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Famous Last Words from 18 Iconic People

Updated: Jan. 24, 2023

These folks had it all figured out

Female hand signing business papers. Close-up of woman signing document. Here's the final word. Point of no return
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Famous last words

There’s something powerful about reading famous last words. These celebrities were well-known and successful in life as writers, politicians, artists and more. But though they have legacies that are larger than life, the one thing they all share—and that everybody eventually shares—is death. What do you say to sum up a life well-lived? Some choose funny last words. Others are more serious, or even obscure: Princess Diana’s last words were tragic, while Steve Jobs’s last words are debated. Like reading “life is short” quotes or life quotes filled with wisdom, famous last words remind us that life is, indeed, short and we have to make the most of our time.

These famous people made sure to make one more lasting impression on the world before they left it. Read on to learn the memorable last words of these 18 iconic people.

Stephen Hawking symposium
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Stephen Hawking

“Let us work together to make that future a place we want to visit. Be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done.” —Stephen Hawking, physicist, who died March 14, 2018. These lines are the end of a message that Hawking recorded that was beamed into the nearest black hole after his death. Read these Stephen Hawking quotes for more profound views on the universe.

Whitman And Brown Attend Womens Conference 2010
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, on Sept. 18, 2020. Before you catch the late justice on a new 2023 stamp, read about the ways Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made history.

George Orwell
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George Orwell

“At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” —George Orwell, writer, on Jan. 21, 1950. He died at age 46 of tuberculosis. It’s only fitting that the writer of some of the world’s best books had famous last words.

William Henry Seward

William Henry Seward

“Nothing, only ‘love one another.'” —William Henry Seward, U.S. Secretary of State, on Oct. 10, 1872. These love quotes are a good place to start!

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” —Leonardo da Vinci, artist, on May 2, 1519.

Donald O'Connor

Donald O’Connor

“I’d like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get.” —Donald O’Connor, performer, on Sept. 27, 2003. Read up on these moving quotes about peace from world leaders.

Dominique Bouhours

Dominique Bouhours

“I am about to—or I am going to—die. Either expression is correct.” —Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian and essayist, on May 27, 1702. Read more word-nerd one-liners with these best grammar jokes of all time.

Edward Abbey Book
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Edward Paul Abbey

“No comment.” —Edward Paul Abbey, American naturalist and writer, on March 14, 1989. When the famously prickly conservationist was asked if he had a final message, this was his sarcastic response. The famous last words are reportedly inscribed on his tombstone, which is well hidden in the desert. Next, read the last thing JFK said to Jackie before he died.

Washington Senators Catcher Moe Berg
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Moe Berg

“How did the Mets do today?” —Morris (Moe) Berg, baseball player, on May 29, 1972. Check out these confidence-boosting quotes from amazing women in history.

William Saroyan Reading Newspaper
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William Saroyan

“Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?” —William Saroyan, American novelist, on May 18, 1981. Here are some of the best book quotes from our favorite books.

The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's (GLAZA) 45th Annual Beastly Ball
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Betty White

“Allen.” —Betty White, comedian, Dec. 31, 2021. The famously funny woman used her last breath to call out for her husband, Allen Ludden. The two were married from 1963 until Allen’s death in 1981.


Raphael Sanzio da Urbino

“Happy.” —Raphael, Italian Renaissance artist, April 6, 1520. Here’s the last thing James Dean said before his infamous car crash.

Leonard Nimoy
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Leonard Nimoy

“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP [live long and prosper].” —Leonard Nimoy, actor, in his final tweet. He died on Feb. 27, 2015. Learn about these famous movie quotes that everyone gets wrong.

Vic Morrow

Vic Morrow

“I’ve got to be crazy to do this shot. I should have asked for a stunt double!” —Vic Morrow, American actor, on July 23, 1982. The actor said these tragic famous last words before shooting a scene for a movie adaptation of The Twilight Zone. During the shoot, a terrible helicopter accident claimed the lives of Morrow and two child actors on set.


Bat Masterson

“We all get the same amount of ice. The rich get it in the summer. The poor get it in the winter.” —Bat Masterson, lawman and journalist, on Oct. 25, 1921.

Billie Holiday
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Billie Holiday

“Don’t be in such a hurry.” —Billie Holiday, musical artist, on July 17, 1959. Don’t miss these moving quotes that will inspire you to dream big.


Ian Fleming

“I am sorry to trouble you chaps. I don’t know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days.” —Ian Fleming, English author, on Aug. 12, 1964. The James Bond author said these famous last words to his ambulance drivers in Canterbury, England.

W.c Fields

W.C. Fields

“I’m looking for loopholes.” —W.C. Fields, comedian, when asked why he was reading the Bible on his deathbed. He died on Dec. 25, 1946. For more quotes that will inspire you to live your best life, check out these uplifting quotes that will stay with you.