5 Oscar Wilde
Awesome and ironic right to the very end, Oscar Wilde’s last words were “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” Sadly, the wallpaper won, and the famously witty Wilde expired, succumbing to meningitis at just 46 years of age. And while technically Wilde may have mumbled a few words of prayer after this declaration of the duel, we’re going to ignore those details.
4 Pancho Villa
When you are one of the most successful, feared and famed revolutionaries alive, you want your life to end on the right note, with grandeur and largesse. Unfortunately, Pancho Villa couldn’t think of any great quote as he expired amidst a hail of assassins’ bullets. Rumor has it that Villa knew his lack of last words a shame, thus he stammered out “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something!” shortly before it did, in fact, end just like that.
3 Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford was a woman who knew what she wanted and made it known to others, too. She also knew damn well what she didn’t want, and one of the things on that list was a prayer at her deathbed. Thus her last words were “Dammit… Don’t you dare ask God to help me!” This was directed at a caregiver who had begun praying near the moribund actress.
2 Dominique Bouhours
Chances are good that you have never heard of Mr. Bouhours. He was a French priest, writer and critic hailed for his mastery of grammar and syntax. And proud grammarian that he was, Bouhours expired with one last lesson on proper usage of language. Shortly before his death in May, 1702, he said “I am about to, or I am going to, die. Either expression is correct.” And indeed he was right, both about the grammar and about the content of the speech.
1 John Sedwick
Union Army General John Sedgwick has the dubious honor of perhaps the most ironic last words ever spoken. At the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in May of 1864, Sedgwick was attempting to rally his troops into holding their formatting as distant Confederate gunfire sounded. “I’m ashamed of you, dodging that way!” he chided his soldiers, adding “They couldn’t hit an elephant at his distance!” Seconds later, Sedgwick was shot through the head, dying instantly.