Notable Lasts In History

If you’ve had enough of reading the “firsts” in history, then you may find the “lasts” more interesting. Check them out in this gallery!


The last recorded casualty from smallpox was an English medical photographer named Janet Parker. Parker had been exposed to the virus (that caused the smallpox) from a laboratory accident. She eventually died from the disease on September 11, 1978. The microbiologist, whose lab had leaked the virus, felt so gulity that he committed suicide while being quarantined.

On May 8, 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared smallpox completely eradicated.


An 18-year-old Marine named Kelton Rena Turner was killed in action on May 15, 1975, a couple of weeks before the evacuation in Saigon. The incident occurred in what became known as the “Mayaguez Incident,” the last official battle of the Vietnam War. Turner’s body was never recovered.


Puyi or Henry Pu Yi (b. 1906, d. 1967) reigned as the last emperor of China from 1908 to 1912. This marked the end of the centuries-old Qing (or Ch’Ing) dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China.

Pu Yi’s life is most famously portrayed in the Oscar-winning 1987 film The Last Emperor by Bernardo Bertolucci.


On May 23, 1935, Babe Ruth hit his 714th and final US major-league home run at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

But eleven years later Ruth was hired by a Mexican baseball team, the Veracruz Blues, to come and bat once more in a game versus the Mexico City Reds.

After the pitcher threw three balls and was subsequently removed from the game, a reliever was sent to the field and made his first pitch straight down the middle. Ruth, who was 51 at that time, hit a home run and the ball fell straight right into the right-field bleachers. The 10,000-plus fans and spectators couldn’t be more delighted with what they saw — a home run by one of the baseball’s all-time legends.

So technically, Ruth’s home run in a game in Mexico City was the 715th and last home run of his career.


Nicholas II was the last czar of Russia and of the Romanov dynasty that ruled the country. He and his family were executed in 1918.


You may be surprised to hear this but popes during the ancient times were sexually active during their reign. A lot of them were even married. The last married Catholic pope was Adrian II, who reigned from 867 to his death in 872. He had actually been married, but refused to follow celibacy or abandon his wife when he became pope.


The last dodo, a flightless bird, died in 1681. The animal became the inspiration for the phrase “dead as a dodo” which means obsolete or extinct.


The 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, was the last Olympics to award gold medals that were entirely made of gold.


Although the flag of California bears the image of the California grizzly bear, the animal has been long extinct. A grizzly was spotted for the last time in the Sierra Mountains in 1924, and since after that grizzlies were never seen again in the state.


The last Playboy Club in the United States was in Lansing, Michigan, which closed in 1988.

Eighteen years later, the Playboy Club opened in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2006. But it closed after six years of operation.