If one holds stock in cliches, then it is true that pictures are worth a thousand words. But when said picture is someone’s last known photograph, that proposed value increases immensely. Naturally, our fascination with celebrity icons and the culture they reflect and create extends to their final images caught on film. Some may consider seeking these photos out to be a morbid pastime, others would see it as a remembrance, but these sorts of photos undoubtedly serve as a reminder of our own mortality; that even the best and brightest of us are not immune to the inevitable. We may try to see some telling truth in their eyes, some lesson to take from their lives.
Below are the final known photographs of several celebrities and well-known figures whose time ran out too soon, whose demons led to unspeakable tragedy, and whose reign of terror ended before they had the opportunity to unleash any more cruelty onto the world.
Last Known Photographs: John Lennon
The final photograph of John Lennon captures the former Beatles front-man signing an autograph for his soon to be killer, Mark David Chapman. Chapman, also pictured, would return to the musician’s apartment a few hours later and shoot him several times as Lennon returned home with wife Yoko Ono.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
After two decades of sobriety, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had fallen off of the wagon, and hard. With his life spiraling out of control due to a heroin addiction, Hoffman posed for this tintype portrait at the Sundance film festival of this year at his final public appearance. The photo shows a broken man, who soon after would be found dead in his apartment with 70 bags of heroin and 20 used needles. The Oscar-winning actor had recently been kicked out of the home of his longtime partner Mimi O’Donnell for the sake of their three young children.
Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix, seen here with his beloved guitar called “Black Betty.” This photograph was snapped by Hendrix’s girlfriend Monika Dannemann the very day before he died. The exact details of his death are still widely disputed, but the musician was found asphyxiated on his own vomit and with barbiturates and sleeping pills readily in his system.
Anne and Margot Frank
Anne Frank and sister Margot in their final known photo, taken early to mid-1942. After hiding with their family from Nazi police, they were eventually captured and sent to punishment barracks for hard labor. In March 1945, a typhus epidemic spread through the camp and killed approximately 17,000 prisoners. Both girls would lose their lives to the outbreak.
Adored actor James Dean always had a love of speed and living life on the edge. Dean had only owned the Porsche he is pictured with for nine days when he crashed it, losing his life in the process.