Being famous has its perks: the money, the attention, the lifestyle. However, it also has its downsides, namely how easily recognizable you are, and if people don’t like you, they can easily figure out where to find you...
On December 8th, 1980, the world was forced into mourning, as former Beatles singer John Lennon was assassinated. After stepping out of his limousine in front of his home in the Dakota, the 40-year old was shot to death while his wife, Yoko Ono, helplessly looked on. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival in the ER. Police quickly apprehended a “smirking” young man by the name of Mark David Chapman, who was seen near the Dakota for several hours before the crime.
Of course, this may all be information you already know, as many people are aware of the story of John Lennon’s death. But what about other artists and entertainers? You would be surprised as to which famous entertainers you did not know were murdered in cold blood.
10 Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp was a model and TV personality, being voted twice as one of the “100 sexiest women in the world” for FHM magazine. According to the BBC, Steenkamp was planning to eventually open a law firm with her long time friend, Kerry Smith, in order to help abused women. Ironically, Steenkamp herself would become a victim of spousal abuse: she was shot and killed by her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, on Valentine’s Day in 2013. The Olympic athlete denied the charges, saying that he thought she was an intruder hiding in the bathroom, which is why he shot through the door. Steenkamp died almost instantly after being hit, at the age of 29.
9 Sal Mineo
Full name Salvator Mineo Jr., this entertainer was born in Sicily but immigrated to the US when he was still a small child. After getting into serious trouble with street gangs in the Bronx, his mother gave him an ultimatum: juvenile confinement or professional acting school. Needless to say, he chose acting school and began his journey to stardom. He starred in Six Bridges To Cross, Rebel Without a Cause, and Escape From The Planet of The Apes. He was even nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Exodus.
Mineo’s moment of fate arrived on the night of February 12th, 1979. He was coming home from a rehearsal when he was fatally stabbed by a stranger. According to Jay Robert Nash’s The Great Pictorial History of World Crime: Volume 2, the man arrested for the crime was Lionel Ray Williams, whom only served 12 years in jail for the murder. After being paroled in 1990, Williams has been in and out of jail for frequently violating his parole.
8 Sharon Tate
Born in 1943, Sharon Tate was an actress who appeared in movies including, The Fearless Vampire Killers, The Wrecking Crew and The Thirteen Chairs. She married the famed movie direction Roman Polanski, in 1968. One year later, on August 9th, Tate’s life was cut short, as she was found dead along with four other people, in her Los Angeles home. At the time of her murder, she had been pregnant and due to give birth in a short matter of weeks. The horror of the crime scene even shocked homicide squad detectives. The murderers were found to be a gang of Charles Manson’s followers.
7 Bob Crane
Real name Robert Edward Crane, this television actor is best known for his role as Colonel Robert E. Hogan in Hogan’s Heroes. He began his career by firstly being a radio personality in the US. However, he ultimately decided to focus on his acting career. Other than featuring in Hogan’s Heroes, Crane also starred in The Lucy Show, The Danny Kaye Show, The Red Skelton Hour, The Leslie Uggams Show, The Smothers Brothers and many more. According to biography.com, Crane was bludgeoned to death by a camera tripod while sleeping, in the early morning of June 29, 1978. The police arrested John Henry Carpenter, Cane’s friend, however, they did not have enough physical evidence to convict him for the crime.
6 Selena Quintanilla-Perez
Selena Quintanilla-Perez was famous at home and abroad for her Tejano music. She began singing in her father’s restaurant, in Lake Jackson Texas. Having formed a band with her family, the group started to get gigs at parties and weddings. She was only 15 when she got her first record contract and won “female entertainer of the year” at the Tejano Music Awards, and later won a Grammy for best Mexican-American album with her album “Selena Live!”. She was murdered by the woman who, surprisingly, was the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar. Saldivar was also the manager of Selena’s clothing boutique, Selena Etc. (however, after being caught embezzling money, she was fired). Saldivar agreed to meet Selena to return some of the boutique’s financial documents. They met at a Days Inn motel, where Saldivar refused to return to documents, shot the pop star and created a nine-hour standoff, holding a gun to her own head.
5 Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson made his claim to fame by being one of history’s greatest blues performers. Being a singer and guitarist, his biggest hits include, “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and “Sweet Home Chicago.” Other than his music, Johnson is also known for how he supposedly became a great guitar player: legend goes that he made a deal with the devil at the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 in Clarksdale Mississippi, trading his soul in exchange for being a phenomenal guitarist. Regardless of the reason for his musical talents, Johnson’s time in the spot-light was short-lived, as he was murdered at the young age of 27. The culprit? Poison, though the murderer is still unknown.
4 Dorothy Stratten
Dorothy Stratten was a Playboy model and a budding new actress before her life was taken and cut short at the age of 20. Her death tells the all too common story of a jealous ex-lover turning to murder. After starring in Peter Bogdanovich’s They All Laughed, Stratten became smitten with Bofdanovich and the two started having an affair. Her husband, Paul Snider, was moreover increasingly jealous of her fame. The couple separated, and shortly afterward, Snider shot his ex-wife to death while she was visiting him in his West Los Angeles home, in California. Snider then committed suicided, pulling the gun on himself.
3 Biggie Smalls
Also known as “The Notorious B.I.G.,” Biggie Smalls was a rapper and hip-hop artist. He was born by the name of Christopher Wallace in 1972, Brooklyn, New York. Smalls became a drug dealer when he was fairly young, and started experimenting with music in his teenage years. In 1994, he launched his debut album, Ready to Die, which was a huge success. His career was short lived as he was murdered at the youthful age of 24 on March 9th, 1997. Biggie had just left the Soul Train Music Awards, and was sitting in an SUV when another car approached his vehicle. The strange vehicle opened fire, killing the young rapper.
2 Phil Hartman
Phil Hartman was a Canadian-American actor, comedian, screenwriter and graphic artist. He starred in popular TV shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and Wayne’s World. Hartman’s death is a tragic and shocking story. He was shot while in bed by his third wife, Brynn Hartman, who was intoxicated and (needless to say) upset at the time. The murderess took her own life a few hours later after shooting her husband while her children were sleeping in the same household. Like their poor children, the rest of the world would wake up in shock and mourning.
1 Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke was a famous singer, songwriter, producer and music publisher during the 1950s and 1960s. Among his most famous songs were “You Send Me” (1957), “Chain Gang” (1960), “Twistin’ the Night Away (1962) and “A Change is Gonna Come” (1964). Cooke was different than many other pop singers of his time as he personally wrote all of his hits himself (which is quite an impressive and unusual feat). His career was cut short as he was murdered on December 10th, 1964, under suspicious circumstances. According to the testimony of Bertha Franklin, the Hacienda Motel’s manager, Cooke was threatening to kill her after he had attempted to rape a young woman who accompanied him to the hotel. Mrs. Franklin claims that she shot Cooke three times in the chest as self-defence.