for a national radio station when her helicopter plunged into the Hudson River. Her listeners heard her say ‘hit the water, hit the water, hit the water!’ before a loud crash signalled the celebrity’s instantaneous death.


Belinda Emmett was an Australian actress and singer, and the first wife of popular TV presenter Rove McManus. She was a breast cancer sufferer and had her last conversation with her sister while suffering severe stroke-like symptoms. Seeing that her sister was weeping beside her, Emmett asked ‘Are you all right?’
Last edited:

Joan Crawford enjoyed a career as a highly regarded movie actress until being diagnosed with cancer in her seventies. She had been bedridden for years and had refused to seek medical care for herself. On May 1977, the nurses who took care of her realised she was already dying and offered a soft prayer. The movie star saw them praying and said these dying words: ‘Don’t you dare ask God to help me.’


Richard B. Mellon was the multimillionaire President of Alcoa. He and his brother had an interesting family ritual: they’d been playing Tag for seven decades. When Richard was on his deathbed, he called his brother over and whispered: ‘Last tag.’ Andrew remained ‘It’ for four years, until he also died.


Julian was a Roman emperor and Constantine descendant who died during the Battle of Samarra in Maranga while trying to quash the original endorsement to Christianity of the Roman Empire. His dying words, said during the heat of battle, were: ‘You have won, O Galilean.’


Donald O’Connor was a singer, dancer, and actor, and hosted the Academy Awards in 1954. He died at age seventy-eight, with his family gathered around him. Before passing, he joked: ‘I’d like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get.’ He still hasn’t gotten one.


At the peak of the French Revolution, Queen Marie Antoinette was convicted of treason and sentenced to die by guillotine with her husband, King Louis XVI of France. Riding a cart, she was taken through the streets of Paris and mocked until she and King Louis XVI were finally brought to the guillotine site. While she was already on the scaffold seconds before her death, she unintentionally stepped on the foot of her executioner and decorously uttered these words of pardon: ‘Pardon me, Sir, I did not do it on purpose.’


Humphrey Bogart was a distinguished Hollywood actor whose health deteriorated when he was diagnosed with a malignancy in his esophageus sometime in 1956. On his deathbed, he called his wife and children in to bid them goodbye and uttered these witty last words: ‘I should have never switched from Scotch to Martinis’.


Louisa May Alcott was an American novelist who suffered from an unknown illness. On her deathbed, she uttered: ‘Is it not meningitis?’ believing this to be the cause of her illness. When she died, the cause of death was discovered to be mercury poisoning, which she acquired years earlier while being treated for typhoid fever.


Eric Arthur Blair – better known by his penname George Orwell – was the famed English writer of 1984 and Animal Farm. He died of a burst artery in 1950. While his last spoken words are unknown, his last written words were: ‘At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves.’


Aleister Crowley was an English writer, occultist and ceremonial magician. He founded the religion and philosophy Thelema, and was the group’s self-identified and totally legitimate prophet. In 1947, he died in the throes of a heroin addiction, proclaiming these drug-induced final words: ‘I am perplexed! Satan, get out!’


Major John Andre was a British Army officer who was hanged as a spy by the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Moments before he was hanged, Andre pronounced these last words: ‘I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man’.


Thomas J. Grasso was convicted of murdering two elderly citizens. His eventual sentence was death by lethal injection, and his dying words were spent complaining about his last meal. ‘I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s,’ he said. ‘I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.’


Sir James Matthew Barrie was the famed Scottish author of Peter Pan. He died of pneumonia in 1937, on the top floor of London’s Adephi Terrace House. His final, tragic words were: ‘I can’t sleep.’


Ernest Hemingway was a hard-drinking, influential American writer. He was diagnosed in 1961 with the genetic disease hemochromatosis, which caused mental and physical deterioration, ultimately leading him to commit suicide that same year. His final words were spoken to his wife, Mary. They were: ‘Goodnight, my kitten.’

John F. Kennedy was the much-loved 35th President of the United States. He was murdered in 1963 in one of history’s most contentious assassination plots. JFK’s last words were: ‘No, you certainly can’t’, which he said in response to a remark made by the wife of then-Governor John Connelly: ‘You certainly cannot say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome, Mr. President.’

Charles Gussman was a writer and TV announcer. He wrote a number of successful radio serials and the pilot episode of Days of Our Lives. He died of failing at age eighty-seven. In his final moments, his daughter reminded him of his wish to depart with memorable last words. Gussman gently removed his oxygen mask and whispered: ‘And now for a final word from our sponsor …’

Thomas B. Moran was a pickpocket known by the nickname ‘Butterfingers’ because he could ‘slide in and out of a pocket like pure butter’. In his lifetime, Moran reportedly stole as many as 50,000 wallets. He died in Miami in 1971. His last words were: ‘I’ve never forgiven that smart-alecky reporter who named me Butterfingers. To me, it’s not funny.’


Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. He died of renal failure at age eighty in his Bel Air home. Hitchcock rejected the offer for a priest. His dying words were: ‘One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.’


Jack Soo was an actor on the TV series Barney Miller. The series featured a running gag where Soo’s character made crappy coffee. Soo himself went on to develop cancer of the oesophagus. When he was wheeled into an operating room, he joked to a co-star that: ‘It must have been the coffee.’ In a tribute episode, cast members raised their coffee cups in Soo’s memory.


Elvis Presley was a film star and rock music icon. He was plagued with health problems in his later life which, coupled with a punishing tour schedule and addiction to prescription medication, led to his premature death in 1977 at age forty-two. During a sleepless night, Presley told his wife that he was ‘going to the bathroom to read.’ It’s possible he meant the big bathroom in the sky.


One of the greatest warriors of all time, Alexander the Great was asked moments before his death who he thought should succeed him as commander of his empire. It was an appropriate question, as Alexander the Great had no heir. With his barely audible voice, the great fighter uttered these final words: ‘To the strongest’.
Last edited:

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. He died in 1827 after prolonged illness exacerbated by heavy drinking. His last recorded words were: ‘Pity, pity—too late!’ This was said in response to a gift of twelve bottles of wine from his publisher.


Derek Jarman was an English artist and filmmaker whose pop music videos and work as a gay rights activist were considered groundbreaking. He died in 1994 of an AIDS-related illness. His final words were: ‘I want the world to be filled with white fluffy duckies.’


James W. Rodgers was a convicted murderer. In 1960, he was put in front of a Utah firing squad and asked if he had a last request. His reply? A sarcastic: ‘Bring me a bullet-proof vest.’


James Donald French was a murderer who was convicted in the United States in 1966. He was later sentenced to be electrocuted after killing one of his cellmates. He pronounced these words to the members of the press who had come to witness his execution: ‘Hey fellas! How about this headline for tomorrow’s paper? French fries!


General John Sedgwick was a military officer and Union Army general in the American Civil War. He was the highest ranking Union casualty in the Civil War and was killed by a sharpshooter in 1864. His cocksure final words were: ‘They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist— …’


John Quincy Adams was an American statesman who served as the sixth president of the United States. His death was caused by a severe internal cerebral haemorrhage brought upon by a nasty fall. From his deathbed in 1848, he proclaimed these contented words: ‘This is the last of Earth! I am content!’


Salvador Allende was a celebrated politician and the first Marxist president of a Latin American country via open elections. He gave his last words in the presence of military forces who broke into the La Moneda Palace in 1973 attempting to declare coup d’etat.
It was this legendary speech: ‘These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice and treason.’ He then shocked everyone by withdrawing his gun and shooting himself in the head.


Herman Melville was a writer from the American Renaissance Period. He wrote the famous Moby-Dick. Melville died of cardiac dilation in his New York home in 1891. His last words were a reference to his then-unpublished novel Billy Budd, which was on his desk waiting to be discovered. He said: ‘God bless Captain Vere!’
Last edited:

Henry Ward Beecher was an American Congregationalist clergyman and social reformer. He died in 1887 from a stroke. His last words were: ‘Now comes the mystery.’


Saki is the penname of British writer Hector Hugh Munro. He was an intrepid officer who fought during the First World War. Saki’s final words – ‘Put out the bloody cigarette!’ – were spoken to his co-officer, fearing enemies might spot their cigarette smoke. Ironically, the German sniper who killed them only spotted them because of his exclamation.


Karl Marx was a German philosopher, sociologist and revolutionary socialist. He died in 1883 of bronchitis and pleurisy. In the moments before his passing, Marx’s housekeeper came in to record his last words for posterity. He told her to ‘Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!’


Alexander II was the emperor of Russia for twenty-six years during the 19th Century before he was assassinated in 1881. His guards found his mutilated body lying under the seat of his carriage following a bombing plot led by a group of anarchists. His feeble last words were: ‘Home to the palace to die …’


Barbara Graham was an American criminal and convicted murderer. Nicknamed ‘Bloody Babs’ by the media, Graham was the third woman in California to be executed by gas. Graham was executed in 1955 at San Quentin. Her last words were: ‘Good people are always so sure they’re right.’


James Brown is an American singer and ‘The Godfather of Soul’. He suffered congestive heart failure on Christmas morning of 2006, and died of pneumonia. He was reportedly in no mood to play his hit song ‘I Feel Good’. His last words were: ‘I’m going away tonight.’


Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly was an Australian bushranger of Irish descent. Some celebrate him as Australia’s equivalent of Robin Hood, while others think he’s a murderous villain who doesn’t deserve his folklore status. He was hanged at Melbourne Gaol in 1880. With his last words – ‘Such is life’ – Kelly appears to resign to his fate.


Dominique Bouhours was a legendary French grammarian with a razor-sharp wit. In 1902, the grammarian and neo-classic essayist uttered his final words before his loved ones, demonstrating his impeccable grasp of language even in the face of near-death frailty. His dying words were: ‘I am about to – or I am going to – die. Either expression is correct.’


Nostradamus was a reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. On the day of his death, Nostradamus was working on a quatrain about the end of the world and, with his last words, he seemed to have predicted even his own death. ‘Tomorrow, I shall no longer be here.’


Oscar Wilde was an Irish author, poet and playwright. Today he is most famous for his one novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey, and for the circumstances surrounding his imprisonment. Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on November of 1900. Known for his dazzling wit, Wilde’s last words were: ‘Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.’


Voltaire was a famous French philosopher and scholar who was known for his wit and for attacking the Catholic Church. He died in 1778 of an illness which varies from report to report. He was asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan, and he replied with these last words: ‘This is no time to make new enemies.’


John Barrymore was a beloved American actor on stage, screen and radio. He developed a drinking problem that made him notorious to work with and later died from cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure, complicated by pneumonia. The last thing he said before dying was: ‘Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.’
Last edited: