A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, a picture captures a moment in time that gives us great happiness or joy. But sometimes, a picture shows us a scene that, in retrospect, is just plain tragic and chilling. Take the pictures of a smiling and happy John F. Kennedy riding in a convertible down a Dallas street moments before he was shot. Or the picture of the smiling and charming young Ted Bundy at the height of his serial killing career. Women looked at the clean cut young Bundy and got into his car. Most never got out again. Some pictures are poignant because they are the last images of someone who died soon afterwards. Or take the images of a very young and innocent Amy Winehouse dressed as Minnie Mouse. It’s chilling because she never saw her 30th birthday and died a broken shell of an addict. Or look at pictures of the very young Michael Jackson, all full of youthful enthusiasm, that make his drug-riddled final days seem like an unthinkable impossibility. So, let’s look at 15 pictures (some quite recent, some historic) that capture a moment in time. We know what the people in these pictures didn’t know. Namely, we know what is going to happen. We know how the story ended.
15. Princess Diana Smiling For The Cameras One Last Time
It’s been nearly 20 years since that fateful August night in 1997 when a car in which Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed were riding crashed into the wall of a Parisian tunnel, killing them both. At the time, they were being hotly pursued by a speeding pack of motorcycle-riding paparazzi. And moments before the couple climbed into the back seat of their death car, hotel security cameras caught a smiling and obviously happy and relaxed Diana and a somber-looking Dodi in an elevator. Afterwards, there was talk of the press having hounded Diana to death. And there were even conspiracy theorists who claimed the British establishment had a hand in her death. It is good to know that, at least, she died happy.
14. Heath Ledger’s “Suicide” Picture
After the Australian actor’s breakthrough in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and his standout turn as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger struggled with the baggage that being famous inevitably brings. Then, in January of 2008, his body was found in a New York apartment. “Accidental” overdose of prescription drugs said the coroner. But was there more to the story? The summer before Ledger died, he made a film about the tragic English singer/songwriter, Drake, who committed suicide via an overdose of antidepressants in 1974. In that film, Heath sings of Drake’s misery and then “drowns” himself in a bathtub. The stills of the scene still send chills down the spine of his friends and family. And some wondered if the “accident” was not in fact a suicide.
13. James Dean And His Cursed Car
Actor James Dean loved, loved, loved his gray Porsche Spyder. And he loved speed. He was never happier than when he was behind the wheel. But in 1955, he and the Porsche crashed and Dean died. Hysterical fans refused to believe their idol was dead. Later, mechanic friends of the dead actor said the car was cursed. In fact, they had called it the “Little Bast*rd.” So did the curse kill James Dean? Who knows? Bizarrely, the mangled wreck of the car was sent on a nationwide tour to promote…wait for it…safe driving. Sounds nuts to us. But then, the car just disappeared into thin air. Bizarrely, a couple of years ago, some guy came forward and said he, as a young boy, had seen some men hiding the wrecked car behind a false wall of a building. So what would a collector pay for the mangled death car of a Hollywood icon? Lots. Lots and lots.
12. Paul Walker – His Last Thanksgiving
In the Autumn of 2013, Paul Walker and the Fast and Furious cast were in Atlanta filming Furious 7. There are chilling stills of Walker standing next to cars that have been smashed to bits for the film. And there are those creepy pictures of Walker filming a funeral scene for the movie. And then, there are some touching photos of the cast, including Walker, holding hands around a table at Thanksgiving. It would be their last Thanksgiving with Walker, because a few days after flying back to Los Angeles to celebrate the holiday with his family, Walker died in a fiery car crash when the Porsche in which he was riding slammed into a tree at a high speed. He probably lived just long enough to know what had happened. Comparisons to the death of James Dean were inevitable.
11. Cory Monteith – Scenes From A Troubled Youth
When he died of an accidental overdose in a Vancouver hotel room at the age of 31, Cory Monteith was the rising star of TV’s mega-hit Glee. But the troubled actor had a long history of alcohol and drug problems. And in July of 2013, when he went back to his native Vancouver, Canada, he was just out of rehab. Monteith was staying in 5-star luxury, but it was only blocks away from the mean drug streets he had roamed in his youth. His substance abuse started when he was 13 and he was in rehab by the time he was 19. At 22, amid rumors of what he got up to on the streets to fund his addiction, he posed for his first photoshoot. The vibe? Charismatic, but darkly troubled. Those demons he lived with killed him in the end.
10. John Lennon Gives Autograph To His Killer
It was December of 1980 and Mark David Chapman was in New York City outside Dakota, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived. He had a gun in his pocket because he had one reason for being there—to kill John Lennon. When Lennon and Yoko Ono came out, Chapman stopped him and asked him to autograph a rare record album. He intended to shoot the ex-Beatle then and there. But, for some reason, he chickened out. Someone captured the chilling moment in a picture. Lennon signed the record and left. And Chapman hung around, waiting for another chance. Several hours later, when Lennon and Yoko Ono returned, Chapman got his nerve up and shot Lennon dead. A few years back, the record, complete with Chapman’s digitally enhanced fingerprints, was put up for sale. Reportedly, it went for around $35,000.
9. Robin Williams – Dead Man Walking
Weeks before his suicide death by hanging in August of 2014, Robin Williams checked himself into a Minnesota rehab clinic. A woman who was receiving treatment at the center at the same time has talked of Williams being deeply depressed and unhappy and of his saying he wanted to go “quickly.” Clearly already contemplating suicide, he reportedly told her, “I don’t want to die the slow agonizing death of an addict who makes everyone around him suffer.” This picture taken with an employee at a Dairy Queen near the clinic speaks volumes about what his friends say was a “shell” of a man, a dead man walking. Back home in California, he saw his children for the last time on July 21st, his birthday. Then, in August, having first tried to cut his wrist, he hung himself with a belt.
8. Amy Winehouse – The Walking Dead
Amy Winehouse, the tragic singer with the deep contralto voice and more addictions than you can count, died in London in July of 2011 of alcohol poisoning. In what must be the worst possible taste, “she” appeared in October of 2011 in Santiago Chile’s Zombiewalk: Return of the Dead Heroes. WTF? You can bet this image sent a chilling message to her bereaved family and friends. Who on earth would do something this callous and bizarre? No word on who staged this stunt. But the whole parade invited people to dress as zombie versions of their childhood heroes to mark the death of their inner child as they reached adulthood. Yeah, we think it’s a load of bulls*t too. Talk about one weird way to “celebrate” Halloween.
7. Twitter Suicide Of Freddy E
On a cold January day in 2013, popular Seattle hip-hop artist, Freddy E, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. That’s bad enough, but he did it while Tweeting, in full view of his Twitter followers. As the day went on, his Tweets got darker and darker. Then, at the end came the somber goodbye: “If there’s a God then He’s calling me back home. This barrel never felt so good next to my dome. It’s cold & I’d rather die than live alone. It’s… all… bad… y’all.” Friends and fans were quick to blame a failed romance with rapper Honey Cocaine. Some even said she had “murdered” him. She didn’t seem upset. Not one little bit. In fact, she got downright mad, saying it was “ignorance” to blame her. One sweet chick. Not.
6. President John F. Kennedy And Marilyn Monroe
President John F. Kennedy, a notorious womanizer, had what some say was a brief fling with Marilyn Monroe in the early 1960’s, before dumping her rather unceremoniously. Marilyn, always a troubled soul, reportedly became obsessed with the handsome President. She showed up at his birthday celebration in May of 1962, famously singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” in a tight white gown that left little to the imagination. She, of course, arrived late and referred to herself as the “late Marilyn Monroe.” Only a few months later, she was dead. And most believe her death was a suicide. Conspiracy nuts theorized that the Kennedy clan wanted her out of the way. Then, just over a year after her death, Kennedy was gunned down as his motorcade drove through the streets of Dallas in November of 1963.
5. Elvis Possesses Madonna
OK, it’s 1969. And our Madonna was a rebellious adolescent, the kind of chick who pulled up her skirts so the boys could see her underwear. Even back then, she was smart, short on patience, and more than a little scary. And, while in Las Vegas, she managed to get Elvis‘ autograph. So what’s chilling about that? Nothing. But what is a bit creepy is that Elvis died on August 16th, 1977. So? It was Madonna’s 19th birthday. Now for the chilling bit: Madonna swears on a stack of something that Elvis possessed her and that his spirit passed through her body on his journey to foreverland after he died. Now, that’s more than a little creepy. Come to think of it, Madonna’s still more than a little scary.
4. Dr. John Britton And The Gun
John Britton was a high profile American doctor who was murdered in 1994 outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida. The killer was an anti-abortion nut case called Paul Jennings Hill. He killed to save life? Britton was flying across the state to Pensacola to do abortions because his predecessor, Dr. David Gunn, was murdered by another anti-abortionist. Oh, Britton took precautions, like toting a gun and wearing a bulletproof vest. He even enlisted volunteer bodyguards. In the end, all of that wasn’t up to the 12-gauge shotgun blast that killed him. And Hill? He was convicted of the murder and, after years of delays, was executed by lethal injection in 2003.
3. Cory Monteith – Dark Messages
After Cory Monteith died of a lethal overdose in a Vancouver, Canada hotel room in July of 2013, everybody was doing a spot of “publicity” grieving. And his “girlfriend,” Lea Michele, was at the head of the pack. Then, a chilling note of reality hit when the tragic actor’s last message to a fan emerged. Monteith urged the boy “to stay out of trouble” and “stay in school.” The guy really wanted to be a role model, but he just couldn’t beat the demons that had plagued him most of his life. As one of his friends noted, in the end, the demons won out. Maybe that’s why Monteith lobbied hard to play a drug addict in McCanick, his last film. He had lived the drug scene and hoped to get his “stay out of trouble” message out there. But, considering the way he died, it’s painful to watch those druggie scenes.
2. Robert F. Kennedy Face To Face With Death
It’s the Summer of 1968. This chilling picture shows Robert F. Kennedy seconds after he was shot in the head by Sirhan B. Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. His eyes are opened and he seems to be saying something. Moments before, he had given a victory speech, having just won the California Presidential Primary. Imagine being aware of what had just happened. Imagine being surrounded by press photographers who are only interested in snapping iconic images. Kennedy, of course, died. And Sirhan B. Sirhan? He was convicted of the murder. Bizarrely, it was later claimed that another (unknown) assassin had shot Kennedy. And why did he kill the charismatic Senator? That’s another mystery.
1. Hitler And Those Crazy Eyes
Adolf Hitler, the Nazi dictator of Germany and the man who almost single-handedly caused World War II, was a very strange man. He was also a very charismatic one. But apparently, that charisma was practiced. Before his public speeches, Hitler would stand in front of a large mirror, rehearsing his moves and his hand gestures again and again and again. His followers knew to applaud even his mediocre moments. His public speeches are legendary, with an almost rabid Hitler pounding his fists on the lectern and wildly gesticulating with his hands. But there is just something so totally spooky in those crazy eye that he didn’t have to practice. His demons came naturally.