The Top Five Historical Ways to Die

September 10, 2010

Throughout history people have died.  There's no way around it.  It's through history, however, that several of these deaths have left an impact on those of us left behind.  Not necessarily because we miss those that have passed on, but simply because we can't actually believe that this is how they went out.  For more stories like these, be sure to tune into the season premiere of 1000 Ways to Die next Tuesday, September 14 at 10PM/9c. 

Source: Wikipedia


5. Jack Daniels

The legendary Tennessee whiskey distiller -- where would college, nay, where would life be without him and his sweet, sweet brown nectar?  Though his birth records were destroyed in a courthouse fire, the strongest information points to Daniels being born in 1850 as one of thirteen children!  It wouldn't be hard to imagine alcohol being involved in that household.  By the age of 16, he was already a distiller, founding his legendary company in 1866.  However, Mr. Daniels would never live to see the invention of the Jack n' Coke nor even its variant, the Jack n' Ginger.  Good ol' JD passed away in 1911 thanks to blood poisoning.  So the story goes, he came to work early one morning, forgot the combination to his safe, kicked it out of anger and started off an infection that took his life just a short while later.  His last words were, "One last drink please."  Poor Jack.  Don't worry buddy, we'll pour one out for ya.

4. Isadora Duncan

This renown ballet dancer thoroughly rejected the idea of commercial performance throughout her life, suggesting that touring, contracts, and other practicalities were distractions from her real mission: the creation of beauty and the education of the young.  How noble of her.  Born an American, Duncan moved to Europe where she was finally accepted as the talent that she was.  Having rejected traditional ballet steps in an effort to stress improvisation, emotion, and the human form, she further believed that traditional ballet was "ugly and against nature."  Her dancing continually inspired artists who would create sculptures, jewelery, and paintings in her image.  Always dressed in extravagant capes, costumes and scarves, Duncan's life eventually came to a most unfortunate end.  While in Nice, France she rode off in a convertible with a French mechanic, and uttered what would be her final words "I am off to love" (a.k.a. sex).  As they drove away, Duncan's exceedingly long scarf got caught in the car rear axel and instantly broke her neck.  Perhaps an ascot would've been more appropriate attire?

3. William Henry Harrison

Our ninth President was also our shortest serving President.  William Henry Harrison, a native of Virginia, was the oldest man elected to the Oval Office until Ronald Reagan.  He was also the last President to be born before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  He first gained fame for leading U.S. forces against Native Americans at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.  This earned him the appropriate nickname, "Tippecanoe."  Harrison later served in the War of 1812. Subsequently, Harrison was elected to the United States Congress and first ran for President, albeit unsuccessfully in 1836.  Four years later he ran again, and won.  Unfortunately for him, his inauguration was on a cold and wet day in March of 1841.  He wore neither an overcoat nor a hat.  It also took him over two hours to read his inaugural address, the longest in history.  Harrison caught himself a nasty cold, and then very unceremoniously died a month later.  Just goes to show you, cold and flu season can be something fierce.

2. Allan Pinkerton

Born in 1819, this Scottish American is best known for the creation of his Pinkerton National Detective Agency.  A cooper by trade (that means he made barrels and casks, don't worry we had to look it up too), he emigrated from Scotland in 1842.  He was appointed as the first detective in all of Chicago seven years later.  In the following years, he created his famous agency with the help of attorney, Edward Rucker, establishing the motto, "We never sleep."  His work got him the detail of protecting President Lincoln in certain instances, foiling an assassination attempt on Honest Abe as he made his way to his inauguration.  Sadly, the Pinkertons weren't watching him at Ford's theater.  Allan Pinkerton created many investigative techniques that are still used today, including surveillance, and also started the trend of undercover work.  Despite his acute investigative techniques, one thing he couldn't see coming was the pavement.  In June of 1884, Pinkerton slipped and fell on a Chicago pavement, biting his tongue in the process.  When he didn't seek treatment, the tongue became infected and led to his death a few days later.  We wonder who he was sticking his tongue out at?

1. Rasputin

This Russian mystic was someone you did not cross.  Born in Siberia and often called the "Mad Monk," Rasputin heavily influenced the latter days of Emperor Nicholas II's reign in mother Russia.  His period of favor began when he helped the Romanov Dynasty with treatment of their hemophiliac son, Alexei.  Rasputin eased his suffering supposedly through "magic healing powers," but in reality many believed it was through hypnosis and eliminating the boy's aspirin intake which likely acted as an anticoagulant.  The Tsar himself often labeled the mystic as a "friend," perhaps in the way that George W. Bush labeled Karl Rove a "good buddy."  Ultimately, however he helped discredit the Tsarist government and led to its downfall in 1917.  Much has been said about how Rasputin died.  First, he was attacked by an angry prostitute who stabbed him viciously, at which point the hooker exclaimed, "I killed the Anti-Christ!"  Well, actually she only gutted him good with a knife, but he survived.  Later on, he was poisoned with cyanide by a politician.  There was enough poison to kill five men, but he survived.  Legend has it that either he was never actually poisoned or had an immunity to the vile medicine.  He was then shot several times, clubbed into submission, was sexually mutilated and tied up and tossed in a river.  Rasputin broke his bindings only to finally drown in the river.  DAMN!


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