- Education and Science
Last Meals of the Famous and Infamous
Very few people get to pick their last meal. While I can see the upside to having what you want to eat for your last meal, I’m thinking it’s not a very fortuitous position to be in. The last meals for most people will probably be some type of hospital food or something prepared that they can eat in their last hours. If they can or even feel like eating in their last hours. Others will simply eat their last meal as nothing special, not knowing it was their last meal.
Richard Nixon got to pick his last White House meal as President on the morning of August 8, 1974. He could have had anything he wanted; he chose grapefruit, cottage cheese and a glass of milk. Of course, it wasn’t truly his last meal and he probably grabbed lunch on the plane ride to California.
Bruno Hauptmann was executed by electrocution April 3, 1936 for the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. His last meal consisted of celery, olives, buttered peas, french fries, chicken, cherries and cake.
On the evening of January 30, 1948 Mahatma Gandhi had one of his typical healthy dinners of goat’s milk, cooked vegetables, oranges, and a concoction of ginger, sour lemons, and strained butter mixed with aloe juice. Late that evening he took his regular walk through New Delhi where he was often greeted by followers. That particular evening there was an assassin among the well-wishers who shot him at point-blank range.
Knowing it was going to be his final meal, Gary Heidnik wasn’t quite as health conscious as Gandhi. Executed by lethal injection July 6, 1999 he had two slices of cheese pizza and two cups of coffee.
Timothy McVeigh ate two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream before being executed by lethal injection June 11, 2001.
James Dean was know for living life on the edge and his life ended with the fiery crash of his Porsche Spider on September 30, 1955. It’s a bit ironic that someone with such a fast life would end up with apple pie and a glass of milk he had at a roadside diner being his last meal.
Ernest Hemingway, however, knew he was going to commit suicide and therefore planned his last meal accordingly. He had been suffering from severe depression and had undergone electroshock therapy which, apparently, didn’t help matters much. Before he pulled the trigger on that shotgun on July 2, 1961 he enjoyed his favorite meal of a New York strip steak, baked potato, caesar salad, and a glass of Bordeaux.
Gary Gilmore demanded his execution and he got his wish. At the time there was a moratorium on executions in the United States and Gilmore would be the first person to be executed in the United States since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. He had a hamburger, hard-boiled eggs, a baked potato, and a few cups of coffee. Legend has it that an uncle smuggled him in three shots of whiskey. He is also famous for his last words, “Let’s do it!”
Before his death by lethal injection on May 10, 1994, John Wayne Gacy wanted a dozen deep-fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe chicken from KFC, french fries, and a pound of strawberries.
Much more weight conscious, Ted Bundy declined a last meal on January 24, 1989.
Adolf Eichmann requested and was provided with a bottle of Carmel, a dry red Israeli wine prior to his hanging on May 31, 1962.
Perry Smith and Richard Hickock were executed for the murders of the Clutter family on April 14, 1965. Their crime was the basis for In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. They enjoyed shrimp, french fries, garlic bread, ice cream, and strawberries with whipped cream before their hangings; Hickock preceded Smith to the hangman’s noose.
Saddam Hussein ate boiled chicken and rice and drank hot tea with honey the day before his hanging. He refused offers of cigarettes and a last meal of chicken.
The night of August 15, 1977 was a rough one for “The King,” Elvis Presley. He was restless and between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. he went to the dentist to have a cavity filled, discussed marriage plans with his fiancée Ginger Alden, played racquetball, and sang some gospel songs at the piano. Around sunrise, Ginger went to bed, but Elvis had an early morning snack: four scoops of ice cream and six chocolate chip cookies. After that he went to bed only to get up a few hours later and go into the bathroom where he had a fatal hart attack.
Before heading out to Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, President Lincoln dined on mock turtle soup, roast Virginia fowl with chestnut stuffing, baked yams, and cauliflower with cheese sauce.
John Belushi stopped at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in L.A. on the night of March 5, 1982. He was very drunk and had been told by friends he need to get his act together and get something to eat. He had a bowl of lentil soup in the Rainbow’s kitchen and then returned home where he was injected with a fatal dose of heroin and cocaine. On autopsy the only contents found in his stomach was the lentil soup.
Adolf Hitler had a last meal of spaghetti with a light sauce with no mention of the fall of Berlin. The conversation around the table is reported to have been confined to dog breeding methods and the manufacture of lipstick from sewer grease. After the meal, Hitler and Eva Braun, his wife of less than 40 hours, moved off to a private room and committed suicide.
Hounded by the press, Princess Diana decided to end her vacation early and return to England. She enjoyed a mushroom and asparagus omelet, Dover sole, and vegetable tempura at the Ritz Hotel before leaving to spend the night at the Duke of Windsor’s former mansion. She never made it.
Before starting out in the motorcade on November 22, 1963 to downtown Dallas and a luncheon, President Kennedy had coffee, two hard boiled eggs, and some toast with marmalade on the side for breakfast in his hotel room. He never got to the luncheon.
The afternoon of December 8, 1980 John Lennon had a corned beef sandwich before going to the recording studio. He quit for the night around 10:30, just having heard the good news that Double Fantasy had gone platinum. Yoko wanted to go out to eat and celebrate but Lennon insisted on going back to The Dakota see his son Sean. There might be a lot more good music in the world today if only Lennon hadn’t been such a devoted father.