The Most Surprising Historical Celebrity Deaths
We all know stars have a habit of burning brightly and then vanishing just as suddenly as they once shone. Some celebrities, however, seem to disappear inexplicably in the middle of the night, and leave us curious as to what exactly happened. Conspiracy theories abound and we search for answers to explain away such strange star-studded disappearances. Car accidents, consequences of excessive lifestyle, murder and suicide seem to be the main culprits for these tragic events. Yet for some, the final curtain call seems altogether more mysterious and downright scary. Just what led some of our most alluring role models to check out so early? We will count down from number 10 in this gallery of misfortune and tragedy.
Coming in at Number 10 is one Brian Jones. Jones is one of the founding members of the 27 club (a posthumous group of musicians who died at the age 27). He was the founding guitar player of the Rolling Stones, and he was discovered floating dead in his own swimming pool following a party he’d had the same night. Brian had been a strong swimmer in his youth but he certainly swam for The Last Time that night. He’d clearly had people over that he perhaps shouldn’t have. But hey, this was the 60s, and free love could turn messy fast.
Number 9 is novelist and poet Edgar Allen Poe. He was found on a rainy Baltimore night in 1849, delirious and dressed in somebody else’s clothes lying in the gutter. He was taken to the hospital where he drifted in and out of consciousness. During violent outbursts, Poe screamed the name “Reynolds.” Reynolds was believed to be Henry R. Reynolds, a judge at a tavern-cum-polling station, a location Poe was supposed to be shortly before his death. One theory is that Poe was kidnapped, forced to binge drink, vote repeatedly, and each time dressed in different clothes, before being tossed out penniless and delirious onto the Baltimore streets. Poe died later in the hospital having never recovered enough to tell anybody quite what had happened.
Number 8 is another member of the 27 club, Jim Morrison. Jim was discovered dead in a bathtub in Paris. The Doors singer had been taking some time off from the limelight to exercise his more literary and poetic aspirations in the City of Light when he collapsed in a nightclub of a possible heroin overdose. His pals carried him to his apartment and laid him in cold water, but even that wasn’t enough to resurrect the lizard king who had finally met The End.
Number 7 is a double billing of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. Tupac was shot dead first in Las Vegas in a car, while his bodyguards surrounded him and his label boss driving - neither the bodyguards nor the label boss were harmed. Six months later, the The Notorious B.I.G. died in eerily similar circumstances in LA leading to strong rumors of a hip hop conspiracy killing.
At Number 6, yet another member of the legendary 27 club, Kurt Cobain. Kurt rewrote the 1990s music scene with his Seattle band Nirvana, and went on to record Nevermind, an instant classic and commercial triumph across the world. Years touring and Kurt was spent. He went into a semi-recluse existence, and on April 5th, 1994, he committed suicide, leaving a wife, child, and millions of shocked fans to wonder where it all went wrong.
Number 5 is James Dean. The 24-year-old Hollywood actor was on a fast track to major stardom, and with only three movies including Rebel without a Cause under his belt, Dean looked set to conquer the world. A hit with critics and fans alike, the 24-year-old died in a car accident on September 30th, 1955. A car lover, Dean was speeding in his new Porsche when he struck another car and died instantly, leaving many industry insiders and fans dumbstruck.
Number 4 is John F. Kennedy. The 35th President of the United States was the second youngest ever, at 43 years of age, to take office in the White House. On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was travelling in a motorcade when shots were fired and the president was hit and fatally injured. In a strange twist, the man charged for killing the president, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself assassinated before his trial by Jack Ruby, who died of cancer before he himself was sentenced.
Number 3 is the King himself, Elvis Presley. Elvis was a pioneer of rock and roll and perhaps the most famous American ever to have lived with an image recognizable worldwide. Presley drew his last breath while on the toilet in his Memphis estate on August 16th, 1977. Elvis, who was a slightly more portly version of his previous self, was engaged in a heavy Vegas schedule towards the final curtain. Originally thought to have died of a heart attack owing to his religious cheeseburger diet, it was later discovered that the 42 year old entertainer had been all shook up on prescription medication for a long time. Over 100,000 fans showed up to the public viewing of Elvis’ body at the Graceland estate.
At the number 2 spot is possibly one of the most legendary female Hollywood icons ever to have graced the big screen. Like Elvis, her image is immortalized by pop artist Andy Warhol, and her beauty preserved in films such as Some Like it Hot and the Seven Year Itch. Actress Marilyn Monroe was found naked and dead in her home at Helena Drive in LA on August 5th, 1962, from a presumed suicide. She was lying on her stomach surrounded by empty pill bottles with a telephone receiver in one hand. The 36 year old had become a recluse up until her final days, and following her death, numerous rumors have materialized, some trying to establish a link between her demise and that of number 4 on our list, John F. Kennedy.
And finally, number 1 is none other than Princes Diana. Diana Spencer became princess of Wales on July 29, 1981, when she married Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. Having divorced Charles on August 28th 1996, she still retained her title of Princess, being mother of the future heir to the throne, when she began to date Dodi Fayed, the son of Harrods millionaire Muhammad Al-Fayed. The Princess was with Dodi and their driver when they were killed in a vehicle crash in Paris on August 31st 1997, while attempting to shake off paparazzi pursuers. Her funeral was viewed by millions of people around the world, and for some, she will always be the Queen of Hearts and the People’s Princess. She was the first royal in a long time that had connected with the people. She engaged in countless charity and PR events across the world and was championed for her compassion and pragmatism.
So that’s our top ten list of historic celebrity deaths… Some honorable mentions that didn’t make the list go to Ayrton Senna, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, Buddy Holly, Natalie Wood, John Candy, Magic Jordan, and Rudolph Valentino.
So, which celebrity death shocked you the most? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!