People are often fascinated by the concept of last words – especially when they come from beloved celebrities or well respected figures. Yet while sometimes folks manage to achieve the improbable and go out with perfectly timed quips, more often than not the final words of dying people are simple, sad and relatable. So these 40 last utterances – including those from Princess Diana, Farrah Fawcett and Robin Williams – may even make you consider your own mortality. After all, everyone’s gotta go sometime.
40. Steve Jobs
Many malicious rumors have been spread about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ final words. It’s a total fabrication, for instance, that he left behind a “deathbed essay” stating that “non-stop pursuit of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being just like me.” In truth, as his sister Mona stated in a eulogy that was published in The New York Times in October 2011, Jobs’ last words were, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
39. John Adams
The last words of former U.S. president John Adams were recorded in a journal by his son. The younger Adams wrote, “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.” This was a reference to Adams and Jefferson being the only remaining original American revolutionaries still alive at the time. Alas, Adams turned out to be incorrect: Jefferson and Adams both passed away on July 4, 1826. This also happened to be exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence came into being.
38. Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain tragically took his own life in April 1994. And in the Nirvana frontman’s suicide note, he concluded, “I don’t have the passion anymore. And so, remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.” That last part, incidentally, is a line from the Neil Young song “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black).” Yet Cobain also left a message for his wife and daughter, saying, “Please keep going, Courtney, for Frances. For her life, which will be so much happier without me. I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!”
37. James French
Murderer James French’s supposed last words are well known. Apparently, just before being executed via electric chair in 1966, French called out to gathered reporters, “How’s this for your headline? ‘French Fries.’” Yet while French did make that joke to a journalist in the days leading up to his death, they weren’t the convict’s actual final words. In fact, when asked by a prison warden if he had anything to say before his death, French answered, “Everything’s already been said.”
36. Bob Marley
Music legend Bob Marley discovered a malignant melanoma on his toe in 1977, and before long the cancer spread to the rest of his body. The reggae star then tried to fly home to Jamaica, but it turned out that he was too ill to travel. Instead, Marley passed away at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami on May 11, 1981, at the age of 36. His then 12-year-old son, Ziggy, heard his last statement: “Money can’t buy life.”
35. James Dean
There’s an urban legend surrounding James Dean’s car crash death. Yes, the story goes that his Porsche Spyder, which was nicknamed “Little Bastard,” was actually cursed. But whether riding in a cursed car or not, Dean definitely met his end in that vehicle when it smashed into a Ford Coupe on September 30, 1955. And according to passenger Rolf Wütherich, Dean’s last words were fairly mundane. Just before the crash, the star apparently said of the Coupe’s driver, “That guy’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.”
34. Franklin D. Roosevelt
While Franklin Delano Roosevelt remains the longest serving president of the United States – taking office between 1932 and 1945 – he suffered from a number of serious health problems. The former president had high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, for example, in a time when both of those ailments could not be effectively treated. However, it was a brain haemorrhage that ultimately killed Roosevelt in April 1945 – not long after he had announced, “I have a terrific headache.”
33. James Brown
Godfather of Soul James Brown died of heart failure on Christmas Day in 2006. His manager, Charles Bobbit, was with him at the time, and Bobbit later informed the media of Brown’s last words: “I’m going away tonight.” The musical legend was seemingly correct, too. After all, according to Bobbit, Brown subsequently gave three sighs and then died as a result of congestive heart failure.
32. Humphrey Bogart
For a long time, the last words to be attributed to Humphrey Bogart were, “I should have never switched from scotch to martinis.” It seems, however, that the screen icon almost certainly didn’t make that wisecrack in his final moments. Instead, while dying of throat cancer, Bogart reportedly told his wife, Lauren Bacall, “Goodbye, kid. Hurry back.” This came just before she left to pick up their children from school.
31. Adam Faith
In March 2003 British singer Adam Faith died of a heart attack at the North Staffordshire Hospital in England. Apparently, though, the star didn’t think much of what the facility’s TV had to offer. As has been reported, Faith’s last words were said to have been, “Channel 5 is all s**t, isn’t it? Christ, the crap they put on there. It’s a waste of space.”
30. Michael Jackson
After Michael Jackson died of drug intoxication in 2009, Dr. Conrad Murray went on trial for involuntary manslaughter. Yet before his eventual conviction in 2011, Murray revealed in a documentary Jackson’s last words. Reportedly, Jackson had said, “Let me have some milk.” The “milk” in question had been propofol – a general anesthetic that was ruled to have caused the star’s death.
29. Vic Morrow
Along with young actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, Vic Morrow died after a preventable accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. He and the children had been filming a scene with a helicopter when the aircraft plunged to the ground – killing all three of the stars. And according to fellow actor Dick Peabody, Morrow’s last words had been, “I’ve got to be crazy to do this shot. I should’ve asked for a double.” It later transpired that many corners had been cut and many laws disobeyed with regards to on-set safety.
28. Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio had a complex relationship with Marilyn Monroe – to whom he had briefly been married. He allegedly abused her, in fact, and when Monroe filed for divorce – just nine months after the wedding – it was on the grounds of “mental cruelty.” Yet DiMaggio remained devoted to Monroe even after she died in 1962. For instance, he sent roses to her grave thrice weekly for nigh on two decades. And if the baseball star’s lawyer, Morris Engelberg, is to be believed, DiMaggio’s touching last words were, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”
27. John Barrymore
Stage and screen actor John Barrymore has had some fantastic last words attributed to him. According to popular lore, he said not long before his passing, “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.” However, biographer and friend Gene Fowler has claimed otherwise. Instead, it seems that Barrymore’s actual last words were to his brother, with the silent film star apparently saying, “You heard me, Mike.”
26. Terry Kath
Chicago’s lead singer, Terry Kath, died due to misadventure in 1978. In fact, the 33-year-old was at a party when he pulled out the pistol that he carried around with him and began playing with it. When a friend asked Kath to put the gun away, however, the star answered, “Don’t worry. It’s not loaded, see?” Then Kath put the weapon to his head, pulled the trigger and killed himself.
25. Chris Farley
Saturday Night Live star Chris Farley battled drug addiction for much of his life. Eventually, though, the fight became too much, and Farley died of an overdose at the age of 33 on December 18, 1997. Before Farley passed away, however, he seemingly paid for the services of a call girl. And she subsequently reported his last known words as, “Please don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.” It was a very sad ending for a very funny man.
24. Montgomery Clift
Montgomery Clift starred in the 1961 movie The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable – a fact he was reminded of in his final moments. Just before Clift died of a heart attack in July 1966, you see, nurse Lorenzo James asked him if he wanted to watch John Huston’s drama. Clift declared, “Absolutely not!” – and those turned out to be his last words.
23. John F. Kennedy
Just before he was fatally shot, President Kennedy was talking to first lady of Texas Nellie Connally as they rode through Dealey Plaza. And when Connally said, “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you,” Kennedy replied, “No, you certainly can’t.” Then, moments later, she saw him die from an assassin’s bullet – and American history was changed forever.
22. Marvin Gaye
In April 1984 Marvin Gaye was tragically murdered by his own father. After a heated argument between son and dad, in fact, the Motown legend told his mother, “I’m going to get my things and get out of this house. Father hates me, and I’m never coming back.” Then, moments later, Gaye received a fatal bullet to the heart. The next day, the soul singer would have turned 45.
21. Elvis Presley
Practically everyone knows that Elvis was found dead on the floor of his bathroom. Before that, however, Presley had told his girlfriend Ginger Alden, “I’m going to the bathroom to read.” And when Alden replied, “Don’t fall asleep in there,” he answered, “Okay, I won’t.” But while these were mundane final words, Elvis certainly hadn’t led a mundane life.
20. Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman was a famous theoretical physicist and a quite brilliant man – so it’s reasonable to assume that he had some profound thoughts on the nature of life and death. Yet when Feynman passed away of kidney failure in February 1988 at the age of just 69, he concluded, “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.”
19. Bob Hope
Famed comedian Bob Hope must have known that the end was coming for him, as he lived to be an impressive 100 years old. And the star’s grandson later reported that when Hope’s wife, Dolores, asked him on his deathbed where he would like to be buried, Hope had a characteristically witty response: “Surprise me.” In the end, in fact, Hope got an entire purpose-built memorial garden at L.A.’s San Fernando Mission Cemetery.
18. Marie Antoinette
The most famous quote associated with Marie Antoinette is “Let them eat cake” – even though there’s no evidence that she actually ever said it. Yet her final words before her execution are recorded in history as being “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur. Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès” – which translates to “Pardon me, sir. I did not do it on purpose” – after standing on her executioner’s foot.
17. Muhammad Ali
Reportedly, Muhammad Ali drew on his religion just before he died. According to his brother, Rahaman, the boxer’s last words were, “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.” He then asked, “Rahaman, how do I look?” – and these seem to have been his very final words.
16. John Wayne
It’s fair to say that John Wayne’s legacy has been somewhat tarnished over the years. In particular, the star’s controversial comments in a 1971 Playboy interview – in which Wayne stated, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility” – recently sparked a major online backlash. Yet despite these statements, Wayne did seem to love his half-Latino children. When his daughter Aissa asked him on his deathbed if he recognized her, for example, Wayne answered, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.” And those were his final words.
15. King George V
King George V – the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II – died in January 1936. And for a while, rumors persisted that his last words were “Bugger Bognor!” – a reference to the English seaside town where it had been suggested he stay after recovery. However, his actual last words were reportedly the much more noble-sounding, “How is the Empire?” Then, when his secretary assured him, “All is well, sir,” the King smiled and lost consciousness – never to awake.
14. Stan Laurel
Comedy genius Stan Laurel was cracking jokes right up until his death in 1965. Mere minutes before he passed away, in fact, he told a nurse that he would like to go skiing – to which she responded that she had never known that he was a skier. Then Laurel quipped, “I’m not. I’d rather be doing that than this!” It’s little surprise, then, that at Laurel’s funeral Buster Keaton labeled him as the funniest man to have ever lived.
13. Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby may have been internationally famous for singing, acting and comedy, but he was also a serious golfer. And, in fact, Crosby had just finished playing a round when he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the La Moraleja Golf Course in Madrid, Spain, on October 14, 1977. According to those who were there, too, Crosby’s last words were, “That was a great game of golf, fellas.”
12. Lucille Ball
I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball became a changed woman after her ex-husband, Desi Arnaz, passed away at the end of 1986. For although the couple had divorced in 1960, they had continued to stay on good terms until Arnaz’s passing. Ball in fact died less than three years later, on April 26, 1989. Her final words were delivered in a hospital bed. When someone had asked if she needed anything, Ball replied, “My Florida Water” – which was her favorite fragrance.
11. Ian Fleming
James Bond creator Ian Fleming showed an admirable stiff upper lip on his deathbed. On August 12, 1964, the 56-year-old suffered a heart attack and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. And his last words were a typically polite British apology to the ambulance drivers. Reportedly, Fleming 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.”
10. Groucho Marx
The last words often attributed to Groucho Marx are “Die, my dear? Why, that’s the last thing I’ll do!” But while that remark would have been a very fitting parting shot from a comedian, not everyone is convinced that those were his final words. Other sources even have Marx claiming, “This is no way to live” – a more bittersweet but still darkly funny comment.
9. Keith Moon
Keith Moon of The Who may have been a force of nature as a drummer, but he also had a self-destructive streak. On September 7, 1978, for instance, he went out with Paul and Linda McCartney and then returned home with his girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax. Then Moon later asked Walter-Lax to make him a meal, and when she refused he said, “If you don’t like it, you can f**k off!” Those would be the rock legend’s final words, too, as Walter-Lax found him dead of a drug overdose the following day.
8. Debbie Reynolds
Tragically, actress Debbie Reynolds passed away just hours after the death of her daughter, Star Wars star Carrie Fisher. And according to her surviving child, Todd Fisher, the grief was simply too much to take. After the 84-year-old’s death was confirmed on December 29, 2016, Fisher informed the media outside the hospital, “[My mom] said, ‘I want to be with Carrie,’ and then she was gone.”
7. Dimebag Darrell
Darrell Abbott, known in the music scene as “Dimebag” Darrell, was murdered in 2004 by a crazed fan while performing on stage with heavy metal supergroup Damageplan in Ohio. The rock star’s last words were “Van Halen!” – the name he would always say to his brother and co-performer to remind them to rock out during the gig. In the end, too, Eddie Van Halen actually attended Abbott’s funeral and gifted his famous “Bumblebee” guitar to be buried alongside his fallen peer.
6. Diana, Princess of Wales
In 1997 Princess Diana died in a heavily publicized car crash in Paris. It would take 20 years, however, for a French firefighter to reveal to The Sun that he’d heard her last words. These were, reportedly, “My God, what’s happened?” Diana’s sons, William and Harry, have also spoken about her last phone call to them – but have never actually disclosed what she said.
5. Karl Marx
Karl Marx was not one of the Marx Brothers; he was a German revolutionary and famous socialist. But it turned out that this Marx could be pretty funny too. Just before he passed away in March 1883, you see, Marx was asked if he had anything final to say. His response to that question? “Go away! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!”
4. Steve Irwin
Wildlife expert and popular personality Steve Irwin was killed in a freak stingray attack off the coast of Queensland, Australia, on September 4, 2006. Justin Lyons was a witness to Irwin’s death, and in 2014 the cameraman told Australian TV programme Studio 10 the details of the star’s last moments. He revealed, “He calmly looked up at me and said, ‘I’m dying.’ And that was the last thing he said… those were his final words.”
3. Farrah Fawcett
Actress Farrah Fawcett died of cancer aged 62 in 2009, and her last words were for her son, Redmond. He had been in and out of prison on charges of drug possession and attempted murder, among other things. And Fawcett’s friend Mela Murphy wrote for People that year, revealing, “[Fawcett] was saying his name, ‘Redmond.’ That was the last thing she said… 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.”
2. Robert F. Kennedy
As anyone with even a passing interest in U.S. history knows, Robert Kennedy tragically met the same fate as his brother John. In June 1968, in fact, Kennedy had just won the California primary – putting him on the path to the presidency. But before he could get any further in the race, Kennedy was shot and killed by Sirhan Sirhan. And immediately after the up-and-coming political star received his fatal wound, he asked, “Is everyone okay?” However, his final words were, “Don’t lift me,” as a medical attendant raised him onto a stretcher.
1. Robin Williams
When beloved actor Robin Williams took his own life in 2014, it came as a shock to many. His wife, Susan, had borne the brunt of his devastating struggle with Lewy body disease, however, and she revealed details of her husband’s battle in a 2016 piece for Neurology. That article also saw Susan reflect on her late spouse’s last night. She said, “When we retired for sleep, in our customary way, my husband said to me, “Goodnight, my love”… His words still echo through my heart today.”