Foreseeing Death – 5 Celebrities and Historical Characters Who Eerily Predicted Their Own Death

No matter how well you live your life, it’s always the Reaper who gets the last word. No one has yet managed to outsmart death and it really does come for us all in the end.

But while no one has yet managed to circumvent death, one impressive feat that has been achieved – on a number of occasions – is to at least predict their own demise. A number of famous historical characters, celebrities and others have all managed this and spooked out their contemporaries in doing so (suicides don’t count).

And actually predicting your own death makes more sense than you might at first think, seeing as our brain stores so much information about us and our bodies in particular. For some early signs have become conscious long before they died allowing them to pull off amazing feats of fortune telling, for others it seems to have been in their unconscious minds and found other ways to get out. Here are some miraculous examples…

Mark Twain


Mark Twain was a famous writer known for his wit and humour. He also managed to predict his own death to within a day, joking that he would ‘go out with’ Haley’s comet the next time it passed. His reasoning was that as it had passed during the year he was born, it would be a shame for it not to coincide with his death also. He imagined God as saying ‘now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together’. And so they did…

William Thomas Stead

This is less a case of amazing precognition and more a case of a shocking and tragic irony. Stead was a journalist and editor and also wrote some fiction. He wrote a story called ‘The Sinking of a Modern Liner’ which described a giant boat crashing and sinking, and then later wrote a second story called ‘From the Old World to the New’ about a Majestic who had a vision of an ocean liner colliding with an iceberg. Twenty years later he nevertheless saw fit to board the Titanic and we all know how that one ended. William didn’t really predict his own death, but rather wrote about it without even realising.

Abraham de Moivre

If anyone should be able to anticipate their own death, you might think that it should be a mathematician with the ability to calculate the probability more accurately than anyone else. That’s precisely what Abraham de Moivre did – creating an algorithm that could be used to predict a person’s lifespan by looking at death rates and other factors.

It wasn’t actually this algorithm that resulted in his amazing prediction though, but instead a prediction he made later at age 87. He was sleeping 15 minutes longer every night for a time and decided that once those 15 minutes added up to 24 hours, he would die. And he did – on exactly the day he calculated.

Pete ‘Pistol’ Maravich

Again this was something of an unwitting premonition and also a very tragic one. Here the NBA player (regarded as one of the greatest of all time) told a reporter that he didn’t want to ‘play NBA for 10 years and then die of a heart attack at the age of 40’. He must have forgotten to touch would though, as he actually did exactly that – quitting after ten years then dying eight years later of a heart attack. His last words were ‘I feel great’. Apparently he again forgot to touch wood…

Jackie Wilson

Here’s another bit of irony for you. Jackie Wilson was a singer whose biggest hit was ‘lonely tear drops’. This song features the line ‘my heart is cryin’, cryin”. In one performance this turned out to be a far more literal line than anyone would have guessed. He didn’t just die singing the song – he died singing that precise line from a massive heart attack.

So how’s your prediction coming on? Get good enough and maybe you could book your own cremation services a few decades in advance?