Lost Legends: 45 Harrowing Facts about the Tragic Demises of Famous Individuals

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1André Tchaikowsky

André Tchaikowsky

A Polish pianist named André Tchaikowsky donated his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company after his death, as he wanted it to be used for Yorick in productions of Hamlet. It took 26 years for his wishes to be realized as no one wanted to use them. In 2008, David Tennant finally used it.

2. In 2013, a French businessman died of a heart attack while having sex with a stranger while on a business trip. A French court subsequently ruled that this was an industrial accident and that his wife and family were entitled to compensation.

3. Edgar Allen Poe died mysteriously after having been missing for 6 days. Though still alive when he was finally found, he was wearing someone else’s cheap clothes and not coherent enough to tell where he’d been. He had disappeared en route to his own wedding.

4. When Bill Paxton died, hundreds of storm chasers spelled out his initials BP across three states using GPS markers to honor him for his role as a storm chaser in the 90s movie Twister.

5. Jean Meslier was a catholic priest and exemplary clergyman of 40 years, known for his charity work. After his death, a 633-page “testament” was found in his house. In it, he claims he only became a priest to please his parents, denies the existence of God, and calls religion “a castle in the air.”

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6Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker

Legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker's heroin and alcohol addictions were so severe, that after his death at 34 years of age, the coroner mistakenly estimated him to be between 50 and 60 years old.

7. Nikola Tesla once paid an overdue hotel bill with a 'working model' of his 'death beam'. He warned the management never to open it without taking proper precautions to avoid detonation. After his death in 1943, the box was pried open and they found nothing but a bunch of old lab components.

8. Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt's son died flying for the US during World War 1. When his body was discovered behind enemy lines, the Germans gave him a full military burial with honors.

9. Isidor Straus, the owner of Macy's died on the Titanic. He refused to get in a lifeboat before women and children, and his wife refused to leave without him. She said, "I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together." They were last seen standing on the deck, arm in arm.

10. Authors C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley both died on November 22nd, 1963. Their deaths weren't as prominent in the news because of a more noteworthy death that occurred on that day: the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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11Kurt Gödel

Kurt Gödel

Philosopher Kurt Gödel starved to death whilst his wife was in the hospital because he had an obsessive fear of being poisoned and would only eat food that she cooked.

12. Renowned British military surgeon James Barry was a pioneer in the medical field with a career spanning over 50 years. After his death in 1865 the nurse prepping his body for burial noted female anatomy and stretch marks from pregnancy. Barry had been born a woman named Margaret Ann Bulkley.

13. After L. Ron Hubbard's death in 1986, the Church of Scientology officially claimed that he voluntarily abandoned his physical body after it became an impediment to his work, and that he had left Earth to do scientific research on another planet—having "learned how to do it without a body."

14. Since Milton Hershey didn't have any children he and his wife opened an orphanage school and when he died, he left his entire fortune and the ownership of Hershey Chocolate Company in trust for the children in the school. Still today 70% of the company is owned by Milton Hershey School.

15. After the death of the first Chinese emperor, Shi Huangdi, his second oldest son forged a letter in the emperor's name, stating that the eldest son is to commit suicide and the second oldest son would become emperor. That plan worked.

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16Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was injected with LSD on his deathbed and essentially tripped into death.

17. In 1998, a 23-year-old man named Michael Gentner in Ohio choked to death on a live goldfish he tried to swallow on a dare. In response to if anyone would be charged for the man's death, a police officer stated "If I dare you to jump off a bridge and you do it and you're 23 years of age, you're stupid."

18. Isaac Asimov died from complications of HIV. In 1983 got HIV from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. His doctors told him to keep it quiet. Ten years later, after most of Asimov's physicians had died, Asimov's family agreed that the HIV story should be made public.

19. When he was 26, Pete Maravich said "I don't want to play 10 years in the NBA and die of a heart attack at age 40" in an interview. He went on to play 10 years in the NBA and died of a heart attack at age 40.

20. When Pablo Picasso died at the age of 91, he left more than 45,000 works. In 1980 the Picasso estate was appraised at $250 million, but experts have said the true value was actually in the billions. Picasso did not leave a will so the division of his holdings took six years among seven heirs.

21Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan

When the famous pirate Henry Morgan died, an amnesty was declared so pirates and privateers could come and pay their respects without fear of arrest. He was also given a state funeral in Port Royal, and buried with a 22-gun salute.

22. Rasputin's autopsy showed no signs of poisoning, no water in his lungs, and in-tact genitalia. He simply died from three bullet wounds and the popular story of his incredible survivability is likely completely inaccurate.

23. Theodore Roosevelt's mother (Martha Bulloch Roosevelt) died at age 49 and less than twelve hours later, his wife Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt died from what was diagnosed as acute kidney disease. In his diary that night, the 26-year-old Theodore placed a large X, along with the simple words “The light has gone out of my life.”

24. When George Washington died in 1799, the British Royal Navy was ordered to lower their flags to half mast. The London Morning Chronicle opined that ‘The whole range of history does not present to our view a character upon which we can dwell with such entire and unmixed admiration.’

25. Hours after Nintendo announced the death of their CEO, Satoru Iwata, a rainbow appeared over their headquarters in Kyoto, Japan. It was dubbed "The Rainbow Road to Heaven."

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