Thursday, June 16, 2016

To my bed of dirt

George ("Superman") Reeves committed suicide on this day in 1959. He was being visited by friends, when he announced:

"I'm tired. I'm going back to bed."

He went to his bedroom and shot himself in the head.

For a year's worth of super-entertaining last words:

Farewells: An Almanac of Parting Thoughts

Monday, April 25, 2016

The cesspool gets sweeter every year

Actor George Sanders (Academy Award for All About Eve) committed suicide on this day in 1972. His suicide note read:

"Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool - good luck."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

That'll do it, every time

This is the date of death of American writer Willa Cather (Death Comes for the Archbishop). She said:

"I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Cold Chamfort

Nicolas de Chamfort, the French writer and wit, died on this day in 1794. He was famous for his Maximes et Pensees (Maxims and Thoughts).

Chamfort spent a short time in prison for his political opinions following the French Revolution. ("If it were not for the government, we should have nothing to laugh at in France," he wrote.)

After his release he was threatened with prison again. In September 1793 he locked himself into his office and shot himself in the face. The pistol malfunctioned and he succeeded only in shooting off his nose and part of his jaw.

He then repeatedly stabbed himself in the neck with a paper cutter, but failed to cut an artery. He finally used the paper cutter to stab himself in the chest.

He dictated to those who came to arrest him:

"I, Sebastien-Roch Nicolas Chamfort, declare that I wished to die a free man rather than be enslaved in a house of detention."

Chamfort signed his famous death note in a firm hand and in his own blood. He did not die at once, but lingered on until April 13, 1794, in the charge of a gendarme, to whom he paid a crown a day. At one point he said, "I feel livelier than ever. What a pity I no longer care about living."

Near the end, Chamfort said to a priest:

"My friend, I'm finally taking leave of this earth, a place where one's heart must either break or be hard as bronze."

Some other mots by Chafort:

"The only thing that keeps God from sending another flood is that the first one was useless."

"I have three kinds of friends: those who love me, those who pay no attention to me, and those who detest me."

"Man may aspire to virtue, but he cannot reasonably aspire to truth."

And my favorite:

"Swallow a toad in the morning and you will encounter nothing more disgusting the rest of the day."

About life and death, Chamfort wrote:

"Living is a sickness to which sleep provides relief every sixteen hours. It's a palliative. The remedy is death."

For a whole year of last thoughts, last words and last things, click here

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Take two aspirin and call the morgue in the morning

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on this day in 1945. He was on a retreat at Warm Springs, Georgia with his mistress, Lucy Page Rutherford, and having his portrait painted when he uttered these last words:

"I have a terrific headache."

Died recently in Nashville: Granny Apple, Harry Berry.

For a whole year's worth of last words and last thoughts, try this link

Monday, April 11, 2016

Last words to grow on

The world's worst blind date

American horticulturalist Luther Burbank died on this day in 1926. His last words:

"I don't feel good."

From horticulture to a horror of culture -- John Merrick, The Elephant Man, died on this day in 1890. In the movie, his last words are:
"Nothing ever dies."

For more touching last words, check out this link

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let's dig up that little green stick

Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian novelist (War and Peace), died on this day in 1910. Near the end of his life he wrote:

"The meaningless absurdity of life is the only incontestable knowledge accessible to man."

Tolstoy believed that what was not accessible – to most people except him – was the "life force," which is perfectly rational and good. His notion, developed later in life after he'd written his great novels, was that the life of every human being is inextricably bound up with the life of the rest of the universe and is a manifestation of the life force. This truth is hidden from us, however – inaccessible.

Death, Tolstoy said, is a necessary part of life, for one's own good and the good of others. In his later masterpiece, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, a novelette rather than a novel, he tells the harrowing story of the slow, and then rapid, decline of Ivan Ilyich, a high court judge who has never before given death a second thought. Ilyich the materialist, forced to confront the stark truth of his inevitable passing, turns metaphysical: Will his death be his destruction?

"Death is over; there is no more death," are Ivan Ilyich's last words.

Tolstoy himself, as he neared death, resolved to find a more spiritual life on earth – at the age of 82, he ran away from home. "My position in this house has become intolerable," he wrote to his wife. "Along with everything else, I can no longer abide these luxurious conditions. What I am now doing is what old people have commonly done - leave their worldly life behind to spend their last days in peace and solitude."

He contracted a chill on the train, forcing him to disembark at a station along the way. The chill turned to pneumonia, and he died in the stationmaster's room, surrounded by journalists, who recorded his last words:

"But the peasants – how do they die?"

As he had requested, Tolstoy was buried on his estate, Yasnaya Polyana, at a spot where his brother, Nikolai, once claimed to have buried a little green stick on which was written the secret of universal love and understanding.

For a Perverse Verse on this subject, visit

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The mouse that roared

Mickey Mouse was born on this day in 1928. He starred in Steamboat Willie, an 8-minute animated short.

Walt Disney wanted to call his creation Mortimer Mouse, but his wife didn't like the name and suggested Mickey.

Disney died Dec. 15, 1966, of complications from lung cancer. It was rumored that his body had been cryogenically frozen, and, alternately, that he was buried somewhere on the grounds of Disneyland. Actually, he was cremated and his ashes interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery. His death was not publicly announced until after his funeral, which was attended only by close family members. He left the bulk of his estate to his wife, Lillian.

It is Hollywood legend – and we'll go with it – that from his deathbed in St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank, across the street from Disney Studios, Disney's last words were about how shabby the studio's water tower looked. The tower is adorned with the image of Mickey Mouse. Studio executives have made sure the tower is repainted every year.

Walt Disney once said: "I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I've ever known."

For your daily dose of parting shots:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What does a cold beer feel like?

Marcel Proust, French novelist, died on this day in 1922.

"Do not the indiscretions which occur only after a person's life on earth is ended," Proust wrote in Remembrance of Things Past, "prove that nobody really believes in a future life?

"If these indiscretions are true, we ought to fear the resentment of her whose actions we are revealing fully as much as on the day when we shall meet her in heaven, as we feared it so long as she was alive, when we felt ourselves bound to keep her secret.

"And if these indiscretions are false, invented because she is no longer present to contradict them, we ought to be even more afraid of the dead woman's wrath if we believed in heaven. But no one does believe in it."

Proust's last words were: "I feel like a cold beer."

Monday, November 16, 2015

A boy's best friend is his mother

Ed Gein killed his final victim on this day in 1957.

Ed Gein is the most famous son of Plainfield, Wisconsin. He lived on a 160-acre farm with his brother, Henry, and a domineering mother. Henry died in 1944 under mysterious circumstances, and his mother passed away the next year. Ed was 39, unmarried, and in need of a hobby. He began to dig up female corpses by night in remote cemeteries. He dissected these, keeping some heads, sex organs, livers, hearts and intestines. He would flay the skin from the body and wear it himself, dancing and cavorting around the house. (He kept his mom's bedroom locked and undisturbed, and also sealed off the drawing room and five more upstairs rooms.)

Deciding he needed some newer clothes, he began making his own corpses. 54-year old Mary Hogan disappeared from the tavern she ran in December 1954. Bernice Worden, who ran the local hardware store, disappeared on this day in 1957. Mrs. Worden's son, Frank, a sheriff's deputy, learned that Eddie Gein had been seen in town on the day of his mother's disappearance, so he and the sheriff went out to the old Gein place, already known by local kids as a haunted house.

Sound familiar? Gein was the inspiration for Norman Bates, the deranged mama's boy in Hitchcock's Psycho and Robert Bloch's novel of the same name, and the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs was based on him.

In a woodshed on the farm, the men found the naked, headless body of Worden's mother hanging upside down from a meat hook and slit open down the front. Her head and intestines were discovered in a box, and her heart on a plate in the dining room. The skins from ten human heads were found preserved, and another skin taken from the upper torso of a woman was rolled up on the floor. There was a belt fashioned from carved-off nipples, a chair upholstered in human skin, lampshades covered in flesh pilled taut, a table propped up by a human shinbones, and a refrigerator full of human organs.
The four posts on Gein's bed were topped with skulls and a human head hung on the wall alongside nine death masks - the skinned faces of women - and decorative bracelets made out of human skin. There were soup bowls fashioned from skulls, a shoebox full of female genitalia, faces stuffed with newspapers and mounted like hunting trophies on the walls, and a vest flayed from the torso of a woman. Gein later confessed that he enjoyed dressing himself in skin-garments and pretending he was his mother. The remains of 15 bodies were found; Gein couldn't recall how many murders he'd committed.

After ten years in a mental hospital, Gein was judged competent to stand trial. He was found guilty but criminally insane. He spent the rest of his life in insane asylums, and died in a geriatric ward in 1984, aged 77, always, it was said, a model prisoner - gentle, polite and discreet.

His gravesite in the Plainfield cemetery was frequently vandalized over the years; souvenir seekers would chip off pieces of his gravestone before it was stolen in 2000. It was recovered in 2001 and is presently displayed in a Wautoma, Wisconsin museum.

In the last interview Gein gave, he said: "I like this place, everybody treats me nice. Some of them are a little crazy, though."