Ever stumble across an old book you were given years ago, but just never got around to reading? I did. I found one called, ‘They Went That-a-Way: How the famous, the infamous and the great died,’ by Malcolm Forbes with Jeff Bloch (Yes. It was written by THAT Malcolm Forbes).
People, this book is a blast. It’s an absolute page turned that contains the who, what, when, where, why and how the great and the infamous died. It also contains their famous last words.
My favorite is Oscar Wilde’s who, drawing his last breath said, ‘Either this wallpaper goes or I do.’
There are 175 one, or two-page, tales of familiar names from the past 3,000 years. You’ll read about the last gasps of everyone from Alexander the Great and Wild Bill Hickok to Jimi Hendrix and Montgomery Clift.
It’s easily the best bathroom book I’ve ever read. You’ll learn how Clark Gable, Billie Holiday and Will Rogers died as you go about your business and then, when you’ve had your fill, you can go right back to going about your real-world business.
There are many cool stories that clarified quite a few mysteries for me, such as:
- Jimi Hendrix did NOT die of a heroin overdose. He popped nine sleeping pills, vomited and choked to death on said vomit.
- Mama Cass Elliott did NOT choke to death on a chicken sandwich. She died of a massive heart attack cause by her, well, massive weight.
- And While Clark Gable did die shortly after filming The Misfits, his strenuous acting in the movie itself didn’t hill him. It was his lifetime habit of yo-yo dieting that exacted a heavy toll resulting his death of a heart attack at the ripe, old age of 59.
My favorite story is that of famous Southern novelist William Faulkner. The author of ‘The Sound and the Fury’ and ‘Absalom! Absalom’ also happened to be quite an athlete. He especially excelled at horseback riding. But, as he aged, he fell more and more often.
In 1962, after finishing work on The Reivers, Faulkner tried breaking in a young colt. He was thrown from the horse, breaking several ribs. Undeterred, Faulkner rose from his bed, saying, ‘You don’t think I’d let that damned horse conquer me do you? I’ll conquer him!’ He got back on the colt, was tossed off a second time and rushed to hospital. Faulkner lingered for a few days, but died a few weeks later at the age of 64.
This is a GREAT book that is HIGHLY relevant to any image and reputation discussion. Why? Because how we die often impacts our image as much as what we accomplished during our lives. Just think of Julius Caesar and James Dean.
So, before you trudge off to the loo, bring the Forbes book along with you. I promise it’ll move you.