James French: The Death Row Inmate Who Made a French Fry Joke about His Execution

By 1 year ago

James French was an American who was notorious for being the last person to be executed under Oklahoma's death penalty. The weirdest part is that he was originally sentenced to life in prison, but he made sure that he would get the death penalty one way or another...

In 1958, French murdered a motorist who picked him up while he was hitchhiking. When he was ultimately sentenced to life in prison, French was not appeased. He wrote many letters to the governor asking for a new trial in order to catch a death sentence, but he was ignored. He tried pleading with anyone who would listen, but no one wanted to obey his wishes. 

While he was in jail, he was placed with a cellmate, Eddie Lee Shelton. They never got along and would constantly fight with each other. 

A couple years later, French decided that he had had enough of both Shelton and life in prison. 

On October 27th, 1961, French attacked Shelton when he was coming back from breakfast. French wrapped a towel around his neck and strangled him to death. 

French knew exactly what he was doing. He immediately confessed to the murder and asked the judge to sentence him to death via the electric chair. The judge actually obliged. 

Finally, French was placed on death row. Psychiatrists took advantage of this and did studies on him and his intelligence. As it turns out, they were able to declare that French had an "above average" intellect. Unlike most death row inmates, French had completed high school and two years of college. They also determined that he was extremely suicidal but could never take himself out.

Up until his final day, people were trying to free French from the death penalty. He was strong in his conviction of being sent to the electric chair... It's literally what he wanted. 

When prison warden Ray Page asked French if he had any last words, French replied, "Everything's already been said." There are rumors that his last words were a joke about french fries, but that's a bit far from the truth.

In an interview days before his death with Bob Gregory, French had said to him, "If I were covering my execution, do you know what I'd say in the newspaper headline?"

Gregory asked, "What?"

French responded, "French Fries. See ya."

French was executed on August 10, 1966. He was the last execution by electric chair in the US. 

When prison warden Ray Page asked French if he had any last words, French replied, "Everything's already been said." There are rumors that his last words were a joke about french fries, but that's a bit far from the truth.

In an interview days before his death with Bob Gregory, French had said to him, "If I were covering my execution, do you know what I'd say in the newspaper headline?"

Gregory asked, "What?"

French responded, "French Fries. See ya."

French was executed on August 10, 1966. He was the last execution by electric chair in the US. 

Next Post →