Haunting Last Words Of Celebrities

Correction 08/08/22: A previous version of this article stated that Frank Sinatra's last words were "I'm losing it." His last words were "I'm losing," not "I'm losing it."

Some celebrities exit the stage for the last time with parting lines worthy of their memorable careers. Take the last words of Albert Einstein, who said, according to History Info, "I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly." (In fact he muttered a few more words as he passed away, but they were whispered in his native tongue of German, a language his nurse did not speak.)

And then on the other hand, there are celebrities whose last words are downright haunting. Perhaps there is something those close to death come to see or learn that those of us with both feet still in the living world miss. In some cases the haunting words spoken by moribund celebrities were calls for help from those hoping to stick around. In other cases, they are pure mystery that will remain unclear. In all cases, they are pretty unsettling, these famous celebrity last words.

The following article mentions addiction, mental health issues, and suicide.

Frank Sinatra

Old Blue Eyes, Francis Albert Sinatra, had a truly stunning career both in the scope of his achievements and the length of his time in the limelight. He began performing music as a teenager and by his mid-20s was starting to attract attention from far and wide, becoming a sensation during the war years in the 1940s and launching a career trajectory that, with minor slumps aside, would not truly settle until his health began to fail him in the 1990s.

At the very end of his long and storied life, however, Sinatra's last words were few. Lying weak and ailing in a Los Angeles hospital bed, his body failing after a heart attack — one of several the 82-year-old had suffered by the date of his death, May 14, 1998 — Sinatra said, "I'm losing" (via CNN).

And soon enough, so he did. Sinatra lost consciousness and died shortly after speaking these words, showing a prescience about his impending death that is entirely haunting when viewed through one lens, but may actually be seen as comforting by others. At least Sinatra seems to have known his part was played to the end and done.

Steve Jobs

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was not a celebrity in the traditional sense — at least not at the start of his career. Before the 2000s, Jobs was better defined as a tech entrepreneur and businessman, and he remained those things to the end of his life — a life cut short in October 2011 by a virulent form of pancreatic cancer. But in the last decade or so of his life, as Jobs presided over Apple's rolling out of products like the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and ever-improved versions of the beloved Macintosh computers, he crossed the line from techie business guy to a celebrity with an almost cult-like following.

Clad in a simple black turtleneck shirt, Jobs could command the attention of hundreds or even thousands of spectators gathered in auditoriums — and many more watching remotely from afar — as he touted this or that latest piece of hardware and explained the implications it had for the world beyond. When death came for Jobs, it seems rather as though he were looking into a world beyond, as well.

Contrary to a rumor that went around the web a few years after Jobs died, his last words were decidedly not a diatribe against wealth and materialism. That was pure online apocrypha. According to USA Today, Jobs' last words, as heard by relatives, were, "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow ..."

James Brown

Brown was 73 when he died, which, while hardly young, is a good decade less of life than many men can expect in modern America. However, most men don't spend decades of their lives pouring every ounce of energy (and sweat) they have into music performed live before countless fans, and don't spend many long years misusing many different drugs, either. In the end, Brown's heart had simply been put through too much to keep on beating along. For a frame of reference, despite being weak, confused, and near death in the final days of 2006, Brown was scheduled to play a New Year's Eve show.

On the morning of December 25, 2006 (yes, Christmas morning), Brown suffered congestive heart failure and, according to TV Guide, managed to gasp the words, "I'm going away tonight," to his longtime friend and manager, Charles Bobbit. Bobbit initially didn't believe Brown was in any real danger but quickly realized the severity of the situation when Brown slipped into unconsciousness, took a few more breaths, and then died.

John Belushi

Looking back on the life and death of John Belushi, the latter of which occurred on March 5, 1982, it's hard to believe the actor and comedian was just 33 years old when he died. That's true partly because of how much Belushi accomplished in such a short life, from never-to-be-forgotten roles in movies like "The Blues Brothers" and "Animal House" to his many classic roles on "Saturday Night Live," in which he was one of the original seven cast members. It's also true because, candidly, by the time of his death, Belushi looked much older than his 33 years.

More than a decade of hard drug use and a generally unhealthy lifestyle had wreaked havoc on the actor's body, and he looked to be a good decade older than he actually was by the last days of his life. His actual death came as a result of a drug overdose after he was injected with a so-called "speedball," a mixture of heroin and cocaine. His friend and drug dealer, Catherine Smith, is the one who injected the narcotics into Belushi, and, according to Phrases, it was she who heard his last words: "Just don't leave me alone."

Smith did leave him alone, though, and would later serve time for manslaughter for the actor's death. 

Princess Diana

Despite becoming a real-life princess, the life story of Diana, princess of Wales, was anything but a happily ever after tale. Instead, it was a life that commenced with an unhappy childhood in a broken home when she was just 7 years old, and one in which she was rejected by much of her new family after marriage (that's the British Royal Family, to be clear). It was a life in which a husband's affair led to a painfully public divorce, and a life cut short by tragedy.

Unbeknownst to many, Diana did not die immediately following the tragic car crash caused by — and then quickly documented by — paparazzi who were tailing her car. In the immediate aftermath of the car crash, Diana reportedly had time to look about and, in confusion, say, "My god, what happened?" as she saw the lifeless bodies of two other passengers in the vehicle, according to Oprah Daily. She then lost consciousness and quickly succumbed to death. 

The specific cause of Princess Diana's death was a tear to a vein in the lungs caused by the trauma of the crash, doctors later found. It was a rare injury and, only adding to the tragedy, one that could have been avoided had Diana worn a seatbelt.

Heath Ledger

When actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in January 2008, he was at a point in which his career should have blasted off into the stratosphere, especially with an Academy Award-winning role as The Joker in the feature film "The Dark Knight" in the can. Instead it was cut short at age 28. His final words show that the actor had no intention of dying, but he was indeed in some deep state of denial. According to To Save a Life, the Australian actor's last words heard by anyone else were, "Katie, I'll be fine" (Katie being his sister).

Ledger, who had earlier said he just needed to get some sleep, confided to his sister that he had taken several different prescription medications, and said his fateful and far-from-accurate last words in response to her warning him against mixing so many different drugs. As reported by The Guardian, the toxicology report run on the late Ledger found the drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine in his system at the time of his death.

Chris Farley

Chris Farley cut his teeth in comedy at the famed Second City Theater in Chicago, and then went on to national and even international fame thanks to his years as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1990s. Farley had starring roles in several films that are unlikely to ever be forgotten, such as the successful comedy "Tommy Boy."

Farley was just 33 when he died in despair and alone following a major drug overdose. According to Silver Lining Recovery, Farley's last words spoken to another person were, "Don't leave me." Tragically, these words were spoken to a reported sex worker who, before she did indeed leave him to die alone in his Chicago apartment, stole his watch and took pictures of the actor and comedian as he lay on the floor, near to death.

Farley was found to have alcohol, cocaine, morphine, and marijuana in his system when he died. Compounding the sorrow is the fact that, just a few months before his death, Farley had been in a rehab program.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker died as he lived, at least in as much as he lived through his character Brian O'Conner in the "Fast and Furious" movie franchise. And that's to say that he died in a crash resulting from the loss of control of a car going way too fast. Walker was not alone when his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT crashed into a lamppost and several trees, so there's a better than average chance his final words were spoken to his driver and fellow crash victim, Roger Rodas. But the actor's last known words are haunting for their simplicity and for how inaccurate they proved to be.

While stepping out of a charity event to take his sports car for a quick spin, Walker called out, "Hey, I'll be back in five minutes, alright?" according to India Today. Instead, within mere minutes, Walker would be dead and with a body so badly damaged and burned by the crash that it could not be positively identified until medical experts could check dental records.

Walker left behind a teenage daughter and a legacy of films that were all about daredevil feats of speed in cars. 

Coco Chanel

Everything about legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel was larger than life, right down to her last words. At least, everything about Chanel was larger than life once she came into her own in the early decades of the 20th century. At birth, she was named Gabrielle Chanel, and she was born to parents living in near abject poverty. Chanel pulled herself up by her bootstraps, using her wit, charm, and her undeniable ability as a designer and businesswoman to launch an empire that would include clothes, accessories, perfumes, and more.

By the time of her death in 1971, the 87-year-old Chanel was a household name — in fact, she was more a brand than an individual by then, her legacy entirely secure. Chanel clearly knew when the end was imminent, although she did not seem to be in ill health despite her very advanced age. True to her character, her final words were a flourish that topped off an amazing — if controversial — life. According to The Guardian, on January 10, 1971, Chanel reportedly said to her maid Celine, "You see, this is how you die." And shortly thereafter she did just that, her bed becoming a deathbed.

Groucho Marx

The last words spoken by legendary actor and comedian Groucho Marx would be haunting and tragic if spoken by most people lying on their deathbeds, but when Marx said, "This is no way to live," shortly before dying, he was making one last quip for the ages. So in this case, his last words are actually pretty hilarious, and it's okay to laugh — he was in on the joke.

Born Julius Henry Marx in the year 1890, Marx was an advanced 86 years old when he died in 1977. He had been in poor health for two months, suffering from respiratory ailments that worsened into the pneumonia that would eventually kill him. Marx seems to have been well aware he was near the end, and his last words were a solid quip, almost as good as a line also attributed as Marx's final words: "Die, my dear? Why that's the last thing I'll do!" (via University of Houston)

His dying words were in keeping with Marx Brothers' tradition. According to Mental Floss, when his brother Leonard "Chico" Marx had died a decade and a half before, in 1961, his last words, spoken to his wife, were apparently, "Remember, Honey, don't forget what I told you. Put in my coffin a deck of cards, a mashie niblick, and a pretty blonde."

Bob Marley

Legendary singer Bob Marley was only 36 years old when he died in 1981, a fact that is hard to believe when one considers the outsized impact the man had on music and culture at large. What's less surprising is that his last known words, spoken to his son Ziggy, were sage and sorrowful, uttered shortly before succumbing to complications of a malignant form of melanoma that, over the course of half a decade, spread from one of his toes throughout his entire body. 

The cancer that killed Marley may well have been treated had he allowed the amputation of his toe, but in keeping with his Rastafarian faith, he forbid such an operation, according to Smooth Radio. And in keeping with the type of messaging he had espoused his whole life, Marley's last words to Ziggy were, "Money can't buy life." 

John Lennon

Say what you will about John Lennon and Yoko Ono's relationship breaking up The Beatles or about Lennon's notorious arrogance and eccentricities, he was an excellent musician. And he was a human being who deserved to live a lot longer than he did. But due to the actions of mentally unstable Mark Chapman, who was determined to kill a famous person and who resented Lennon's comments about The Beatles being bigger than Jesus, his life was cut short.

Chapman shot Lennon in the back multiple times at close range on December 8, 1980. Lennon was 40 years old. According to the 2023 Apple TV+ docuseries "John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial," the front desk clerk heard his final words. The employee, Jay Hastings, explains in the documentary, "He runs past me. He goes, 'I'm shot.' He had blood coming out of his mouth. He just collapsed on the floor. I half rolled him to his back and took his glasses off, put them on the desk. And Yoko was screaming, 'Get an ambulance, get an ambulance, get an ambulance'" (via The Independent).

Perhaps more sadly still is the fact that, just prior to the shooting, Lennon and his wife had discussed going out to eat before going home, but instead chose to go home immediately to see their son Sean before he went to sleep.

Elvis Presley

As "The King of Rock n' Roll" Elvis Presley popularized his genre and made it the dominant pop music in the U.S. Also a sex symbol and star of numerous musical comedies, Presley churned out hits like "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," and "Suspicious Minds" before taking on an elder statesman role via long residencies in Las Vegas.

Suffering from serious constipation linked to his heavy consumption of prescription painkillers (along with antidepressants, sleeping pills, and allergy medications) as well as insomnia, Presley got out of his bed in his Graceland estate in the early hours of August 16, 1977. That woke up his fiancé, Ginger Alden, according to her memoir "Ginger and Elvis" (via the Sydney Morning Herald). "I'm going to the bathroom to read," Presley told Alden, to which she replied, "OK, but don't fall asleep." Presley died in the bathroom, and Alden discovered the body of the 42-year-old rock n' roll legend around 2 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at a Memphis hospital that afternoon.

Betty White

Television went mainstream in the U.S. in the 1950s, and Betty White was a star from that point on and through her entire life. In the 1950s, she starred in the sitcom "Life with Elizabeth," won two Emmys for her 1970s role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and solidified icon status as dimwitted Rose Nylund on the 1985 to 1992 hit "The Golden Girls." In her nineties, White was among the ensemble cast of "Hot in Cleveland."

In late December 2021, White endured a cerebrovascular accident — a stroke. Six days later, in the early hours of December 31, White died at the age of 99, just a few weeks before her 100th birthday. The actor died in her sleep, but just before drifting off, her assistant heard what would be White's last utterance. "The very last word out of her mouth was 'Allen,'" the assistant told Carol Burnett, who told Vicki Lawrence, who told Page Six. The "Allen" to which White referred was likely her husband, game show host Allen Ludden, who died in 1981.

Humphrey Bogart

A definitive movie star of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart brought a brooding, charismatic intensity to all of his roles. Bogart earned three Academy Award nominations in his career, winning for "The African Queen" and noticed for "The Caine Mutiny" and "Casablanca," where he played his most famous character, an American expatriate laying low in Africa during World War II.

Bogart was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1956, and he convalesced after treatments and surgeries at his home in Hollywood. On January 13, 1957, Bogart's wife, actor Lauren Bacall, had to leave the house to pick up their children from Sunday school. "I said I'd be right back and kissed him as I always did," Bacall wrote in her memoir "By Myself." Bogart replied, "Hurry back," and "Goodbye, Kid," affectionately evoking his famous "Casablanca" line, "Here's looking at you, kid." While Bacall was out, Bogart slipped into a coma and died the next day.

Vic Morrow

While he starred in dozens of films, including "Blackboard Jungle" and "The Bad News Bears," Vic Morrow was primarily known for his TV work. From 1962 to 1967, he starred as Sgt. Chip Saunders on the World War II-set action drama "Combat!", earning an Emmy Award nomination along the way.

A scene for "Twilight Zone: The Movie" called for Morrow's character, stuck in a nightmarish Vietnam War scenario, to carry two children across a swamp while a low-flying helicopter drops explosives all around. Pyrotechnics malfunctioned, causing the helicopter pilot to lose control and strike and kill child actor Renee Chen. Then the vehicle entirely fell over, and the chopper blade cut through young actor Myca Dinh Lee and Morrow, instantly killing both. Just before filming the sequence, according to Morrow's friend and "Combat!" costar Dick Peabody (in the Mountain-Democrat, via Combat! Fan), the actor expressed apprehension about the dangerous setup. While holding the child actors, and waiting for his cue, Morrow said, "I've got to be crazy to do this shot. I should've asked for a double." Vic Morrow was 53.

Chris Cornell

One of rock's most powerful and signature voices of the 1990s, Chris Cornell fronted Soundgarden, the Seattle-based rock band that helped popularize the grunge sound. His powerful, soaring vocals made modern classics out of hard and heavy hits like "Black Hole Sun," "Outshined," and "Fell On Black Days."

On May 17, 2017, according to The Detroit News, a reunited Soundgarden played a show at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Cornell returned to his MGM Grand hotel room, and after taking two doses of anti-anxiety medication, he talked to his wife, Vicky, via telephone around 11:30 p.m. Noting her husband's slurred speech, Cornell explained, "I'm just tired," and then wrapped up the call. Fifteen minutes later, Vicky Cornell asked bodyguard Martin Kirsten to check on her husband, and finding the doors to both his room and bathroom locked, broke them down, finding an unresponsive Cornell on the floor. Later determined to have died by suicide, Cornell was 52.

Marilyn Monroe

The quintessential sex symbol and "blonde bombshell" of the mid-20th century, Marilyn Monroe captivated a nation of movie fans. Adored for her work in comedies like "Some Like It Hot," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Let's Make Love," and "How to Marry a Millionaire," she proved her mettle in dramas like "The Misfits and "Bus Stop."

Just past midnight on August 5, 1962, a deceased Monroe was discovered in the bedroom of her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The troubled star was 36, and her death was attributed to a fatal and intentional overdose of sedatives. Monroe had a telephone receiver in her hand, and the last known call she made was to her friend, Peter Lawford, an actor and relative by marriage to President John F. Kennedy, with whom Monroe was rumored to have had an affair. In 1985, the Los Angeles Police Department report on Monroe's death was released to the public, according to UPI. Lawford attested that Monroe concluded their conversation with a series of farewells: "Say goodbye to Pat [Lawford's wife], say goodbye to Jack [Kennedy], and say goodbye to yourself because you're a nice guy."

Bob Barker

One of the most omnipresent personalities in TV history, Bob Barker appeared on screens almost daily for more than 50 years. From 1956 to 1975, he hosted the television version of the game show "Truth or Consequences." And beginning in 1972, Barker emceed "The Price is Right," a job he conducted five days a week on CBS's daytime schedule until 2007, winning 19 Emmy Awards in the process. Barker was probably equally famous for his "The Price is Right" sign-off — imploring viewers to "control the pet population" by getting their pets spayed and neutered, and cameoing as himself in sitcoms and movies, notably beating up Adam Sandlers in "Happy Gilmore."

Having Alzheimer's disease, Barker died at age 99 at his home in the Hollywood Hills on August 26, 2023. According to Nancy Burnet, his partner of 40 years, Barker seemed to know that the end was near. "The very last words he said were, 'Give me a kiss. I'll be leaving,'" Burnet told "Inside Edition" (via Yahoo! News). Three hours later, Barker died.

Michael Jackson

A child star as the lead singer of Motown's the Jackson 5 in the 1970s, Michael Jackson became the biggest musical star on the planet in the 1980s. His 1982 album "Thriller" would eventually sell more than 66 million copies worldwide (a record), and subsequent LPs like "Bad" and "Dangerous" would move multiple millions, too. After a steep downturn in popularity due to a number of scandals and serious allegations of child sexual abuse, Jackson mounted a comeback in 2009, lining up a residency of shows at London's O2 Arena.

After a concert rehearsal in Los Angeles, Jackson returned home after midnight on June 25, 2009, and went straight to bed. Jackson had difficulty falling asleep, and he asked his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, for a series of powerful sedatives on which he often relied. Multiple doses of lorazepam, midazolam, and Valium didn't work for Jackson, and so, as reported by the BBC, he implored Murray to "Please, please, give me some milk so that I can sleep." That "milk" was what Jackson nicknamed propofol, a surgical-grade anesthetic that the singer had regularly consumed for two months. Murray complied; Jackson never woke up, having taken a lethal amount of medication. He was 50 years old.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, mental health issues, is struggling or is in a crisis, contact the relevant resources below: