With celebrity culture permeating every facet of modern society, the nation mourns each time a celebrity passes away. It’s a completely understandable response to grieve and remember a fallen idol of any kind, especially when immediate access to any movies, TV shows, and music those idols made is available at our fingertips the second we hear the unfortunate news. The general public saddens when a celebrity dies from a disease or from natural causes, but that hardly compares to the widespread shock the public has experienced only a handful of times, upon receiving the news that a celebrity has been murdered. Although modern times mean most people are at least familiar with the concept of murder, plenty of people still find it impossible to imagine, and that goes double for a person they know, or a celebrity they’ve been following for years.
Of course, not all celebrities’ stars shine quite as bright as others. People still connect with an actor who appears as a minor character on a few sitcoms, or maybe plays a couple small but key roles in films. Whether or not we’ve heard a great deal of their music, anybody who recorded an album is probably famous amongst the people who bought it, and you might be humming one of their tunes without ever knowing it. B-list celebrities don’t get the same publicity as the marquee stars, which is fair enough throughout their life, relegated to a role in the background like their artistic contributions sometimes are. If something horrible happened to them at the end of their lives, though, perhaps it deserves equal press to the same terrible fate befalling anyone. Keep reading to learn about 15 B-list celebrities you never knew were murdered.
15. Rob Knox
Rob Knox suffered his unfortunate fate at a very young age, and thus didn’t quite have time to build up much of a film resume in his lifetime. However, the one film he did manage to earn a feature role in was a rather big one, namely Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Knox played Marcus Belby, a minor character amongst the vast Harry Potter universe, and he was memorable enough in the small role to have signed on to reprise the character in the next film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Tragically, the reprise wouldn’t end up happening, and Knox wouldn’t live to even see the film he appeared in get released, as he was stabbed to death in May of 2008.
Karl Bishop was found guilty of murdering Rob Knox in March of 2009, slightly under one year after he committed the crime. Bishop and another man had attacked Rob’s brother, causing Rob to intervene and suffer a fatal stab wound. Bishop is currently serving a life sentence. In addition to his minor role in Harry Potter, Knox made several appearances on British television shows.
14. Victor Kilian
Victor Kilian had a fascinating career, but the very nature of what makes it so interesting is the reason it was never highly publicized. Kilian was a character actor in films as early as the 1930s and ‘40s. He almost never portrayed a major character, and yet still managed to leave his mark on era classics such as Only Angels Have Wings and Sergeant York. Kilian’s Hollywood character was abruptly put to an end due to McCarthyism, when Kilian’s left-leaning political beliefs resulted in him becoming one of many actors blacklisted from the industry. Amazingly, Kilian experienced a career resurgence in the 1970s, at which point the blacklist was over and he began making small appearances in TV shows.
Due to the blacklist, Victor Kilian’s career couldn’t really take off until he was already into his 80s. This would have stopped most actors, and it isn’t like Kilian was starring in epic films, but he maintained a pretty impressive work ethic for his age. His final TV appearance came in 1979, when he appeared as a desk clerk in an episode of All In The Family. One week before the episode aired, Kilian was beaten to death in his own apartment by unnamed burglars. Most shockingly of all, this incident occurred only days after Charles Wagenheim, another elderly character actor who appeared in the same episode, had met a similar tragic fate.
13. Dick Kallman
It’s hard to believe, given the way modern day television works, but back in the 1960s, an actor didn’t need to be particularly famous in order to star in their own sitcom. Conversely, starring in that sitcom wouldn’t necessarily make them famous, either. Thus begins the story of Dick Kallman, the star of NBC’s Hank, which ran one season in 1965. Kallman also recorded an album of classic pop songs, and appeared as Little Louie Groovy on Batman. Kallman made only a handful of other appearances in both films and TV shows that have more or less been forgotten by time, and left the camera’s spotlight for a career in antiques dealing and theater.
Kallman’s career and life were cut short in February of 1980, when he was murdered in his apartment. Kallman was not the sole victim; his business associate Steve Szladek was also killed in the crime. Charles Lonnie Grosso was later convicted of committing both murders, apparently as an attempt to rob Kallman of his antiques. Despite the fact Grosso was caught, none of Kallman’s stolen belongings were ever recovered.
12. Dedrick D. Gobert
Dedrick D. Gobert wasn’t a big star by any means, but anyone who saw his one big film role may not be too surprised that he would end up on this list. Gobert is a definite case of life imitating art, as the young actor was best known for portraying Dooky in John Singleton’s classic film, Boyz n the Hood. Dooky is a friend of Doughboy, and both are members of the LA Crips. Gobert would also play minor roles in Singleton’s next two films, Poetic Justice and Higher Learning, and might have continued to be a regular character actor for years to come had his life not so closely resembled the characters he played on the screen.
In November of 1994, days before his 23rd birthday, Gobert was killed during a gang related fight after an illegal drag race. Gobert’s friend was also injured in the fight, and his minor girlfriend was paralyzed from her injuries. According to court testimonies, Gobert had approached the scene claiming to be a member of the Crips, and was then beaten and shot by members of the Akrho Boyz Crazzy gang after Gobert repeatedly threatened them. Sonny Enraca was found guilty of firing the fatal gunshots, and was sentenced to death as a result.
11. Lloyd Avery II
Part of what made films like Boyz n the Hood so memorable was their gritty realism, from sweeping details like their vernacular and time-appropriate dialogue, to minor details, such as the actors playing the smallest roles somehow appearing perfect for the part. Lloyd Avery II appears in the film for only a few seconds, and he barely received any other work in the film industry beyond that. Avery’s only other screen credits had similar vibes to Boyz as well, and included gangsta epics like Poetic Justice and Don’t Be A Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Avery’s roles were never more than bit parts, but it would turn out his real life was still able to highly influence his acting career.
Avery kept working in film throughout the 90s, and seemed to be moving forward in his career with back-to-back roles in 1999 and 2000. During this time, however, he was increasingly becoming involved in actual gang culture, with his brother claiming he was lured to the lifestyle due to the very films he was co-starring in. Avery was arrested for double homicide shortly after shooting his last film and was sentenced to life in prison. In 2005, another inmate strangled him in his cell.
10. Haing S. Ngor
Everyone in Hollywood who wins a major award likes to act as though they underwent a serious and life-threatening struggle in order to earn that honor, but Haing S. Ngor is the one actor who could genuinely make that claim. Ngor rocketed to fame in 1984 by appearing in The Killing Fields, a dramatic masterpiece about the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. Ngor was untrained as an actor, and instead managed to earn the role the hardest way imaginable—by being an actual victim of the Khmer Rouge, who escaped to Thailand as a refugee in 1979 before making his way to America in 1980. Ngor wowed the world with his performance in The Killing Fields, and resigned himself to smaller roles on television and film while also continuing work as a doctor.
Ngor was murdered in February of 1996 in Los Angeles, not far from his Chinatown home. There have long been rumors that his death was somehow politically motivated or in conjunction with survivors of Pol Pot’s regime, but the police report presents a far different story. Tak Sun Tan, Jason Chan, and Indra Lim, three members of the Oriental Lazy Boyz street gang, were convicted of having committed the murder and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. The court believed the primary motivation for the murder was a robbery gone wrong, as Ngor refused to give the criminals a necklace containing a picture of his late wife.
9. Bob Crane
For whatever reason, people assume that if someone looks and acts funny on the outside, they must constantly be smiling on the inside. Bob Crane, as the star of the campy 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, certainly didn’t seem like the kind of person to be involved in the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. However, as fans of the biographical film Auto-Focus are well aware, Crane was a sex addict long before he became a star, and his fame and fortune followed by an immediate career decline once Hogan’s Heroes was cancelled caused him to fall further and further into depravity until bad decisions and even worse personal relationships lead to the end of his life.
John Henry Carpenter was a mysterious and controversial man who met Crane through mutual friend Richard Dawson. Carpenter and Crane would frequent bars and sex clubs together, and more importantly, Carpenter would join Crane in his habit of filming and photographing his various sexual exploits. Crane was found murdered in his apartment in June of 1978, and Carpenter was long considered the prime suspect in the crime. Carpenter was put on trial in 1994, but it was decided that the prosecution’s case lacked evidence, and he was acquitted. Crane’s murder remains officially unsolved to this day.
8. Judith Barsi
Judith Barsi is the youngest victim on this list, so be prepared that things are about to get extremely sad. Barsi was a child actress who made small appearances on TV shows like The Fall Guy and Punky Brewster before she even turned 5-years-old, and was starring in lead roles by the time she turned 10. Most famously, Barsi voiced Ducky in The Land Before Time and starred as the voice of Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go To Heaven. The director of the latter film would lobby great praise onto Barsi’s performance, calling her “absolutely astonishing.” Unfortunately, her first leading role would also be her last, and the world would never see the young woman Barsi could have become.
Judith Barsi’s father, József Barsi, apparently had trouble dealing with the extreme success of his young daughter. József was an alcoholic with a horrific abusive streak, making threats of suicide and murder while committing actual acts of abuse against Judith and her mother. Judith’s mother had initially planned to leave him, but found herself unable to do so, and she ultimately waited too long to get the chance. On July 25, 1988, József shot Judith and her mother, set their bodies on fire, and then committed suicide. The full motivation behind these horrific acts can probably never be understood.
7. Adrienne Shelly
The deepest repeat tragedy of this list is the untapped potential all of these celebrities left behind, and that’s most certainly true in the case of Adrienne Shelly. Adrienne Shelly’s acting career began in 1989, when she starred in The Unbelievable Truth, directed by Hal Hartley. The next year, she also starred in Hartley’s follow-up, Trust, and started making appearances on television shows like Law & Order and Oz. While making her way through the industry, Shelly gradually became more interested in a career behind-the-camera, and started proving it by writing and directing several independent films of her own.
Waitress could have been the first film to prove Adrienne Shelly was no longer an actress learning how to direct, but well on her way to becoming a serious director in her own right, but it unfortunately also turned out to be her last. Shortly after finishing her film and submitting it to several festivals, Shelly was murdered in an apartment she kept as an office by a 19-year-old illegal immigrant named Diego Pillco. Authorities initially believed Shelly’s death to be a suicide, but prompting from her widower caused a further investigation that pointed to Pillco as the culprit. Pillco confessed when apprehended and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
6. Barbara Colby
Barbara Colby started her career in Broadway theater, appearing in plays such as Under Milk Wood, A Doll’s House, and Julius Caesar. Her success as a stage actress compelled her to move from New York to Los Angeles, at which point she started appearing on a variety of television shows. While continuing to work in plays, Colby played minor but notable characters in Columbo, The Odd Couple, and most importantly, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moore must have liked Colby, because it was Moore who gave Colby her first recurring role. Colby was then permanently cast in the MTM spin-off Phyllis, but would only get to appear in the first few episodes of that show before tragedy struck.
Phyllis began shooting in the early summer of 1975, and Colby was murdered in July of that year. Colby was walking to her car after an acting class with friend, James Kiernan, when unknown attackers shot and murdered them both. Colby died instantly, and Kiernan succumbed to his wounds shortly after giving a statement to police. Unfortunately, that statement was that he had no idea who the attackers were, or why they would do what they did. The crime was thus never solved.
5. Rebecca Schaeffer
Fame is a curious and sometimes frightening phenomenon, and that applies to the concept at any level. Lists like this are proof people care about celebrities no matter how small and this entry, in particular, will show that certain people can care far too much about those celebrities, with terrifying and disastrous results. Rebecca Schaeffer was a rising star in the mid-1980s, starting off as a model and transitioning to television with a supporting role in My Sister Sam. The series was only mildly successful and canceled after just one season. Schaeffer later appeared in Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, and it seemed like her career was on the rise, but one of her so-called biggest fans brought her life to an end before she could become a true star.
Stalking is a crime that when viewed seriously can be almost as terrifying as murder, and things get exponentially more horrible when the two converge in the worst way imaginable. Robert John Bardo stalked Rebecca Schaeffer for three years before murdering her in her apartment in July of 1989. Bardo immediately confessed and was sentenced to life in prison. He claimed to have been enraged to see Schaeffer’s appearance in Class Struggle, specifically a scene where her character is in bed with a man. Following Bardo’s conviction, several new laws in California were passed with the goal of stalking prevention.
4. Christina Grimmie
Christina Grimmie was the most recent tragedy on this list, and one of the biggest cases of lost potential. Grimmie was only a B-lister in the sense that her star had yet to truly shine, but she was rapidly on her way to doing so in the months before her unfortunate death. Grimmie was a singer and songwriter who first achieved mild fame for her videos on YouTube, and then skyrocketed into national consciousness by participating on the sixth season of the popular reality show, The Voice. Grimmie finished in third place on the singing competition, and was already fielding contract offers from major acts like Adam Levine and Lil Wayne while continuing to tour and perfect her craft.
Grimmie released one album prior to her stint on The Voice, and dropped two EPs during her brief career, as well. Her second EP was released while her profile was the highest, and was set to record both a follow-up EP and a full-length album in the near future. Grimmie was never able to return to the studio, as she was shot four times by obsessed fan Kevin James Loibl during an autograph signing following a June 2016 performance in Orlando, Florida. Loibl committed suicide shortly after murdering Grimmie, and virtually no motive for the crime was ever discovered.
3. Mia Zapata
The Gits were never going to be one of the most famous bands in the world, but it would have probably been better they wallow in obscurity than get famous enough for lead singer Mia Zapata to suffer the terrible fate she would meet. The Gits were a punky Seattle grunge band in the early 1990s, and though their records weren’t selling millions of copies, they were receiving a great deal of attention in critical circles, mostly due to Zapata’s strong vocals. The Gits only released two albums, and Zapata only lived to see the release of the first. In a macabre coincidence, a song on their second album would predict the circumstance that prevented her from ever hearing a released copy.
Mia Zapata was murdered July 7, 1993 after leaving her friend’s house. Zapata’s official cause of death was strangulation, and her attacker also viciously beat and raped her. Multiple top bands of the era, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, pooled together funds to hire an investigator and seek her killer, but efforts would prove fruitless for nearly 13 years. In 2003, Jesus Mezquia was convicted of having committed the crime, and is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence as a result.
2. Dino Bravo
In a certain respect, pro wrestlers aren’t even on the celebrity spectrum, instead forming their own niche in the sports and entertainment world. There are still tiers to this sort of thing, though, and Dino Bravo was never a major star. Bravo spent the first several years of his wrestling career in the tag ranks, teaming with Dominic DeNucci as The Bravo Brothers. Bravo and DeNucci were a fairly successful duo, once winning the WWE World Tag Team Championships from Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka in 1978. Bravo left WWE shortly after his early successes and returned 10 years later with a newer bloated look many fans attributed to steroids, and this negative reputation wasn’t helped by a boring strongman gimmick, which proved Bravo was capable of doing little more than lift weights.
Despite his talents as a wrestler or lack thereof, no one deserved the unfortunate fate Dino Bravo received. Bravo was found murdered in March of 1993, shot by a total of 17 bullets to the head and torso. While there’s no real explanation for such a senseless act, wrestling insiders have long suspected Bravo was involved in illegal cigarette smuggling throughout Canada, which allegedly ruffled feathers with members of several organized crime families. If that was the case, forget we said anything, and our official stance is that we know nothing about Dino Bravo.
1. Merlin Santana
Merlin Santana was a rapper and actor whose profile seemed to constantly grow during his short but successful life. When Santana was 14-years-old, he began appearing on The Cosby Show as Stanley, and soon thereafter was co-starring in the short-lived sitcoms Getting By and Under One Roof. The closest thing to a breakout role for Santana was his performance as Romeo Santana on The Steve Harvey Show, a character he portrayed for the show’s entire six season run. Santana recorded at least 3 unreleased albums during this time, as well.
Nine months after The Steve Harvey Show ended its run on The WB, Damien Andre Gates murdered Merlin Santana. Monique King, Gates’ girlfriend, had falsely claimed that Santana and his friend had tried to rape her. Gates and an accomplice, Brandon Douglas Bynes, shot multiple rounds into Santana’s friend’s car as a result. Santana’s friend was unharmed, but the first shot entered directly into Santana’s head, killing him instantly. Gates was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder, and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.
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