September 14, 1927
Isadora Duncan has her neck broken after her scarf becomes entangled in her vehicle’s wheel spokes
Duncan, world renowned for her dancing in her earlier years and for her scandalous love/life and public drunkenness in her later years, had been riding in an open car with a luxurious hand-painted silk scarf.
As Duncan and her companion Benoît Falchetto dropped off some friends, including Mary Desti (in the accompanying article she is named as Mary Desto Parks and Perks), she reportedly called out “Adieu, mes amis. Je vais à la gloire!” (Translation: “Farewell, my friends. I go to glory!”) though Desti later admitted Duncan’s final words were “Je vais à l’amour” (“I am off to love”). Desti later admitted she found the original words embarrassing as it suggested Falchetto and Duncan were off to a hotel for a tryst and amended them to the more poetic “to glory” version.
As Falchetto departed, Duncan’s scarf became entangled in the car’s open-spoke wheels and the rear axel. Desti, who had warned Duncan of the dangers of the scarf earlier in the evening, noticed the issue almost immediately and called out for Falchetto to stop, but it was too late. The scarf yanked Duncan from the car, breaking her neck in the process. Some newspaper sources, likely embellished, claimed she was nearly decapitated by the sudden tightening of the scarf. Desti and Falchetto removed the scarf from Duncan’s neck and rushed her to the hospital, though doctors concluded she died instantly.
Article from The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) September 15, 1927