Famous artists, actors, and musicians; they’re just like us! (Humans who die). From playwright Oscar Wilde’s takedown of his dreaded wallpaper to Anna Pavlova’s beautiful ode to her vocation and life’s work as a ballerina, here are 5 truly fascinating last words of famous creatives.
“Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”
– Oscar Wilde, Playwright, Poet & Novelist
Oscar Wilde is well-known for his whip-smart satirical sense of humour. At the very end of his life, he compared his ill health to the wallpaper in his room that he, well… obviously didn’t like very much. Wilde had very loud opinions, until the end. We would expect nothing less than these final words from such a witty writer. Hear hear!
“Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.”
– Ludwig van Beethoven, Composer & Musician
Dramatic words from a man who was famous for composing dramatic music that transcended the norm. At the time, this phrase was used to end a performance of an Italian comedy play (known as ‘dell’arte’).
In the days following Beethoven’s death, souvenir hunters snipped off some of his hair. In 2005, one of these locks was sent to a lab in the United States, which revealed that Beethoven had in fact suffered from lead poisoning (among other ailments which were already known subsequent to his death in 1827). There are several theories why high levels of the metal were found in his body, and we’ll let you conduct your own deep dive on this one. (Just remember that we planted the curiosity seed).
“I should have never switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
– Humphrey Bogart, Actor
An important message if there ever was one. Those born after, say 1997, might know Bogart from classic films like Casablanca (1942) or The Maltese Falcon (1941), and of course, all of us *oldies* born before that need no introduction. Bogart’s last words are a swift reminder to live life to the fullest, eat the dessert, do the thing, etc (provided the doctor has given you the okay, of course). So yeah… eat the tiramisu.
“Get my swan costume ready.”
– Anna Pavlova, Ballerina
This a powerfully poetic line from the famous Russian ballerina, known for her creation of the role of The Dying Swan and, who with her own company, became the first ballerina to tour around the globe.
Shortly before her 50th birthday, Pavlova suffered from pneumonia and (allegedly) declined surgery that potentially would have prevented her from dancing ever again. She died shortly after this time, and when The Dying Swan was performed the day after her death, a shining spotlight danced around the stage, replacing her in the performance. A very poetic send-off.
“I happily await the exit and I hope to never return again.”
– Frida Kahlo, Artist
These were the last words Frida Kahlo wrote in her diary a few days before her death. In the years after, the rise of feminism led to Kahlo becoming a feminist and an LGBTQIA+ icon.
Sadly, her life was marred by chronic pain due to a bus accident at the age of 18, other health problems and turbulent marriages, but she is known today as an artistic and cultural icon with a great talent for painting colourful self-portraits, dealing with themes of identity, the human body and death.
Of course, not everyone is able to speak at the end of their life. Some may be unconscious, their words are incoherent, or they are in too much pain to speak. If this is the case, it’s worth noting that those reaching the end of their life can often hear those around them or feel physical touch until the end, so if you are with a loved one when they leave this life, you can talk to them or hold them as they leave physical form.
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