Celebrities are some of the most influential people in society. Even if you hate a large majority of musicians or actors, there is probably at least one famous person out there that would make you feel incredibly sad if they died.
This can become even more tragic if the celebrity passes away in an accidental manner. The world has been stunned on several occasions by the sudden passing of a celebrity. Below you’ll find 20 celebrities that killed themselves in a variety of ways. Ranging from various deadly drug combinations, to the recent Anton Yelchin incident, to the two celebrities who accidentally killed themselves while indulging in some time with, let’s just say, Pamela Handerson. You’ll even learn about one musician who’s been dead since 1997, but has music planned to come out later this year.
Accidents are always going to happen and unfortunately people pass away every day as a result of the very things you are about to read below. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so shocked, after all, celebrities are still human.
Let’s hope this just serves as a reminder that every day we get should be a blessing and that if you’re going to go out partying, please try to stay safe and be responsible.
20. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix was one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Hendrix started playing guitar at the age of 15, and by the time of his passing at age 27, had mesmerized the world with countless iconic guitar riffs and hit songs. Hendrix battled several addictions in his life, perhaps most prominently alcohol, LSD, and marijuana. It was reported that he would often get blackout drunk and then become angry and very violent. This includes an incident in which one of his girlfriends required stitches after being hit with a vodka bottle during a drunken rage.
Hendrix accidentally killed himself after he choked on his own vomit. It was reported that he was also on barbiturates at the time of his passing.
19. David Carradine
David Carradine had a fantastic acting career that spanned 3 decades and over 100 feature films. On top of this, he was also a director and a talented musician. Unlike many of these actors who died at a very young age, Carradine was 72 years old when he was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand, where he was filming his latest film Stretch.
It was reported by a local police officer that Carradine was found naked and hanging from a rope in the room’s closet. While your mind immediately goes to suicide, further reports showed that Carradine had actually died as a result of accidental autoerotic asphyxiation. Despite passing away in 2009, Carradine had several posthumous films released. His last official role came as the shopkeeper in the 2012 film Night of the Templar.
18. Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley may be best known for his unbelievable cover of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah”. Buckley’s career started in 1991, but he was only able to record one studio album. Buckley passed away on May 29th, 1997 when he decided to go swimming in the Wolf River Harbor in the Mississippi River. At the time, Buckley was reportedly wearing boots, all of his clothing and singing the chorus of the song “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin.
One of the roadies from Buckley’s band was on shore, and reportedly lost sight of Buckley after a tugboat came by. Unfortunately, Buckley’s body was not found until June 4th. His death was ruled as an accidental drowning, and there were no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time. Buckley had swam in the river before.
Several artists have given tribute to Buckley and written songs about his life and death. The film Greetings From Tim Buckley came out in 2012 and looked at the relationship between Buckley and his Father.
17. River Phoenix
River Phoenix is the brother of Joaquin Phoenix, but his acting career was tragically cut short at the age of 23. At the time of his death, Phoenix had appeared in 24 films, most notably in Stand By Me.
Phoenix also received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in My Own Idaho. Phoenix died after suffering a deadly drug combination on October 31st, 1993. At the time, he was just outside of The Viper Room, a prominent club in Los Angeles that was owned by Johnny Depp. One of Phoenix’s close friends, Flea (bassist from RHCP), was there that night and was scheduled to perform on stage with Phoenix. It was reported that Phoenix convulsed for over 5 minutes and that by the time paramedics arrived, he had already started turning dark blue.
When his autopsy came out, “toxicology studies showed high concentrations of morphine and cocaine in the blood, as well as other substances in smaller concentrations” and that the cause of death was “acute multiple drug intoxication.”
16. Brian Jones
When you think of The Rolling Stones, it’s only natural that your mind goes to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. After all, those two were prominent songwriters and are still with the band today. But there’s no Rolling Stones without Brian Jones, who was the founder of the band. When talking about Jones’ impact, original bassist Bill Wyman said “he formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got us gigs … he was very influential, very important, and then slowly lost it – highly intelligent – and just kind of wasted it and blew it all away.”
That blowing it all away would be referring to a heavy drug addiction that crippled Jones both physically and mentally. Jones was found by his girlfriend around midnight on July 2nd, 1969 motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool. Coroners reported that it was death by misadventure but noted that both Jones’ liver and heart were both enlarged due to drug and alcohol abuse.
There were rumors that Jones was perhaps murdered and in 2009, his death file was re-opened after new information was brought forward. Despite another review, it was determined that there was no foul play in the death of Jones.
15. Chris Farley
Chris Farley will forever be one of the funniest men to ever step in front of a camera. Whether it was making you laugh on a weekly basis on SNL or on the big screen, it was easy to see why at age 32, everyone had high aspirations for Farley. Unfortunately, Farley was dead by 33. Farley had battled an addiction to drugs and alcohol as well as obesity, and prior to his death he had sought treatment 17 times for his addictions.
Farley was unable to overcome his demons and was found dead on December 18th, 1997. It was reported that Farley died after a combination of cocaine and morphine and also that his advanced atherosclerosis (weight issues) also played a factor in his untimely death. In 2015, a documentary I Am Chris Farley was made and looked at the life of Farley. Dan Aykroyd, Lorne Michaels, Adam Sandler and other prominent members of Farley’s life appeared on the DVD.
14. Keith Moon
Keith Moon is not the first legendary musician to make this list, and unfortunately he is not the last. Moon was one of the greatest drummers of all time, coming to prominence alongside his band The Who. Like many rockers, Moon was addicted to alcohol and often had a penchant for destroying hotel rooms and just generally being a nuisance.
Moon passed away after overdosing on 32 clomethiazole tablets. The tablets were prescribed to help Moon’s addiction to alcohol, but Moon was warned to never take more than 3 on any given day. It was reported that Moon took the excess amount of pills after he had a fight with his girlfriend, Annette-Walter-Lax, who had refused to cook him steak and eggs. Of the 32 he ingested, only 6 got digested by his system, but it was still enough to kill Moon. Moon was 32 when he passed away.
13. Mitch Hedberg
I’m going to be completely honest, Mitch Hedberg is my favorite standup comedian of all time. With clever one-liner jokes, Hedberg has been responsible for countless hours of laughter. I’m sad that I didn’t grow to love Hedberg as a comedian until after his passing in 2005, when Hedberg was only 37 years old.
Hedberg had a known drug addiction problem, making it perhaps not very shocking when it was announced that he died after suffering multiple drug toxicity due to an intake of cocaine and heroin.
Unfortunately, Hedberg’s death was announced on April 1st which led some fans to feel it was an awful April Fools joke. To make things even sadder, 12 days before his death, Hedberg had appeared on The Howard Stern Show and told him that he had gotten his drug use under control and had learned how to only use them for the creative side of his life.
12. John Belushi
Above you read about Chris Farley who tragically passed away at the age of 33. Before Farley passed away though, there was John Belushi. Belushi came to fame not only for his roles on SNL, but also some great film roles like the classic Animal House and The Blues Brothers. It was also reported that Belushi would have been a prominent member of the Ghostbusters franchise had he, you know, been able to stay alive.
Belushi was a known partier in his day, and in 1982, partied just a little too hard. It was determined that he passed away due to a drug combination of cocaine and heroin. Earlier that day, Robin Williams and Robert De Niro had both visited and spent time with Belushi.
11. Brandon Lee
There are a lot of celebrities who made this because they did something incredibly stupid and it’s hard to blame anyone but themselves. Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, unfortunately got himself killed in what can only be described as a freak accident.
The incident occurred in 1993 when Lee was 28 years old. An actor, Lee was filming The Crow when he was accidentally shot and killed during a scene. The scene in question called for Lee to be shot with dummy cartridges, but instead the gun was filled with blank rounds. Not such a bad thing, until you learn that there was a bullet stuck in the barrel (known as a Squib Load). Lee was struck in the abdomen and was pronounced dead after 6 hours of surgery was unable to fix the damage.
The movie was only 8 days away from wrapping, and as a result it was able to be completed and was released in 1994. The film was not only financially successful, earning $50 million, but it developed a cult following due to the freak nature of Lee’s death.
10. Anton Yelchin
As you have read by now, there is no shortage of celebrities that accidentally killed themselves, but none more recently than Anton Yelchin. Yelchin was on an upward swing in Hollywood with his most recent film, Star Trek Beyond, set to come out later this month. Yelchin had also appeared in the 2015 film Green Room, leaving critics and fans amazed by his talent and versatility as an actor.
Yelchin passed away on June 19th, 2015 after he was found pinned between his Jeep Grand Cherokee and a brick pillar outside of his home in California. It was reported that Yelchin exited his car and got into his driveway, but there was a steep incline and the car rolled back and trapped Yelchin in between the pillar and a security fence.
It was reported that the cause of death was blunt traumatic asphyxia and the death was ruled as accidental. The car was under a recall notice due to transmission errors that could lead to unintentional rolling.
9. Cory Monteith
Cory Monteith had battled addiction since he was 13 years old, and he entered rehab at the age of 19. He was still able to make it as a talented actor, landing some significant acting roles, none more prominent than Finn Hudson on the television series Glee. Monteith was unable to completely escape his demons though and he was written out of the last 2 episodes of season 4 in order to attend rehab. Monteith completed his treatment in April, but on July 13th, Monteith was found dead in his hotel room in Vancouver after ingesting a deadly combination of heroin and alcohol.
His death was ruled as accidental and reports also found codeine and morphine in his system. Sadly, as can happen far too often, it was reported that “after a period of cessation from opioid drug use, a previously tolerated drug concentration level may become toxic and fatal” as former addicts don’t realize the impact that a substantial rehab can have on your body. The season 5 episode “The Quarterback” was centered around the death of Finn Hudson in the show and paid tribute to Monteith.
8. Michael Hutchence
Michael Hutchence was the founding member and lead singer of the rock band INXS. The band rocked hard starting in 1977, but unfortunately Hutchence passed away at the age of 37 in 1997. When Hutchence was first reported dead, it was said that he had committed suicide. This included Yates saying that she had a very upsetting conversation with Hutchence on the morning of his death. It was stated that Yates had informed Hutchence that she was not going to bring their daughter to Australia.
What was a sad ending, has become more controversial over time, as Paula Yates, Hutchence’s long time lover, came forward with evidence that indicated that Hutchence did not in fact try and kill himself, but instead accidentally killed himself as a result of autoerotic asphyxiation. One of the determining factors for why fans believe this is the fact that there was no suicide note left by Hutchence.
It was revealed earlier this month that there were 15 unreleased songs of Hutchence’s that are scheduled to be released later this year. Fans can expect “two duets that will come out with two very big artists that I can’t legally name at the moment, and then there’s singles he did himself.”
7. Lisa Robin Kelly
Lisa Robin Kelly was best known for her role of Laurie Forman on That ’70s Show, but her time on the show did not last long. Laurie was written out of the show halfway through the 3rd season and returned for four more in season 5, but was then replaced by Christina Moore. Kelly later admitted that she had battled an addiction to alcohol during her time on the show.
Kelly also had numerous legal issues, including two DUI charges (one in 2010 and one in 2013). Alcohol was not Kelly’s only addiction, and unfortunately her addiction to drugs led to her passing away in her sleep at the age of 43. Kelly died from a multiple drug intoxication and the death was officially ruled an accident by the L.A. Country Coroner. Earlier in the week Kelly had checked herself into rehab, and roughly one year after her passing, the center was sued by Kelly’s estranged husband citing negligence.
6. Bon Scott
AC/DC is one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time and their album Black in Black, which was released 5 months after Scott’s passing, was incredibly successful. The album was recorded in honor of Bon Scott and it just so happened to become the 2nd best-selling album in history. Scott was the lead singer for the band from 1974-1980, but passed away at the age of 33 after a night out of drinking in London on February 19th. After passing out at a club, an associate and friend moved Bon Scott to a Renault 5 (a car) to sleep it off. The next morning his friend Alistair Kinnear found the lifeless body of Scott.
It was reported that Scott died due to acute alcohol poisoning and it was officially listed as a death by misadventure. Some believe that Scott may have instead passed away from exhaust fumes that were redirected into the car, but either way, his passing was an incredible tragedy. It is reported that his grave site is the most visited grave in all of Australia and it has become a cultural landmark.
5. Heath Ledger
Everyone knows Heath Ledger passed away at a young age, but do you know all the details behind that fateful day? It was in 2008 when Ledger was found by his housekeeper and masseuse, and while paramedics arrived under 8 minutes after being called, they were unable to revive Ledger. It was reported that “Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone,diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine…we have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications.”
There was a large investigation into who sold Ledger the combination of oxycodone and hydrocodone, two medications that would never be prescribed together and were responsible for the fatal dose. Unfortunately investigations were not successful and we are still not sure as to how Ledger came across these drugs.
At the time of his death, Ledger was 28 and as I am sure you also know, his next role was The Joker in The Dark Knight. Thankfully his role was mostly completed, allowing his iconic performance to be admired. Ledger won a Golden Globe, as well as an Academy Award, for best supporting actor for his portrayal.
4. Steve Irwin
There are many celebrities on this list that killed themselves accidentally because they overindulged on some of their own vices. If Irwin had a vice, it was his incredible passion for helping animals. Known as The Crocodile Hunter, Irwin was the host of 60 episodes of his show where he helped introduce the world to different animals.
His love and passion for animals continues to make an impact today. Irwin passed away at the age of 44 when he was accidentally pierced in the chest by a stingray barb.
At the time, Irwin was filming the documentary series Ocean’s Deadliest. There was some downtime so he decided to go snorkelling in hopes of capturing some footage for his daughter’s television program.
Irwin wanted to film the stingray swimming away, but according to sources, “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; the stingray’s barb pierced his heart, causing him to bleed to death.”
3. John Bonham
Above you read about the death of Bon Scott and how after careful deliberation, the band decided to keep AC/DC going. That wasn’t the case for Led Zeppelin, who disbanded following the death of John Bonham on September 24th, 1980. Bonham is considered by many to be the greatest drummer of all time, so you can understand why the band felt that they never would have been able to replace him.
Bonham had been drinking heavily on the day of his death and an autopsy showed that Bonham had consumed roughly 40 shots of 40% ABV Vodka. It was reported that like Jimi Hendrix, Bonham choked on his own vomit and unfortunately passed away. Unlike Hendrix, there were no other drugs found in his body.
Led Zeppelin made a statement in December 1980 saying “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”
2. Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse was sadly another member of the 27 Club. Winehouse was a talented singer who had several hit singles and was only getting bigger, but she passed away on July 23rd, 2011 after overdosing on alcohol. At the time of her death, her blood alcohol content was 0.416%, which is five times the legal drinking and driving limit. Her death was determined death by misadventure.
When talking about her death, Winehouse’s brother opened up about how his sister suffered badly from Bulimia and the role it may have played in her death.
“That’s not, like, a revelation – you knew just by looking at her… She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia… I think that it left her weaker and more susceptible. Had she not had an eating disorder, she would have been physically stronger.”
1. Whitney Houston
With close to 200 million records sold, there is no doubting that Whitney Houston is one of the most successful musicians of all time. On top of numerous singing accomplishments, Houston also spent some time as an actress as well. Unfortunately, Houston also had a problem with drug use which factored heavily into her passing. On February 11th, 2012, Houston was found unconscious and submerged in the bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
When the toxicology reports came back, it was reported that Houston drowned in the tub as a result of “atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use. The office stated the amount of cocaine found in Houston’s body indicated that she used the substance shortly before her death.
Toxicology results revealed additional drugs in her system: diphenhydramine, alprazolam, cannabis and cyclobenzaprine.”
Her death was officially ruled as an accident. She was only 48 years old when she passed away.