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Ibsen to Murders & Other Sociopaths
Ibsen, Henrik (1828-1906)

"On the contrary."

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright who achieved international recognition for such classics as A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler.  Ibsen suffered a stroke in 1900 and spent the last years of his life confined to bed.  One day, he heard his nurse remark to a visitor that he was feeling better.  "On the contrary," cut in Ibsen just before he died.

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Jackson, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" (1824-1863)

"Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action!  Pass the infantry to the front rapidly!  Tell Major Hawks. . . .  Let us cross over the river and sit under the shade of the trees."

Stonewall Jackson was one of the premier Confederate generals of the American Civil War.  He was mistakenly wounded by his own men on 2 May 1863 during the battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia, and his left arm had to be amputated.  General Robert E. Lee decided that Jackson should recuperate in a safe refuge and ordered that Jackson be transported to Guinea Station about 30 miles from the front lines. Jackson endured the ambulance ride well and was expected to eventually recover.  Pneumonia set in, however, and by Sunday, 10 May, it became clear that Jackson would not last through the day.  Jackson remarked to his physician, "I have always desired to die on Sunday," and lapsed into delirium before he died at 3:15 p.m.

Jackson's chaplain, B. Tucker Lacy, who attended to the general at Guinea Station reported that during the ordeal General Lee spoke to him of Jackson, "He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm."

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Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826)

"This is the Fourth?"

Both Thomas Jefferson and his old friend and rival John Adams died on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  On the evening of 3 July 1826, Jefferson roused from semi-consciousness on his deathbed and asked an attendant, "This is the Fourth?"  To comfort Jefferson, the man replied that it was.  Jefferson smiled with satisfaction and returned to sleep.  He died just after noon on the following day.

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Jesus of Nazareth (4 B.C.?-30 A.D.?)

"It is finished." per John 19:30 
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" per Mark 15:34-5 and Matthew 27:46 
"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." per Luke 23:46

Jesus of Nazareth was a 1st century Jewish teacher who was crucified by the Romans.  Jesus is believed by Christians to be the Christ through whom God revealed himself to the world and  whose death reconciles the world with God.

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Joan of Arc, Saint (1412-1431)

"Hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames!"

Joan was the youngest of five children of Jacques d'Arc, a peasant farmer from Domremy.  She began to hear "voices" when she was thirteen that told her she was to serve the Dauphin and save France.  Joan was repeatedly rebuffed in her attempts to join the French army until she successfully predicted its defeat at the Battle of Herrings in 1429.  Afterwards, a local commander sent her to the Dauphin.  When she recognized the disguised Dauphin hiding in a group of courtiers, he sent her to be examined by group of theologians at Poitiers.  After three weeks of questioning, they proclaimed that her voices were genuine. 

The Dauphin then sent her to serve with the Army as it fought to lift the siege of Orleans.  There, clad in a suit of armor, she led her men and saved the city by capturing several English forts.  Later that year she led the French army to an even more important victory at Troyes.  This allowed the Dauphin to be crowned Charles VII at Reims, and Joan stood at his side during the ceremony.  She continued to lead the army until she was captured by Burgundians at Compiegne and turned over to the English.  Charles made no effort to save her, and in fact, some have suggested that he helped arrange her capture as part of a secret deal with the Burgundians. 

Joan was tried in a religious court for heresy and witchcraft, and although she defended herself well, she was forced or tricked into denying her "voices" and promising never again to wear men's clothes.  Later, she once more dressed as a man and was declared a heretic.  She was burned at the stake in the Rouen marketplace, and her ashes were thrown into the Seine.  Twenty-five years later, her case was reopened by Pope Callistus III, and she was found innocent.  Joan was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

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Jolson, Al (Asa Yoelson) (1886-1950)

"This is it!  I'm going.  I'm going."

Al Jolson was born in Lithuania and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1895.  He began his career singing in burlesque, minstrel shows, and vaudeville before becoming a star on Broadway.  Jolson is, perhaps, best remembered for his starring role in The Jazz Singer, the first full-length talking motion picture. After Jolson died in 1950, he was posthumously awarded a Congressional Medal of Merit for his untiring efforts to provide entertainment for U.S. military forces.

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Jones, Henry Arthur (1851-1924)

"The prettier.  Now fight for it."

Henry Jones was a successful English playwright during the last quarter of the 19th century.  On his deathbed, his nurse and his niece asked him whom he would prefer to have at his side during the evening.  "The prettier," he said, "Now fight for it." 

Kafka, Franz (1883-1924)

"Kill me, or else you are a murderer!"

Franz Kafka, born in Prague in 1883, became one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.  As Kafka lay dying of tuberculosis, he begged his physician for an overdose of morphine to end his suffering.  While alive, Kafka only published a very few selections of his short fiction including "The Metamorphosis," a story about a young man who, symbolically, is transformed into a huge disgusting insect.  Following his death, friends published the bulk of Kafka's work, including The Castle and The Trial, despite his final instructions that they destroy the manuscripts, "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, to be burned unread." 

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Kelly, George (1887-1974)

"My dear, before you kiss me good-bye, fix you hair. It's a mess."

George Kelly was an American playwright and the uncle of Grace Kelly.  On his death bed he was visited by a different niece, who leaned forward to kiss him farewell.

Kennedy, John F.  (1917-1963)

"That's obvious."

John Kennedy, 35th president of the United States, was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald as he was traveling by motorcade through the streets of Dallas.  Kennedy was visiting Dallas to help prepare for his coming election campaign.  Many citizens were lining the streets to watch the procession as it passed.  Kennedy had just responded to the Texas governor's wife's comment, "Mr. President, you can't say that Dallas doesn't love you" when the first of Oswald's bullets struck him in the head.

Nothing brings out more kooks than the opportunity to publish a conspiracy theory about Kennedy's assassination.  Perhaps this is in part due to the rather dark and sinister Kennedy family history.  Regardless, Vincent Bugliosi and Geral Posner debunk them all.

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Ker, William Paton (1855-1923)

"I thought this was the most beautiful spot in the world, and now I know it."

William Ker was a British scholar and professor of English at University College, London, for over thirty years.  He was an accomplished mountain hiker and returned to the Italian alps in 1923.  As he was walking up the the Pizzo Bianco at Macugnaga, he turned to his companions, uttered his last words, and suffered a fatal heart attack.

Knox, Ronald (1888-1957)

"No . . . .  Awfully jolly of you to suggest it, though."

Ronald Knox was a British priest and author who served as the Catholic chaplain at Oxford for many years.  For several days before his death from liver cancer, he lay comatose, attended by close friends.  Shortly before his death, Lady Elton noticed that he had stirred slightly and asked if he would like her to read from his own translation of the New Testament.

Lawrence, Saint (?-258)

"Turn me.  I am roasted on one side."

Saint Lawrence is one of the most celebrated Roman martyrs.  A church deacon during the time Emperor Valerian was vigorously persecuting christians, Lawrence also served as the keeper of the church's treasures.  He was arrested and told that to save himself he must give the church treasures to the government.  Lawrence readily agreed and told the official that it would take at least eight days to assemble them.  On the eighth day, Lawrence returned to the prefect and presented him with hundreds of poor and disabled men, women, and children.  "These," he said, "are the riches of the church."  The enraged official then ordered Lawrence to be stripped, tied face down on a gridiron suspended over a bed of coals, and slowly burned to death.  Lawrence maintained a cheerful appearance through out the ordeal and, when asked if he had any last request, responded with his last words. His behavior was said to have been so impressive that several Roman senators converted to Christianity on the spot, and hundreds of citizens did the same the following day.

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Lawrence, James (1781-1813)

"Tell the men to fire faster and not to give up the ship; fight her till she sinks."

James Lawrence was a U.S. Navy officer who commanded the frigate Chesapeake in a naval battle during the War of 1812.  Mortally wounded, he was carried below.  His last words are often shortened to simply "Don't give up the ship."

Leary, Timothy (1920-1996)

"Why not?  Why not?  Why not?  Why not?  Yeah."

Timothy Leary, a Harvard psychologist who was fired after supplying students with drugs, was one of the most controversial personalities of the 1960s.  Leary advocated the widespread use of LSD and urged American youth to "Turn on, tune in, and drop out." 

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Lee, Robert E.  (1807-1870)

"Strike the tent."

Robert E. Lee was a distinguished U.S. Army officer who gave up his federal commission to lead the the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War. 

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Lewis, Meriwether (1774-1809)

"I am not coward, but I am so strong.  It is hard to die."

Meriwether Lewis was appointed the first governor of Upper Louisiana by Thomas Jefferson following his return from his famous expedition to the Pacific Ocean.  He was a poor administrator and decided to travel to Washington to square some unreimbursed expense reports that had left him deep in debt.  He departed Saint Louis with $200 in his pockets for New Orleans, where he planned to finish his journey by boat.  In route, he suffered a breakdown near what today is Memphis, Tennessee.  He recuperated there for several weeks and again set out, this time overland. While stopped just south of Nashville at the home of Ms. Robert Grinder, whose husband was away, Lewis was said to have become very agitated about his personal affairs.  Ms Grinder later reported that during the night she heard a gunshot followed by the cry of "Oh, Lord," which was followed by a second shot.  A few minutes later, Lewis staggered to her door and pleaded, "Oh, madam! Give me some water and heal my wounds."  Ms. Grinder was too frightened to open the door until morning when she sought out Lewis's servants, and together they found him alive and intense pain with his skull shattered and brain exposed.  Ms. Grinder claimed that although he then begged her to kill him, she refused.  Lewis's death was never investigated, and while many believed it to have been a suicide, an equal number suggested that he was killed while being robbed by his servants, Ms. Grinder, her husband, or others.  Lewis's $200 was never found.

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Lincoln, Abraham 


As Abraham Lincoln was watching the play, Our American Cousin, on the night of his assassination at Ford's Theater, one of the actresses called for a shawl to protect her from the draft. One of the actors ad-libbed a reply, "You are mistaken, Miss Mary, the draft has already been stopped by order of the President!"  Lincoln shared his last laugh with the rest of the audience.

You may have heard that Lincoln, on his deathbed, addressed his last words to the legendary inventor of baseball, General Abner Doubleday, "Keep baseball going.  The country needs it."  This is simply not true.  The fabrication was made up by a popular CBS sports announcer, Bill Stern, who hosted the "Colgate Sports Newsreel" during the 1930s and 1940s.

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Loeb, Richard A.  (1906-1936)

"I think I'm going to make it."

Richard Loeb was the son of a Sears Vice President and the youngest person ever to graduate from the University of Michigan.  He also led his close nineteen year old friend, Nathan Leopold, in the kidnapping and murder of a fourteen year old boy in 1924.  After the murderers were tied to the crime scene by a pair of specially designed eyeglasses that Leopold dropped while hiding the body, both confessed, and the subsequent trial became the first "trial of the century."  Clarence Darrow defended the pair and persuaded the judge to sentence them to life in prison rather than death.  Loeb was eventually killed in a prison shower room fight, slashed 56 times with a razor after he allegedly made sexual advances to another inmate.

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Long, Huey P., Jr. (The Kingfish) (1893-1935)

"I wonder why he shot me."

Huey P. Long was a Democrat politician who, while governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, created a powerful political machine and ruled the state as a dictator.  He was sent to the Senate in 1932, where he promoted a "share-our-wealth" program that promised to take money from those who had it and redistribute it to those who did not. Long developed considerable support among the poor and was seen as a possible third-party threat to the Roosevelt presidential campaign.  He was shot and killed by the son-in-law of a former political opponent.

Long's story was fictionalized in 1947 in the novel, All the King's Men.  It was made into a movie two years later, and Long's character, Willie Stark, was played by Broderick Crawford

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Marat, Jean-Paul (1743-1793)

"They shall all be guillotined."

Jean-Paul Marat was one of the most radical and bloodthirsty of all the leaders of the French Revolution.  His extreme positions had isolated him from most of his colleagues by 1793, but he continued to publish his views in his newspaper, L'Ami du Peuple, which he edited from his bathtub where he soaked for most of each day to relieve the itching and pain of a chronic skin infection.  On 13 July, a woman named Charlotte Corday asked the guard at his apartment door if she could deliver information about a counter-revolutionary group to Marat.  Marat granted her entry, and she sat in a chair next to his tub and handed him a list of conspirators.  After reading the list, Marat remarked, "They shall all be guillotined."  As he did, Corday pulled a long-bladed kitchen knife from her dress and drove it into Marat's left chest; she had actually come to avenge the execution of a friend.  Marat called the name of his common law wife as he collapsed and died in the tub.  Charlotte Corday was caught and executed four days later.  Despite his unpopularity, thousands of Parisians flocked to view Marat's heart when it was later displayed by his allies.

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Marx, Karl (1818-1883)

"Go on, get out!  Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!"

Karl Marx was the German economist, philosopher, and revolutionary who, with the aid of Friederich Engles, produced most of the theory of modern socialism and communism.  As he lay in bed shortly before his death, his housekeeper foolishly asked if he had any last words.

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McKinley, William B. (1843-1901)

"We are all going."

William McKinley, a U.S. President, was assassinated by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, at the Pan American Exposition in 1901.  He died after lingering painfully for several days.  His wife, at his bedside as he died, cried, "I want to go too, I want to go too!"  McKinley answered her plea before he expired.

McKinley's last words have also been recorded as "It's God's way.  His will, not ours, be done."

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Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria (1717-1780)

"No, but comfortable enough to die."

Maria Theresa was the empress of Austria from 1740 until her death in 1780.  She spent the last several days of her life propped up in a chair as she was unable to breath lying down.  Her son, Joseph, attempted to comfort her after one especially painful spasm. "Your Majesty cannot be comfortable like that," he said rushing to her side for support.  "No," replied the empress, "but comfortable enough to die."  Maria Theresa died a few minutes later without any additional suffering.

Mather, Cotton (1663-1728)

"Is this dying?  Is this all?  Is this what I feared when I prayed against a hard death?  Oh, I can bear this!  I can bear this!"

Cotton Mather was the most famous of the late 17th century New England ministers and the last of the great Puritan preachers.  He found himself overwhelmed by the advance of secularism and defended the old New England theocracy in its final losing battles.

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Merrick, John Cary (?-1890)

"The heart beats . . . .  Nothing ever dies." (from the movie, The Elephant Man - actor, John Hurt)

John Merrick suffered from an incredibly disfiguring neurological disease.  He was rescued from a freak show by a British surgeon, Frederick Treves.  Inexplicably, Michael Jackson became fixated on purchasing Merrick's remains in the late 1980s. 

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Mineo, Sal (1939-1976)

"Oh God! No! Help! Someone Help!"

Sal Mineo was a movie star best known for his teenage roles in Rebel Without a Cause and Exodus for which he received Oscar nominations.  Following a feud with John Ford during the filming of Cheyenne Autumn in 1963, Mineo's film offers fell off sharply, and by the early 1970's he was acting only in small plays, television roles, and foreign movies.  In 1976, he was living in a small apartment in a rather seedy part of Los Angeles while he rehearsed a play about a bisexual burglar.  One night as Mineo walked from his carport, a man attacked him, stabbing him in the heart.  Neighbors heard Mineo's cries for help and chased the assailant away.  One tried unsuccessfully to administer CPR.  The police never solved the crime.

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Mishima Yukio (1925-1970)

"Human life is limited; but I would like to live forever."

Mishima Yukio was a right-wing Japanese novelist and playwright whose best known work to Western readers is probably The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea.  He committed seppuku, or hari-kiri, after failing to convince the Japanese military to overthrow the civilian government. 

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Mizner, Wilson (1876-1933)

"Why should I talk to you?  I've just been talking to your boss."

Wilson Mizner was a U.S. writer and gambler.  On his deathbed, he briefly regained consciousness before dying and found a priest standing over him.  Mizner waved the priest away saying, "Why should I talk to you?  I've just been talking to your boss."

Monmouth, Duke of (James Scott) (1649-1685)

"Do not hack me as you did my Lord Russell."

James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, was an illegitimate son of Charles II.  He led an unsuccessful rebellion against Charles's successor, James II, and was executed after losing the Battle of Sedgemoor.  His last words were addressed to the executioner.

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley (1689-1762)

"It has all been most interesting."

Lady Mary, an English writer and world-traveler, was close friends with many prominent political and literary figures.  She is also credited with first introducing English physicians to the Turkish practice of smallpox inoculation. 

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More, Thomas, Sir (1478-1535)

"This hath not offended the king."

Sir Thomas More was a prominent English statesman and philosopher whose most famous work, Utopia, describes an ideal society based upon reason.  More served as the Speaker of the House of Commons and was a champion of free speech.  He became Lord Chancellor in 1529 but resigned three years later because he disapproved of King Henry VIII's break with the Catholic Church.  More was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1535 for refusing to recognize Henry as the leader of the Church of England.  He was found guilty of treason and beheaded later that year.

Sir Thomas More spoke his last words as he laid his neck on the executioner's block and carefully arranged his long, gray beard so that it would not be cut by the sword.

More's last words have also been recorded as, "I pray you, I pray you, Mr. Lieutenant, see me safe up, and for my coming, down let me shift for myself."  In the 1966 movie, A Man for All Seasons, Thomas More's (actor Paul Scofield's) last words were "I die the king's good servant, but God's first."

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Mulligan, Colonel James A. (?-1864)

"Lay me down, and save the flag!"

In the late spring and early summer of 1864, the Confederate Army terrorized Maryland and threatened Washington D.C. from its Shenandoah Valley stronghold.  Union General George Crook was dispatched to eliminate the threat, but was soundly defeated at the Second Battle of Kernstown, Virginia, on 24 July 1864.  Mulligan's division held the center of the Union line during the battle, but as units on either flank fell back, it became enveloped by three Confederate divisions.  As Mulligan directed his forces, he was hit with  rounds and fell mortally wounded.  With Mulligan's death, the center gave way and the Union army retreated to the Potomac River.  Shortly after the defeat, the Confederate commander, General Early, sent his cavalry to burn Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on 30 July.

Murderers and Other Apolitical Sociopaths

Appel, George

"Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked apple."

Barney, Jeffrey

"I'm tingling all over."

Flegensheimer, Arthur

"Mother is the best bet."

French, James

"How about this for a headline?  French fries."

Garrett, Johnny Frank
"I'd like to thank my family for loving me and taking care of me.  And the rest of the world can kiss my ass."

Gilmore, Gary

"Let's do it."

Grasso, Thomas J.
"I did not get my Spaghetti-Os.  I got spaghetti.  I want the press to know this."

Johnson, Edward E.

"I guess no one's going to call."

Loeb, Richard A.

"I think I'm going to make it."

McCarty, Henry

"Who is it?"

Parks, Roby Leroy

"I'm still awake." 

Roges, James

"Why yes, a bullet proof vest."

Spenkelink, John

"Capital punishment; them without the capital get the punishment."

Tucker, Karla Fay
"I am going to be face to face with Jesus now. . . .  I will see you all when you get there.  I will wait for you
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