Addiction is not new to Hollywood. Unfortunately, many stars fall victim to drug and alcohol abuse for a variety of reasons. Some feel that they have to live up to the expectations of society, which sometimes require the celebrity to be “perfect.” Other celebrities feel the peer pressure to try alcohol or drugs because the stars and executives around them are doing it. There are also some celebrities who are extremely sad and depressed for a number of reasons, and turn to harmful substances in an attempt to cure themselves or numb the pain.
There are several celebrities who were bright, talented and on the path to super-stardom before their lives were cut short by drug use. Some celebrities who have died because of their addiction were already considered the best in their particular fields, and leave behind heartbroken family members and friends, as well as a host of grieving fans. With each celebrity death, there’s the hope that other stars won’t follow in the footsteps of these famous singers and actors. But as we know, that’s not always the case. Here are 12 celebrities who unexpectedly died from a drug overdose.
12 Corey Monteith
Corey Monteith was the handsome rising star who is best known for his work on the hit Fox show, Glee. He was a native of Canada, and passed away in his hotel room in Vancouver, when he accidentally overdosed on alcohol and heroin. Monteith was believed to be alone at the time of the incident, and hotel cameras indicate that he returned to his hotel room after a night out, where he continued to abuse substances. Monteith was actress Lea Michele’s love interest on Glee, and the two also dated in real life. Michele made it clear that she was heartbroken by the loss of her boyfriend and co-star, and it took her a considerable amount of time to speak about the incident publicly.
11 Chris Farley
Chris Farley was a comedian and actor who inspired many of today’s comedic actors. He attended Marquette University, where he studied communications and theater. After college he became a part of Second City Theater, where he was discovered by Lorne Michaels and became part of the cast of Saturday Night Live. He was an SNL cast member, and during his time there, he also starred in movies such as Coneheads and Wayne’s World. Farley later starred in Billy Madison and Tommy Boy, where he co-starred with David Spade. Even though his career was on the fast track, Farley struggled severely with drug addiction, and stated that he didn’t want to be the “fat guy who falls down” anymore. His drug dependency got the best of him, and he died from an opiate and cocaine overdose in his Chicago apartment. His brother John, found his body the next day.
10 Sid Vicious
Sid Vicious is still a rock legend, even though he passed away in the 1970s. He was the bassist for the band the Sex Pistols, and died after partying the night away. Vicious was celebrating his release from Riker’s Island in New York, in 1979. He passed away in his sleep due to a heroin overdose. Perhaps the saddest part of the story is that his mother was the one who gave him the drugs. This is a testament to the fact that drug addiction often runs in families. It’s tragic to know that the night he was released from jail would also be the last night of his life.
9 Kurt Cobain
Rocker Kurt Cobain was found in the garage of his Washington home when an electrician came to the home to install a security system. Cobain left a suicide note and died from a gunshot wound. However, Diazepam and heroin were also found in his system, indicating that he likely decided to take his own life because his brain was heavily influenced by the drug use. Cobain is known as one of the founders of the grunge rock era, and was survived by his wife Courtney Love (the two often did drugs together). Cobain and Love also have a daughter named Frances, who has spoken out in her adulthood about her father’s death, stating that he was not the hero many perceive him to be.
8 Judy Garland
Judy Garland is best known as the character Dorothy, in the classic film The Wizard of Oz. She was idolized by little girls who wanted to be actresses, and was seen as enchanting by adults who are still fans of the movie. However, Garland’s personal life was far from innocent. She overdosed on barbiturates, and was found by her fifth husband in the bathroom. Garland was also a singer and had a successful career in Hollywood that spanned more than 40 years. She is also the mother of legendary singer and Broadway star Liza Minnelli, and had another daughter named Lorna and a son named Joey.
7 Heath Ledger
Actor Heath Ledger was found unconscious in his bed in 2008. He was filming the movie Batman that year, and was playing the role of the Joker. Some say it was evident that Ledger was “too into” the crazy part of his role, and that this was largely due to his drug use. When his housekeeper found him, she called Ledger’s friend, actress and businesswoman Mary-Kate Olsen, for help, and then called 911. Paramedics arrived on the scene, but were unable to revive the 28-year-old star. It was ruled that he had six different prescription drugs in his system at the time of his death. Heath Ledger is survived by his then-significant other, actress Michelle Williams. The couple also had a daughter named Matilda.
6 Dana Plato
Dana Plato was known in the 1980s for her role on the hit sitcom, Diff’rent Strokes. She played a fun-loving daughter, but her personal life was riddled with addiction and depression. Plato and her fiance visited his mother in 1999 for Mother’s Day. During the visit, Dana overdosed on Lortab, a prescription painkiller. She also took Soma. She was in the RV parked beside her future mother-in-law’s house at the time of the overdose. Almost exactly 11 years later, Dana’s son Tyler killed himself with a gunshot wound to the head. This tragic story points to the fact that issues such as anxiety and depression are sometimes hereditary and can lead to drug use.
5 Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse was a British singer known for her soulful voice. She earned five Grammys for her album Back to Black, which was released in 2006. Her 2003 album, Frank, also received critical acclaim. It was during this time that Winehouse started getting the reputation of being a party girl, and she often showed up to performances drunk. Her small frame was starting to get even smaller, which raised concern from her family and friends. She passed away from accidental alcohol poisoning in 2011, when she was just 27 years old. Winehouse also has the “distinction” of being added to the “27 Club”; a group of great musicians, including Janis Joplin, who tragically passed away at the age of 27.
4 Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith was a Playboy model turned reality television star. She was also known for marrying a man who was much older than her. Of course, many people assumed that she became the man’s wife for his money, but she maintained that she loved him very much. At the age of 39, Smith was found unresponsive at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. She was pronounced dead upon her arrival to the hospital. Smith overdosed on the sleeping pill Cholral hydrate, and also had a number of other drugs in her system, including weight loss medication.
3 Marilyn Monroe
Even though she passed away decades ago, Marilyn Monroe is still seen as one of the world’s most popular sex symbols. Her psychiatrist discovered her body in the bedroom of her Brentwood home. The coroner determined that her death was due to “acute barbiturate poisoning”, which is the same way that iconic actress Judy Garland passed away. The coroner stated that Monroe’s death was likely a suicide, but her fans have questioned this theory for years. Some say that the night of her death, she was advised to stop having an affair with President Kennedy, and this led her into depression.
2 Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley is known as the King of Rock, but his career was cut short due to his heavy drug use. Presley was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his home, Graceland in 1977. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The coroner declared that Elvis died of cardiac arrhythmia. However, the cause of Presley’s irregular heartbeat was an overdose of prescription medications, including cocaine, morphine, Demerol, valium and codeine. Perhaps the pressure of being one of the world’s greatest performers, along with the notion that he was invincible, caused Presley’s untimely demise. He is survived by his wife Priscilla, and his daughter Lisa Marie, who is known for her marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.
1 Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston has long been considered one of the greatest voices of our time. She experimented with drugs throughout her career, which started in the 1980s. Since Houston’s image was very innocent and upbeat, her drug use was not well-known to the public until the latter part of her career. She passed away in the bathtub from a drug overdose in a hotel room. Some of the last people to see or hear from her were gospel singer Kim Burrell, who received a voicemail from Houston shortly before she passed, and fellow singer and friend, Kelly Price. Unfortunately, Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina, passed away in a similar manner, three years after her mother’s death.