by Alan Bisbort
1. Brendan Behan
“You made one mistake. You married me.”
The Irish playwright raised up from his hospital bed and said this to his long-suffering wife, Beatrice; then he died of acute liver disease at age 41.
2. Dylan Thomas
“I’ve just had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that’s the record.”
The Welsh poet got in a drinking contest at the White Horse Tavern, after which he stumbled back to his room at the Chelsea Hotel, and said this to Liz Reitell, with whom he was having an affair. He died soon thereafter of acute alcohol poisoning at age 39.
3. Edith Piaf
“All the damn fool things you do in life you pay for.”
The French singer, who suffered from chronic ill health, contracted pneumonia in Paris. She knew she was dying, and said this to her sister, at her bedside.
4. Lee Harvey Oswald
“There ain’t nobody gonna shoot me.
”The suspected assassin of John Kennedy said this to Detective James Leavelle, to whom he was handcuffed as he was led out of a Dallas police station.
Moments later, Jack Ruby proved him wrong.
5. Dutch Schultz
“Mother is the best bet and don’t let Satan draw you fast…French Canadian bean soup. I want to pay George, don’t make no bull moves…Oh, mama, mama, mama.”
Shot in the head while dining at a Newark chop ship, the Mobster lingered for 22 hours, blabbering surreal non-sequiturs.
6. Gen. George Armstrong Custer
“Hurrah, boys, we’ve got them! We’ll finish them up and then go home to our station.”
On June 25, 1876, at Little Big Horn, Custer was so certain of his surprise attack’s swift success that he yelled this to his men before charging into the middle of the Sioux encampment.
“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist—‘’
The Union general, overseeing emplacements of artillery near Spotsylvania, assured his men of their safety. A Confederate sharpshooter proved him—in mid-sentence—wrong.
“What an artist dies in me!”
After the Roman emperor was overthrown, he went into hiding near Rome. A death sentence was passed in absentia by the Roman senate. Before it could be carried out, Nero committed suicide with poison. These, according to Tacitus, were his last words.
9. Eva Maria (Evita) Duarte de Peron
“A decent woman has to get on in the world.”
The wife of Argentine president Juan Peron said this to her maid before falling into a coma. After her death, her body was embalmed and put on public display.
10. Ernesto Che Guevara
“Shoot, you coward, you’re going to kill a man.”
When the Argentine-born leftist revolutionary was captured by Bolivian troops on Oct. 9, 1967, he said this to Mario Teran, the soldier who’d been ordered to shoot him.