Top 10 Unusual Deaths In History

This list of the top ten unusual deaths includes unique or extremely rare circumstances of death recorded throughout history, noted as being unusual by multiple sources.

Top 10 Unusual Deaths In History

10 Unusual Deaths In History

1. Thomas Urquhart

Thomas Urquhart

Date of death: 1660

Thomas Urquhart, a Scottish aristocrat, polymath and first translator of François Rabelais's writings into English, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.

2. François Vatel

François Vatel

Date of death: 24 April 1671

Vatel, the majordomo of Prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condè, was responsible for a banquet for 2,000 people hosted in honour of King Louis XIV at the Château de Chantilly, where he died. According to a letter by Madame de Sévigné, Vatel was so distraught about the lateness of the seafood delivery and about other mishaps that he committed suicide with his sword, and his body was discovered when someone came to tell him of the arrival of the fish.

3. Molière


Date of death: 17 February 1673

The French playwright Molière suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage caused by tuberculosis while playing the character Argan, a severe hypochondriac, in his own play Le malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid). He disguised his convulsion as part of his performance and finished out the show, which included a scene in which the character he was playing faked his own death to find out how his wife really felt about him. After the show, Molière's actual wife, who played the daughter of his character, realized that he really was ill and carried him across the street to their house in the same chair he had pretended to die in as part of the performance. He began coughing up blood and she sent for a priest to hear him renounce his acting career so he could be buried on sacred ground, but Molière died before a sympathetic priest could be found.

4. Mathilda of Austria

Mathilda of Austria

Date of death: 6 June 1867

Archduchess Mathilda of Austria, daughter of Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen, died at the age of 18 in Schloss Hetzendorf. She had put on a gauze dress to go to the theatre. Before leaving for the theatre, she wanted to smoke a cigarette but shortly thereafter her father, who had forbidden smoking, approached her, and she hid the cigarette behind her dress, immediately setting light to its very flammable material and giving her second and third-degree burns.

5. Clement Vallandigham

Clement Vallandigham

Date of death: 17 June 1871

Clement Vallandigham, a lawyer and Ohio politician defending a man accused of murder, accidentally shot himself and died while demonstrating how the victim might have accidentally shot himself. His client was cleared

6. Allan Pinkerton

Allan Pinkerton

Date of death: 1 July 1884

Allan Pinkerton, the founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, was in Chicago, Illinois when he tripped on the pavement and severely bit on his tongue. His tongue became infected with gangrene, ultimately leading to his death.

7. Grigori Rasputin

Grigori Rasputin

Date of death: 17 December 1916

According to the Russian mystic's murderer Prince Felix Yusupov himself, Rasputin consumed tea, cakes, and wine which had been laced with cyanide but he did not appear to be affected by the poison. He was then shot once in the chest and believed to be dead but, after a while, he leapt up and attacked Yusupov, who freed himself and fled. Rasputin followed and made it into the courtyard before being shot again and collapsing into a snowbank. The conspirators then wrapped Rasputin's body and dropped it into the Malaya Nevka River before he could die.

8. George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon

George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon

Date of death: 5 April 1923

George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who financed Howard Carter's search for Tutankhamun, died after a mosquito bite, which he had cut while shaving, became infected. Some attributed his death to the so-called curse of the pharaohs. (The curse of the pharaohs is a curse alleged to be cast upon anyone who disturbs the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian, especially a pharaoh. This curse, which does not differentiate between thieves and archaeologists, is claimed can cause bad luck, illness, or death.)

9. Frank Hayes

Frank Hayes

Date of death: 4 June 1924

The only race Frank Hayes, a 35-year-old jockey of Elmont, New York ever won was when he was dead. Riding a horse named Sweet Kiss, Frank suffered a fatal heart attack mid-race and collapsed on the horse. Sweet Kiss managed to still win with Frank Hayes' body on it, meaning he technically won.

10. Kurt Gödel

Kurt Gödel

Date of death: 1978

Kurt Gödel, an Austrian-American logician and mathematician, died of starvation when his wife was hospitalized. Gödel refused to eat food prepared by anyone else as he was suffering from an obsessive fear of being poisoned.

See also: 20 Celebrities Who Died During Performance On Stage


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