I have worked in education and entertainment and am also an historian and businessman and currently studying at the Open University.
Famous People Who Died During Sex
Michael Hutchence of INXS, British MP Stephen Mulligan and Goldie Hawn's husband in Private Benjamin; What do they all have in common? They all died during sex in one way or another. Dying at this most inappropriate moment is more common than you would imagine. Here are some more historical figures who went out with a bang.
10 People Who Allegedly Died While Having Sex
- Franklin D Roosevelt
- Nelson Rockefeller
- Pope Leo VII
- Pope John XII
- Pope John XIII
- Pope Paul II
- The Duke of Orleans, Phillipe II
- Attila the Hun
- Felix Faure
- Lord Palmerston
1. Franklin D Roosevelt
Roosevelt has deservedly gone down in history alongside Washington and Lincoln as one of the greatest leaders the US has ever had. Had Mount Rushmore been carved a few years later, it is likely he would have been included. It is unlikely that people will say the same about Donald Trump in future decades.
Even though FDR was paralysed from the waist down (due to contracting what was diagnosed as polio but has since been identified as Guillain-Barre syndrome), it didn’t stop him from having numerous affairs. A prolific womaniser, he had no less than five on the go at the time of his death.
Roosevelt founded several charities for the disabled and effectively ended prohibition. His "New Deal" stabilised the US on the domestic front and, under his administration, overtook Britain in terms of financial power and military production. After the bombing of Pearl Harbo(u)r, the US was forced out of its "splendid isolation" and has been involved in world affairs ever since.
Roosevelt was the last president to be elected for three consecutive terms. After leading the US through World War II, Roosevelt expired in the arms of his mistress, Lucy Mercer, three weeks before VE Day. Still, it’s what he would’ve wanted…
2. Nelson Rockefeller
With a surname like that, he was never going to end up working in a factory. Nelson Rockefeller was the second grandson of the Standard Oil founder John D Rockerfeller, head of one of the richest dynasties in the world.
An enthusiastic art collector, Rockefeller served as President of the Museum of Modern Art and set up a philanthropic trust fund with his brothers. Nelson started his career in family-related businesses before going into politics. Though, after falling out with Harry Truman over US policies in South America, Rockefeller was fired and went into the political wilderness before coming back in the 50s and rising through various administrations, eventually becoming vice-President to Gerald Ford in the 1970s.
Criticised for his handling of prison riots, Rockefeller is one of several politicians attacked in John Lennon’s "Attica State". Rockefeller was married twice and died of a heart attack in 1979 while at it with a 25-year-old aide.
3. Pope Leo VII
No less than four popes have died during sexual intercourse, which, if you are religious, begs the question of divine intervention. The first of these was Leo VII. Papal celibacy wasn’t a job requirement until 1139, however, so Leo was still interred in St Peters Basilica.
Leo became pope in 936AD. This was the era of the Crusades. Hysterical propaganda against these Muslim enemies who had taken over the Holy Land was whipped up by the Vatican. In those days, however, there weren’t many Muslims in Europe. Instead, it was the huge Jewish population that was targeted, and pogroms were rife across the continent. Leo elected Frederick, Archbishop of Mainz as his representative in the Germanic states, giving him the licence to expel any Jews that refused to convert to Christianity.
Leo died of a heart attack in the heat of a passionate moment in 939AD.
4. Pope John XII
Again celibacy was still not necessary to achieve the highest office in the days of John XII. Just as well for him, too, as his reign as pope was notoriously debauched enough to have made Roderigo Borgia raise his eyebrows.
John was indeed a bit of a devil, with mistresses left, right and every other position.
It is said that the legend of Pope Joan, a woman who supposedly was elected pope and then gave birth rather publicly, causing the enraged crowd to tear her to pieces, was based on one of John XII’s women.
Otto I, the Holy Roman Emperor, demanded his impeachment and trial on numerous unholy charges. John threatened to excommunicate anyone who tried to depose him. When the emperor did, John led a counter-revolt and mutilated several of his enemies, restoring himself to the Holy See. However, his behaviour didn’t improve, and in 964AD, he was bludgeoned to death by the cuckolded husband of the woman he was in the arms of at the time.
5. Pope John XIII
There is a legend that John XIII once cured a nobleman possessed by evil spirits using the chains that bound St Peter, who, as prisoner to King Herod, was allegedly freed by an angel who happened to be passing. The story goes that John had used several ordinary chains to no effect, but when he used the real one that had shackled Peter, the nobleman recovered.
John succeeded John XII in 965AD, inheriting his feud with Otto I, the Holy Roman Emperor. Upon his return to Rome, John had Peter, the Prefect of Rome (who had plotted against him), hung by his hair from a statue of Marcus Aurelius before being stripped naked, covered in feathers, adorned with a bell around his neck, tied backwards on a donkey, and paraded through the streets of Rome. After all of that, he was thrown into a dungeon and then sent to the Holy Roman Emperor in Germany.
John had very fair hair and was nicknamed the “White Hen” from childhood. He never learnt from his predecessor, however, and despite a pious and devoted reputation, he was also murdered by an irate husband in 972AD after being caught in the act with his wife.
6. Pope Paul II
By the time of Paul’s pontificate, the celibacy law had been enshrined, and sex of any description was a big no-no. It’s not surprising that many closeted gay people went into the church. In those days, there was no Stonewall, Will and Grace or Elton John.
The church was the key to power and an excellent cover. Paul was homosexual and also a flamboyant cross-dresser. As pope, he had access to all sorts of frocks and bling. He was also a keen collector of art and antiques.
Despite his refined tastes, Paul was not an enlightened figure, and he was known as a rabid antisemite. He is alleged to have been the originator of the law forcing the Jews to wear a yellow star, echoed by the Nazis centuries later.
In her book The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance, author Leonie Frieda notes that some of his critics claimed that Paul died while being sodomized by a page boy—hence his inclusion on this list. However, the exact cause of death is still unclear, as other sources claim he retired due to a stroke, and others claim he died from eating too many melons.
7. The Duke of Orleans, Phillipe II
Regent to the boy king Louis XV of France, Philippe was a bit of a scientist and musician in his youth, composing two operas and undertaking scientific research in between wars during his military career in Spain and Italy.
Controversy followed Philippe throughout his life. When his mother discovered he had agreed to marry his cousin, she slapped his face in front of the entire court of Versailles. During his period as Regent, there were scandalous rumours regarding an incestuous relationship between him and his daughter, and there were numerous songs and poems across France on the subject.
In 1721, the now elderly and debauched duke took a new mistress, who was almost 30 years his junior, against the advice of his doctor. Two years later, he suffered a massive stroke and died whilst in her arms.
8. Attila the Hun
Known as the "Scourge of God" by his enemies, Attila was one of the ugliest people in history, and not just physically, according to contemporary Roman and Greek historians. We must take into account that we only have these accounts from his enemies. Attila's allies were not literate, so our picture is somewhat one-sided.
What is clear is that he was a pretty competent general, and as the leader of an empire in central and Eastern Europe that comprised of Huns, Goths, Alans, Vandals and pretty much anyone else that wasn’t part of the crumbling Roman empire, Attila led an invasion of the Byzantine empire and then pushed into Western Europe, sacking the Italian peninsula, though failing to take Rome. He is also known to have conquered the Balkans and parts of Gaul, modern-day France.
Ugly or not, Attila still had a dozen wives, and while celebrating his twelfth marriage, he allegedly burst an artery (though other sources claim a heart attack) and died in 453AD.
9. Felix Faure
Faure was elected president of France as a compromise candidate in 1895. Faure granted amnesty to anarchists but was criticised by leading intellectuals of the day such as Emile Zola over his refusal to grant an appeal to Alfred Dreyfus, whose incarceration on Devil’s Island on a trumped-up spying charge had divided the country and highlighted the latent antisemitism rife in France at the time.
Not a friend of progress, he hated the new invention of the motor car, despite his country being the industry leader in the late 1890s.
In typical French style, Felix Faure died in a Paris brothel in 1899. It is rumoured that the woman he was with went into shock, and his member had to be surgically removed from her. However, other accounts say that he wasn’t actually engaged in intercourse at the time. Whatever the truth, it is doubtful he just popped in to use the bathroom.
His name is immortalised for posterity as a station on the Paris Metro and as a ship that ran aground nine years later on the Antipode Islands, just south of New Zealand.
10. Lord Palmerston
Nicknamed “The Mongoose”, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston was British prime minister twice during the middle of the 1800s. As the job didn't pay, the majority of politicians were aristocrats, as they were the only people who could afford to do it.
Palmerston is credited with the famous last words, “Die my dear doctor? That is the last thing I shall do”, though this is probably apocryphal.
Palmerston was the very first Liberal Prime Minister (or First Lord of the Treasury as is the proper job title) and was very much a product of an imperial nation. However, Queen Victoria didn’t like him or trust him and gave him a dressing down due to his attitudes toward foreign policy.
His first period as PM saw Britain embroiled in the Crimean war, which involved the legendary charge of the light brigade, made famous by Tennyson’s poem. The second opium war took place under Palmerston, which resulted in warships shelling the Chinese port of Nanking, giving rise to the expression, gunboat diplomacy. China had refused to let Britain trade opium from India within China. This was literally a drug war, with Britain as the drug baron. It also resulted in Britain ruling Hong Kong until 1993.
In 1865, the 80-year-old Palmerston allegedly suffered a heart attack whilst at it with a parlour maid on a billiard table, though he is known to have been suffering from fever the week he died. Most British people know him today as the name of a pub or street, but to this day, Palmerston is the last British Prime Minister to die whilst still in office.
Fact or Fiction?
There you have it, ten famous historical figures who allegedly died during sexual intercourse. Remember, most of these deaths are based on speculation; they might be rumours created by those who wanted to start gossip about those who can no longer defend themselves. What do you think? Did these men really die in such vulnerable ways? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Marja Radic from Split, Croatia on February 23, 2019:
So interesting! Didn't know this. Thank you for widening my horizons even with this "naughty" topic ;)