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Famous Last Words

These are the final words of famous people at the moment of death, or just prior. The people quoted include poets, politicians, philosophers, presidents, scientists, actors, singers, musicians, composers, artists, comedians, nobles and royals ...

compiled by Michael R. Burch

The show must go on.—This saying may have originated with 19th century circus acts when animals got loose or performers were injured

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson: "Is it the Fourth? I resign my spirit to God, my daughter to my country."

John Adams: "Oh, yes, it is the glorious Fourth of July. It is a great day. It is a good day. God bless it. God bless you all ... Thomas Jefferson ... [This has been reported as the beginning of the sentence "Thomas Jefferson still survives," but that is speculation. Adams spoke these words at the approximate time of Jefferson's death.]

'Tis well.—George Washington

This is the last of Earth. I am content.—John Quincy Adams

As Abraham Lincoln was watching the play Our American Cousin on the night of his assassination at Ford's Theater, an actress called for a shawl to protect her from the draft. One of the actors ad-libbed a reply, "You are mistaken, Miss Mary, the draft has already been stopped by order of the President!" Lincoln shared his last laugh with the rest of the audience.

I have tried so hard to do right.—Grover Cleveland

Put out the light.—Theodore Roosevelt

Ronald Reagan's daughter Patti Davis said that his final communication was love, spoken with his eyes rather than his voice. "At the last moment, when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked straight at my mother. Eyes that hadn't opened for days did, and they weren't chalky or vague. They were clear and blue and full of love. If a death can be lovely, his was." His wife Nancy said to her husband that the expression was "the greatest gift you could have given me."

William Blake, the great English poet and artist, was a mystic who claimed to be able to see and communicate with angels. When his beloved brother Robert died, Blake described his released spirit ascending heavenward "clapping its hands for joy."

When William Blake died, his last words were to his wife Kate: "Stay, Kate! Keep just as you are—I will draw your portrait—for you have ever been an angel to me!"

More light!—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Oh Wow!!! Oh Wow!!! Oh Wow!!!—Steve Jobs
I still live.—Daniel Webster
It's very beautiful over there.—Thomas Edison
Beautiful!—Timothy Leary
Beautiful!—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning—the poet who wrote "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways ..."—died in her husband's arms. Robert Browning, also a poet, said that she died "smilingly, happily, and with a face like a girl's ... Her last word was ... ''Beautiful!"

Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I'm happy.—Ethel Barrymore
Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow.—Noel Coward
The taste of death is upon my lips; I feel something that is not of this earth.—Mozart
Friends applaud, the comedy is over.—Ludwig van Beethoven
Drink to me!—Pablo Picasso
Josephine!—Napoleon Bonaparte
I finally get to see Marilyn.—Joe DiMaggio
Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to Jack and say goodbye to yourself, because you're a nice guy.—Marilyn Monroe, to Peter Lawford (Pat was his wife Pat Kennedy; Jack was JFK)
I hope I haven't bored you.—Elvis Presley, concluding what would be his last press conference
My God. What's happened?—Diana, Princess of Wales
Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight.—George Gordon, Lord Byron
I'm bored with it all.—Winston Churchill
Now comes the mystery.—Henry Ward Beecher
Don't disturb my equations!—Archimedes 
Dying is easy, comedy is hard.—George Bernard Shaw 
Bring down the curtain, the farce is played out.—Francois Rabelais
It's better to burn out than to fade away. Peace, Love, Empathy.—Kurt Cobain, quoting Neil Young
I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it.—Errol Flynn
I am about to—or I am going to—die: either expression is correct.—Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian
Die, my dear? Why that's the last thing I'll do!—Groucho Marx 
I am not the least afraid to die.—Charles Darwin
I must go in, the fog is rising.—Emily Dickinson
Does nobody understand?—James Joyce, whose writing was famously difficult to understand
I'm going to sharpen the axe before I put it up, dear.—E. E. Cummings, who died while working on his beloved Joy Farm
Goodbye, if we meet ...—Mark Twain to his daughter Clara
On the contrary!—Henrik Ibsen, when his nurse said he was doing a little better
It's been a long time since I've had champagne.—Anton Chekhov
Strike, man, strike!—Sir Walter Raleigh to his executioner
Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.—Oscar Wilde
Curtain! Fast music! Light! Ready for the last finale! Great! The show looks good, the show looks good!—Florenz Ziegfeld
Do you hear the rain? Do you hear the rain? —Jessica Dubroff, seven-year-old pilot, shortly before her plane crashed
Adieu, mes amis. Je vais la gloire. (Farewell, my friends! I go to glory!)—Isadora Duncan
God will forgive me. That is his profession.—Heinrich Heine
I'm looking for loopholes.—W. C. Fields, when asked why he was reading a Bible (perhaps apocryphal)
I'm going over the valley.—Babe Ruth
Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal?—Louis XIV
Win one for the Gipper!—George Gipp
I've had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's the record!—Dylan Thomas
One last drink, please.—Jack Daniel
Cool it, brothers.—Malcolm X
Love one another.—George Harrison
Don't mourn for me. Organize!—Joe Hill 
Come on! Take action! Let's go!—Sitting Bull
Are you guys ready? Let's roll.—Todd Beamer, United Flight 93, September 11, 2001
That’s a good one, and tomorrow I shall be telling it on the Golden Floor.—A.E. Housman, after his doctor told a risqué joke
Et tu, Brute?—Gaius Julius Caesar, upon being stabbed by his friend Brutus
Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies.—Voltaire,  on his deathbed, when asked by a priest to renounce Satan
I am curious to see what happens in the next world to one who dies unshriven.—Pietro Perugino, refusing the last rites

I lingered around them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.—Emily Bronte

In essence, the conflict that exists today is no more than an old-style struggle for power, once again presented to mankind in semi-religious trappings. The difference is that, this time, the development of atomic power has imbued the struggle with a ghostly character; for both parties know and admit that, should the quarrel deteriorate into actual war, mankind is doomed. Despite this knowledge, statesmen in responsible positions on both sides continue to employ the well-known technique of seeking to intimidate and demoralize the opponent by marshaling superior military strength. They do so even though such a policy entails the risk of war and doom. Not one statesman in a position of responsibility has dared to pursue the only course that holds out any promise of peace, the course of supranational security, since for a statesman to follow such a course would be tantamount to political suicide. Political passions, once they have been fanned into flame, exact their victims ... Citater fra ... —Albert Einstein

When all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one.—Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in a suicide note

Related pages: Famous Courtesans, Famous Hustlers, Famous Ingénues, Famous Rogues, Famous Heretics, Famous Pool Sharks, Famous Beauties, Famous Last Words, Famous Insults, Famous Morons, The Dumbest Things Ever Said

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