Hollywood has lost no shortage of shining stars in the midst of their careers, often when they were still young. Some of the more tragic examples include the demise of several glamorous comic actresses in the ‘30s and ‘40s to Jame Dean’s deadly mid-’50s car crash or the lurid Manson Family murders of 1969, which claimed Sharon Tate. (Some performers, of course, beat the odds. Here are 25 famous actors who lived to be over 100).
The fact that the world is watching lends each instance an even greater degree of built-in spectacle to such deaths, fueling endless tabloid gossip along with the occasional conspiracy theory or rumored curse. Was Bruce Lee murdered by the Chinese mafia, for instance? Or was his family doomed by fate, accounting for the later death of his son, Brandon? And when two young actors from the “Poltergeist” franchise died under strange circumstances, did that mean the film was jinxed? (As an example of ill fortune of another kind, here are 20 celebrities who died broke).
Drawing on a variety of online sources, 24/7 Tempo has put together a list of 20 stars of movie and TV stars who died too young, verifying details through contemporaneous media accounts of their deaths.
What does it mean to die “too young” in Hollywood? The entire concept is subjective, of course, since many performers remain at the top of their game well into their 70s or even 80s (see 74-year-old Susan Sarandon or 85-year-old Donald Sutherland, for instance). But our list includes only those who left us before they had a chance to make the kind of artistic impact their talents promised, so we have included only those who died at 35 or younger.