Weird History

Famous Poisoning Deaths

The list of famous people who died of poisoning includes all the notable people who met their end at the hands of a poison. Death due to poison could not be detected in earlier ages, and so was the most popular method used to kill people, resulting in many famous poisoning cases. Only in the recent past, has the cause of death by poison been detectable through autopsy.

This list features food poisoning deaths, as well as cases of suicide by poisoning. There's death by hemlock, as in the case of Socrates. Some of the most famous poisons were used time and time again throughout history. You'll start to recognize the poison names, such as cyanide or ricin. 

What famous people were poisoned to death? Did you know, in the previous centuries, most poison victims died of arsenic poisoning? These famous poisonings are the stuff of legends and have happened throughout history.

From cyanide poisonings to other methods, here is a list of all famous people who were poisoned and killed. Read more about famous poisoning victims below.

  • Alan Turing reportedly completed suicide by injecting an apple with cyanide and taking a bite.

    Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in ...more
  • Adolf Hitler used cyanide and a gunshot simultaneously, to avoid capture.

    Adolf Hitler (German: [ˈadɔlf ˈhɪtlɐ] (listen); 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; NSDAP). He rose to ...more
  • She poisoned herself with an asp's bite.

    Cleopatra VII Philopator (Koinē Greek: Κλεοπᾰ́τρᾱ Φιλοπάτωρ, romanized: Kleopátrā Philopátōr; 69 – 10 or 12 August 30 BC) was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, nominally ...more
  • According to Plato, he was sentenced to kill himself by drinking poison hemlock.

    Socrates (; Ancient Greek: Σωκρᾰ́της, romanized: Sōkrátēs, [sɔːkrátɛːs]; c. 470 – 399 BC) was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as ...more
  • Used barbiturates and alcohol, before placing a bag over his head, along with the rest of his cult members of Heaven's Gate.

    Marshall Herff Applewhite Jr. (May 17, 1931 – March 26, 1997), also known as Do, among other names, was an American cult leader who founded what became known as the Heaven's Gate religious group and ...more
  • She bit into a cyanide capsule rather than be captured.

    Eva Anna Paula Hitler (née Braun; 6 February 1912 – 30 April 1945) was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife. Braun met Hitler in Munich when she was a ...more
  • She was a silent film actress, who accidentally ingested a large dose of mercury bichloride.

    Olive Thomas (born Oliva R. Duffy; October 20, 1894 – September 10, 1920) was an American silent-film actress and model. Thomas began her career as an illustrator's model in 1914, and moved on to the ...more
  • Himmler completed suicide by taking poison after being captured by Western Allies.

    Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈluːɪtˌpɔlt ˈhɪmlɐ] (listen); 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the ...more
  • Hermann Göring

    Hermann Göring

    He completed suicide by cyanide capsule, long after being captured and only hours before his hanging was to take place.

  • Historians believe he was killed when an arrow poisoned with the sap of the manchineel tree struck his thigh.

    Juan Ponce de León (Spanish pronunciation: [xwam ˈponθe ðe leˈon]; 1474 – July 1521), commonly known as Ponce de León (, also UK: , US: ), was a Spanish explorer and conquistador known for leading ...more
  • When faced with a public trial for treason, or cyanide, Rommel chose the latter.

    Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was a German general and military theorist. Popularly known as the Desert Fox, he served as field marshal in the Wehrmacht (Defense ...more
  • A Sunni Jihadi fighter, he died from a poisoned letter sent by Russian FSB agency.

    Samir Saleh Abdullah (Arabic: سامر صالح عبد الله‎; 14 April 1969 – 20 March 2002), more commonly known as Ibn al-Khattab or Emir Khattab (also transliterated as Amir Khattab and Ameer Khattab, ...more
  • Ali ibn Abi Talib

    Ali ibn Abi Talib

    While praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa, Ali was attacked by the Kharijite Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam, and wounded by ibn Muljam's poison-coated sword.

  • He committed suicide before his capture by taking poison out of a reed, pretending he wanted to write a letter to his family.

    Demosthenes (; Greek: Δημοσθένης Dēmosthénēs; Attic Greek: [dɛːmosˈtʰenɛːs]; 384 – 12 October 322 BC) was a Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant ...more
  • Russian ex-spy and investigator, Litvinenko died three weeks after being poisoned by radioactive polonium-210.

    Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ва́льтерович Литвине́нко, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ˈvaltɨrəvʲɪtɕ lʲɪtvʲɪˈnʲɛnkə]; 30 August 1962 or 4 December 1962 by father's account – 23 November ...more
  • In accordance with the custom of the times, people attributed his death to poison, specifically from the death cap mushroom.

    Pope Clement VII (Italian: Papa Clemente VII; Latin: Clemens VII) (26 May 1478 – 25 September 1534), born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States ...more
  • A Bulgarian dissident; Markov was ssassinated in London with ricin.

    Georgi Ivanov Markov (Bulgarian: Георги Иванов Марков; 1 March 1929 – 11 September 1978) was a Bulgarian dissident writer. Markov originally worked as a novelist and playwright in his native country, ...more
  • Charles VI ate poisonous mushrooms.

    Charles VI (1 October 1685 – 20 October 1740; German: Karl VI., Latin: Carolus VI) succeeded his elder brother, Joseph I, as Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia (as Charles II), King of Hungary and ...more
  • Bandera was poisoned by a cyanide capsule shot from a gun by KGB agents.

    Stepan Andriyovych Bandera (Ukrainian: Степан Андрійович Бандера, Polish: Stepan Andrijowycz Bandera; 1 January 1909 – 15 October 1959) was a head of a militant wing of the Ukrainian independence ...more
  • After he was arrested, but before he stood trial, he bit down on a cyanide capsule.

    Odilo Globočnik (21 April 1904 – 31 May 1945) was an Austrian war criminal. He was a member of the National Socialist German Worker's Party and later a high-ranking leader of the Schutzstaffel. As ...more
  • Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz

    Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz

    One of his servants had been bribed to poison his food.

  • His cause of death was said to be poisoning by Harun al-Rashid, according to most Shi'a Muslims.

    Mūsá ibn Ja‘far al-Kāzim (Arabic: موسى بن جعفر الكاظم‎), also called Abūl-Hasan, Abū Abd Allah, Abū Ibrāhīm, and al-Kāzim (the one who controls his anger), was the seventh Shiite Imam after his ...more
  • He was said to have been cast into prison and poisoned to death.

    Constantine II (Armenian: Կոստանդին Բ), also Kostandin II, (unknown – after February 17, 1129) was the fourth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” (1129/1130). The Chronique Rimée de ...more
  • Mistress of King James IV of Scotland, she was said to have died of food poisoning in 1501, along with her sisters. 

    Margaret Drummond (c. 1475 – 1501) was a daughter of John Drummond, 1st Lord Drummond, and a mistress of King James IV of Scotland. She was a great-great-great-great-niece of the Margaret Drummond ...more
  • It was rumoured that he had been poisoned in Antioch by pills given to him by his Syrian Orthodox doctor..

    Baldwin III (1130 – 10 February 1163) was King of Jerusalem from 1143 to 1163. He was the eldest son of Melisende and Fulk of Jerusalem. He became king while still a child, and was at first ...more