We often like telling you about terrible ways people have died, and we’ll get back to that soon, maybe as soon as an hour from now. Not everyone dies so miserably, however. You might live long, and you might die painlessly. And maybe, if you’re truly lucky, you’ll die in the midst of pure happiness, which means your consciousness will be locked in that blissful state for eternity.
You might die during sex, which won’t be very pleasant for your partner at all, but it means you’ll have a smile on your face (and may have something else on your face as well). More than a few famous and powerful people scored themselves this fate. People like...
Vice President Nelson Rockefeller
Rockefeller’s son was most likely murdered and eaten by cannibals. That’s the wildest probable cause of death in the immediate family, but Rockefeller himself made a decent bid for the title when he died in 1979.
At this point, it had been just two years since Rockefeller had been vice president to Gerald Ford. The day after he died, the New York Times reported that the man had had a heart attack while in his office in Rockefeller Center, and many people would be happy to breathe their last in a building bearing the family name. Later, it came out that this report had been false.
He had really died not in his office or in his family residence but in a separate Midtown townhouse he owned. He was spending the evening with a 25-year-old aide, who’d worked as a reporter until Rockefeller had created a new position just for her, despite being just months from leaving the White House.
We cannot state as fact that she and Rockefeller were having an affair and that’s what killed him, but publications at the time were willing to relate that account freely. As New York magazine wrote, “Nelson thought he was coming, but he was going.” The family quickly ordered a cremation before any autopsy could be conducted, and before any long blonde hairs could be spotted on his body.
French President Felix Faure
When a president of France dies, that’s when you bring out the guillotine to punish whoever’s responsible. That’s what they did when an anarchist stabbed Sadi Carnot to death in 1894, and that’s what they did when a Russian shot Paul Gorguloff less than 40 years later. Between the two, Felix Faure died in office (both while holding office and while physically in his office). They did not guillotine the person who’d brought on his stroke, however, as it was his mistress Marguerite Steinheil.
We don’t know if they were really engaging in oral sex as some reported or another kind of equally French sex act. Initially, many people didn’t know Steinheil had been with the president at all. This news only came out later, when she was involved with an even more spectacular mysterious death.
via Wiki Commons
A decade after Faure died, someone killed Steinheil’s husband and mother, and police found Steinheil herself tied up in the house. Had she been in league with the murderer, or maybe even done the deed single-handedly? Police wondered as much, because her story didn’t add up. Upon learning about her and Faure, people also started wondering if she’d murdered the deceased president, rather than just fellating him to death, as was proper.
Steinheil went on trial for murder. In the middle of the trial, someone else stood up and confessed. “I alone am responsible!” he exclaimed. “I killed them both, and I am proud of it.” This turned out to be a false confession, by yet someone else in love with her, but Steinheil was still acquitted. Everyone in this story got off.
Pope John XII
In the year 963, the Synod of Rome laid out a series of accusations against Pope John XII. The man had turned the papal palace “into a whorehouse,” said his accusers. He’d fornicated with a widow. He’d fornicated with another widow. He’d fornicated with his father’s concubine. He’d fornicated with his niece. Worst of all, he was on record as sometimes singing pre-dawn Psalms at a different time from what was scheduled.
John died the following year. If we have some trouble nailing down the details of modern people who die in flagrante delicto, you can imagine a 10th-century death offers even less certainty. John died during a night of sex, but sources disagree on exactly how. Some say the woman’s husband came in and killed him with a hammer. Others say he came in and threw John out the window.
However, it’s also possible he died of a stroke during sex, much like Felix Faure. Back then, such a brain condition was called apoplexy. In fact, one theory says the reason we started calling apoplexy a “stroke” was because of how many men experienced it while being sexually stimulated.
Sir Billy Snedden
Snedden entered Australian politics despite having the name “Billy Snedden.” This was perhaps a poor choice. In the 1970s, an opposing party campaigned against him with the slogan “Oh no, not Snedden!” — and won. Snedden, defeated, declared, “We were not defeated. We did not win enough seats in order to form a government.” Failing to win enough seats to form a government is indeed defeat, and people now laughed so hard at Snedden that they had no choice but to next make him Speaker of the House.
In 1987, a motel manager found Snedden dead in a room, a few hours after he’d attended future prime minister John Howard’s campaign launch. For once, police were not reticent about the state in which they found one of these bodies, freely declaring that they found him wearing a condom. No one evidently feared embarrassing his companion for the evening because she’d fled the scene and no one knew who she was.
Her identity remained a mystery for a while, with the media revealing she was named “Wendy” but saying no more. Then Snedden’s son Drew gave a statement. Wendy was his ex-girlfriend, and by “his,” we don’t mean Sir Billy’s — we mean Drew’s. Drew showed nothing but respect for his 61-year-old Eskimo brother dad. “It was an adrenaline-filled evening,” said Drew. “I'm sure the old man went out happy. Anyone would be proud to die on the job.”
The Elder McConaughey
Last up, let’s tell you about Jim McConaughey, father to Matthew McConaughey. Assuming that Jim really did father Matthew (Woody Harrelson is convinced that his own hit man father did, after having an affair with Matt’s mom), he may ultimately be as historically significant as any of the people on this list. Some have speculated that Matthew McConaughey has political ambitions, and history books already mention Big Jim as one of the progenitors of the McConaissance.
Jim died having sex with Matthew McConaughey’s mother, Kay. It then fell on her to call for emergency services, and she made sure to leave him naked for them. Not because dressing a corpse is hard (particularly a corpse that is hard), or out of squeamishness, or because you’re not supposed to disturb a death scene. She left him naked to show him off, so personnel would all see his large penis, which she referred to as “his gift.”
We alluded earlier to how someone dying while you’re having sex with them would be deeply traumatic. Jim’s death shows that might not be true. Maybe, it fills the deceased's partner with pride. Maybe it shows a job well done.