“[Most] of us have an interest not only in death, but in how we confront our last moments on earth — if, of course, we are sufficiently prescient to believe we are taking our last breaths,” writes journalist Ray Robinson, author of Famous Last Words. As the final curtain lowers on the stage of their lives, people utter last words that are sentimental, philosophical, sad, ironic, apologetic, humorous, or baffling. Robinson continues, “The beauty of some of these last words is that they may open a window through which we feel we can catch a glimpse, if only for a moment, of the entire life that preceded it.” Here are some selections from Robinson’s Famous Last Words:
Lady Astor: “Am I dying or is this my birthday?”
John Wilkes Booth: “Tell my mother I died for my country. I thought I did it for the best. Useless, useless…”
Emily Jane Bronte: “If you will send for a doctor, I will see him now.”
Bing Crosby: “That was a great game of golf, fellers.”
Thomas Edison: “It’s very beautiful over there.”
Douglas Fairbanks: “I’ve never felt better.”
Mati Hari: “Death is nothing, nor life either, for that matter. To die, to sleep, to pass into nothingness, what does it matter? Everything is an illusion.”
John Maynard Keynes: “I wish I had drunk more champagne.”
Pablo Picasso: “Drink to me!”
Pancho Villa: “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”
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