Goon Show creator and comedian Spike Milligan’s infamous epitaph, “I told you I was ill”, has been named as the best parting line.
Milligan who died in 2002, aged 83, gets the last laugh again after he received nearly two thirds of the vote in a survey.
Milligan was the runaway winner (with 60% of all the votes) — ahead of Oscar Wilde’s “Either the curtains go or I do” (10%) and Frank Sinatra’s “The best is yet to come” (7%).
While not on the list Milligan is also remembered for saying: “I’m not afraid of dying I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Others that made a top 10 included Mel Blanc’s “that’s all folks!”, followed by Frank Carson’s “what a way to lose weight”.
Winston Churchill came sixth with: “I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
The poll was carried out by Marie Curie Cancer Care in Britain as part of Dying Matters Awareness week. The campaign encourages people to talk more openly about dying.
“Spike Milligan’s epitaph is legendary and many of the great comics and writers have been immortalised by their epitaphs,” said Imelda Redmond, of the Marie Curie Cancer Care. “It’s really important that people discuss things like where they would like to spend their final moments with loved ones.
“We know most people would like to be cared for at home at the end of their lives for instance, but the majority of deaths still occur in hospital — the place people least want to be... the more open people are about their end of life wishes, the more likely it is that these wishes can be met.”
Comic actor Stephen Fry suggested: “With thanks to the ingraver for speling my epi-tarf propperly.”
Famous last words
* “I told you I was ill” — Spike Milligan
* “Either those curtains go or I do” — Oscar Wilde
* “The best is yet to come” — Frank Sinatra
* “That’s all, folks!” — Mel Blanc
* “What a way to lose weight” — Frank Carson
* “I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter” — Winston Churchill
* “I may be gone but rock and roll lives on” — John Belushi
* “She did it the hard way” — Bette Davis
* “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis” — Humphrey Bogart
* “Please keep off the grass” — Peter Ustinov
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