Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Whale of an ending

Film director James Whale (the original Frankenstein) died on this day in 1957, a suicide. He left this note:

"The future is just old age and illness and pain.... I must have peace and this is the only way."

For a fictionalized look at Whale as an old man, check out the great movie, Gods and Monsters.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

There'll be a pop quiz in Hell

French grammarian Dominique Bouhours died on this day in 1702. His last words:

"Je vais ou je vas mourir, l'un et l'autre se dit ou se disent." ("I am about to--or I am going to--die; either expression is correct.")

To read about another Frenchman interested in words, whose birth date is today, visit Today in Cynic's Calendar

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tell my wife that


German philosopher Martin Heidegger died on this day in 1976. He wrote:

"Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

He couldn't see the forestal for the trees

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy during World War II, committed suicide on this day in 1949. He left this note, a copy of Sophocles' poem, Chorus from Ajax:

"Frenzy hath seized thy dearest son,
Who from thy shores in glory came
The first in valor and in fame;
Thy deeds that he hath done
Seem hostile all to hostile eyes. . . .
Better to die, and sleep
The never waking sleep, than linger on,
And dare to live, when the soul's life is gone."

Also on this day, in 1885, novelist Victor Hugo died. This is from nis novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame:

"Quasimodo then lifted his eye to look upon the gypsy girl, whose body, suspended from the gibbet, he beheld quivering afar, under its white robes, in the last struggles of death; then again he dropped it upon the archdeacon, stretched a shapeless mass at the foot of the tower, and he said with a sob that heaved his deep breast to the bottom, 'Oh-all that I've ever loved!'"

Hugo's last words were, according to legend:

"I see black light."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Been dying to talk to you

Obit in the local paper the other day with a picture of the deceased talking on his cell phone. Maybe he'll be buried with it, so as to stay in eternal touch with everyone on his list.

Some time ago there was one of the dead guy at his desk, pen in hand and phone cupped to his ear. Maybe he was the one person who did say on his deathbed:

"I didn't spend enough time at the office."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Want to live forever? Call the AP


Playwright, novelist, short-story writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Willam Saroyan died on this day in 1981. His last words, which he phoned into the Associated Press:

"Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

And Posterity is a slow payer


American humorist George Ade died on this day in 1944. He wrote:

"After being Turned Down by numerous Publishers, he had decided to write for Posterity."

Also on this day, in 1984, comedian Andy Kaufman died (maybe). In keeping with Kaufman's life, his death may have been a hoax, some people believe. Kaufman himself said that if it was, he would return 20 years later.

On May 16, 2004, some surviving friends of Kaufman threw a "Welcome Home, Andy" party, at which he did not show.

Coincidence: Jim Carrey, who played Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon, shared his birthday.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Especially American leeches

French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier (full name Baron Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier) died on this day in 1832.

Cuvier was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology by comparing living animals with fossils. He is well known for establishing that extinction was a fact.

His last words, to a nurse who was bleeding him on his deathbed (he died of cholera):

"Nurse, It was I who discovered leeches have red blood."

Monday, May 7, 2012

The sharks will be your tour guides

Prominent theatrical manager Charles Frohman died on this day in 1915. He was a passenger on the Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine. As the story goes, he was last seen trying to calm passengers by saying:

"Why fear death? Death is only a beautiful adventure."

"Death is only a beautiful adventure" is a line from Peter Pan.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

And came out with mosquito bites all over me


Henry David Thoreau died on this day in 1862. In Walden, he wrote:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I have not lived.”

And also:

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

Saturday, May 5, 2012

After he is forgotten, his obscurity will live on


Napoleon Bonaparte died on this day in 1821.

"I am surrounded by priests who repeat incessantly that their kingdom is not of this world," he said, "and yet they lay their hands on everything they can get."

And this, by Napoleon, is surely one of the greatest quips ever uttered:

"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever."

Friday, May 4, 2012

I appreciate all my enemies

English writer Sir Osbert Sitwell died today in 1969. He was the brother of Dame Edith Sitwell. He wrote a five-volume appreciation of his eccentric family. He once said:

"It is fatal to be appreciated in one's own time."

And also:

"In reality, killing time is only the name for another of the multifarious ways by which Time kills us," he wrote.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Verses short, not sweet

John Dryden, once an English poet laureate, died on this day in 1700. He wrote:

"When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat,
Yet fooled with hope, men favor the deceit."