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The Last Words of 20 Cultural Icons

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Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, who died last week at the age of 74, was laid to rest in Dublin yesterday. During the memorial, his son reveled that his father’s last words were sent in a text message he wrote to his wife just minutes before he passed away: “Noli timere” – Latin for “don’t be afraid.”

There is something comforting — albeit maybe a little morbid — about the idea of having your last words recorded for the rest of time. In a world full of second chances, you can only utter your final words once. Here’s how a selection of cultural icons bid farewell to this world.

“I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.” — Joe DiMaggio, referring to his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe

“Strike, man, strike!” — Sir Walter Raleigh to his executioner

“Take me home. I was born in the South and I wish to die and be buried in the South.” — Booker T. Washington

“Codeine…bourbon…” — Tallulah Bankhead

“Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” — George Bernard Shaw

“I love you so much.” — Harry Nilsson to his wife, before going to bed and dying of heart failure

“Utter nonsense.” — Eleanor Roosevelt’s last words to a nurse who told her she would die when she fulfilled the reason God put her on Earth

“I should have drunk more Champagne.” — John Maynard Keynes

“Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!” — Karl Marx to his housekeeper, who had asked if he had any dying words

“My Florida water.” — Lucille Ball, after being asked if she wanted anything

“Am I dying, or is this my birthday?” — Lady Nancy Astor

“Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

“I hope the exit is joyful and hope never to return.” — Frida Kahlo, written in her diary

“My heart is crying, crying…” — Jackie Wilson, quoting his famous song after briefly emerging from a coma brought on by a stroke.

“One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.” — Alfred Hitchcock

“I am going to the inevitable.” — Philip Larkin

“I’m going over the valley.” — Babe Ruth

“In that case, what is the question?” — Gertrude Stein

“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” — Leonardo da Vinci

“Don’t be in such a hurry.” — Billie Holiday