Famous Last Words And The People Who Spoke Them

Joseph Wright

“Famous last words.” We’ve all heard that phrase before. Our notes say that the phrase refers to something said that proves wrong or inappropriate, or it might be a phrase used to express disbelief, rejection, or self-deprecation. It can also serve as a somewhat ironic reference to the final deathbed utterances of famous people—which are often full of legend and conflicting stories. This is Joseph Wright, who edited the English Dialect Dictionary. It's reported that his last word was, predictably, “Dictionary.” We like that one.


There are multiple stories about Beethoven’s now-famous last words. One report said he stated “I will hear in Heaven.” Another report attributed “Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est" to the famed composer ("Applaud, friends, the comedy is finished"). And yet another story says someone brought him a dozen bottles of wine, to which he replied “Pity, pity, too late.”


The prognosticator was famous for his wild predictions. His last words were, reportedly, “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here.” Whether he said it or not, he would have been right.

Buddy Rich

The famous American jazz drummer died after going into surgery in 1987. As he was being prepped for the surgery, he was reportedly asked “Is there anything you can’t take?” (meaning any type of medication). He replied, “Yeah, country music.”

Terry Kath

Guitarist Terry Kath of the band Chicago died of an accidental gunshot wound to the head in January of 1978. He thought the gun was empty, but there was still a round in the chamber. “Don’t worry,” Kath said. “It’s not loaded.” He was wrong, making these famous last words a true and terrible combination what famous last words can represent.

Steve Jobs

It's said that the Apple co-founder said before he passed away, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.”

Joe DiMaggio

Joltin’ Joe said as he died from lung cancer in 1999, “I finally get to see Marilyn.” The Yankee Clipper was referring to his wife Marilyn Monroe, who had died in 1962.

Michael Landon

The star of shows like Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven died of cancer in 1991. He said to his gathered family, “You’re right. It’s time. I love you all.”

John Lennon

In December 1980, the once-Beatle was shot outside his apartment in New York City, by Mark David Chapman. He said simply, “I’m shot.”

Princess Diana

Princess Diana of Wales died in a terrible August 1997 car crash, having been pursued by numerous paparazzi. She was said to have asked, “My God. What’s happened?” before she died.

Moe Berg

Baseball player Morris “Moe” Berg uttered the last words, “How did the Mets do today?” For the record, on May 29th, 1972 they beat the Cardinals 7-6.

Humphrey Bogart

One source states that as his wife Lauren Bacall left their house to go pick up their kids, equally legendary actor Humphrey Bogart said, “Goodbye, kid. Hurry back.” Another report says that Bogart said this right before he died: “I should never have switched from Scotch to martinis.”

Pete Maravich

The college and NBA basketball star nicknamed “Pistol” collapsed and died on the court of a pickup game. His last words as reported at the time were “I feel great.”

Groucho Marx

When famed comic Groucho Marx was dying, he is said to have uttered “This is no way to live!” With his sense of humor well understood, we wonder if he hoped to have someone standing by with a rimshot for that one.

Jimmy Stewart

The legendary actor said “I’m going to be with Gloria now.” He was referring to his wife of 44 years, who had passed away three years previously.

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