There has certainly been no shortage of highly publicized celebrity deaths lately. Even in this year alone, we can think of numerous instances. Between tributes being paid to these stars, and fellow celebrities paying their respects on social media, it is often impossible to miss out on the bad news. Nevertheless, it is not exactly an odd occurrence for the passing of a celebrity to go unnoticed. Unless it is a largely famous star, news of these deaths usually fade out within a day or two. It is in this way that it is easy enough to miss out on such news.
This list deals with some recent celebrity deaths that appear to have gone unbeknownst to many individuals. It is clear that the stars on this list were just as unlucky as ordinary people, and just like stars, ordinary peoples’ death often fades away as quick as it comes.
15. Natasha Richardson
The actress known for her roles in movies such as The Parent Trap, Maid in Manhattan and The White Countess tragically died in 2009 when she was just 45 years old. Richardson, who had been married to actor Liam Neeson for 15 years, tragically passed away after suffering a fatal head injury while taking part in a beginner’s skiing lesson. Strangely, immediately after the incident occurred Richardson is said to have been completely lucid and even engaged in conversation; for this reason, Richardson refused medical attention and returned to her hotel room. However, the actress was later rushed to hospital as she began suffering from a headache. Richardson’s condition later became critical and the star was flown back to New York where she died on March 18th. A statement was released by Richardson’s family on this day which stated: “Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love, and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.” Richardson’s death went on to spark a debate about the wearing of helmets when skiing, as the actress herself had not been wearing one. Although a law was never implanted, the number of skiers to wear helmets greatly increased due to the attention Richardson’s tragic death brought upon the issue.
14. James Rebhorn
Rebhorn passed away on March 21st 2014, after a long battle with melanoma. At the time of his death the actor had an incredible track record, appearing in over 100 movies including Scent of a Woman, Independence Day, The Talented Mr. Ripley, My Cousin Vinny and Meet the Parents. The star who had recurring roles in Homeland and White Collar at the time of his passing was first diagnosed with the illness in 1992. Rebhorn was 65 at the time of his death. The actor famously penned his own obituary, some lines included: “James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done” The final episode of the fourth season of Homeland was dedicated to Rebhorn and his memory.
13. Lisa Robin Kelly
Kelly, best known for playing the role of Laurie Foreman, Eric’s older sister on That 70s Show, died in 2013 and the age of 43. Kelly was actually checked into a rehabilitation centre at the time of her death; the actress passed away while she slept on August 15th. A lawsuit was later brought forward against the rehabilitation centre by Kelly’s husband after it was revealed she had died due to an accidental multiple drug intoxication. This lawsuit claimed “negligence resulting in wrongful death.” However, the case was weakened by the fact that it had never been discovered what exact drugs where in Kelly’s system at the time of her passing. Along with this, the rehabilitation centre also explained that they had not administered any drugs to the actress, so they are unsure of what drugs she had taken or where they had come from. Despite this Gilliam was adamant that they were to blame claiming they had cost him a “loss of love, affection, comfort and financial support.”
12. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lopes, AKA Left Eye, who found fame in the 90’s R&B girl band TLC, died on April 25, 2002, at the age of 30. Lopes was the victim of a devastating road accident that occurred in La Ceiba Honduras. The singer, who was driving a rented Mitsubishi at the time of the accident, is said to have been turning a bend when she swerved abruptly to the right to avoid a truck; immediately after this the singer swerved to the left to avoid an on-coming car. At this stage, Lopes lost complete control of the vehicle as it hit two trees and proceeded to roll over several times, throwing Lopes and all other passengers out the windows. The star who was not wearing a seatbelt, is said to have died instantaneously from head and neck injuries. Although there were others in the vehicle, Lopes is the only one who’s injuries were fatal. Thousands of people turned out for Lopes’ funeral on May 2nd, 2002, and engraved upon the tragic star’s casket were the following lyrics from her band’s hit Waterfalls: “Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you.”
11. Heather O’ Rourke
The beloved Poltergeist star passed away when she was just 12 years old. O’Rourke originally became ill early in 1987. Unfortunately, the actress was misdiagnosed by doctors that believed her to have Crohn’s disease. There is much controversy surrounding Heather’s death, as it is highly likely it could have been prevented had doctors not misdiagnosed her condition as this time. Less than a year later, O’Rourke once again became sick. While getting ready to leave for the hospital the following morning, the young star collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest while being transported to the hospital. The star died the following day, February 1st, 1988, from a second cardiac arrest during surgery to remove an acute bowel obstruction. Her exact death is labelled cardiac arrest caused by sceptic shock due to intestinal stenosis. The O’Rourke family later brought a lawsuit against the hospital that originally diagnosed Heather’s condition; the case was solved out of court for an undisclosed sum. Many conspiracy theorists hold Heather’s death to be a part of the Poltergeist curse.
10. Andy Whitfield
Whitfield, who became famous from his starring role in The Spartacus: Blood and Sand series, passed away from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2011, when he was 39 years old. The Welsh born actor was diagnosed with the illness in 2010 and immediately began to undergo treatment for the disease in New Zealand; Whitfield was pronounced cancer free after just two months of treatment. However, during this time the star was unfit to continue filming for Spartacus; instead, a six-part prequel was aired to allow Whitfield time to recover. Unfortunately, though, during a check-up later that year it was discovered that Whitfield’s cancer had returned. The actor was forced to abandon his role in his TV series, with his successor being Australian actor Liam McIntyre. Whitfield’s condition continued to worsen and it is said that the actor passed peacefully on September 11th, surrounded by his family at their Sydney home. Speaking of her husband’s death, the late star’s wife Vashti, said: “Andy was in his prime. He looked like an Adonis …And he was this young, beautiful dad. And he had stage four roaring around, ripping inside of his body.”
9. John Ritter
Ritter, who starred in TV shows such as Three’s Company and 8 Simple Rules, tragically passed away on September 11, 2003, at the age of 54. The actor actually became ill while filming 8 Simple Rules. Ritter began to suffer from severe chest pains as well as vomiting and perfuse sweating. Alarms were immediately raised about Ritter’s health; after being taken to the hospital, Ritter’s condition was unfortunately misdiagnosed and doctors began to treat him for a heart attack. It was later discovered that Ritter had an aortic dissection; however, the star passed away during surgery to fix this dissection. Ritter’s funeral service took place on the 15th of September and the tragic star was interred at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Ceremony. Ritter’s family went on to receive 14 million dollars as a settlement for the fact that the actor’s condition had been misdiagnosed. Ritter’s character was killed off 8 Simple Rules and the show continued on until its completion in 2005. There was an outpouring of public sorrow form Ritter’s co-stars after they learned of his death; Ζach Braff described Ritter as a ’comic hero.’
8. Chris Penn
The actor best known for his roles in movie such as Reservoir Dogs, Footloose and Rush Hour, passed away on January 24, 2006, at the age of 40. The brother of fellow actor Sean Penn, died from heart disease believed to have been caused by the star’s obesity along with his dependence on the prescription drug promethazine. There is also said to have been a mixture of Valium and Marijuana in Penn’s system at the time of his passing. This does not come as a surprise as the actor was known, in the past, to have used many different types of drugs. In a controversial interview, Sean Penn stated that he believed his brother died due to his heavy weight. The actor was laid to rest at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
7. Judith Barsi
Although millions of people have heard Judith Barsi’s voice in animated movies such as The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven, many are not aware that the young actress was already dead prior to the release of those movies. The young star was the victim of a murder- suicide carried out by her Father, in 1988. Barsi was only 10 years old when her father, Josef, took a gun to her head while she slept. After shooting his only daughter, Josef proceeded to murder her mother Maria, but was said to have wandered around the family home for a further two days before eventually turning the gun on himself. Barsi was said to have suffered a long history of abuse from her father and as her fame increased, he regularly threatened the lives of both she and her mother. Don Bluth, the director of Barsi’s movie The Land Before Time, described the young star as “absolutely astonishing. She understood verbal direction, even for the most sophisticated situations.”
R&B star Aaliyah died on August 25, 2001, when she was just 22 years old. The singer died in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of eight others, including the plane’s pilot and members of the star’s entourage. Aaliyah was travelling from The Bahamas to Florida when the crash occurred. Tragically, the singer was scheduled to fly out the following day, but having finished up filming of her music video, the star was eager to return to the United States. The plane was only 60 metres from the runway when it exploded, leaving devastation in its wake. Controversially, there were traces of cocaine and alcohol found in the pilot’s system; however, it is thought that engine failure, along with over-crowding issues, is ultimately what caused the plane to crash. Aaliyah died just one month after the release of her self-titled album, making her death all the more tragic, as it is believed that the star was going to have a huge career.
5. River Phoenix
River Phoenix, Joaquin‘s older brother, who starred in movies such as Explorers and Stand by Me, passed away in 1993 outside the Viper Room Nightclub in LA. River was 23 years old at the time, and it is said that a speedball mixture of heroin and cocaine is ultimately what claimed the teen idol’s life. Phoenix had a past of drug use and it is said that those close to the star had been concerned about his health in the weeks leading up to his death. Despite this, prior to his passing, the former child-star’s image had remained completely untainted by the media; for this reason, the fact that Phoenix’s death was drug related shocked many people. The day after the actor’s death a sign was left outside the Viper Room which read “With much respect and love to River and his family. The Viper Room is temporarily closed. Our heartfelt condolences to all his friends, family and loved ones. He will be missed.” The actor was cremated and his ashes were scattered on his family’s ranch in Florida.
4. Glenn Frey
Frey, best known for being the founding member of The Eagles passed away earlier this year after a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis. The star was first diagnosed in 2000. Unfortunately, the medication the star had been taking to treat his arthritis is ultimately what led to his death as it caused various complications including pneumonia and colitis. Frey passed away at the age of 67, a number of weeks after surgery to fix intestinal problems. After the star’s passing, Eagles manager, Ivring Azoff, spoke out about the dangers of the medication Frey had been prescribed; he stated: “The colitis and pneumonia were side effects from all the meds.”. “He died from complications of ulcer and colitis after being treated with drugs for his rheumatoid arthritis which he had for over 15 years.” Frey left behind a he legacy, including being part of one of the most successful bands of all time. Speaking on Frey’s death, bandmate Don Henley stated: “He was the spark plug, the man with the plan.”
3. Harold Ramis
Ramis, best known for his role in the 1984 supernatural comedy Ghostbusters, passed away in 2014 when he was 69 years old. Ramis first became ill in 2010, after a severe infection he acquired claimed his ability to walk. The actor had actually learned to walk again by late 2011. Unfortunately, around this time the actor was hit with a second bout of the infection that once again prevented his ability to walk. Ramis died from complications associated with the infection at his Chicago home. A private funeral service was held for Ramis on February 26th and he was laid to rest at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights. After Ramis’ passing, a statement was released by President Barack Obama which read: “When we watched his movies – from Animal House and Caddyshack to Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day – we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings.”
2. Michael Clarke Duncan
The actor, most renowned for his role as John Coffey in crime drama The Green Mile, passed away in 2012 due to complications that occurred following a cardiac arrest. The star, who also starred in movies such as Armageddon, Daredevil and Sin City, suffered the heart attack on July 13th and was rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Centre. It is said that the actor’s girlfriend, Omarosa Manigault, had tried to resuscitate Duncan previously, when he was first discovered. On August 6th Duncan’s condition seemed to be improving as he was removed from the intensive care unit. However, the star tragically passed away on September 3rd after having never fully recovered from the tragic incident. Upon hearing of his death, many celebrities and fellow actors payed tribute to Duncan. A memorial service was held for the star which took place on September 10th at Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Los Angeles.
1. James Gandolfini
Gandolfini, best known for his role as Tony Soprano in the American-mafia drama The Sopranos, passed away in 2013 when he was 51 years old. The actor was on holiday in Rome when the incident occurred. Gandolfini was discovered by his 13-year-old son Michael, on the bathroom floor of the hotel they were staying at. After an autopsy was performed, the actor’s death was ruled to have been the result of a heart attack. Following Gandolfini’s death, Rock legend Bruce Springsteen, held a concert in the actor’s honor; Springsteen’s band, the E-street band had featured Gandolfini’s co-star Steven Van Ζandt on guitar for many years. Gandolfini’s body was returned to the United States for burial on June 23rd. The star’s funeral took place five days later on June 27th at Morningside Heights, New York. Gandolfini was cremated. Many respects were paid to Gandolfini after his passing, including columnist Matt Roush, who said: “Without Tony, there’s no Vic Mackey of The Shield, no Al Swearengen of Deadwood, no Don Draper of Mad Men.”