We are all different in some way. Some might be tall or short, thick or thin, young or old- no human being is 100% the same. However, we all have one thing in common: death. Like taxes, bad weather, and rush-hour traffic, death is unavoidable. When we think about death ourselves- as in our own death- it feels alien and unnatural. The death of someone close to us, say a friend or loved one, will make us feel sorrow and even put us in a state of depression.
When it comes to the death of a celebrity, it’s a mixed bag, however. Some may feel as though the loss of this famous individual is akin to the loss of someone they know. Others may not care that they died due to lack of interest or simply not liking them. So why is it that a celebrity’s death may shock someone? It could be because of the amount of roles they played in their careers or even one role that’s stuck with people. Maybe it’s because they’ve been able to make someone laugh during a rough moment in their life. Or it might be because their death was so sudden that it made them realize how that person affected their lives.
From actors to actresses, to athletes, and musicians, these are 15 Celebs You Forgot Died In The 2000s.
15. Dale Earnhardt (February 18th, 2001)
Dale Earnhardt was a major player in NASCAR, winning 76 Winston Cup races in his career. Following his father’s footsteps, though it was against his father’s wishes, Earnhardt dropped out of school to seek out his dream. He started his racing career at the 1975 Winston Cup. From there on he continued his path as one of NASCAR’s most compelling individuals.
During the Daytona 500 on February 18th, 2001, Earnhardt collided with Ken Schrader and hit the outside wall. He was killed instantly due to blunt force trauma. As a result of his death, NASCAR ordered that all drivers had to use the HANS device- in which Earnhardt had refused to wear due to finding it restrictive and uncomfortable. Dale Earnhardt was married to Teresa and had four children: Dale Jr., Kerry, Kelley and Taylor.
14. Steve Irwin (September 4th, 2006)
Steve Irwin, well known by his title as “The Crocodile Hunter”, was born in Victoria, Australia. He was the father of two children, Bindi and Robert, and the wife of Terri Raines. He was always involved with animals, and during his life as “The Crocodile Hunter” he taught children and parents alike about the animal world.
Steve Irwin died on September 4th, 2006 during the filming of the documentary “Ocean’s Dangerous”. He was struck in the heart by a stingray barb and subsequently bled to death. It was a shock to the world, even to the point where there was a controversial string of stingray killings in an act of revenge- which would be the last thing Steve Irwin would’ve wanted. His legacy would be passed on through his wife and children, teaching the world about the glory of the animal kingdom.
13. Anna Nicole Smith (February 8th, 2007)
Anna Nicole Smith was well known as Playboy’s 1993 Playmate of the year. She was originally born Vickie Lynn Hogan, but changed it when she started her modeling career in 1992. She married J. Howard Marshall in 1994, which caused controversy due to the age gap. Smith also had two children: Daniel Smith, who died at age 20, and Dannielynn Birkhead.
Anna Nicole Smith was found dead on February 8th, 2007 in her hotel room. Her friend Tasma Brighthaupt, who was a trained nurse, tried to resuscitate Smith with 15 minutes worth of CPR. Her death was ruled as an accidental drug overdose, caused by mixing several drugs together. Reportedly, the majority of the drugs found in Smith’s body belonged to Howard Stern, an attorney and Smith’s co-star in The Anna Nicole Smith Show.
12. Heath Ledger (January 22nd, 2008)
Heath Ledger was an Australian born actor who is known for his roles in A Knight’s Tale, Brokeback Mountain and his impeccable portrayal as The Joker in The Dark Knight. He was in a relationship with Michelle Williams, who ended their relationship a year before Ledger’s death, and had one daughter with her.
Ledger suffered from insomnia after his roles in The Dark Knight and I’m Not There, leaving him to take two Ambien pills that had little to no effect. On the 22nd of January, Ledger’s housekeeper and masseuse found him unconscious in bed. He was later pronounced dead of a drug overdose. Ledger’s death cast a shadow over The Dark Knight’s reputation, which released in July of that year.
11. Bernie Mac (August 9th, 2008)
Bernie Mac is most noted for his role in Ocean’s Eleven, but is also known for his appearance in Transformers and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, and even as the voice of Zuba in Madagascar 2. Mac was also known for his stand-up comedy.
Towards the end of his life, Mac was diagnosed with an inflammatory disease known as Sarcoidosis. This disease often attacked his lungs and left him unable to perform. In 2008, Mac was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and, after a week of unsuccessful treatment, passed away on August 9th due to pneumonia complications.
10. Brittany Murphy (December 20th, 2009)
Brittany Murphy is known for her acting and singing. She is recognizable as the voice of Gloria the Penguin in Happy Feet, and in more adult movies such as Sin City and 8 Mile. She dated Ashton Kutcher, but ended up marrying British Screenwriter Simon Monjack.
On December 20th, the Los Angeles fire department was called when Murphy had collapsed in the bathroom of her home. Later on she passed away after suffering a heart attack. The primary cause of her death was the result of pneumonia, with anemia and drug intoxication being considered the secondary results. A year later, on May 23rd, her husband had died in the same house of pneumonia and anemia as well. After this second death it was questioned if the deaths were caused by toxic mold in the house, or if it deliberate heavy metal poisoning.
9. Patrick Swayze (September 14th, 2009)
Patrick Swayze, winner of 3 Golden Globes and People Magazine’s sexiest man alive in 1991, has touched both the acting and singing forms of art. He grew up with a mother who was a choreographer, dancer, and dance instructor. His brother, Don, is also an actor. Swayze was married to Lesa Niemi, but had no children. Swayze is best known for his role in Dirty Dancing.
Swayze was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in early 2008. Surprisingly, he seemed very healthy throughout the remainder of his life. His last performance would be on the TV series The Beast. On September 14th, 2009, Patrick Swayze died of his pancreatic cancer.
8. Michael Jackson (June 25th, 2009)
Michael Jackson was regarded, and still regarded, as “The King of Pop.” His influences in music, dance, and fashion made him a global icon. Some of his most recognizable songs are Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat it, and They don’t really care about us. Jackson was divorced and had three children at the time of his death. Jackson was accused twice of sexual assault against a minor and he is also remembered for the “baby-dangling” incident in Berlin.
On the 25th of June, 2009, Michael Jackson had stopped breathing. His personal physician, Conrad Murray, had given Jackson medication in order to help him sleep. By the time he made it to the hospital, Michael Jackson had died. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
7. Waylon Jennings (February 13, 2002)
Waylon Jennings was born in Littlefield, Texas. He is recognized as one of the largest Country music icons- along with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson to name a few. Jennings had a rough start in life, dropping out of high school in the 10th grade due to disciplinary actions. This, however, only drove him into the music career. He was married to Jessi Colter and had seven children, three being adopted. Along with being a member of the Outlaw Country Movement, he was also a radio DJ.
Waylon Jennings wasn’t the picture of health. He was addicted to cocaine for a good portion of his life, along with amphetamines. He also smoked around six packs of cigarettes a day up until 1988. By 2001 he had lost a foot due to diabetes. On February 13th, 2002, he died in his sleep due to complications caused by diabetes. At his funeral, his wife Jessi sang the song Storms Never Last, surrounded by Jennings’ close friends and fellow country musicians.
6. Jonathan Brandis (November 12, 2003)
Jonathan Brandis was a young actor who was the only child in his family. He starred in roles such as in The Never-Ending Story 2: The Next Chapter and a mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. His best known role is that of Lucas Wolenczak in seaQuest DSV. On top of being an actor, he also directed independent films and wrote screenplays.
Brandis, sadly, experienced bad luck. His career was slowly waning, which would cause some to believe this to be the cause of his shocking death. He starred in the movie Hart’s War, hoping it would bring his career back on track. However many of his scenes were chopped from the final cut. On November 12th, 2003, he committed suicide.
5. Johnny Cash (September 12, 2003)
Johnny Cash is a name that every country fan knows. When he was young he was taught by a childhood friend and his mother how to play guitar. He was also influenced by Irish music in his youth. Cash spent time in the Armed Forces until 1954. He soon followed his musical path in a band called “The Landsberg Barbarians.” He was married to the late June Carter and had 5 children.
Like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash was not the picture of health. He was heavily involved in drugs and alcohol. His life continued to spiral out of control until he met June Carter. On September 13th, 2003, Johnny Cash had passed away due to diabetic complications.
4. Christopher Reeve (October 10th, 2004)
Christopher Reeve is best known for his portrayal of Superman. He was also in other productions, such as the film adaptation of the play Deathtrap and The Aviator. He was married to Dana Morosini and had three children. Sadly in 1995 he suffered a serious spinal injury while riding his horse, causing him to be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life.
During the remainder of his life, Reeve studied Stem Cell research- a process that could possibly help him recover from his paralysis- and went on to form the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. He even starred in episodes of Smallville, helping Tom Welling‘s Superman use his powers for the greater good. On October 9th, 2004, Reeve went to his son’s hockey game saying that he felt well. Later that evening he suffered a heart attack and later fell into a coma. The next day, on October 10th, Christopher Reeve had died. It was believed his heart attack was an adverse reaction to an antibiotic he was taking. Christopher Reeve taught everyone never to give up, no matter what.
3. Eddie Guerrero (November 13th, 2005)
Eddie Guerrero is considered one of WWE’s most influential pro wrestlers, winning several championships and accomplishments. His interest in wrestling started in New Mexico Highlands University. He also did a bit of wrestling in Mexico in Japan until he settled in the WWE. He was married to Vickie Guerrero and had three children.
Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room on November 13th, 2005. His nephew Chavo tried to resuscitate him with CPR, but paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene. His death was the result of heart failure. Guerrero’s death shook the WWE, who honored him on Raw And SmackDown!
2. Richard Pryor (December 10th, 2005)
Richard Pryor was a stand-up comedian who pushed the boundaries of his craft when it came to race and vulgarity. He had a rough start growing up, spending the majority of his childhood living at a brothel run by his grandmother. Pryor was considered a class clown in school, showing that he always had a knack for comedy. He officially pursued his stand up career in the 1960. He married and divorced several women before he finally settled down with Jennifer Lee and he had seven children in total.
Pryor had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that affects physical and mental functions, in 1986. This was after he had suffered a heart attack in 1977 due to massive amounts of drugs and alcohol. Most memorable of Pryor’s issues with drugs was his Freebase Cocaine incident in 1980, where he coated himself in rum and set himself on fire! Due to the amount of tobacco he used in his life, he suffered a heart attack on December 10th, 2005 and died. Pryor was a major influence to many stand-up comedians and paved the way for African-American’s to join the industry.
1. Gary Coleman (May 28th, 2010)
Gary Coleman is usually remembered for his child-like appearance and his roles in The Gary Coleman Show, The Little Rascals, and other guest appearances. He even attempted to run for governor of California in 2003. His career began when he was shown in a bank commercial in 1974. From then-on he gained traction as a childhood actor. He was married to Shannon Price until they divorced in 2008.
After his childhood acting career, Gary Coleman had major financial troubles; he even ended up suing his parents and business advisor. Coleman had also had attempted suicide twice by overdosing. On May 28th, 2010, Coleman had suffered a seizure and fell down the stairs, hitting his head. He was sent to Utah Valley Regional Medical center where he died two days later.