1. Babe Ruth In Yankee Stadium
Ruth is still the most famous baseball player of all time, and this iconic photo of him leaning against his baseball bat is priceless. Ruth, prematurely aged, seen only from the back, with his famous Number 3 jersey, stands tall as Yankee legends and the crowd pay respects. It’s a picture of a man who knows he’s come to the end of a glorious run.
2. Amy Winehouse Takes a Stroll
Winehouse is one of the great soul singers of the past 25 years, and her overdose death was sad but not unexpected. In this photo, Winehouse seems pensive, as if recalling her brief, tumultuous life. She’s not looking at the camera, and her natural, makeup-free look makes her seem more accessible. The phone in her left hand shows that she may have been texting or expecting a call. The photo was snapped in North London, a week before Winehouse was found dead.
3. Bob Marley With His Wife Rita
Marley was a 20th century musical giant who also was the conscious of reggae music. In this photo, it’s easy to see how diminished Marley had become because of his cancer. But his crooked smile shows that he hadn’t lost any of his vitality. His wife Rita is right next to him, looking down almost bashfully as she lends her dying husband her support. The photo was taken in Munich.
4. The Challenger Crew Walks To the Shuttle
The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion shortly after takeoff was a massive tragedy. In this shot, the seven astronauts, including civilian teacher, Christa McAuliffe, begin their final walk to the shuttle. McAuliffe was going to teach two classes from space, but never got the chance, as the spacecraft exploded less than a minute after blastoff.
5. Dean Martin
In this last known photo of the legendary Las Vegas entertainer, Martin seems every inch the old hipster in his jacket and white shirt unbuttoned to reveal his chest. The oversize glasses and slick black hair remind you of the debonair singer with the silken voice, and breezy charm that eclipsed even his famous friend, Frank Sinatra. Martin died shortly after this photo was taken.
6. Tupac Staring Into the Abyss
In this final photo taken of Tupac Shakur minutes before he was gunned down, the famous rapper’s stare lances right into your soul. In the driver’s seat, rap producer Suge Knight seems less troubled, perhaps because he knew what was about to go down. Tupac survived for a little while after he was shot, but succumbed to his injuries at a Las Vegas hospital.
7. John Lennon Signs An Autograph
In this photo, Lennon is signing autographs. Notice the man to the right? That’s Mark David Chapman, the man who would shoot Lennon to death hours after the photo was taken, and in the exact same location. It’s eerie how normal this picture looks, but with the knowledge that Lennon would be dead six hours later, it takes on a whole different resonance.
8. Biggie Smalls
Tupac and Smalls represented the pinnacle of West Coast and East Coast rap, and though they were once friends, they had become enemies. In this final photo of Smalls in March 1997, the rapper is hanging out with his BFF, Sean Combs at the Soul Train Music Awards. Right after the duo left the Awards, Smalls was gunned down. A year before, Tupac had been killed, and many people believe that Smalls’ death was a revenge killing.
9. Jimi Hendrix
This iconic photo of Hendrix was snapped the day before he choked and died in his sleep. Hendrix poses with his iconic electric guitar, nicknamed ‘Black Betty.’ This is a man who looks supremely confident, relaxed and plotting his future takeover of the music world. Twenty four hours later, he would be another in a long line of 1960s legends who died at a young age.
10. Princess Diana
The tragic life of Princess Diana ended seconds after this picture was taken. The photo is a perfect snapshot of people who realize they are being pursued, in this case by paparazzi. Diana’s head is turned to look at the cars behind, and her fiance, Dodi Fayed is obscured to her left. Moments later, the vehicle crashed, and Diana, Fayed and the driver, Henri Paul were dead. The only survivor was Trevor Rees-Jones, the man in the passenger’s seat.
11. Robin Williams
Comedic legend and Academy Award Winner, Williams took his own life the day after this picture was taken. The actor seems to be relaxed as he entertains guests at an exhibition, but knowing what comes next, adds tragic irony to the photo. Doctors believe that Williams had contracted lewy body dementia, and did not want his family to watch him decline.
12. Michael Jackson
Two days before he died, Jackson was frozen in time with this image as he rehearsed for his upcoming world tour. The singer had lost none of his talent for performing, and by all accounts, was pushing himself beyond all limits to make the tour a huge success. His persistent insomnia lead to him asking his doctor to inject him with a drug used to put surgery patients to sleep.
Robert Kennedy had seen his beloved older brother John assassinated, cut down in the prime of his life. And then RFK had decided to take up the family legacy and run for the presidency, only to be similarly cut down. This photo shows RFK moments before his death, as he tries to find out if anyone else was hurt during his shooting by Sirhan Sirhan. It’s a haunting last image of an American royal.
14. Steve Jobs
Jobs, ravaged by cancer was barely able to walk in the weeks before his death. In this last picture, the billionaire is assisted by a friend as he stands at his estate. The toll of cancer is evident on his emaciated face, and body, and the black sweater and black shorts add a somber touch to this final photo.
15. Freddie Mercury
The former Queen frontman died of AIDS, back in the day when much less was known about HIV. In this picture, Mercury is clearly ill and has lost weight, but he doesn’t seem to be in despair. He stares into the camera with the slightly bemused look of a man who has come to terms with his fate. The cat at his feet is a nice touch, evidence that life goes on even when you’re battling a deadly disease. Mercury died five months after this picture was taken.
16. Paul Walker
The amiable co-star of the “Fast and Furious” franchise died November 2013 when the Porsche in which he was a passenger crashed. In this photo, Walker and his friend are leaving an event. It’s the last photo recorded of Walker. Moments later, the Porsche crashed at 94 mph, killing Walker and the driver instantly.
17. Philip Seymour Hoffman
The acclaimed thespian died of an overdose February 2, 2014. In this last photo, Hoffman is at a bar in Atlanta, three days before his death. He’s clearly in the middle of chatting with someone off-screen, but it’s difficult to tell if he’s drinking or just talking. Hoffman battled drugs for a significant part of his adult life, and relapsed a few months before he died.
18. Elvis Presley
Presley and Michael Jackson are the two major music titans of the 20th century, and both died in a bizarre way. In this photo, Presley is arriving back at Graceland with Ginger Alden, and waving at fans. Hours later, he was found dead of an overdose, slumped on the floor of his bathroom. An ignominious ending to the life of what many consider the greatest singer in history.
19. Albert Einstein
The 20th century’s resident genius died in April 1955 of an aneurysm. In this last photo, Einstein stands outside his house in Princeton, New Jersey in March 1955, just a month before he died. As you might imagine, Einstein’s brain was surgically removed from his body and studied to determine if it was shaped differently than normal brains. Einstein was preparing a speech about Israel when he died.
20. Adolf Hitler
One of history’s monsters stands outside his Berlin bunker, surveying the wreckage created by Allied bombing. The Fuhrer is in his familiar pose with his arms behind his back, and his face reflecting no sense of what he’s thinking. The man next to Hitler appears to be pleading or explaining something to no avail. A day after the photo was taken, Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun committed suicide, ending the reign of a man whose name alone still makes people shudder.