Gone too soon – 9 celebs who died young


In the wake of Glee star Cory Monteith’s recent death we take a look back at other celebrities who died young.

James Dean (1931-1955)

Cause of death: Car accident

Rebel Without a Cause actor James Dean was a ’50s movie icon, whose death only served to cement his status as a Hollywood legend. A lover of fast cars with a reputation for being a rebel, James died after his Porsche Spyder smashed into another car on a highway in California. He was 24 years old.

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)

Cause of death: Drug overdose

Five decades after her death, Marilyn Monroe is still a household name, and the ultimate female sex symbol. Best known for her roles in movies such as The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, Marilyn’s death is a subject of controversy.  She was found dead at her home in Los Angeles by her psychiatrist, having overdosed on barbiturates (central nervous system depressing drugs). LA county coroners ruled Marilyn’s death a “probable suicide”, but numerous other theories have circulated since, involving former US president John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, the CIA and the Mafia. Marilyn was 36.

Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Cause of death: Drug-related asphyxia

Iconic guitarist Jimi Hendrix’s death was not quite as glamorous as his career  an inquest into his death ruled Jimi had choked on his own vomit, while intoxicated with central nervous system depressing drugs. In September 1969, German figure skater Monika Dannemann, his girlfriend, woke up to find Jimi in a coma at her flat in Notting Hill, London. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was 27.

River Phoenix (1970-1993)

Cause of death: Drug overdose

Older brother of Oscar-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix, River was also an actor, a musician and an activist. In October 1993, the teen sensation collapsed on the pavement outside The Viper Room nightclub in Hollywood, and started convulsing. Joaquin called 911, while younger sister Rain tried to give River CPR. He was pronounced dead at the hospital of drug-induced heart failure, having snorted cocaine and heroin in the club’s bathroom. River was only 23.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)

Cause of death: Suicide

Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana album had sold more than 75 million albums, catapulting him to superstardom. But rocker Kurt struggled with his commercial success, and battled depression and addiction to heroin. In April 1994 it reportedly became too much for the musician, who shot himself in the head with a shotgun – according to the official cause of death at least. He was 27.

Tupac Shakur (1971-1996)

Cause of death: Multiple gunshot wounds

Best known by his stage name, 2pac, this American rapper and actor sold more than 75 million albums worldwide, making him one of the bestselling artists of all time. He was part of the East Coast-West Coast hip hop war, and became embroiled in clashes with other musicians, such as The Notorious B.I.G. In September 1996, 2pac was shot in the chest, pelvis, his right hand and right thigh in a drive-by shooting. He died in hospital six days later. To this day, the culprits have never been identified. 2pac was 25.

Brittany Murphy (1977-2009)

Cause of death: Pneumonia coupled with anaemia and drug intoxication

Cute-as-a-button Brittany bounced onto movie screens as the new girl in a swanky Beverly Hills high school in ’90s teen comedy Clueless. She went on to star in hits such as Girl Interrupted and 8 Mile. But in December 2009, her husband, English film director Simon Monjack, called paramedics to his and Brittany’s home in LA after she’d collapsed in the bathroom. She was pronounced dead upon her arrival at a nearby hospital. The LA county coroner declared pneumonia her primary cause of death, complicated by anaemia and multiple prescription drugs in her system. She was 32.

Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Cause of death: Prescription drug overdose

Amid the massive hype surrounding the release of the Batman film The Dark Night, in which Heath delivered a chilling performance as super villain The Joker, the actor was found unconscious in his bed in his Manhattan apartment. He was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived on the scene, having taken a deadly cocktail of prescription drugs. Heath was 28.

Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)

Cause of death: Alcohol poisoning

After kicking her drug habit in 2008, eclectic British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse began binge drinking, which would be her undoing. In July 2011, Amy’s bodyguard tried to rouse her throughout the day, and eventually realised she wasn’t breathing. He called emergency services, and Amy was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner’s report concluded Amy’s blood alcohol level was at 0,416 per cent (more than five times the legal driving limit in Britain), and "the unintended consequences of such potentially fatal levels was her sudden death". Amy was 27.

- Kirstin Buick



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