Celebs who died young

These actors, musicians, and public figures passed away before their time

Celebs who died young

Celebrity deaths are always saddening, but news of stars meeting their demise well before their time are particularly heartbreaking. Those sudden deaths, as terrible as they are, serve as a reminder that fame, money, and talent don’t guarantee a long life, as everyone’s journey here on Earth can abruptly come to an end in an instant. Below are 50 notable celebs who died young.

#1 James Dean

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Born: February 8th, 1931

Died: September 30th, 1955

Age at death: 24

Cause of death: Car accident

James Dean, best known for his role as Jim Stark in the 1955 drama film Rebel Without a Cause, was one of the many celebs who died young due to a vehicular accident. He was pronounced dead on arrival when he arrived by ambulance at the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, following a car accident involving a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder and a 1950 Ford Tudor. Dean was the driver of the Porsche, which slammed into the passenger’s side of the Ford.  In an inquest into his death, the sheriff-coroner’s jury concluded that the actor was entirely at fault in the incident due to speeding.

After his death, Dean received two posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his roles as loner Cal Trask in the 1955 drama movie East of Eden, and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in the 1956 epic Wester drama film Giant.

#2 Elvis Presley

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Born: January 8th, 1935

Died: August 16th, 1977

Age at death: 42

Cause of death: Heart attack

There have been conflicting reports on the cause of Elvis Presley’s death, but many experts concluded that the King of Rock and Roll died of a heart attack, likely brought on by his drug misuse.

On the evening of August 16th, 1977, the King of Rock and Roll was scheduled to fly out of Memphis to begin another tour. But that afternoon, his fiancée Ginger Alden found him unresponsive on a bathroom floor. According to Alden’s eyewitness account, the singer “looked as if his entire body had completely frozen in a seated position while using the toilet and then had fallen forward, in that fixed position, directly in front of it.”

Medical responders attempted to revive him several times but all failed. His death was officially pronounced the next day at the Baptist Memorial Hospital.

#3 Marilyn Monroe

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Born: June 1st, 1926

Died: August 4th, 1962

Age at death: 36

Cause of death: Barbiturate overdose

Several celebs who died young struggled with substance abuse and one of them was Marilyn Monroe. The actress was found dead in her bedroom by her housekeeper Eunice Murray and psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson in the early morning of August 4th, 1962. Her toxicology report showed that the cause of her death was acute barbiturate poisoning, and because the dosages found in her body were several times over the lethal limit, the possibility that she had accidentally overdosed was ruled out.

Best known for playing comedic blonde bombshell characters, Monroe became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s. Long after her death, Monroe continues to be a major icon of pop culture and is considered as one of the greatest female screen legends from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

#4 Cameron Boyce

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Born: May 28th, 1999

Died: June 6th, 2019

Age at death: 20

Cause of death: Epilepsy

Cameron Boyce was found unresponsive at his home in Los Angeles on June 6th, 2019. When authorities arrived, he was pronounced dead at the scene.[28] According to a statement issued by Boyce’s family, the actor died in his sleep “due to a seizure which was a result of an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated.” His autopsy results confirmed that the cause of his death was due to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Boyce was best known for his role as Luke Ross in the comedy series Jessie, which ran for four seasons on Disney Channel from 2011 to 2015. He then landed the lead role of Conor in Disney XD’s comedy series Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, and went on to appear as Carlos in the three live-action Descendants television films.

#5 Sharon Tate

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Born: January 24th, 1943

Died: August 9th, 1969

Age at death: 26

Cause of death: Multiple stab wounds

Sharon Tate, along with her friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger, was brutally murdered by members of the cult Manson Family at her home. According to the coroner’s report for Tate, the actress had been stabbed 16 times and that “five of the wounds were in and of themselves fatal.” Tate was more than eight months pregnant at the time of her death, and her unborn child was reportedly cut out of her stomach.

Tate rose to prominence for her performance as Jennifer North in the 1967 cult classic film Valley of the Dolls, which earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination. In the same year, Tate also appeared in the movie The Fearless Vampire Killers, which was directed by her future husband Roman Polanski. Tate’s last completed film, 12+1, was released posthumously in 1969.

#6 Christina Grimmie

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Born: March 12th, 1994

Died: June 10th, 2016

Age at death: 22

Cause of death: Gunshot wounds

Christina Grimmie was fatally shot while signing autographs following a concert performance at The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida. Grimmie was shot by 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl after initially opening her arms to give him a hug. She was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center but was shortly pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed that she was shot once in the head and twice in the chest. Loibl, meanwhile, shot himself dead right after shooting Grimmie.

Grimmie began posting covers of popular songs onto YouTube in 2009. Five years later, she became a contestant in season 6 of The Voice, in which she finished third. Grimmie dropped her debut studio album, With Love, in 2013. Her second and final album, All Is Vanity, was released posthumously in 2017.

#7 Mac Miller

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Credit: Nicolas Völcker / Wikimedia Commons

Born: January 19th, 1992

Died: September 7th, 2018

Age at death: 26

Cause of death: Accidental drug overdose

Mac Miller was found unresponsive at his Studio City home by his personal assistant in the morning of September 7th, 2018. Miller’s personal assistant performed CPR on the rapper until paramedics arrived, but the musician was pronounced dead shortly after the responders arrived at the scene. Two months after, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office determined that Miller died from an accidental drug overdose due to a “mixed drug toxicity” of fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol.

Miller began his music career in Pittsburgh’s hip hop scene in 2007 at the age of 15. Throughout his career, he released six studio albums, namely Blue Slide Park (2011), Watching Movies with the Sound Off (2013), GO:OD AM (2015), The Divine Feminine (2016), Swimming (2018), and Circles (2020). His sixth and final album was posthumously released.

#8 Amy Winehouse

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Born: September 14th, 1983

Died: July 23rd, 2011

Age at death: 27

Cause of death: Alcohol poisoning

On the afternoon of July 23rd, 2011, Amy Winehouse’s bodyguard found her lying on her bed lifeless at her home in Camden, London. When emergency responders arrived, the singer-songwriter was pronounced dead at the scene. An inquest into her death revealed that Winehouse died of accidental alcohol poisoning.

Known for her deep, expressive contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres, Winehouse has a total of three studio albums in her discography: Frank (2003), Back to Black (2006), and the posthumously released Lioness: Hidden Treasures (2011). Winehouse’s most popular song is probably Rehab, which won three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Referred to as Winehouse’s signature song, Rehab also won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song.

#9 Avicii

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Credit: The Perfect World Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

Born: September 8th, 1989

Died: April 20th, 2018

Age at death: 28

Cause of death: Suicide by exsanguination

Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling, passed away on April 20th, 2018 in Muscat, Oman. No cause of death was immediately given, but almost two weeks later, TMZ reported that the cause of death was suicide due to self-inflicted injuries with a broken wine bottle, with the Swedish DJ eventually dying of blood loss or exsanguination.

Avicci scored his first record deal after he started posting his remixes on electronic music forums at the age of 16. In 2013, he released his first studio album, True, which was followed by his second studio album Stories in 2017. His third album, Tim, was released posthumously in 2019.

Credited as one of the DJs who ushered electronic music into Top 40 radio in the early 2010s, Avicci was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on Sunshine with David Guetta in 2012 and for his progressive house song Levels in 2013.

#10 Cory Monteith

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Born: May 11th, 1982

Died: July 13th, 2013

Age at death: 31

Cause of death: Alcohol and heroin overdose

Cory Monteith was scheduled to check out on July 13th, 2013 at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, Canada, but when he failed to do so, hotel staff entered his room and found him dead. The autopsy report revealed that the actor-musician died from “a mixed drug toxicity” consisting of heroin and alcohol, and that his death was accidental.

Monteith was best known for his role as Finn Hudson on the Fox musical dramedy series Glee. The show’s season 5, episode 3, titled The Quarterback, served as a tribute to the actor and focused on the death of his character. Aside from Glee, Monteith also appeared on the ABC Family series Kyle XY and on the MTV scripted drama Kaya. Monteith appeared posthumously in films All the Wrong Reasons and McCanick, which both premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013.

#11 Mark Salling

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Born: August 17th, 1982

Died: January 30th, 2018

Age at death: 35

Cause of death: Suicide by hanging

Mark Salling was found dead from an apparent suicide by hanging near his home in the Sunland area of Los Angeles, six hours after he was reported missing. His death came weeks before he was to be sentenced for possession of child pornography.

Salling is best known for his role as Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the Fox musical dramedy series Glee. He also appeared in an episode of the original Walker, Texas Ranger series and starred alongside Rebecca Dalton in the 2014 TV movie, Rocky Road.

#12 Naya Rivera

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Born: January 12th, 1987

Died: July 8th, 2020

Age at death: 33

Cause of death: Drowning

One of the most recent celebs who died young was Naya Rivera. On July 8th, 2020, Rivera drowned at Lake Piru, near Santa Clarita, California, while swimming with her four-year-old son Josey, who was found alone on their rented boat. Her body was recovered from the lake on the morning of July 13th, following a five-day search.

Rivera started her career as a child actress and model in 1991. After recurring and guest-starring in several TV series as a teenager, she got her breakthrough role in 2009 as lesbian cheerleader Santana Lopez on the Fox musical dramedy series Glee. She then appeared as a recurring character on Lifetime’s mystery dramedy Devious Maids and landed a series regular role on YouTube Red’s Step Up: High Water.

#13 Bobbi Kristina Brown

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Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mom Whitney Houston | Credit: The Perfect World Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

Born: March 4th, 1993

Died: July 26th, 2015

Age at death: 22

Cause of death: Lobar pneumonia

Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was found unconscious in a filled bathtub at her home in January 2015. After being in a coma for nearly six months, she died from lobar pneumonia on July 26th of that year. Brown’s lover, Nick Gordon, was never charged with any crime related to her death but was later found responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit and ordered to pay $36 million to her estate. Gordon passed away in Florida after being found unresponsive in a hotel on January 1st, 2020, due to a heroin overdose.

Because of her parents’ fame, Brown spent her entire life in the public eye. She was 14 when her parents divorced. When Houston died in February 2012, Brown was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s estate.

#14 Anton Yelchin

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Born: March 11th, 1989

Died: June 19th, 2016

Age at death: 27

Cause of death: Blunt traumatic asphyxia

When Anton Yelchin didn’t show up at a rehearsal, his friends went to his house in Studio City, Los Angeles, where they found him deceased by his car. According to Los Angeles Police Department, Yelchin stepped out of his Jeep Grand Cherokee to check his locked gate when the vehicle rolled back down his driveway ― which was on a steep incline ― and pinned him against a brick pillar. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office identified the cause of death as “blunt traumatic asphyxia” and stated that there were “no obvious suspicious circumstances involved.”

Yelchin was best known for his role as Pavel Chekov in the three Star Trek movies set in the Kelvin timeline. He was also the voice of Clumsy Smurf in The Smurfs franchise and the actor behind the role of Byrd Huffstodt on the Showtime drama series Huff.

#15 Lee Thompson Young

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Born: February 1st, 1984

Died: August 19th, 2013

Age at death: 29

Cause of death: Suicide by gunshot

After Lee Thompson Young failed to show up to film an episode of Rizzoli & Isles, police did a wellbeing check on the actor at his Los Angeles apartment, where he was found dead. Authorities confirmed the cause of death as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Young, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for which he had been taking medication, had been suffering from depression prior to his death.

In addition to his series regular role as Detective Barry Frost on TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles, Young was also known for starring on Disney Channel’s The Famous Jett Jackson, which ran for three seasons. On the movie front, Young appeared in 2004’s Friday Night Lights, 2006’s Akeelah and the Bee, and 2007’s The Hills Have Eyes 2.

#16 Heath Ledger

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Born: April 4th, 1979

Died: January 22nd, 2008

Age at death: 28

Cause of death: Acute combined drug intoxication

One of the most popular celebs who died young was Heath Ledger. On the afternoon of January 22nd, 2008, the actor was found unconscious in his bed by his housekeeper, Teresa Solomon, and his masseuse, Diana Wolozin, in his loft in Manhattan, New York. When paramedics and emergency medical technicians arrived at the scene, Ledger was pronounced dead.

According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York, Ledger died “as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.” The manner of death was ruled to accidental due to the abuse of prescribed medications.

Ledger played the role of Joker in the 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight, which was released six months after his death. His performance in the Christopher Nolan-directed movie earned him a supporting-actor Academy Award. Ledger also received numerous acting recognitions for his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in the 2005 movie Brokeback Mountain, including an Oscar nod.

#17 Brittany Murphy

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Born: November 10th, 1977

Died: December 20th, 2009

Age at death: 32

Cause of death: Pneumonia

After receiving a medical request, firefighters rushed to Brittany Murphy’s home, where they found the actress collapsed in a bathroom. After the responders attempted to revive her on the scene, the actress was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she died following a cardiac arrest. Two months later, the Los Angeles County coroner stated that the primary cause of Murphy’s death was pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication.

Murphy’s breakthrough role was as Tai Frasier in the 1995 comedy film Clueless. She also starred opposite Ashton Kutcher in the 2003 rom-com flick, Just Married. Her other notable acting credits include 1999’s psychological drama Girl, Interrupted and 2002 drama film 8 Mile.

#18 River Phoenix

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Born: August 23rd, 1970

Died: October 31st, 1993

Age at death: 23

Cause of death: Acute combined drug intoxication

On the evening of October 30th, 1993, River Phoenix was set to perform with the band P at the Hollywood nightclub called The Viper Room. The said band featured his good friends Flea and John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, Al Jourgensen of Ministry, and actor Johnny Depp. After Phoenix arrived at the club with Frusciante, cocaine was immediately passed around. Hours later, Phoenix had convulsions and collapsed on a sidewalk. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead early morning of the following day.

According to an autopsy, Phoenix died of “acute multiple drug intoxication,” including cocaine and morphine. Since Phoenix was not a regular drug user, many people close to the actor blamed Frusciante for being the one who gave Phoenix the drugs that took his life.

Phoenix’s first notable acting role was in the 1986 coming-of-age film Stand by Me, which was based on Stephen King’s novella The Body. He went on to play a son of fugitive parents in the 1988 movie Running on Empty, which earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at the age of just 18. He also played a gay hustler in search of his estranged mother in the critically acclaimed 1991 movie My Own Private Idaho.

#19 Aaliyah

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Born: January 16th, 1979

Died: August 25th, 2001

Age at death: 22

Cause of death: Airplane crash

A number of celebs who died young met their demise in a plane crash, and one of those was the singer Aaliyah. After completing the filming for the music video of her song Rock the Boat, Aaliyah and her team boarded a twin-engine Cessna 402 light aircraft at the Marsh Harbour Airport in the Bahamas to travel to the Opa-Locka Airport in Florida. Unfortunately, the plane crashed and caught fire shortly after takeoff. The pilot was later found to have traces of cocaine and alcohol in his body, and was not qualified to fly the aircraft designated for the flight.

Credited for helping to redefine contemporary R&B, pop and hip hop, Aaliyah earned the nicknames Princess of R&B and Queen of Urban Pop. Some of her hit songs include Rock the Beat, Try Again, You Are Love, and Are You That Somebody?

#20 Tupac Shakur

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Born: June 16th, 1971

Died: September 13th, 1996

Age at death: 25

Cause of death: Gunshot wounds

On September 7th, 1996, at about 11:15 p.m. at a stop light on Las Vegas Boulevard, an occupant of a late-model Cadillac sedan rapidly fired into the car carrying Tupac Shakur. The rapper was struck four times: once in the arm, once in the thigh, and twice in the chest, with one bullet entering his right lung.

Shakur was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada where he was heavily sedated and put on life support. In the intensive-care unit on the afternoon of September 13, 1996, Shakur died from internal bleeding. Years after his death, investigative journalist Chuck Philips revealed that Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, a Southside Compton Crip, was the one who fired the gunshots that killed Shakur.

Better known by his stage name 2Pac and by his alias Makaveli, Shakur is considered by many to be one of the most influential rappers of all time, as several of his works has been noted for addressing contemporary social issues that plagued inner cities. Shakur’s most popular songs include California Love, Dear Mama, Changes, and Hit Em Up, among many others.

#21 Kurt Cobain

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Born: February 20th, 1967

Died: April 5th, 1994

Age at death: 27

Cause of death: Suicide by gunshot

A number of celebs who died young died of suicide, and among those was Kurt Cobain. Following a number of suicide attempts, the musician was found dead at his Lake Washington Boulevard home in Seattle by electrician Gary Smith, who had arrived to install a security system. Smith initially believed that Cobain was asleep until he saw a shotgun pointing at his chin.

A suicide note was found on the scene. Addressed to Cobain’s childhood imaginary friend, Boddah, the letter stated that Cobain had not “felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing … for too many years now.” According to the coroner’s report, Cobain’s body had been lying there for days before it was discovered.

Best known as the guitarist, primary songwriter, and frontman of the rock band Nirvana. Cobain was praised by his angst-fueled songwriting that widened the thematic conventions of mainstream rock music. Often regarded as a spokesman of Generation X, Cobain is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in the history of alternative rock.

#22 Edie Sedgwick

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Credit: Confetta / Flickr

Born: April 20th, 1943

Died: November 16th, 1971

Age at death: 28

Cause of death: Barbiturate overdose

On the night of November 15th, 1971, Edie Sedgwick’s husband, Michael Post, gave her the medication that had been prescribed for her. When Post awoke the following morning, Sedgwick was dead. The coroner ruled her death as “undetermined/accident/suicide” and her death certificate revealed that the immediate cause was “probable acute barbiturate intoxication” due to ethanol intoxication.

An actress and fashion model, Sedgwick was best known for being one of Andy Warhol’s superstars. After starring in several of Warhol’s short films in the 1960s, Sedgwick was hailed as The Girl of the Year in 1965. Vogue magazine also named her a “Youthquaker”.

#23 Jimi Hendrix

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Born: November 27th, 1942

Died: September 18th, 1970

Age at death: 27

Cause of death: Asphyxia

Jimi Hendrix spent much of September 17th, 1970 in London with his girlfriend Monika Dannemann. According to Dannemann, she and Hendrix arrived at her apartment at 3 a.m. from the residence of an acquaintance. They reportedly talked until around 7 a.m., when they went to sleep. Dannemann then awoke around 11 a.m. and found Hendrix breathing but unconscious and unresponsive. She called for an ambulance and Hendrix was transported to St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead the afternoon of the following day. According to an inquest into his death, Hendrix aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates.

Though his mainstream career only spanned four years, Hendrix is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. Some of his popular songs include All Along the Watchtower, Hey Joe, Voodoo Chile, and Foxy Lady.

#24 John Lennon

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Born: October 9th, 1940

Died: December 8th, 1980

Age at death: 40

Cause of death: Gunshot wounds

As unbelievable as it may sound, some celebs who died young were killed by their very own fans. For instance, John Lennon was shot by a fan named Mark David Chapman while walking through the archway of his Manhattan apartment with Yoko Ono. Chapman shot Lennon twice in the back and twice in the shoulder at close range. Lennon was rushed in a police cruiser to the emergency room of Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Lennon rose to worldwide fame as the founder, co-lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist of the English rock band Beatles. His songwriting partnership with his fellow Beatles member Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history. After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Lennon started a career as a solo artist with Ono as a collaborator.

#25 Princess Diana

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Credit: Russ2009 / Wikimedia Commons

Born: July 1st, 1961

Died: August 31st, 1997

Age at death: 36

Cause of death: Car crash

Princess Diana died in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris while the driver was fleeing from paparazzi. The crash also resulted in the deaths of Princess Diana’s companion, Dodi Fayed, and the driver, Henri Paul, who was the acting security manager of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. The lone survivor of the crash was Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones.

Princess Diana was the first wife of Prince Charles, the heir apparent to the British throne. She’s also the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry. While her activism and glamour brought her global fame, her tumultuous private life made her the subject of unprecedented public scrutiny.

#26 Steve Irwin

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Credit: Bernard DUPONT / Wikimedia Commons

Born: February 22nd, 1962

Died: September 4th, 2006

Age at death: 44

Cause of death: Stingray injury to the heart

Steve Irwin died after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming at Batt Reef in Queensland, Australia for the documentary series Ocean’s Deadliest. The stinger penetrated Irwin’s thoracic wall and heart, causing massive trauma and bleeding. Crew members who were with Irwin at the time administered CPR on the wildlife expert and then rushed him to the nearby Low Isles, where medical staff pronounced him dead.

Footage of the incident was viewed by Queensland state police as part of their mandatory investigations. All copies of the footage were then destroyed at the behest of Irwin’s family. Aside from a still image of Irwin with the text “In Memory of Steve,” the documentary contains no mention of his death when it aired in 2007.

Irwin achieved worldwide fame while co-hosting the wildlife documentary series The Crocodile Hunter from 1996 to 2007 with his wife Terri. The pair were also the presenters of the series Croc Files (1999–2001), The Crocodile Hunter Diaries (2002–2006), and New Breed Vets (2005). They also co-owned and operated Australia Zoo, founded by Irwin’s parents in Beerwah, Queensland.

#27 Jim Morrison

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Credit: Julio Zeppelin / Flickr

Born: December 8th, 1943

Died: July 3rd, 1971

Age at death: 27

Cause of death: Heart failure

On July 3rd, 1971, Jim Morrison, the lead vocalist of the rock band The Doors, was found dead by his girlfriend Pamela Courson in the bathtub of his Paris apartment. Although no autopsy was performed, as it was not required by French law, the official cause of death was listed as heart failure. However, several individuals who said they were eyewitnesses, claimed that Morrison’s death was due to an accidental heroin overdose.

Due to his poetic lyrics, distinctive voice, and erratic performances, Morrison was regarded by music critics and fans as one of the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock history. Morrison recorded a total of six studio albums with The Doors, all of which were commercially and critically successful. Though the band recorded two more albums after Morrison’s passing, his death severely affected the band’s fortunes, and they ultimately broke up in 1973. Morrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Doors in 1993.

#28 Bruce Lee

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Born: November 27th, 1940

Died: July 20th, 1973

Age at death: 32

Cause of death: Cerebral edema

On July 20th, 1973, martial artist Bruce Lee complained of a headache during a meeting with producer Raymond Chow and actress Betty Ting Pei at her home. After taking the painkiller Equagesic that Ting gave him, Lee went to lie down for a nap at around 7:30 p.m. When Lee did not come to the dinner meeting he was supposed to attend with Chow later that night, Chow went to Lee’s apartment, where he was unable to wake up Lee. A doctor, who arrived at the scene, attempted to revive Lee before sending him to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Though there was no visible external injury, results of the autopsy revealed that Lee’s brain had swollen considerably. Lee’s death came two months after he was diagnosed with cerebral edema, which is basically swelling of the brain. In a 2005 interview. Chow said Lee died from an allergic reaction to the tranquilizer meprobamate, a common ingredient in painkillers like Equagesic.

Known for defying stereotypes associated with the emasculated Asian male in American films, Lee is regarded by many to be the most influential martial artist of all time. His most notable martial arts films include Lo Wei’s The Big Boss (1971), Fist of Fury (1972), Way of the Dragon (1972), Enter the Dragon (1973) and The Game of Death (1978).

#29 Brandon Lee

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Born: February 1st, 1965

Died: March 31st, 1993

Age at death: 28

Cause of death: Gunshot wound

Brandon Lee, the only son of Bruce Lee, died of a gunshot wound he got while filming for the 2004 superhero movie The Crow. Early in the morning of March 31st, the cast and crew were shooting a scene at Carolco Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Lee’s character was shot and killed by thugs. As Lee entered a room, another actor shot him from a distance of 15-20 feet.

The gun was supposed to have been loaded with blanks, but police later found that a .44 bullet entered Lee’s abdomen and lodged in his spine, fatally wounding him. He died in the hospital hours later of internal injuries, blood loss, and heart failure. A month after, North Carolina District Attorney Jerry Spivey announced that Lee’s death was due to negligence on the part of the film’s crew, not foul play.

Lee made his screen debut opposite David Carradine in the TV film Kung Fu: The Movie in 1986. In the same year, he starred in his first leading role in the Hong Kong action film Legacy of Rage. Lee’s first American theatrical release was the 1991 Warner Bros. buddy cop action film Showdown in Little Tokyo, which was followed by a leading role in the 1992 20th Century Fox-produced action film Rapid Fire.

#30 Otis Redding

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Born: September 9th, 1941

Died: December 10th, 1967

Age at death: 26

Cause of death: Airplane crash

Singer-songwriter Otis Redding, along with six others died, after his Beechcraft H18 airplane crashed into Lake Monona while on their way to Truax Field in Madison, Wisconsin. The cause of the crash was never determined. The other victims of the crash were four members of the band Bar-Kays — guitarist Jimmy King, tenor saxophonist Phalon Jones, organist Ronnie Caldwell, and drummer Carl Cunningham; their valet, Matthew Kelly; and the pilot Richard Fraser. Bar-Kays member Ben Cauley was the accident’s lone survivor.

A seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues, Redding is considered as one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music. His gospel music-inspired style of singing influenced many other soul artists of the 1960s. Redding’s most popular songs include The Dock of the Bay, Try a Little Tenderness, Cigarettes and Coffee, and Hard to Handle.

#31 Sam Cooke

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Born: January 22nd, 1931

Died: December 11th, 1964

Age at death: 33

Cause of death: Gunshot wound

Singer Sam Cooke was shot and killed by Bertha Franklin, the manager of Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles. According to the official police record, Cooke had checked in to the motel on the evening of December 11th, 1964. Later that night, Cooke had banged on the door of Franklin’s office, shouting “Where’s the girl?!” The girl Cooke was referring to was Elisa Boyer, the woman he was with when he arrived at the motel.

Franklin shouted back that there was no one in her office except herself, but an enraged Cooke did not believe her and forced his way into the office, naked except for one shoe and a sport jacket. Cooke grabbed Franklin and the two began to scuffle. When a scared Franklin managed to get away, she retrieved a gun and fired at Cooke in self-defense. Cooke had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest, which was later determined to have pierced his heart. After an inquest and investigation, the courts ruled Cooke’s death to be a justifiable homicide.

Commonly referred to as the King of Soul, Cooke was praised for his distinctive vocals and notable contributions to the genre. He began singing as a child and joined the gospel music group Soul Stirrers as lead singer in the 1950s. As a solo artist, Cooke released a string of hit songs, including You Send Me, A Change Is Gonna Come, Cupid, and Wonderful World, among many others.

#32 Marvin Gaye

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Born: April 2nd, 1939

Died: April 1st, 1984

Age at death: 44

Cause of death: Gunshot wound

On the afternoon of April 1st, 1984, singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye intervened in a fight between his parents in their house in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. He got into a physical altercation with his father, who shot Gaye twice, once in the chest, piercing his heart, and then into Gaye’s shoulder. Gaye was pronounced dead after his body arrived at California Hospital Medical Center.

After helping shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist, Gaye earned the monikers Prince of Motown and Prince of Soul. Gaye’s Motown hits include Ain’t That Peculiar, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), and I Heard It Through the Grapevine. He also recorded duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Tammi Terrell, and Diana Ross.

#33 Buddy Holly

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Born: September 7th, 1936

Died: February 3rd, 1959

Age at death: 22

Cause of death: Airplane crash

After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, singer-songwriter Buddy Holly chartered an airplane to travel to his next show in Moorhead, Minnesota. Soon after takeoff, the plane crashed into a frozen cornfield, killing Holly and his fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. The pilot of the plane, Roger Peterson, also died in the accident. The three musicians, who were ejected from the fuselage upon impact, suffered severe head and chest injuries.

Buddy Holly, whose real name is Charles Hardin Holley, was a central and pioneering figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. Some of his notable songs include That’ll Be the Day, Peggy Sue, Everyday, and It’s So Easy. He was among the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and was even ranked by the Rolling Stone magazine as 13th on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

#34 Paul Walker

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Born: September 12th, 1973

Died: November 30th, 2013

Age at death: 40

Cause of death: Injuries sustained from single-vehicle collision

Actor Paul Walker died as a passenger in a single-car crash alongside friend and driver Roger Rodas. Rodas was driving his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, which crashed into a concrete lamp post and two trees subsequently catching fire to the vehicle. Walker died from the combined effects of trauma and burns. His body and that of Rodas’ were both burned beyond recognition. The investigation concluded that the car’s speed – between 80 mph (130 km/h) and 93 mph (150 km/h) – and age of the tires were the primary reasons for the crash.

Walker was best known for playing Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious franchise. His other notable acting credits include the road thriller Joy Ride, survival drama Eight Below, war film Flags of Our Fathers, and heist film Takers.

#35 Janis Joplin

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Credit: Elliot Landy / Wikimedia Commons

Born: January 19th, 1943

Died: October 4th, 1970

Age at death: 27

Cause of death: Heroin overdose

Late on October 4th, 1970, Janis Joplin was found dead on the floor of her hotel room. Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi performed an autopsy on Joplin and determined the cause of death to be a heroin overdose, possibly compounded by alcohol. Joplin’s death was ruled accidental.

Known for her powerful mezzo-soprano vocals and electric stage presence, Joplin was one of the most successful and widely known rock stars of her era. During her eight-year career, Joplin released two albums with the psychedelic rock band Big Brother as well as two solo albums. Her second album, Pearl, which was released posthumously just over three months after her death, reached number one on the Billboard charts. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

#36 Bob Marley

Celebs who died young 36
Credit: Eddie Mallin / Wikimedia Commons

Born: February 6th, 1945

Died: May 11th, 1981

Age at death: 36

Cause of death: Malignant melanoma

In July 1977, Jamaican singer Bob Marley was diagnosed to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. A biopsy confirmed that it was the deadliest kind of skin cancer called acral lentiginous melanoma. Marley turned down his doctors’ advice to have his toe amputated, and instead, the nail and nail bed were removed and a skin graft was taken from his thigh to cover the area.

Three years later, Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park and was taken to hospital, where it was found that his cancer had spread to his brain, lungs, and liver. Despite months of treatment, his health continued to deteriorate and he ultimately died of the disease on May 11th, 1981.

Marley is considered one of the pioneers of reggae. His contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaican music across the world, and made him a global pop culture icon. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

#37 Keith Moon

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Born: August 23rd, 1946

Died: September 7th, 1978

Age at death: 32

Cause of death: Heminevrin overdose

On the afternoon of September 7th, 1978, musician Keith Moon was found dead by his girlfriend Annette Walter Lax at his apartment in London. Police determined that there were 32 clomethiazole pills in Moon’s system. Six were digested, sufficient to cause his death, while the other 26 were undigested when he died. Moon was taking clomethiazole to alleviate his alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but was instructed by his doctor instructing to only take one pill when he felt a craving for alcohol but not more than three pills per day.

Moon was the drummer for the English rock band The Who. Recognized for his eccentric drumming style, which emphasized tom-toms, cymbal crashes, and drum fills, Moon was voted the second-greatest drummer in history in a 2011 Rolling Stone readers’ poll. In 1982, he was posthumously inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.

#38 Martin Luther King Jr.

Celebs who died young 38
Credit: Minnesota Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Born: January 15th, 1929

Died: April 4th, 1968

Age at death: 39

Cause of death: Assassination

African American Baptist minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee while planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C. He was fatally shot by James Earl Ray as he stood on the second-floor balcony of his room at Lorraine Motel. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. After an emergency chest surgery, King died at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

King was the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination. Inspired by his Christian beliefs and the non-violent activism of Mahatma Gandhi, King advanced civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience.

#39 John Belushi

Celebs who died young 39

Born: January 24th, 1949

Died: March 5th, 1982

Age at death: 33

Cause of death: Combined drug intoxication

John Belushi, one of the seven original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, died from combined drug intoxication after drug dealer Cathy Smith injected him a fatal mixture of heroin and cocaine known as speedball. Smith was charged with involuntary manslaughter and served fifteen months in prison.

Belushi’s heavy drug use threatened his comedy career multiple times. In fact, he was dismissed and rehired on SNL on several occasions due to this. In addition to SNL, his other acting credits include comedy movies 1941, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and The Blues Brothers. Belushi was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.

#40 Sid Vicious

Celebs who died young 40
Credit: Chicago Art Department / Wikimedia Commons

Born: May 10th, 1957

Died: February 2nd, 1979

Age at death: 21

Cause of death: Heroin overdose

After seven weeks of detention and detox in the Rikers Island jail, English rocker Sid Vicious made bail on February 1st, 1979. Late that same night, at a party, he would put heroin into his system that the medical examiner would later estimate to have been 80% pure. He died in the early morning of the following day.

Best known as the bassist of the punk rock band Sex Pistols, Vicious was the personification of punk aesthetic. He walked around London with a swastika on his chest, a padlocked chain around his neck, and a gigantic chip on his shoulder. In 2006, Vicious, along with the four original members of the Sex Pistols, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

#41 Anne Frank

Celebs who died young 41
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Born: June 12th, 1929

Died: February 1945

Age at death: 15

Cause of death: Typhus

Anne Frank, one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, was spared immediate death in the Auschwitz gas chambers, and instead sent to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in northern Germany, with her sister, Margot. There, they died of typhus a few months after. Anne and Margot were originally estimated by the Red Cross to have died in March of 1945, but research by the Anne Frank House in 2015 suggests the sisters more likely died in February.

Anne gained fame posthumously with the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl, in which she documented her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It’s one of the world’s best-known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.

#42 John F. Kennedy

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Credit: Cecil Stoughton, White House / Wikimedia Commons

Born: May 29th, 1917

Died: November 22nd, 1963

Age at death: 46

Cause of death: Assassination

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the U.S., was assassinated in Dallas, Texas while on a political trip to smooth over frictions in the Democratic Party between liberals Ralph Yarborough and Don Yarborough and conservative John Connally. Traveling in a presidential motorcade through downtown Dallas, he was shot once in the back and once in the head.

Marxist and former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the state crime, but he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby two days later. Though the FBI and the Warren Commission both concluded Oswald had acted alone in the assassination, several groups contested the Warren Report and believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy.

Despite his truncated presidency, Kennedy ranks highly in polls of U.S. presidents with historians and the general public. The majority of his work as president concerned relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, as he served at the height of the Cold War.

#43 The Notorious B.I.G.

Celebs who died young 43
Credit: InSapphoWeTrust / Wikimedia Commons

Born: May 21st, 1972

Died: March 9th, 1997

Age at death: 24

Cause of death: Drive-by homicide (gunshot wounds)

After attending a Soul Train Music Awards after-party, the truck carrying The Notorious B.I.G. (real name Christopher George Latore Wallace) was fired at. When Wallace’s truck stopped at a red light 46 meters from the Petersen Automotive Museum, a black Chevy Impala pulled up alongside it. The Impala’s driver, an unidentified African-American man dressed in a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol, and fired at Wallace’s car. Four bullets hit Wallace.

The rapper’s entourage rushed him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed an emergency thoracotomy, but he was pronounced dead shortly after. Released 15 years after his death, his autopsy showed that only the final shot was fatal. It entered through his right hip and struck his colon, liver, heart, and left lung before stopping in his left shoulder.

Considered as one of the greatest rappers of all time, Wallace became known for his distinctive laidback lyrical delivery, offsetting the lyrics’ often grim content. His songs were usually semi-autobiographical and were about hardship and criminality, with recurring themes of debauchery and celebration. Some of his most popular songs include Juicy, Hypnotize, Big Poppa, and Mo Money Mo Problems.

#44 Duane Allman

Celebs who died young 44
Credit: Ed Berman / Wikimedia Commons

Born: November 20th, 1946

Died: October 29th, 1971

Age at death: 24

Cause of death: Motorcycle accident

Duane Allman, the founder and original leader of the Allman Brothers Band, was riding his Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle at high speed on Hillcrest Avenue in Macon, Georgia when a flatbed boom truck stopped suddenly in an intersection near Bartlett Street, forcing him to swerve sharply. He struck either the back of the truck or the ball on the crane and was thrown from the motorcycle, which landed on top of him and skidded another 27 meters with him pinned underneath it, crushing his internal organs. Though he was alive when taken to a hospital and got immediate medical treatment, Allman died several hours later from massive internal injuries.

Best remembered for his expressive slide guitar playing and inventive improvisational skills, Allman was ranked number 2 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time in 2003, and ranked number 9 in 2011. A sought-after session musician, Allman also performed with established stars such as King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, and Herbie Mann.

#45 Freddie Mercury

Celebs who died young 45
Credit: Chris Bailey / Flickr

Born: September 5th, 1946

Died: November 24th, 1991

Age at death: 45

Cause of death: Bronchopneumonia as a complication of AIDS

On the evening of November 24th, 1991, about 24 hours after revealing that he had been diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, Freddie Mercury died at his home in Kensington in London. The cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.

Considered as one of the greatest singers in the history of rock music, Mercury was the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Known for his flashy stage persona and four-octave vocal range, he defied the conventions of a rock frontman. Aside from being the frontman of Queen, Mercury also wrote several hit songs for the band, including Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Don’t Stop Me Now, Somebody to Love, and We Are the Champions.

#46 Vincent Van Gogh

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Born: March 30th, 1853

Died: July 29, 1890

Age at death: 37

Cause of death: Self-inflicted gunshot wound

Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions. He spent time in psychiatric hospitals, including a period at Saint-Rémy. After he discharged himself, he moved to the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris under the care of the homeopathic doctor Paul Gachet. However, his depression continued, and on July 27th, 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a Lefaucheux revolver and died from his injuries two days later.

Considered a madman and a failure, Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime. His reputation only began to grow in the early 20th century when the Fauves and German expressionists started to incorporate elements of his painting style into their works. Some of his most famous paintings include The Starry Night, The Painter of Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, and Van Gogh self-portrait, which you can see above.

#47 Amelia Earhart

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Born: July 24th, 1897

Disappeared: July 2nd, 1937 (aged 39)

Status: Declared dead in absentia on January 5th, 1939 (aged 41)

During a 1937 attempt at becoming the first female aviator to complete a circumnavigational flight of the globe in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, Amelia Earhart, along with navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. They were last seen on July 2nd, 1937 in Lae, Papua New Guinea, and were officially declared dead on January 5th, 1939.

Earhart achieved celebrity status in 1928 after becoming the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic by airplane. Fast forward to 1932, Earhart, piloting a Lockheed Vega 5B, made a nonstop solo transatlantic flight, becoming the first woman to achieve such a feat.

#48 Judy Garland

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Born: June 10th, 1922

Died: June 22nd, 1969

Age at death: 47

Cause of death: Barbiturate overdose

Judy Garland’s lifelong struggle with substance use disorder ultimately led to her death. On June 22nd, 1969, just 12 days after her 47th birthday, Garland was found dead by her husband Mickey Deans in the bathroom of their rented house in London. At the inquest, coroner Gavin Thurston stated that the cause of death was “an incautious self-overdosage” of barbiturates, stressing that the overdose had been unintentional and no evidence suggested that the actress had died by suicide.

Garland is best known for portraying Dorothy Gale in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. Her other notable roles include Esther Blodgett in the 1954 musical romance A Star Is Born and Irene Hoffman in the 1961 war drama Judgment at Nuremberg. Garland received Academy Award nominations for both performances.

#49 Lisa Lopes

Celebs who died young 49
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Born: May 27th, 1971

Died: April 25th, 2002

Age at death: 30

Cause of death: Car crash

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Singer Lisa Lopes was killed in a car crash while organizing charity work in Honduras. Driving a rented Mitsubishi Montero SUV, she swerved slightly to avoid a truck, then immediately to the right as she tried to avoid an oncoming car. The Montero rolled several times after hitting two trees, throwing Lopes, along with three other passengers of the SUV, out of the windows. Lopes died instantly of fracture of the base of the cranium and open cerebral trauma, and was the only person fatally injured in the accident.

Also known by her stage name Left Eye, Lopes was a member of the R&B girl group TLC, alongside Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas. Besides rapping and singing backing vocals on TLC recordings, Lopes also co-wrote most of their songs and designed some of their outfits. Through her work with TLC, Lopes won four Grammy Awards. During her short career as a solo artist, Lopes recorded the hit songs Not Tonight, U Know What’s Up, and Never Be the Same Again, which is a collaboration with Spice Girls member Melanie C.

#50 Michael Jackson

Celebs who died young 50

Born: August 29th, 1958

Died: June 25th, 2009

Age at death: 50

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest

Michael Jackson died on June 25th, 2009 from an overdose of propofol administered by his personal physician, Conrad Murray. Two months later, the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled that Jackson’s death was a homicide, and Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in November 2011.

Dubbed the King of Pop, Jackson made his professional debut in 1964 with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon as a member of the Jackson 5. He started his solo career in 1971 and rose to prominence with his fifth studio album Off the Wall, which was released in 1979. His most popular songs include Beat It, Billie Jean, and Thriller, just to name a few.

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