18 Actors Who Died Before the Release of Their Final Film

By on March 26, 2010
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Here’s a look at 18 film stars who have died before the release of their final film. Dating all the way back to Hollywood’s golden era of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean to the worldwide shock of Heath Ledger, these actors have died before their prime.

1. Marilyn Monroe

She was the bespoke queen of Hollywood. The eternal sex-symbol that inspired millions of people is famous for her beauty and movie roles that gave her Hollywood fame.

The actress was born in 1926. In August 1946 she started to work as a cinema operator for “Twentieth Century-Fox”. Later the famous studio chose the nickname that will be glorified forever – Marilyn Monroe.

marilyn monroeAfter several successful roles, in 1955 she was declared a sex symbol of the year in the United States. She was married three times, but her marriages ended with divorces.

In 1951, Marilyn met John F. Kennedy, who later became president of the United States. From 1954 to 1960 they are said to have been involved is an intimate relationship.

Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962 in California at the age of 36 by a deadly dose of sleeping pills. Her death deprived her of seeing the success of her last movie: “Something’s got to give

2. Gary Cooper

His real name is Frank James Cooper and he is one of the biggest Hollywood stars ever. The legendary American actor is born in 1901. His career includes more than 100 films, a large part of which westerns.

Gary received five nominations for the Oscars for best actor and won two – for his roles in “Sergeant York” (1941) and “High Noon” (1952).

gary cooperGary has received another Academy Award only a month before he died. His personal life was stormy and among his best friends was Ernest Hemingway, with whom he spent many holidays.

Gary had affairs with many famous Hollywood actresses like Marlene Dietrich and Grace Kelly.He died of cancer. His last role was in a British production –“Naked Edge” , but he died before the screening.

3. Jean Harlow

The term “bombshell” was born in 1933, when the blonde haired actress Jean Harlow appeared in the movie “Bombshell”. Jean is the first blonde sex symbol of Hollywood.

The real name of the actress is Harliyn Carpenter. She was born on March 3, 1922 in Kansas City. She died too young in 1937, only 26 years old, but managed to shoot 26 films.

JEAN HARLOWShe participated in “Dinner at eight”, “Public Enemy”, “Roulette of Angels”. Jean has received her first significant role in the “Roulette of Angels”, whose producer was Howard Hughes. He called Jean “platinum sex- bomb” and the nickname became a trademark of Harlow. “Saratoga” was her last movie , but she never got to see it .

4. James Dean

They called him the Hollywood Rebel due to his famous movie “Rebel without a cause”. James Dean was an outstanding actor, twice nominated for an Oscar (after his death), posthumously awarded with the Golden Globes Award. James has became the idol of the American cinema and obtained a legend after his untimely death.

jamesdeanHe played only 3 major roles before his death – in the movie “Rebel without a Cause”, “East of Eden” and “Giant”. He died in a car accident, speeding his new Porsche 550 Spyder. His accident happened while he was shooting “Rebel without a Cause” and the movie was release after his death.

More than 50 years after his death, the interest in his personality continues. According to recourses James had affairs with the most beautiful Hollywood actresses.

5. Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is the artistic nickname of the legendary Hollywood actor considered by many as the most influential person of the martial arts that was ever born. His movies are still watched by millions of people and hold the record as the most viewed action movies in Hollywood.

He was also the first kung-fu actor and in his movies he often played the common person that reaches physical perfection and incredible strength.

bruce lee

He is also known as the father of the action heroes in the Hollywood industry. After his roles the typical Hong Kong martial art is no longer the same.

Bruce made it to be rich and popular but he met an untimely death after finishing his last movie “ Enter the Dragon”. He died in 1973 by an acute cerebral edema. His death still remains a mystery.

6. Tupac Shakur

Born on June 16, 1971 in New York, Shakur was a promising actor and social activist. He remains in the history as the best-selling rapper in the world. He is the first rapper that set a record in the Guinness Book.

His songs are related to the violence in the ghettos, as well as problems with society and racism.

TUPAC SHAKUROn September 6, 1996 after the boxing match Holyfield -Tyson, Shakur was shot 4 times from a passing car in Las Vegas. Tupak died later in the hospital. His influence in the music world has been described as a rap revolution. Tupak is also called the father of the ghetto music.

He also starred in “Gridlock’d” and “Gang Related” but the movies were releases the following year after his death.

7. Chris Farley

Christopher Crosby Farley was known as one of the most talented American comedy stars. The actor which we known as Chris Farley has began his career in the early 70`s when he appeared on Saturday Night Live Show.

He acted in over 100 series of this show. Chris biggest hit was his role in “Beverly Hills Ninja”.

CHRIS FARLEYFarley was often called phenomenally funny. His famous movies roles were significant for a generation of American comedy stars. He also owns a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

The actor had problems with drug addiction. He died in 1997 in Chicago from an accidental cocaine intoxication. “ Almost heroes” the last outstanding comedy movie he starred in was released after his death.

8. Clark Gable

The King of Hollywood- this is how he was called. Clark Gable was an Oscar winning actor that played one of the most significant roles in the cinema, Rhett Butler from the movie “Gone with the Wind” (1939). His life was full with adventures and marriages with the biggest Hollywood actresses.

CLARK GABLEThe love of his life, the actress Carole Lombard died in a plane crash. He is also one of the actors that participated in the Second World War.

Clark, notorious for his classy behavior in the movies is still an icon that many try to copy. He died at the of 59 after a series of four heart attacks after she completed the shooting of his last movie “ The Misfits”.

9. Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger is an Oscar winning Hollywood actor that made one of the most significant movie roles in the last ten year. The actor made his début with his movies 10 Things I hate about you and The Patriot.

One of the last films in which Heath Ledger part, was nominated for an Oscar I’m Not There. He is one of the several actors recreating the image of the singer Bob Dylan. Heath died while he was shooting his last movie The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan.

HEATH LEDGERThe actor played the role of the Joker. According to his last interviews he was exhausted and the role was stressful. Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment in New York on January 22, 2008. The reason of his death is poisoning by sleeping pills.

10. Phil Hartman

The Canadian born actor Phil Hartman is best known for his comedy show “Saturday Night Live“. The actor was talented and produced several screen plays. He also began a career as an impressive graphic artist. His career improved in 1995 when Phil participated in TV shows and movies such as “Sgt. Bilko”, “Small Soldiers” and “Houseguest”.

Phil HarmanHowever Phil didn’t reach happiness in real life. His third wife, Bryn was a drug addict. On May 28, 1998 she killed her husband, while he was sleeping and few hours later she committed suicide.

Phil Harman’s death was deeply mourned in Hollywood and “ Small soldiers” his last movie was released two month after the tragic event.

11. Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood is a daughter of Russian immigrants. She was born on July 20, 1938 under the name Natalia Zakarenko. In 1955 she played the role of Judy in the legendary movie “Rebel without a Cause”. For this role she was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1957 she married Robert Wagner.

natalie woodIn 1961 and 1963 she was nominated for two more Academy Awards. In 1969 she has married producer Richard Gregsan, of whom she also divorced. In 1972 she reunited with her former husband Robert Wagner. She died in California during a trip on a yacht in unexplained circumstances.

The facts about the night of her drowning remain unknown. She drowned before completing her last movie “ Brainstorm”- a sci-fi story .

12. Brandon Lee

The son of Bruce Lee, Brandon took his father`s steps and began a Hollywood career. He was named one of the most mystical actors; despite he wasn’t so well-trained in the martial arts as his father. Brandon`s last movie “The Crow” is one of the top American movies ever. This is the role of his life and it literally took Brandon`s life. The film is an adaptation of the popular comics by James O’Bar.

Brandon LeeBrandon Lee died on March 31, 1993 in a tragic accident on set of “The Crow“. The actor was shot in the abdomen and taken to hospital, but the doctors couldn’t do much.

Brandon Lee was buried next to his father in Seattle on April 3, 1993. The movie was released after his death.

13. Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy was an American theater and film actor, notorious for his talent. Spencer played in 74 films between 1930 and 1967. He was also one of the most nominated for Oscar actors: 9 times.

Spencer TracyHe has won 2 of these Oscar nominations for best actor with “Brave captains” and “City of Boys“. In 1930, when he was 30 years, he entered the cinema and left the theater scene.

He is also known for his long relation with the Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn. They both were married, but their affair lasted until his death in 1967. He died after cardiac arrest, few days after shooting his last movie “Guess who`s coming to dinner”.

14. Aaliyah

Aaliyah was an extremely popular American singer and actress. Her first album was released when she was only fourteen years old. Alliyah was also a successful fashion model.

She worked in cooperation with singers like R. Kelly, Missy Elliot and Timberland. Her fame reached its top with her Hollywood début “Romeo must die”.

aaliyahShe also performed the soundtrack of the movie, the song “Try again”, which still remains a hit-song. She died in air-plane crash in 2001 after she was shooting her last video-clip.

Her death was deeply mourned in the music world and came shortly after she played her second role as vampire queen in the “Queen of the damned”. Her friends still release songs in her honor.

15. John Candy

John Candy is a Canadian born actor, famous for his comedy roles and talented plays. The actor had a taste for drama, but his début actually was on the comedy scene of several movies. He became famous after releasing movie roles in hit films like “Uncle Buck” and “Home Alone”.

john candyIn Hollywood circles the actor was notorious for his generosity and many called him “the nicest Hollywood actor”. His personality inspired many actors in the branch. In 1994 John Candy died from a heart attack in Mexico and his last work “ Canadian bacon” was released after his death.

His funeral was attended by actors with worldwide fame. One of his closest friends is said to be Tom Hanks.

16. River Phoenix

They called him the new James Dean, because River Phoenix was representing the old Hollywood glamour and a rebel look. His career began when he was in his teen years. In 1989 River played also the role of young Indiana Jones in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade“, directed by Spielberg.

river phoenixRiver was nominated for an Oscar with his first adult role in “Running on Empty”. One of the most significant and very personal roles for the actor was in the movie” My Own Private Idaho”, where he played a homosexual-oriented drug addict.

River was also drug addict and that put an end to his life in 1993, when he was found dead by an overdose four month before releasing “Silent Tongue”- his last film.

17. Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith, 39, died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in 2007. Illegal Aliens, in which she played Lucy, was released three months later.

anna nicole smith

18.Peter Sellers

Peter Sellers died from a heart attack in July of 1980, right before The Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu was released.

Two years later, the Trail of the Pink Panther, which included several flashback scenes and unused footage from previous Pink Panther films featuring Sellers, came out.

peter sellers

A number of celebrities who have died from a drug overdose could have lived longer had they sought treatment for their substance abuse problems.

There are, after all, many drug addiction treatment centers for celebrities these days, and they can certainly help.

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3 Comments

  1. Dedra Dezenzo

    August 2, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Now I have read your article and by the way I found you website on AOL and I think after I read several post on you website especially this one I have my own opinion about what should I say on the next conversation with my girl friend, maybe tomorrow I will tell my familyabout this one and get debate.

  2. Palaniappan M

    November 25, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    I feel so sorry to read all these…

  3. sparrow21

    October 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

    A little correction: Heath Ledger died before The Dark Knight was released but he did finished the film, on the date of his death he was still filming Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr.Parnassus. (Three actors volunteered to finish his rola, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrell, – They all gave their talent fees for the movies to Heath Ledger’s daughter, Matilda)

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