Only The Good Die Young: 30 Iconic Stars Who Left Us Way Too Soon

Every so often the death of celebrity sends shockwaves through the media. Celebrities are already immortalized through social media, tabloids and cult followings while they are alive. Whether it is a world famous rockstar or a beloved child actor, a famous person’s death has a way of affecting us, especially when it is sudden. There is really no such thing as “too soon” when it comes to our favorite stars. Unfortunately, there have been many celebrities who died young.

The death of major icons like David Bowie, Prince and Robin Williams were just as gut wrenching even if they did live to see past 60. However, nothing compares to the shock of losing a star in the height of their career, at a young age or to suicide. Celebrities who died young remind us that even the most famous and fabulous of us are not invincible or immortal.

30.) Paul Walker

celebrities who died young Paul Walker
  • September 23, 1973- November 30, 2013
  • Age: 40 years old
  • Cause of death: Fatal car accident

Walker was famous for his reoccurring role in the popular car racing franchise Fast and Furious, which he starred in alongside Tyrese Gibson, Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Fast and Furious star Paul Walker shook headlines when news broke of a fatal car accident involving the actor and Randy Rodas.

Walker’s tragic death occurred while he was still filming Furious 7, the seventh installment of the nine-movie franchise. The collision occurred when the car crashed into a concrete lamp post and two trees caught on fire, ultimately burning the two alive.

The film Furious 7 was released posthumously with Walker’s scenes and his two brothers standing in as doubles for his remaining scenes.

29.) Amy Winehouse

celebrities who died young Amy Winehouse
  • September 14, 1983- July 23, 2011
  • Age: 27 years old
  • Cause of death: Alcohol poisoning

Amy Winehouse was most famous for two things: her soulful, sultry vocals that swept you away when she sang, and her ongoing public struggles with drugs and alcohol. Winehouse went through extreme highs and lows in the media. She won a collection of 5 Grammy awards and a number of other awards for her studio album Back to Black. 

But her public image was riddled with her reputation of drug issues, alcohol addictions and a troubled marriage issues. On July 23, 2011, Winehouse was found dead by her bodyguard at her residence in Camden, London. She had apparently been drinking over the course of a few days and died of accidental alcohol poisoning due to her physical weakness from her health issues.

Amy Winehouse lives on through her music and her fans, and is considered a member of the 27 club.

28.) Heath Ledger

celebrities who died young heath ledger
  • April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008
  • Age: 28
  • Cause of death: Accidental intoxication from prescription drugs

After one of the most iconic renditions of The Joker, actor Heath Ledger broke headlines with news of his tragic death in 2008. Heath Ledger, an Australian-born actor who became a famous actor in the United States with roles in popular films like 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, Brokeback Mountain and finally The Dark Knight. Ledger’s work inBrokeback Mountain earned him an Oscar nod.

Ledger’s death was a tragic loss for Hollywood and a complete shock to his fans worldwide. After the toxicology report, it was found that Ledger died due to intoxication from 6 different prescription drugs. The death of Heath Ledger remained one of the most-talked about stories of 2008.

27.) Whitney Houston

celebrities who died too young whitney houston
  • August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012
  • Age:48
  • Cause of death: Drowning due to coronary artery disease and cocaine intoxication

Amy music fan can tell you that there was a collective cloud of mourning around the world. Fans, musicians, and other celebrities alike were in complete shock and sadness after the death of iconic pop diva Whitney Houston broke out.

Houston was found submerged in her hotel bathtub in Beverly Hills, California. Later that day she was pronounced dead, and the toxicology report showed evidence of cocaine usage shortly before her death.

Houston’s death sent shockwaves throughout the world, and sparked many reactions and tributes from other music legends including Clive Davis, Tony Bennett and Chaka Khan.

26.) Cory Monteith

celebrities who died too young
  • May 11, 1982 to July 13, 2013
  • Age: 31
  • Cause of death: Drug overdose

Breakout star Cory Monteith stole hearts every week with his role as Finn Hudson in popular TV musical drama series Glee.  The British Columbian actor had a history of drug abuse including periods of addiction and rehabilitation while he was a teenager.

Months before Monteith’s death, he checked into drug rehabilitation center seeking treatment for his drug addiction. On July 13th, he was found unconscious and pronounced dead of an overdose of heroin and alcohol. Fans and actors of the show, including girlfriend Lea Michele, mourned his tragic and sudden death, and the show never was the same without him.

25.) Aaliyah

celebrities who died young aaliyah
  • January 16, 1979 to August 25, 2001
  • Age: 22
  • Cause of death: Plane crash

Aaliyah was one of contemporary R&B’s biggest stars in the late 90s. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Aaliyah broke through the music scene with her popular hits that are still played today. Aaliyah’s career was backed by several industry greats like Timbaland and Missy Elliot, and she even had a movie deal with Jet Li. Her life was cut short on August 25, 2001 when she died in a plane crash leaving the Bahamas.

After her death, she was posthumously recognized as one of the pioneers of 90s R&B and is credited for inspiring many of the famous urban singers we know today.

24.) Selena Quintanilla

celebrities who died too young selena
  • April 16, 1971 to March 31, 1995
  • Age: 23
  • Cause of death: murder

The queen of Tejano music was beloved across the country for her vocals, her bright smile, and her numerous hits that are still loved today. The singer, which hailed from Texas, broke records as a break out star in 90s. She is known as one of the biggest entertainers to represent Mexican-Americans in the world, and is credited for bringing forth Tejano music to the spotlight.

Selena’s tragic death is perhaps one of the biggest celebrity deaths of the 90s. On March 31, 1995, the manager of Selena’s boutiques and fan club shot and killed the singer after a dispute in a hotel room. The singer was pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital. Her tragic and untimely death rocked headlines for days and months to come, and many compared her murder to that of John Lennon and Elvis Presley.

Today, her music lives on for many of her fans, and her story is remembered through the film Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez.

23.) Brittany Murphy

celebrities who died too young brittany murphy
  • November 10, 1977 to December 20, 2009
  • Age: 32
  • Cause of death: pneumonia

The death of BrittanyMurphy is probably still one of the most mysterious deaths in Hollywood. The American actress who is best known for her role in Clueless died in December 2009 of pneumonia. After multiple reports and autopsy tests, the cause of her death seemed to be “natural” as coroners reported. Later on it was discovered that Murphy was on a number of drugs to treat her pneumonia, but that the death was an “accident”. Months later her widower strangely died of the same thing.

22.) Tupac Shakur

celebrities who died young tupac
  • June 16, 1971 to September 13, 1996
  • Age: 25
  • Cause of death: Drive-by shooting

While the “best rapper alive” debates will forever live on, Tupac remains one of the undisputed names when it comes to the best and most influential rappers to have ever lived. A poetic lyricist, intellectual and actor, Tupac made and continues to make a huge impact on the world of hip hop music and culture.

After his death in a drive by shooting in Las Vegas, he left a legacy behind of one of the world’s most visionary musicians out there.

21.) The Notorious B.I.G.

celebrities who died young biggie
  • May 21, 1972 to March 9, 1997
  • Age: 24
  • Cause of death: gunshot wound in a drive-by shooting

Biggie is still praised as one of the greatest rappers of all time, even 21 years after his death. The rapper was notorious for his smooth lyrics and ability to tell stories through his songs that were often dark and raw. The mystery surrounding his death is still a topic of conversation today and is speculated to be inexplicably linked to the death of Tupac Shakur.

After leaving a party in Los Angeles, the rapper was shot by an unknown man in the driver’s seat at the red light. The world of hip hop gathered to mourn the rapper, who was seen as a master of lyrics. Although no one knows exactly who shot Biggie, he is still one of the most famous of celebrities who died young and is still loved by hip hop fans worldwide today.

20.) Ryan Dunn

celebrities who died too young ryan dunn
  • June 11, 1977 to June 20, 2011
  • Age: 31
  • Cause of death:  Traffic collision

Ryan Dunn was a very successful American stunts actor and comedian most well known for being apart of the CKY crew with Bam Margera. Together, Dunn and Margera would perform extreme stunts and hilarious pranks and record them, which eventually led to the popular MTV show Jackass.

In 2011, Dunn died in car accident hours after he posted a video of him and his production assistant Zachary Hartwell drinking at a bar. News of Dunn’s death broke fans hearts everywhere and fellow Jackass cast members. Fans mourned Dunn’s comedic spirit and daring entertainment.

19.) Anton Yelchin

celebrities who died too young anthony yelchin
  • March 11, 1989 to June 19, 2016
  • Age: 27
  • Cause of death:

Anton Yelchin was most known and beloved by the Star Trek fandom for his role as Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. His untimely and tragic death in 2016 devastated Yelchin’s fans and Hollywood. Yelchin died in a freak accident, he was found in between his SUV and brick pillar. It seems that Yelchin’s car rolled back while on a steep incline and trapped him behind it and crushed his lungs. He died shortly after impact.

Star Trek Beyond was released in theaters posthumously and the producers of Star Trek agreed to not recast Pavel Chekov in future Star Trek films.

18.) Bruce Lee

celebrities who died young bruce lee
  • November 27, 1940 to July 20, 1973
  • Age: 32
  • Cause of death: Cerebral Edema

Bruce Lee was a martial artist and actor who rose to fame both in his home country of China and in theUnited States. People knew him for his roles in several major feature films and his expertise in Chinese martial arts. Lee’s fame sparked a huge American interest in Kung Fu and other martial arts movies.

On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee collapsed and suffered from extreme headaches and seizures. Doctors discovered that his brain has swelled due to an allergic reaction to a painkiller that he had been taking. Despite his untimely death, Lee is still remembered as one of the most influential martial artists in the world.

17.) Brandon Lee

celebrities who died young brandon lee
  • February 1, 1965 to March 31, 1993
  • Age:28
  • Cause of death: Gunshot wound

Two members of the Lee family have made these celebrities who died young list. Martial Arts icon Bruce Lee’s son is also another celebrity who died too young. Brandon Lee was an actor and following in his fathers footsteps, a martial artist. Lee was the only son of the late actor Bruce Lee.

Brandon Lee kicked off his acting career in a several Kung Fu films until he landed his breakout role in The Crow. Unfortunately, filming this movie would mark the end of his life. While filming a scene in The Crow, Lee died in an accident involving a prop gun that was accidentally fired and killed fatally wounded him. His death sparked a lot of confusion and speculation in regards to the on-set accident and left fans and family of both Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee devastated.

16.) Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes

celebrities who died too young left eye
  • May 27, 1971 to April 25, 2002
  • Age: 30
  • Cause of death: Fatal car accident

TLC was a widely successful hip hop and r&b group in the 90s that had hits all across the radio and television. Lisa Lopes was one of the three members of the group and did mostly background vocals and rapping on the groups records, she was a huge creative force behind the group in general.

Left Eye’s death was a tragedy that occurred while she was on a trip with friends and family in Honduras. While driving, Left Eye swerved off the road to avoid an oncoming car then the car flipped several times and she was thrown from the car. She immediately died upon impact from severe trauma to the head and neck.

While she was alive, Left Eye dedicated much of her time to charity work and spirituality. After she passed away, her family set up a foundation in her name that devoted to the lives of abandoned and neglected children.

15.) Lee Thompson Young

celebrities who died young lee thompson
  • February 1, 1984 to August 19, 2013
  • Age: 29
  • Cause of death: Multiple gunshot suicide

Fans of the early 2000s Disney Channel Hit series The Famous Jett Jackson were shocked to hear that news that the star actor Lee Thompson Young was found dead in his apartment after an apparent suicide. The actor had been suffering from depression and bipolar disorder leading up to his death in August 2013, he tragically lost the battle to it.

Fans of Lee Thompson Young poured out their condolences and tributes through memories of the hit Disney Channel show. His life ended at a mere 29 years old, in the middle of his acting career, which has him remembered as one of the celebrities who died too young. In the wake of his suicide, his family urged discussion on ending the stigma of mental illness.

14.) Natasha Richardson

celebrities who died too young natasha richardson
  • May 11, 1963 to March 18, 2009
  • Age: 45
  • Cause of death: Epidural Hematoma after Ski accident

The name Natasha Richardson brings up memories of a bright smile, a British accent and a short blonde bob from the hit movie The ParentTrap. Richardson had a long career in acting in theatre, film and television in both the UK and the US. She had a successful acting career, starring in movies like Wild Child, Maid in Manhattan, and the 1990 movie adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.

While taking a skiing lesson in Quebec, Richardson fell on her head and was rushed to the hospital in New York City. Two days later she died of a serious epidural hematoma, or a bleeding between the brain and the skull. Her husband, Liam Neeson and her two sons grieved the sudden loss of their loved one and tributes spread across the world in remembrance of her.

13.) Kurt Cobain

Esquire.uk

  • February 20, 1967 to April 5, 1994
  • Age: 27
  • Cause of death: Gunshot wound

Kurt Cobain is probably one of the first names when the topic of celebrities who died young comes up. The lead singer of Nirvana left behind one of the biggest legacies when it comes to grunge music, pain and tragedy expressed through art and lives taken too soon.

Cobain experienced huge success with his band Nirvana and was integral in establishing the Seattle grunge scene. His ongoing struggle with heroin and mental illness was a large topic in the tabloids before and after his death in 1994. After going missing in Seattle and being found dead in April 1994, fellow rock musicians and fans mourned the death of the rock star. To this day, Cobain is known as being one of the members of the 27 club and one of the most iconic musicians of all time.

12.) Jim Morrison

celebrities who died young jim morrison

Flickr

  • December 8, 1943 to July 3, 1971
  • Age: 27
  • Cause of death: heart failure/unknown

Another member of the darkly famous 27 club, Jim Morrison makes the tragic list of the celebrities who died young. Morrison was the lead singer of the famous band the Doors but also known for his work as a poet. Morrison and the Doors recorded six albums together and all of them were well-received by fans. In 1993, Morrison was inducted to the Rock Hall of Fame.

Morrison’s death remains one of the most mysterious celebrity deaths out there. He was found dead in a bathtub and the cause of death was labeled “heart failure”. Unfortunately, there was no autopsy performed so there is still speculation surrounding what exactly caused him to die.

11.) Michael Jackson

celebrities who died too young michael jackson
  • August 25, 1958 to June 25, 2009
  • Age: 50
  • Cause of death: intoxication of pills

The King of Pop left behind his incredible library of hits for us to forever jam to. But no one will forget where they were on June 25, 2009 when the news broke out that the King of Pop had passed away. Tribute after tribute after mourning after memorial poured out from fans across the world.

A true musical legend of a lifetime had passed away and the world will never forget one of the most famous celebrities who died too young.

10.) John Belushi

celebrities who died young John Belushi

NBC

  • January 24, 1949- March 5, 1982
  • Age: 33
  • Cause of death: Overdose of heroin and cocaine

John Belushi was an American comedian, actor, and singer. The fans knew Belushi for his “intense energy and raucous attitude.” He was one of the seven original cast members of Saturday Night Live. Throughout his career, Belushi had a close personal and artistic partnership with his fellow SNL star Dan Aykroyd.

In his personal life, Belushi struggled with heavy drug use that affected his comedy career. Lorne Michaels, the creator of SNL, dismissed and rehired Belushi on several occasions due to his behavior. In 1982, Belushi died from combined drug intoxication caused by an injection of a heroin and cocaine mixture, known as a speedball.

9.) Chris Farley

celebrities who died young Chris Farley

NBC

  • February 15, 1964- December 18, 1997
  • Age: 33
  • Cause of death: Overdose of cocaine and morphine

Chris Farley was an American actor and comedian. Farley was known for his loud, energetic comedic style. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live between 1990 and 1995. He then went on to pursue a film career, starring in films such as Tommy Boy, Black Sheep and Beverly Hills Ninja.

In the final years of his life, Farley had sought treatment for obesity and drug abuse on 17 occasions. In December 1997, Farley was found dead by his younger brother, John, in his apartment in Chicago. An autopsy revealed that Farley had died of an overdose of cocaine and morphine. Farley’s death is often compared to that of his SNL idol John Belushi, who also died at the same age of the same cause.

8.) Marilyn Monroe

celebrities who died young Marilyn Monroe

Biography

  • June 1, 1926- August 5, 1962
  • Age: 36
  • Cause of death: Drug overdose

During her all-too-brief life, Marilyn Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the world’s biggest and most enduring sex symbols. During her career, Monroe’s films grossed more than $200 million.

Her housekeeper discovered her lying nude on her bed, face down, with a telephone in one hand. There was empty bottles of pills, prescribed to treat her depression, littered around the room. After a brief investigation, Los Angeles police concluded that her death was “caused by a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs and that the mode of death is probable suicide.”

7.) Avicii

celebrities who died young Avicii

Avicii

  • September 8, 1989- April 20, 2018
  • Age: 28
  • Cause of death: Suicide

Avicii was a Grammy award-nominated Swedish DJ and remixer who became known for international hits such as “Levels,” “Hey Brother,” and “Wake Me Up.” His debut album True peaked within the top ten in more than 15 countries. He worked with notable artists such as Madonna and Chris Martin during his career. In January 2012, he was hospitalized for 11 days in New York City with acute pancreatitis caused by excessive alcohol use. Avicii underwent surgery and had both his appendix and gallbladder removed in 2014. Later in 2016, his health went downhill and he retired from performing live.

On April 20, 2018, Avicii was found dead. TMZ reported that the cause of death was a suicide On April 26, 2018, his family released an open letter stating that the DJ “really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.”

6.) Steve Irwin

celebrities who died young Steve Irwin

Telegraph

  • February 22, 1962- September 4, 2006
  • Age: 44
  • Cause of death: Stingray injury to the heart

Steve Irwin, nicknamed “The Crocodile Hunter,” was an Australian zookeeper, conservationist and television personality. Irwin got famous worldwide from the television series The Crocodile Hunter, Croc Files, and The Crocodile Hunter Diaries. Irwin and his wife Terri also owned and operated Australia Zoo.

In September 2006, Irwin decided to snorkel in shallow waters while being filmed in an effort to provide footage for his daughter’s television program. While swimming in chest-deep water, Irwin approached a short-tail stingray from the rear, in order to film it swimming away. According to the incident’s only witness, “All of a sudden [the stingray] propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail. Hundreds of strikes in a few seconds”.

Irwin initially believed he only had a punctured lung. However, the stingray’s barb pierced his heart, causing him to bleed to death. The stingray’s behaviour appeared to have been a defensive response to being boxed in. Irwin’s death is believed to be the only fatality from a stingray ever captured on video.

5.) Anna Nicole Smith

celebrities who died young Anna Nicole Smith

Eonline

  • November 28, 1967- February 8, 2007
  • Age: 39
  • Cause of death: Drug overdose

Anna Nicole Smith was an American model, actress and television personality. Smith first gained popularity in Playboy, when she won the title of 1993 Playmate of the Year. She modeled for fashion companies including Guess, H&M, Heatherette, and Lane Bryant.

During the final 6 months of her life, Smith was the focus of renewed press coverage surrounding the death of her son, Daniel Wayne Smith, and the paternity and custody battle over her newborn daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead. The housekeeper found her dead in a hotel room as a result of an overdose of prescription drugs.

4.) Bob Marley

celebrities who died young Bob Marley

Bob Marley

  • February 6, 1945- May 11, 1981
  • Age: 36
  • Cause of death: Skin cancer

Bob Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim. People say he popularized reggae music around the world and served as a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity. Marley has also evolved into a global symbol and has inspired a significant merchandise industry.

In July 1977, a doctor diagnosed Marley with a type of skin cancer under the nail of a toe. He ignored his doctor’s advice to amputate the toe, and he ignored it. In September 1980, he had collapsed during a jogging tour in Central Park. His friend took him to hospital where he learned that the cancer had spread to his brain.

Shortly afterwards, Marley’s health deteriorated as the cancer had spread throughout his body.

3.) John Lennon

celebrities who died young John Lennon

John Lennon

  • October 9, 1940- December 8, 1980
  • Age: 40
  • Cause of death: Murdered

John Lennon was an English singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group would ascend to worldwide fame during the 1960s.

Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved from London to Manhattan in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by the Nixon administration to deport him.

One gunman Mark David Chapman shot Lennon four times in the back at close range. The police rushed Lennon to the emergency room. Doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.

2.) Chester Bennington

celebrities who died young Chester Bennington

InTouch Weekly

  • March 20, 1976- July 20, 2017
  • Age: 41
  • Cause of death: Suicide

Chester Bennington was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. He served as lead singer for the band, Linkin Park. The blockbuster reception of the band’s debut album, ‘Hybrid Theory’ catapulted Bennington’s position as a musician and gave him the much-needed and deserved recognition as one of the most iconic figures of music in the 21st century.

His housekeeper found Bennington dead at his home. Authorities ruled his death a suicide. On July 21, 2017, Brian Elias, the chief of operations for the office of the medical examiner-coroner, confirmed that a half-empty bottle of alcohol was found at the scene, but no other drugs were present. Linkin Park announced that they had canceled the North American tour following his death.

1.) Janis Joplin

celebs who died young Janis Joplin

Wikpedia

  • January 19, 1943- October 4, 1970
  • Age: 27
  • Cause of death: Heroin overdose

Janis Joplin was an American singer-songwriter who first rose to fame in the late 1960s. Joplin was the lead singer of the psychedelic-acid rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. She later went solo with her own group, The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band.

Her road manager, John Cooke, found Joplin dead on the floor beside her bed. The official cause of death was a heroin overdose, possibly compounded by alcohol. Cooke believes Joplin had been given heroin that was much more potent than normal, as several of her dealer’s other customers also overdosed that week. The coroner’s office ruled her death as accidental.

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