Last Words of the Famous

Everybody dies at the end. Even the stars—unless you believe in reincarnation, then there’s a potential chance for a sequel. It’s just the way life in this world is set up. In the famous words of Jim Morrison, “No one here gets out alive.” Famous words, sure enough. But those were not his last.

gettyimages-55653323-copyWhat exactly were Morrison’s last uttered words? Well, if his girlfriend Pamela Courson is to be believed, Jim’s final words were, allegedly, “Are you there, Pam? Pam, are you there?” She found him dead in the bathtub a short while later.

Final words, as heard by those who claim to have been there at the end, can be humorous or sad or startling or even eye-opening. They may give comfort to loved ones left behind or pause for thought to fans who never knew the deceased as anything other than a star.

Here is a selection of last words uttered by famous people as they slipped the surly bonds of earth.

gettyimages-515986080James Dean, actor, two-time Oscar nominee, as he drove a silver Porsche Spyder on his way to a race in Salinas, California: “That guy’s gotta stop . . . He’ll see us.” Unfortunately, the guy in question, a 23-year-old student named Donald Turnupseed, did not see the car in time and turned directly into its path. According to Dean’s passenger, mechanic Rolf Wutherich, Dean survived for about twenty minutes following the wreck, screaming in agony.

Legendary actress Joan Crawford left this world an angry and bitter soul. As Crawford’s life drew to its conclusion, her housekeeper began to pray aloud for the woman’s soul. Before breathing her last, Crawford is reported to have snapped, “Dammit . . . Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”

Actor, comedian, and musician Dudley Moore’s final words seem to suggest an experience of sorts. As companion Rena Fruchter held his hand, Moore allegedly said aloud, “I can hear the music all around me.”

Hollywood legend John Wayne spent his last days drifting in and out of consciousness. His daughter, Aissa Wayne, tending a bedside vigil, held his hand and asked if he knew who she was. The Duke responded, saying, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”

In the humorous category, author Oscar Wilde, lying on his deathbed in a fleabag hotel in Paris, is reported to have uttered, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”

Family members at the bedside of Apple founder Steve Jobs say his dying words were, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.” Simple words, really, for such a momentous occasion.

Frank Sinatra passed away after saying, “I’m losing it.”

American rhythm and blues singer Johnny Ace, while playing with a pistol, utter these final words: “I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, passed away at the age of 71 while working in his garden. He turned to his wife and said, “You are wonderful,” then clutched his chest and died.

MV5BMzEyNjQzOTQ5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzY5MjI2._V1_UX178_CR0,0,178,264_AL_Michael Landon, the beloved star of such classic television shows like Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, passed away in 1991 after a much-publicized battle with cancer. As the end drew near, Landon’s family gathered around the actor’s bed. His son said it was time to move on. Landon said, “You’re right. It’s time. I love you all.”

Percy Grainger, the Australian composer, with his dying breath, told his wife Ella, “You’re the only one I like.”

Ernest Hemingway, before committing suicide with his favorite shotgun, told his wife Mary, “Goodnight, my kitten.” Hemingway took his life in the front foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

Basketball great “Pistol” Pete Maravich collapsed and died during a pickup game. Moments before his death, Maravich proclaimed, “I feel great.”

Singer/guitarist Bo Diddley died while listening to the song “Walk Around Heaven.” His last word was a simple “Wow.”

Sir Winston Churchill announced, “I’m bored with it all,” before drawing his last breath.

Emily Dickinson, at her moment of death, told those in the room with her, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”

Author Truman Capote, as he lay dying of liver disease, phlebitis, and multiple drug intoxication, repeated, “Mama— Mama— Mama.”

James Brown, the hardest working man in show business, as his life dwindled down to mere seconds, said, “I’m going away tonight.”

Perhaps the most thought-provoking final word comes from the surgeon Joseph Henry Green. Upon checking his own pulse as he lay upon his death bed, simply said, “Stopped.”

Whether we’re famous or anonymous, we can’t know what our last words in this world might be. That moment may come along while we’re busy preparing for tomorrow. The Bible tells us to never let the sun go down on your anger. Wise words, those. As for my own last words? Whatever they may be, I just hope they convey a message of love, of gratitude, of forgiveness.

31 thoughts on “Last Words of the Famous

  1. Verwayne Greenhoe

    Thank you, Beem. I enjoyed reading that. As a longtime paramedic and then ER nurse, I had the ‘honor’ of being told or hearing the last words of far too many people, including those of my dear first wife, Judy. The last thing she told me was, ‘Never forget how much I love you.’

    The preacher turned comedian, Sam Kinison, was killed in a car accident on April 10th, 1992. Kinison reportedly said to no one in particular at the time: “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.”, then paused, asked, “But why?”, and after another pause said, “Okay, okay, okay.” A friend who was with him said, “Whatever voice was talking to him gave him the right answer, and he just relaxed with it.”

    It’s odd to listen to someone who knows that they are dying. Some people ‘go gently into that good night,’ while others’ rage against the dying of the light.’ I’ve held the hands of old grandmothers and strong, brave men as they went from one world to the next, and almost to a person, most sought the comfort that I could give them.

    I had one man who was broadsided in a highspeed accident. There were multiple patients to attend, but this man was hopelessly trapped in his 1974 Ford Maverick two-door, and he knew it. The rest of my crew took four other patients away in two different ambulances, but I stayed with the man in the Ford as a humanitarian act. I learned that his name was Michael, and we began to talk. If you think that talking to someone you bump into while waiting in line in McDonald’s, try talking to a man who has less than five minutes left in his life.

    We talked about his family as he gave me messages to give to his wife and their two adult children. I took careful notes to be true to his words. In his last two minutes, we talked about how nice the day had been and how bright the fall colors were becoming on that fall afternoon. He asked me if I had seen the double play that the (Detroit) Tigers had turned the night before, and we smiled for a moment. Then his breathing became more labored, and he thanked me for being there. I promised him that I would deliver his words, and as he began to struggle for breath, I whispered to him, “It’s alright, Michael. Just let go.” And he did. I still remember the look on his face as I felt his body go limp that I remember, lo these past forty-plus years. He was at peace. I hope to be as lucky.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Beem Weeks Post author

      Thank you for sharing those memories, Verwayne. I am highly familiar with Kinison, as he was a favorite comedian. It was his brother who was with him as he died. Kinison certainly had a conversation there at the side of the road that day. I should have added that here, but you just did, so thank you.

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  2. Gwen M. Plano

    Beautiful and thought-provoking, Beem. As you’ve already said, we don’t know what our last words will be, but we can hope that they will “convey a message of love, of gratitude, of forgiveness.” 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  3. Joan Hall

    Very thought-provoking post, Beem. As others have pointed out, we don’t know what our final words will be. I do hope mine will be ones of love, of hope, and like Gwen said, forgiveness. John made an excellent point about not letting the sun go down on our anger. I’d like to add never pass up an opportunity to tell someone you love them. None of us are promised tomorrow and we can’t afford to have someone remember our last words as those said in anger.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. D.L. Finn, Author

    What a thought provoking post, Beem 🙂 I’ve been moved and healed by words I’ve heard at the end. I hope like you to offer a message of love, gratitude, and forgiveness at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Jan Sikes

    What a wonderful and thought-provoking post, Beem. Thank you for sharing these final words from famous people. We don’t know exactly what lies beyond this earthly life, but the general consensus seems to be that it is more grand than we can imagine. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Miriam Hurdle

    Excellent post. I appreciated your last paragraph, Beem! One poem about my marriage I have in my poetry collection is:

    “I Love You”

    Hugging in the morning,
    kissing at night.
    Saying I love you before
    saying good night.
    Praying, that was not
    the last chance
    being together
    alive.

    The idea is not to be made at each other and not to let the sun go down on my anger, as it’s so easy to be upset with the one person in this empty nest.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. Mar

    What a beautiful post, Beem. Thank you for sharing the last words of so many talented people. It’s interesting to know where our minds are during those last moments. Like you, I hope my last words are of a positive and meaningful nature.

    Liked by 1 person

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