The famous last words of 6 famous people
From Einstein's final speech to Steve Jobs' last moments with his family, these are the parting thoughts of some of the last century's greatest icons.
From heroes, lovers, actors and poets to politicians, entrepreneurs and geniuses, the reported last moments of some of the world's most famous figures have ranged from the inspiring to the mundane. Below is just a small handful of the final words, both written and stated, that passed from a few of the great icons of the last century.
At 1:15 a.m. on the morning of April 18, 1955, Albert Einstein passed away in Princeton, N.J., from a ruptured aneurysm. The great theoretical physicist, aged 76, reportedly muttered a few sentences after midnight in German, but as his nurse only spoke English, the meaning was lost.
While we'll never know the last words Einstein spoke, we do know the very last words that he wrote. At the time of his death, the Princeton professor was working on a speech to deliver during a dinner in New York City marking the anniversary of the State of Israel. The unfinished pages, which were found at his bedside and are now held at the Albert Einstein Archives at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, were intended to address the need for world peace.
"Not one statesman in a position of responsibility has dared to pursue the only course that holds out any promise of peace..." he wrote. "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."
During Einstein's autopsy, the pathologist stole his brain. Fragments of it are now on display at a museum in Philadelphia.
Italian opera legend Luciano Pavarotti was not only one of the world's greatest tenors, but also a skilled chef. According to Ya'acov Mishori, former principal horn player of the Israel Philharmonic, Pavarotti whipped up an incredible bolognese sauce during a celebration after a 1979 concert in Tel Aviv.
"We were astonished because it was so good," Mishori said in an interview. "We asked him where he found the time to learn how to cook. He said, 'Cooking is like singing: If you have no talent for it, no teacher can help you. You must simply have talent, because it cannot be learned from books.'"
While in the middle of a grand farewell tour in July 2006, Pavarotti received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Despite valiantly battling the disease for over a year, he passed away at his home in Modena, Italy, on Sept. 6, 2007, at the age of 71. According to Terri Robson, Pavarotti's last words spoken to him were: "I believe that a life lived for music is an existence spent wonderfully, and this is what I have dedicated my life to."
Eugene O'Neill, best known for the dramas "The Iceman Cometh" and "Long Day's Journey into Night," passed away on Nov. 27, 1953, at the age of 65.
In addition to being the only American playwright to ever have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, O'Neill also stands as the only dramatist to have won four Pulitzer Prizes.
"With artists, and all the more so with great ones like O'Neill, you discover there is a shape to their lives," filmmaker Ric Burns told PBS. "In O'Neill's case, an amazing question mark arises over it. Here was a man who won three Pulitzer Prizes and a Nobel Prize, and then went on to write the plays for which he will be remembered."
Born in a hotel room in Times Square in 1888, O'Neill found himself dying in one 65 years later. According to those present at his deathbed, the irony of the situation did not escape him during his last words. "I knew it. I knew it," he reportedly whispered before passing. "Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room."
A widely recognized innovator of everything from the personal computer to that smartphone in your pocket, American entrepreneur Steve Jobs passed away on Oct. 5, 2011, at the age of 56.
"He had a lot of contradictions in his personality," American journalist Walter Isaacson, who crafted Jobs' biography, told the New York Times. "Connecting a counterculture, rebel, misfit sensibility with a business-like, engineering sensibility is part of what made him contradictory, but what also made him amazing. He approached all aspects of his life with these contradictions: his cancer, the products he made, his personal life."
In a eulogy a few weeks after his death, Jobs' sister Mona Simpson painted a touching picture of his last moments with his family.
"Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times," she shared. "Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve’s final words were: "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow."
One of Mexico's most influential and internationally famous painters, Frida Kahlo infused her haunting and colorful artwork with her own personal tragedies.
"Frida's artwork was an exorcism," American Julie Taymor, who directed the 2002 drama "Frida," said in an interview. "She survived by transforming her emotional and physical pain into art."
In 2005, Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes published a full-color reproduction of the illustrated diary Kahlo kept during the years 1944-54. The 296-page journal, which contains over 70 gorgeous illustrations, offers a personal account of both the highs and tragic lows of the artist's last years. The last entry, written just before her death, features a black angel and the words: "I joyfully await the exit – and I hope never to return – Frida."
Frida Kahlo passed away on July 13, 1954, at the age of 47. While the official cause of death was listed as a pulmonary embolism, no autopsy was ever performed. It's widely presumed, based on past suicide attempts, her last writings, and the large amount of pills she had taken the night before, that she took her own life.
Best known for his role in "Casablanca," considered one of the greatest cinematic productions of all time, Humphrey Bogart was an American screen actor who starred in more than 75 movies and dominated the film noir Hollywood scene of the 1940s.
"I think he was very serious about his work," Bogart's son Stephen told the Telegraph. "I think he liked to sit down and shoot the breeze with the guys. He was definitely a man’s man, but he treated women with respect. He didn’t have an entourage or a driver or any of that stuff. He was a normal, fun guy who happened to be an icon."
A heavy drinker and smoker, Bogart's health started failing in the mid-1950s. His doctors later diagnosed him with cancer of the esophagus, which eventually spread to other parts of his body. While his last words have widely been reported as "I should never have switched from scotch to martinis," this is likely untrue. Instead, according to Bogart's wife Lauren Bacall, the actor's last words to her were simply: "Goodbye kid. Hurry back."
He later slipped into a coma and passed away on January 14, 1957, at the age of 57.
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