The Heartbreaking Last Words of Famous People
A person’s final words can be clever and profound. However, many popular figures’ last words are just utterly tragic. Famous people like Lucille Ball and James Brown said their dying words while they were gravely ill. But other celebrities spoke their last lines before their unexpected death.
From Pocahontas to Robin Williams, here are the heartbreaking last words of 30 famous figures from history. Warning: Ugly crying may ensue.
Robin Williams’s third wife, Susan Schneider Williams, revealed her husband’s last words in an emotional ABC interview. As the couple was getting ready for bed, his final words were, "Goodnight, goodnight." Williams was known as one of the funniest men in the world, making everyone laugh until their bellies ached. He wowed audiences with his acting in films, like Good Will Hunting and Mrs. Doubtfire.
In 1997, Princess Diana died in a horrifying car accident. The event shocked more than just the United Kingdom; it shook the world. As an international icon, Diana was known for her activism and fashion. But she also gained popularity for her tumultuous marriage and divorce from Charles, the Prince of Wales.
Reggae legend, Bob Marley, created many unforgettable hits, including Is This Love and Turn Your Lights Down Low. While he was at the top of his career, Marley was diagnosed with a serious skin cancer called acral lentiginous melanoma in 1977. But Marley decided that the show must go on.
Before dying of natural causes, Conrad Hilton said, "Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub." Who was he speaking to? Maybe housekeeping. After all, Hilton was in the hotel business until his death. In fact, he founded the international hotel chain, Hilton Hotels, in 1919.
Hours before her death, Whitney Houston said, "I'm going to go and see Jesus." On Feb. 11, 2012, she was found unconscious in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The coroner’s office discovered Houston died from an accidental drowning.
Famously known as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson created many No. 1 hits, including Thriller, Billie Jean and Beat It. Many sources report that Jackson’s last words were, "I'd like to have some milk. Please, please give me some more." Jackson had been prescribed propofol due to insomnia. However, he became addicted to the drug, calling it "milk." Hours after taking a dose of propofol, Jackson died.
One of history’s most famous spies was Mata Hari. Before becoming a secret informer, Hari worked as an exotic dancer throughout Europe, where she gained relationships with high-ranking military officers and politicians. At the age of 40, Hari began spying for the French.
Before passing away in his sleep, James Brown’s dying words were, "I'm going away tonight." In December 2006, Brown arrived at a dentist appointment a few hours late, appearing weak and dazed. Brown had a history of working while ill. On the advice of his dentist, he went to the hospital for observation and treatment. Two days later, he passed away due to pneumonia.
Debbie Reynolds was a musical icon, who starred in Singin' in the Rain (1952). From 1998 to 2006, she shined in Disney’s Halloweentown series. Her acting career spanned for more than 70 years. She was also the mother of Carrie Fisher, a famous actress known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise.
"I'm shot. I'm shot," were John Lennon’s last words. In 1980, Lennon signed a copy of Double Fantasy for Mark David Chapman before going into a recording studio with his wife, Yoko Ono. Chapman waited for Lennon to finish the recording session and shot him while he exited the building.
Lucille Ball was a comedy queen, known for starring in I Love Lucy and for her bright red hair. The successful entertainer and businesswoman’s career spanned more than 50 years. She was so committed to making people laugh that she worked until her death in 1989.
Without Maya Angelou, we wouldn’t have the empowering poem, And Still I Rise, and the great novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Many classrooms use her works as part of the curriculum, even though critics of her work have tried to get them banned. Not only was Angelou a writer, but she was also a civil rights activist who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
"Music has been my doorway of perception and the house that I live in," was the last thing David Bowie said to his friend, Gary Oldman. During their final conversation together, Bowie described his music career to Oldman. Shortly after, Bowie died from liver cancer in 2016.
Reigned as the Queen of Tejano, Selena Quintanilla Perez was a singer, songwriter, model, actress and fashion designer. Her single, Como la Flor, was one of her most popular songs. Selena was a rising star until she was shot and killed in 1994 at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Fans swooned over Frank Sinatra’s sultry voice. Sinatra became one of the most popular and influential music artists of all time, with famous songs like New York, New York and My Way. He was also a successful film actor, appearing in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery and returned to save more slaves as an Underground Railroad conductor. She was also a civil rights activist, a suffragist and a spy for the Union Army. In other words, Tubman was a bonafide legend.
Elvis Presley, known as the King of Rock and Roll, produced many popular hits, like Hound Dog and Can’t Help Falling in Love. Many fans loved his music, but parents had a problem with his controversial dance moves. However, that didn’t dampen his star power because he became one of the biggest cultural icons of all time.
Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican artist, was known for her eye-catching eyebrows and intense self-portraits. Her work depicted Mexican folk art and her personal hardships. Throughout her career, she was considered a pivotal figure for Chicanos, the feminism movement and the LGBT movement. Kahlo died of bronchopneumonia in 1954. Her final artwork, the Angel of Death, came with her last written words. It said, "I hope this exit is joyful and I hope never to return."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement until his death in 1968. Using nonviolent activism tactics, King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and the 1962 struggle against segregation. He also delivered one of the most famous speeches in history: I Have a Dream.
Pocahontas was a real person, but she wasn’t like the princess in Disney’s cartoon film. She helped the colonists survive as they settled in Jamestown, Virginia. But we’ll never know if she actually saved John Smith from being clubbed to death by her father, Powhatan.
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in January 1948. He was shot at the Birla House in India, where witnesses can’t agree on his dying words. Some witnesses claim he repeated, "Ram, Ram" ("God, God"), while Gandhi’s personal assistant didn’t hear him say anything.
Anne Frank was a young Jewish victim of the Holocaust. She documented her life in a diary, while she and her family were in hiding from 1942 to 1944. However, she was arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where she died of typhus fever. According to a survivor from the camp, Frank’s last words were, "Irma, I am very sick."
"Brothers! Brothers, please! This is a house of peace!" were Malcolm X’s last words, according to most witnesses. However, some eyewitnesses believe his final words were, "Now, now, brothers, break it up, be cool, be calm." Malcolm X was trying to settle down a staged dispute.
In 1937, Betty Klenck was listening to the radio when she heard a terrifying SOS call from a distressed woman. The woman cried for help and repeated, "This is Amelia Earhart! Water’s knee deep!" At the time, Coast Guard officials thought that message was a hoax. However, in 2018, researchers believe the haunting transmission could be real.
The world would not be the same without Steve Jobs, the creator of the iPhone and MacBook. His biological parents were forbidden to be in a relationship by their families, so they gave him up for adoption. His biological mother, Carole Schieble, was hesitant to let Paul and Clara Jobs adopt him because they had no college education. She only allowed the Jobs family to adopt him under one condition: He must attend college.
Dubbed as the Princess of R&B, Aaliyah was one of the most adored singers in the 1990s and the 2000s. The singer appeared in the film, Romeo Must Die, with Jet Li, producing the single, Try Again, for the film’s soundtrack. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 solely on airplay, establishing Aaliyah as the first artist in Billboard history to do so.
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in California, winning a seat as a San Francisco supervisor in 1977. However, he only served for 11 months before another city supervisor assassinated him. During the last year of his life, Milk fought for more visibility for gay people and to help stop the discrimination and violence they faced.
Tupac Shakur’s murder remains unsolved. In September 1996, the rapper was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. After watching a boxing match with his Death Row Records boss, Suge Knight, Shakur got into a gang-related fight. Shortly after, he was gunned down.
Amy Winehouse’s bodyguard found her unresponsive at her Camden home. The toxicology report discovered that she had died from alcohol poisoning, with 416mg of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood in her system. Hours before her death, Winehouse told her doctor, "I don't want to die."
After trying to resolve an argument between his parents, Martin Gaye told his mother, "Mother, I’m going to get my things and get out of this house. Father hates me and I’m never coming back." However, Gaye’s father fatally shot him at their house in 1984.