Death is always a tragic circumstance, whether the deceased was elderly and died of natural causes, or the victim was a young individual with a promising future. The death of celebrities often makes national and worldwide news. This is largely due to the fact that a celebrity death reminds us of the sobering reality that we’re all human, and famous people are not immune to losing their lives.
However, it can be disheartening and even frightening to think that some celebrities have taken the lives of others. Crimes of passion are often explored on news programs, but when the victims and perpetrators are both famous and romantically involved, it makes for a scandalous story that is intriguing and gut-wrenching.
There are several reasons why a person would choose to take the life of their significant other. While anger and even substance abuse are often motivating factors, it is possible that perhaps some of these celebrities don’t realize that there are grave consequences for such serious actions. Famous individuals who were once thought of fondly by the public will always carry a jarring stigma with them after a crime of this nature, and extensive legal action is often rightfully taken to ensure that the families of the victims receive justice. Here are 10 celebrities who killed their spouses.
10. Gig Young
Gig Young won an Academy Award for his acting talents, and appeared in films like The Three Musketeers, Teacher’s Pet, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Game of Death. When Young was 64 years old, he married his fourth wife, an actress from Germany named Kim Schmidt. Schmidt was just 21 when the two became husband and wife. Three weeks after they married, the couple was found shot to death in their Manhattan apartment. The police eventually concluded that Gig Young killed his wife, and then turned the gun on himself. However, no one knows the motive for the murder-suicide to this day.
9. Claudine Longet
Claudine Longet was famous in France for her beautiful modern looks and singing voice during the 1960s. Her fame started to wane in the 1970s, but she was still pretty well-known when she claimed to have accidentally killed her boyfriend Vladimir Sabich, in 1976. Sabich was an Olympic skier, and had an affinity for guns. After a day of skiing, he came home and showed her his new gun. While Longet was handling the gun, she shot Sabich in the gut, and claimed that it was an accident. She was only charged with misdemeanor criminal negligence, and served 30 non-consecutive days in prison.
8. Spade Cooley
Donnell “Spade” Cooley was coined the King of Western Swing, due to his musical stylings that were a mixture of country and big band music. He was particularly popular in the 1940s, and was often a stand-in for Roy Rogers. He suspected that his wife, Ella May, was being unfaithful to him and unfortunately, he was right. In 1961, Cooley beat her to death at their home in Willow Springs. He made sure she was dead by pressing a lit cigarette onto her skin. Cooley claimed that his wife slipped in the shower, but was sentenced to life in prison for her death. In 1969, he was on a furlough to play a concert. After he performed, he had a heart attack and died.
7. William S. Burroughs
William S. Burroughs was a novelist and short story writer who was also known by the pen name William Lee. He was born into money in St. Louis, and was the grandson of the man who founded the Burroughs Corporation. He attended Harvard University and studied English and anthropology. This sounds like the story of a man with a very promising future. However, after he was turned down by the Office of Strategic Services when he tried to enter the Navy to serve in WWII, he developed a drug addiction that he never got over. In 1951, he was charged with the shooting death of Joan Vollmer Adams, his common law wife. He claimed that he shot her by accident when he was drunk. Burroughs fled Mexico, which is where the murder occurred, and received an absentia of homicide conviction.
6. Michael Jace
Michael Jace is a New Jersey native who is well known for his work on the FX drama, The Shield. He also starred alongside Russell Crowe in State of Play. Jace appeared on a Cold Case episode as an ex-convict who was accused of murder. Unfortunately, he was also accused of murder in real life. In May 2014, Jace called the Los Angeles Police Department, stating that he shot his wife. When the police arrived at the Jace home, they found his wife, April Jace, dead from a gunshot wound. He was taken into police custody and confessed to the shooting. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office formally charged the actor with murder.
5. Robert Blake
Robert Blake was a child actor in the 1930s, starring in the Our Gang series. He is also known for appearing in the film In Cold Blood and the television series Baretta. Blake married Bonnie Lee Bakley. Bakley was the ex-girlfriend of Christian Brando, Marlon Brando’s son. She had a history of using men for money. One night, she and Blake went out to eat, and Blake claims that he went back to the restaurant to get his gun that he left at the table. He stated that Bonnie was in the car when he went into the restaurant, and when he came back, Bakley had been shot to death. When Blake was put on trial, he was determined innocent. However, another jury declared him responsible for Bakley’s death, and he was required by the courts to pay $30 million to Bakley’s children.
4. Fay DeWitt
Fay DeWitt is known for her comedic roles in shows such as Mork & Mindy and Designing Women. In 1965, she was charged with killing her husband, Ray Allen, who was a playwright. Fay DeWitt allegedly stabbed her husband to death with a letter opener. However, the next day, the murder charges against her were dropped. Further investigation revealed that the couple had been divorced for about a month, and Allen broke into DeWitt’s home and banged her head against a wall. It was also proven that Allen was drunk at the time of the incident, so DeWitt acted out of self defense.
3. Sid Vicious
Sid Vicious was the bassist for the band the Sex Pistols. Sid Vicious was in a relationship with Nancy Spungen, who was a prostitute. Both individuals were addicted to heroin, and one night while the couple was staying at Hotel Chelsea in New York, Vicious found Spungen stabbed to the death in the bathroom when he woke up. He was charged with her death, but changed his story concerning the incident several times, stating that he didn’t intend to kill her. He later said that he didn’t recall what happened that night. A few months later, Vicious died from a drug overdose.
2. O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson, the former actor and football player, is unfortunately best known for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson. He and Brown-Simpson had recently divorced and she, along with her friend Ron Goldman, were found stabbed to death in Brown-Simpson’s home not long after the divorce was final. Much of the evidence in the case pointed toward O.J. Simpson, and his trial and high-speed chase associated with the murder case were headline news for quite some time. Even though Simpson had a history of spousal abuse and there was DNA evidence to suggest that the former athlete had something to do with the murders, he was declared not guilty. However, in civil court, Simpson was found responsible for the wrongful deaths of Goldman and Brown-Simpson.
1. Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius is a sprint runner from South Africa. He was a double amputee by the time he was 11 months old, but he had competed in events that were designed for athletes who are completely able-bodied. At the Summer Paralympics in 2012, Pistorius won gold medals in the men’s 400 meter race and the 4 x 100 meter relay, where he set world records in both sporting events. He also won the silver medal in the 200 meter race and set a world record in the semi-final for the sporting event. But less than a year later, the professional athlete’s life changed forever. On February 14, 2013, Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria. He said that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder, but was still arrested and charged with her murder. In 2014, he was found guilty of culpable homicide.
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