16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons

John killerlane - November 13, 2018

This article features the last known photographs of some of the most famous people from history, taken shortly before their deaths. Among the people featured in this article are famous political figures and leaders, scientists, authors, actors, and musicians. While some on this list lived long and successful lives, others had their lives cut tragically short. Some of these photos capture these people just moments before their deaths. The tragic circumstances of their deaths sent shock waves all around the world, and in a way helped to cement their legacy. Here are sixteen of the last known photos of some of the most famous people in history.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
The last known photo of Nikola Tesla taken on January 1, 1943. On January 5, 1943 Tesla put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of his hotel room in the Hotel New Yorker in New York City. The hotel maid found Tesla dead in his room on January 7. Assistant Medical Examiner H. W. Wembly was called to the scene and concluded that the cause of death was coronary thrombosis. boredpanda.com

16. Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan, Croatia in 1856. Tesla was a researcher and inventor who discovered the rotating magnetic field, which is the basis for most alternating-current machinery. In 1884, Tesla emigrated to the United States. One year later Tesla sold the patent rights to his system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse. Six years later, in 1891, Tesla invented the Tesla Coil, an induction coil which is widely used in radio technology.

Tesla studied at the Technical University in Graz, Austria and later at the University of Prague. While studying at Graz, Tesla first encountered the Gramme dynamo, a generator that when reversed functioned as an electric motor. Tesla realized then that alternating current could be used as an effective source of power. While in Budapest Tesla conceptualized the principle of a rotating magnetic field and an induction motor which could be powered using alternating current. Tesla moved to Paris in 1882 where he worked for the Continental Edison Company. The following year Tesla was sent to Strasbourg on assignment. While there, Tesla spent his free time working on his own side project where he successfully built his first induction motor.

In 1884 Tesla emigrated to America and briefly worked for Thomas Edison. Differing backgrounds and methods employed by the two inventors saw them part ways not long afterwards. In May 1885 Tesla sold the patents to his polyphase system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse, who was the head of the Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh. It sparked a “titanic power struggle between Edison’s direct-current systems and the Tesla-Westinghouse alternating-current approach, which eventually won out.”

In 1900, Tesla secured a $150,000 loan from J. Pierpont Morgan to build a wireless world broadcasting tower on Long Island in New York. Tesla reportedly secured the loan from Morgan by agreeing to give away 51% of his patent rights of telephony and telegraphy to him. Tesla had ambitious plans for the project. He hoped that it would facilitate worldwide communication and the sending of different types of information, including pictures, messages, weather warnings as well as stock reports. However, Tesla’s hopes were dashed when the project was abandoned due to a financial panic, labour troubles and Morgan’s withdrawal of financial support.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of financial resources, many of Tesla’s idea remained in his notebooks. He died penniless on January 7, 1943, aged 86. Tesla’s genius is his legacy, and three Nobel Prize winners paid tribute in their acceptance speeches to “one of the outstanding intellects of the world who paved the way for many of the technological developments of modern times.”

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
Anne Frank pictured with her sister Margot taken in 1942. boredpanda.com

15. Anne Frank

Arguably the most well-known victim of the Holocaust, Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany. Anne’s family left Germany early after Hitler’s Nazi Party came into power and emigrated to Amsterdam in Holland. After the German Army invaded The Netherlands in 1941, the Franks were facing deportation to a forced-labour camp the following year. On July 9, 1942, the Franks and four other Jewish friends went into hiding in the back office and warehouse of Otto Frank’s (Anne’s father) food product business.
For just over two years the Franks along with their friends remained in hiding, receiving food and other supplies from non-Jewish friends until a tip-off from Dutch informers revealed their secret hiding place to the Gestapo. The family was sent to Westerbork, which was a transit camp located in The Netherlands. From there, they tragically ended up on the last ever transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland on September 3, 1944. One month after arriving in Auschwitz, Anne and her sister Margot were transferred to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In early January, Anne’s mother died in Auschwitz just before the camp was evacuated on January 18, 1945.

In March 1945, the appalling, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of Belsen led to an outbreak of typhus which tragically claimed the lives of Anne and her sister Margot just a few weeks before the liberation of the camp by the British on April 15, 1945. Anne’s father Otto Frank was found hospitalized in Auschwitz when the camp was liberated by the Russian Army on January 27, 1945. He was the only member of the family who survived.
Later, friends who had sifted through what was left behind by the Gestapo in the Franks hiding place found a diary that Anne had written during their time in hiding. Anne Frank’s diary entitled, “The Diary of a Young Girl” was published in 1947. Originally printed in Dutch, the diary was translated into more than 50 languages making it the most widely read diary of the Holocaust. In 1995 Anne’s diary was reprinted in English. It contained material previously omitted which made it one-third longer than the original published versions. The Franks hiding place is now a museum visited by people from all across the world.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
Albert Einstein, taken at his home in Princeton, New Jersey, just a few weeks before he died of an aortic aneurysm. mustsee-beforeyoudie.blogspot.com

14. Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, born in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany on March 14, 1879, is widely recognized as one of the greatest intellects in human history. He dedicated his life to the field of physics and developed his theories of special and general relativity, winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. Einstein formulated arguably the most famous equation in scientific history – E=mc2 (Energy=mass times the speed of light, squared) which postulated that the energy of a quantity of matter is equal to the product of its mass and the square of the velocity of light.

Einstein left Germany in 1933 after Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power. He emigrated to the United States and took up a position at the new Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1939, Einstein was informed by Danish atomic physicist, Niels Bohr, that a German refugee physicist named Lise Meitner had “split the uranium atom.” Einstein feared that this research could lead to the Germans developing a nuclear weapon. With the Second World War looming, Einstein wrote to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt warning him of this possibility. It ultimately led to the Manhattan Project and the development of nuclear weapons (Einstein was not involved in this research).

Einstein spent the rest of his life formulating unified field theory at Princeton. On April 17, 1955, at the age of 76, Einstein suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm. While at hospital Einstein refused surgery and reportedly said that he was ready to die – “I want to go when I want, it is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” Einstein passed away the following morning at the University Medical Center at Princeton.

The pathologist who performed Einstein’s autopsy, Thomas Stoltz Harvey, removed and kept Einstein’s brain without the family’s permission. Several days later, Harvey managed to persuade Einstein’s son, Hans Albert to allow him to keep his father’s brain for further research. Over four decades after Einstein’s death, Canadian scientists carried out a study on Einstein’s brain. They found that Einstein’s parietal lobe – the area of the brain responsible for the processing of “spatial relationships, 3D visualization, and mathematical thought was 15 percent wider than in people of normal intelligence.”

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
Last photo of Mark Twain taken in April 1910. mustsee-beforeyoudie.blogspot.com

13. Mark Twain

Samuel L. Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. As well as being a hugely popular author, Clemens worked as a riverboat pilot, a journalist, a lecturer, and also as an entrepreneur and an inventor. Undoubtedly, he was most successful as a writer, authoring American classics such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. These books made Clemens a national treasure and brought him fame. Speaking of Clemens contribution to American literature, author Ernest Hemingway said that “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.”

However, Clemens’ success as an author was not matched by his business ventures. He set up a publishing house that, ultimately, went bankrupt. He also suffered unimaginable tragedy in his familial life too. When Clemens and his wife Livy’s son Langdon was just a toddler, he contracted diphtheria and died. The loss of his daughter, Susy, to spinal meningitis, when she was aged just 24, left Clemens heartbroken. The pain of the loss was compounded by the fact that Twain was abroad when she died. Their daughter Jean, who had severe epilepsy, died of a heart attack at the young age of 29.

His beloved wife Livy, whom he was married to for 34 years, died in 1904 after a long illness. The love for his wife was reflected in the way he wrote about her, “Wheresoever she was, there is Eden.” Writing to a friend shortly after his marriage to Livy, Clemens wrote, “I have … the only sweetheart I have ever loved … she is the best girl, and the sweetest, and gentlest, and the daintiest, and she is the most perfect gem of womankind.”
Understandably, having suffered such personal tragedy during his lifetime, Clemens’ writing became darker and more pessimistic towards the end of his life. Hamlin Hill, an American author who wrote several books about Clemens and his writings, said of Clemens, that “much of the last years of his life, he lived in hell.” While Clemens was struggling with his own personal demons in private, the last fifteen years of his life were spent being publicly lauded as one of the great living American writers. Clemens received honorary degrees from Oxford and Yale and from 1895-1896, he embarked on a successful worldwide lecture tour which helped to pay off his debts. Clemens died at his home in Redding, Connecticut on April 21, 1910.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
This is the last known photo of Ulysses S. Grant which was taken on June 27, 1885. Here Grant is pictured writing notes for his memoirs which were written by author Mark Twain. ranker.com

12. Ulysses S. Grant

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant Ohio. At the age of 17, Grant’s father arranged for him to be enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point. A clerical error at the time of his enrollment at the Military Academy led to Grant changing his name to Ulysses S. Grant to ensure his admission. Despite his later military triumphs, Grant showed little in the way of potential as a future military leader during his time at the Military Academy. His grades were average and he received “several demerits for slovenly dress and tardiness.” Grant graduated 21st out of 39 and fully intended to resign after serving his mandatory four years of duty.

Grant served in the Mexican-American War, initially as a quartermaster but later led a company into combat and was lauded for his “bravery under fire.” Grant left the military and tried to make a living in the civilian world. After a number of unsuccessful business ventures Grant resorted to selling firewood on a St. Louis Street just to make ends meet. Eventually, Grant returned to the family tannery business and worked as a clerk under the supervision of his two younger brothers. It was a humbling time for Grant who little could have imagined the heights he would ultimately reach.

Following the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 Grant returned to the military. He ultimately rose through the ranks and became lieutenant-general of the Union Army. After the Union victory and end of the Civil War, Grant was promoted to full general where he was in charge of the military during Reconstruction. In 1868, Grant ran for president of the United States. He won the election and became – at the time – the youngest ever president of the United States, aged 46.

Grant was re-elected again in 1872 but his presidency, unfortunately, is remembered by the scandals which surrounded members of his administration. After leaving office, Grant pursued another business venture where he and others were left ruined when Grant’s business partner Ferdinand Ward embezzled investors’ money, resulting in the company going bankrupt. Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer the same year. He hired author Mark Twain to write his memoirs which went on to sell over 300,000 copies, earning his family over $450,000. Just as his memoirs were being published, Grant passed away at the age of 63 on July 23, 1885.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
The last known photograph of Abraham Lincoln, taken on February 5, 1865 at Gardner’s Gallery in Washington D.C. ranker.com

11. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln became the president of the United States in 1860. His presidency was dominated by the secession of the Confederate States and the United States Civil War which raged from 1861-1865. At first, Lincoln declared that his aim was to preserve the Union but as the war continued on throughout his first term in office, Lincoln took measures to liberate the slaves of the Confederate States still in rebellion.

After the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, which stated that all slaves held by the Confederate States still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, would be, “thenceforward, and forever free.” The Emancipation Proclamation and the Union victory in the Civil War ultimately laid the groundwork for the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery in the United States.

Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address at the scene of the battle fought there where so many Americans on both sides lost their lives has gone down in history as one of the greatest speeches ever made by an American president. Ironically, Lincoln’s speech lasted just two minutes and contained only 263 words, but the significance of the words that Lincoln spoke that day still resonate to this day. Referring to the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln alludes to what the founding fathers of America had envisioned in 1776, “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Little over a month after Lincoln’s inauguration for his second term in office, he was assassinated on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The last known photo of Abraham Lincoln while he was alive was taken on February 5, 1865 at Gardner’s Gallery in Washington D.C. by photographer Alexander Gardner. Gardner took several multiple-lens photographs of the President during the session. This is reportedly the last one taken. The line which runs across the photo which looks like a crease is actually a crack in the glass plate negative.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, taken just moments before his assassination on November 22, 1963. ranker.com

10. John F. Kennedy

The assassination of John F. Kennedy has been shrouded in conspiracy theories ever since that fateful day in Dallas in 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald was later identified as JFK’s assassin but some have questioned whether Oswald acted alone or whether there was a second gunman located in the grassy knoll. Other more outlandish conspiracy theorists claim that Oswald was framed for JFK’s murder and point to other possible suspects, such as the mafia, the Russian KGB, the CIA, and even his successor Lyndon B. Johnson – alleging that Johnson had everything to gain by having JFK assassinated. Unsurprisingly, there is no concrete evidence for any of these crazy conspiracy theories.

What fueled the flames of these conspiracy theories was the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald just two days after he had allegedly assassinated JFK. Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner who had connections to organized criminals. The Chief Justice of the United States, Earl Warren, headed a presidential commission to investigate both JFK’s assassination and Oswald’s murder. The Warren Commission concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of any conspiracy to assassinate the president, but that Oswald had acted alone. However, the Warren Commission could not satisfactorily answer all questions which arose as a result of JFK’s assassination and thus the conspiracy theories continued to be believed.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
Gandhi photographed by French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, at Birla House the day before he was assassinated. magnumphotos.com

9. Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma also known as Mohandas (Great-Souled) Gandhi, was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India. Gandhi became effectively the spiritual leader of his country during the struggle to bring about an end to British rule in India. Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance is arguably what he is best remembered for. Gandhi became a prominent leader in the Indian home-rule movement and urged Indians to boycott British goods, and take a number of other measures in opposition to British authority in India, such as advocating that “government officials stop working for the Crown, students stop attending government schools, soldiers to leave their posts and citizens to stop paying taxes” to the British government.

During World War II, Gandhi launched the “Quit India” movement which called for immediate British withdrawal from India. The British responded by suppressing the movement and Gandhi along with his wife and other leaders of the India National Congress were arrested in August 1942. The British government’s attitude to British withdrawal from India was expressed by Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill while speaking in parliament: “I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside at the liquidation of the British Empire.”

When Churchill and the Conservative Party lost the election in 1945, Gandhi negotiated with the new Labour Party government who were in favour of Indian independence. Despite Gandhi’s efforts to form a unified India, the country was partitioned along religious lines which led to the creation of the predominantly Muslim state of Pakistan in 1947. Sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims continued and Gandhi toured the country advocating peace.

On January 30, 1948, while attending a prayer meeting a frail and elderly Gandhi was shot and killed by a Hindu extremist named Nathuram Godse. Godse, who was angered by Gandhi’s message of tolerance amidst a background of sectarian violence, knelt before Gandhi before shooting him three times from close range. Gandhi’s violent death contrasted starkly with a life of pacifism and nonviolent protest. He was 78 years old when he was murdered.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
This photo captures the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. His friends point out the location of the sniper, who was later identified as James Earl Ray. boredpanda.com

8. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. Like his father, who also had been a Baptist minister, King adopted the name Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader. Martin Luther King Jr. came to prominence as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s to his death in 1968. King’s activism was instrumental in bringing about the political change which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For his nonviolent activism in the pursuit of civil rights for Black Americans in the United States King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

The highlight of King’s activism arguably was the famous March on Washington on August 1968. A crowd of approximately 200,000 gathered for a mass demonstration calling for peaceful change. King delivered arguably the most famous speech in history, the powerfully eloquent “I have a dream” speech. In it, King spoke of his hope for a time where racial discrimination would be a thing of the past:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

On April 3, 1968, King gave another speech, at the Mason Temple in Memphis, in which he said, “I have been to the mountaintop. I have seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” The following day, April 4th, 1968, King was shot and killed by a sniper outside of his room at the Lorraine Motel. King’s killer was later identified as James Earl Ray. Ray pleaded guilty to King’s murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Ray later alleged that he had been coerced into confessing to the murder and that he was the innocent victim of a larger conspiracy. King’s son Dexter met with Ray in prison and later publicly called for the case against him to be reopened. The case never came to trial and Ray died in prison in 1998. Several U.S. government investigations into King’s murder concluded that Ray acted alone.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
The last known photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt, taken by Nicholas Robbins at the Little White House in Warm Springs, April 11, 1945. The following day he suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage and died. ranker.com

7. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only American president to serve four terms. FDR was in office during some of the darkest times in American history. He was president during the Great Depression and took measures to greatly increase the powers of the federal government during this challenging period. To attempt to alleviate the hardship endured by Americans during the Great Depression, FDR and his administration enacted a series of programs which were known as the “New Deal.” These reforms saw greater government-regulation of the economy in areas such as housing, labour, industry, and agriculture among others.

The New Deal also sought to come to the aid of the “forgotten” American in the wake of mass unemployment during the Great Depression. A number of Social Security benefits were introduced including old-age and widow’s benefits, unemployment compensation and disability insurance. Other measures were introduced to improve the working conditions of people employed in certain industries, with the setting of maximum working hours as well as a minimum wage.

FDR was president during the Second World War and the stresses and strains placed on him during the conflict had a detrimental effect on his health. In March 1945 FDR underwent tests at a hospital which revealed that he had atherosclerosis (a disease which causes fatty deposits known as plaque to build up in arteries), coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. One month later, on April 12, 1945, FDR suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died. FDR’s death aged 63 was a massive shock to the American public. He was replaced by his vice president, Harry S. Truman, who was sworn in within hours of FDR’s death.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
The last known photo of Marilyn Monroe. This photo shows Marilyn Monroe with jazz pianist Buddy Greco in August 1962, just days before her death. ranker.com

6. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is remembered as one of the most iconic and sensual females in the history of Hollywood – thanks to roles such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like it Hot, as well as the famous scene from the Seven Year Itch, where Marilyn’s dress is blown up while she is standing above a subway grating. However, despite her successful movie career, Monroe lived a troubled life away from the Hollywood glitz and glamour.

Monroe, whose real name was Norma Jean Baker had a difficult upbringing. Her mother had serious mental health issues and spent most of her adult life institutionalized. As a result, Monroe was taken care of by twelve different sets of foster parents and also spent some time in an orphanage. Monroe also had a number of failed marriages during her short life. In 1942, aged just sixteen she married James Dougherty, a fellow co-worker in an aircraft factory. They divorced in 1946 and in 1954 Monroe married famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio. Their marriage lasted just 274 days. Monroe cited “mental cruelty” as her reason for divorcing DiMaggio. She married playwright Arthur Miller in 1954 but they divorced in 1961.

Monroe was said to be in an extremely fragile mental state following her divorce to Miller. Following several months living as an almost total recluse, Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home on August 5, 1962, having taken her life by overdosing on sleeping pills. She was just 36 years old.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
Archduke Franz Ferdinand pictured along with his wife Sophie during his visit to Sarajevo in June 1914. Both were later shot and killed by Gavrilo Princip who was a member of the terrorist group, “The Black Hand.” The assassination ultimately led to the First World War. ranker.com

5. Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Formed in 1911, The Black Hand were a secret Serbian society which was led by Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević. The group consisted mainly of army officers and included some government officials. The Black Hand sought to unite the South Slav people into a federal nation and to bring about the end of the Austro-Hungarian rule in the Balkans. Operating from Belgrade, the group conducted propaganda campaigns and armed units in Macedonia before the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. They also established a network of terrorist cells within Bosnia. The group dominated the Serbian Army and gained influence over the government by terrorizing officials.

The Black Hand was instrumental in the assassination plot of the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand, which led to the outbreak of World War 1. The assassination was carried out by Gavrilo Princip, who was trained by the Black Hand, his accomplice Nedjelko Čabrinović, and four other members of the terrorist group. Francis Ferdinand had been made inspector general of the army in 1913 and was heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, which made him a significant target for the Black Hand.

When Princip learned of Francis Ferdinand’s upcoming official visit to Sarajevo in June 1914, he and his accomplices devised a plan for his assassination. On June 28, 1914, during the archduke’s procession through the streets of Sarajevo, Princip’s accomplice Nedjelko Čabrinović threw a bomb at the car that Ferdinand was travelling in but it bounced off and exploded underneath the next vehicle. Later when Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were travelling to a hospital to visit the officer wounded in the explosion, they were shot and killed by Princip.

Princip denied having intended to kill Sophie, saying that he had been aiming at the military governor of Bosnia, General Oskar Potiorek. Princip was sentenced to twenty years in prison, the maximum sentence for a person under the age of twenty-years-old. Princip contracted tuberculosis and died in a hospital near the prison after having an arm amputated.

The Black Hand leadership was ultimately brought to trial by Prince Alexander, commander-in-chief of the expatriate Serbian Army, at Salonika in 1917. Dimitrijević and two other leaders were executed, while more than two hundred were imprisoned.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
The last known photo of Elvis. This photo was taken at 12.28 a.m. on August 16 1977. Elvis is pictured here driving back from a late night dental appointment with his dentist Dr. Lester Hofman. vintag.es

4. Elvis Presley

Elvis Aaron Presley, perhaps the most famous musical icon of all time, a true rags-to-riches story of a man who shot to international stardom from humble beginnings. Elvis got his big break in 1953 after record producer Sam Phillips listened to a two-song demo tape that Elvis had recorded in Sun Studios. His first single, “That’s All Right” was a hit. In 1955, Colonel Tom Parker became Elvis’s manager and soon afterwards Elvis began touring. Elvis’s unique sound and good looks soon amassed a large female following.

In 1958, at the peak of his fame, Elvis was called to serve in the U.S. Army and went overseas to Germany. When he returned Elvis still enjoyed huge popularity but by the mid-1960s his career was beginning to go downhill. His records weren’t reaching the heights they once had and he was being criticized for starring in a string of mediocre generic films. Bands like the Beatles were taking the musical world by storm and Elvis’s career was slowly fading out.

In 1968, Elvis made a triumphant return to the top by starring in the hugely successful CBS “Comeback Special.” The following year Elvis topped the charts with “Suspicious Minds” and embarked on a successful Las Vegas tour. His concert special, “Aloha from Hawaii” was seen by over 1.5 billion people worldwide. However, the pressures of stardom and his rock and roll lifestyle was taking a toll on his health. He had become addicted to prescription drugs and he was gaining a lot of weight. Elvis was due to fly to Portland, Maine on August 17 to kick off the next leg of his nationwide tour but sadly, the day before, August 16, 1977, he suffered a massive heart attack and died at his Graceland estate. He was just 42 years old. Approximately 20,000 of his fans flocked to his home in Graceland to pay their respects after he died.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
John Lennon photographed signing an autograph for Mark David Chapman outside his Manhattan apartment. Chapman murdered Lennon just hours later as he was leaving his apartment, shooting him four times in the back. ranker.com

3. John Lennon

Best known for being part of The Beatles who achieved massive worldwide success and numerous number ones. Lennon began his musical career in the mid-1950s with his band “The Quarrymen.” In 1957 Lennon met a then fifteen-year-old Paul McCartney. Lennon was so impressed by McCartney that he asked him to join his band. “The Beatles” were formed soon after and the rest they say is history. The became the biggest band of their generation and even cracked the notoriously difficult American musical market.

After the “Beatlemania” had ended Lennon embarked on a solo career. Lennon used his profile and celebrity to voice his opposition to the Vietnam War. He released a number of anti-war tracks such as “Give Peace a Chance” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”. He also famously staged two “Bed-Ins for Peace” with his wife Yoko Ono. His single “Imagine” envisioned a world free of war and racial division, where peace reigned and a “brotherhood of man” existed.

On December 8, 1980, Lennon was murdered outside his New York home by a mentally ill fan named Mark Chapman. In the last photo taken before Lennon was killed (above), you can see Lennon signing an autograph for Chapman, who would murder him just hours later.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
The last known photo of Vladimir Lenin before his death on January 21, 1924. Lenin, pictured here in a wheelchair, had been left semi-paralysed after suffering a number of strokes. ranker.com

Born, Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, he changed his surname to Lenin to help conceal his identity while working on clandestine party activities following his arrest and exile in Siberia. Lenin is widely regarded as one of the most significant political figures of the twentieth century. He was the founder of the Russian Communist Party known as the Bolsheviks and was the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. In the first of the two revolutions, the imperial Russian government was overthrown in March 1917. The second placed Lenin’s Bolsheviks in power in October 1917.
Lenin’s radical political beliefs stemmed from the fact that his brother was hanged for attempting to assassinate the Tsar, Alexander III. Lenin’s extreme political views resulted in his expulsion from university where he was studying law (he had to complete his studies as an external student). While in power, Lenin ruthlessly destroyed all opposition to his rule. During the three years of civil war which followed the Bolsheviks seizing of power Lenin crushed all resistance to his leadership within the civilian population in a campaign which became known as “Red Terror.”
Lenin narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in August 1918 in which he was shot twice but survived. Lenin’s health was never the same again and he suffered two strokes in 1922. He suffered another stroke in March 1923 which left him unable to speak. Lenin suffered another stroke on January 21, 1924, and died later that evening in Gorki. Afterwards, Lenin’s corpse was embalmed and placed in a mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square.

16 Last Moments of These Historic Icons
Purported to be the last picture of Adolf Hitler before he committed suicide on April 30, 1945. Hitler is pictured with his adjutant Julius Schaub looking at the ruins of the Reich chancellery on April 28, 1945. ranker.com

1. Adolf Hitler

German dictator and leader of the Nazi Party (also known as the Nationalist Socialist Worker’s Party). Hitler became German Chancellor on January 30, 1933, and following the death of the president Paul von Hindenburg, he assumed the twin titles of Führer and Chancellor on August 2, 1934. Hitler served in the German Army during the First World War and after the war returned to Munich where he continued to work for the German military.

While working as an intelligence officer Hitler monitored the activities of the German Worker’s Party (the DAP). He was drawn to the political philosophy espoused by DAP leader Anton Drexler which at its roots was anti-Semitic, anti-Marxist and nationalistic. Hitler joined the party in September 1919 and within two years had replaced Drexler as party leader. By this time the party was more commonly known as the Nazi Party. Hitler even designed the notorious symbol of the Nazi Party, the Swastika.

After an unsuccessful attempted coup on November 8, 1923, Hitler was arrested and tried for high treason. He was sentenced to nine months in prison where he wrote: “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle) where he outlined his vision for Germany. The book was translated into 11 languages and sold more than 5 million copies by 1939. The scapegoating of the Jewish population resonated with millions of unemployed Germans who were looking for someone to blame for the German Army’s loss in World War I and the dire poverty endured during the Great Depression.

Hitler ran for the presidency of Germany in 1932 and received 36% of the vote making him a serious political force in the country. The winner of the presidential race, Paul von Hindenburg reluctantly appointed Hitler as German Chancellor in an attempt to achieve political stability. The day after von Hindenburg’s death in August 1934, Hitler abolished the office of president and transferred the former powers of the president to the office of Chancellor, making him the commander of the armed forces.

Hitler’s invasion of Poland led to the outbreak of the Second World War which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people, including six million Jews who died during the Holocaust. On April 30, 1945, with Germany on the brink of defeat, Hitler and his wife, who had he married the previous day, committed suicide.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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