Some of history’s most notable names died in really, really odd ways. There are several on this list that I was pretty surprised to read about.

So take a look and brush up on your historical trivia:

1. Harry Houdini

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The famous magician may have seemed invincible – he could escape just about anything – but a punch to the gut from a college student proved to be his undoing. The student had seen one of Houdini’s acts where he took punches to the stomach, and he hit the magician without warning him first. Houdini’s appendix ruptured, and he died on October 31, 1926.

2. Leon Trotsky

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One of the famous figures of the 1917 Russian revolution, Trotsky was later exiled from the USSR by Stalin. He was murdered in Mexico in 1940 when an assassin stabbed him in the head with an ice pick.

3. Attila the Hun

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One of the most vicious men in history, Attila died of a simple nosebleed. While celebrating his marriage in 453, the leader got drunk, got a nosebleed, and choked to death on his own blood.

4. Marie Curie

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The famous physicist and chemist discovered radioactivity and won two Nobel Prizes: one in 1903 and one in 1911. She died in 1934 from a rare bone marrow disease caused by radiation, so ultimately it was her beloved work that ended up killing her.

5. Tennessee Williams

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One of the most famous American playwrights of all time, Williams was drunk and high on amphetamines when he accidentally choked to death on the plastic cap of an eye drop bottle in 1983.

6. William Henry Harrison

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A war hero who served as the 9th American president, Harrison gave a 2-hour inauguration speech in the rain without an overcoat or a hat. He caught a nasty cold and died in office a month later.

7. Zachary Taylor

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Another war hero who went on to become president of the United States, Taylor attended an event in July 1850 at which he consumed a large amount of raw fruit and iced milk. The food and drink gave Taylor dysentery, and he died five days later.

8. King Henry I of England

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Henry ruled England for 35 years, but eating lamprey eels on a hunting trip in France in 1135 sickened and killed him.

9. Tycho Brahe

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The brilliant astronomer and astrologer died in 1601 because he refused to leave a banquet table to use the bathroom because it would have been a sign of bad manners. He hurried home after the banquet and experienced severe pain when he tried to urinate. Brahe was dead 11 days later from a bladder ailment.

10. Sir Francis Bacon

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The influential scientist and philosopher was traveling through bad weather when he decided to investigate whether snow could preserve meat. Bacon left his carriage and walked to the house of a woman who sold him a chicken carcass that he stuffed with snow. The time Bacon spent outside made him ill, and he died from pneumonia three days later.

11. Queen Sunandha

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Sunandha was the queen of Siam, today known as Thailand. Her boat capsized in 1880, and, since touching a queen was a capital offense, dozens of people watched her drown.

12. Aeschylus

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The Greek playwright is known as the “father of tragedy.” He supposedly died when an eagle picked up a tortoise in its claws and dropped the tortoise onto Aeschylus’ bald head, thinking it was a rock to break the animal’s shell.


13. Adolf Frederick

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The King of Sweden died of overeating in 1771 after a gluttonous meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, champagne, and 14 servings of sweet rolls in a bowl of hot cream.

14. Sherwood Anderson

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Anderson was a short-story writer in the early part of the 20th-century who died a bizarre death in 1941. At the age of 64, he accidentally swallowed a toothpick on a cruise ship while drinking a martini. The toothpick damaged his internal organs, and he died of an infection.

15. Grigori Rasputin

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The Russian mystic became close to the royal family but was viewed as a bizarre enemy by government officials and the general public. He was murdered in December 1916; first, he was given poisoned food and wine, but that didn’t kill him. Then his assassins shot him – but that didn’t work either. Rasputin was finally drowned.

h/t: All That Is Interesting

Want more? Check out the articles below:

12 Totally Bizarre Historical Facts You Definitely Didn’t Learn in Class

5 Historical Villains Who Weren’t That Bad After All