With all the glitz and glamour, it may appear that celebrities have the “perfect” life. From overflowing bank accounts to high profile fame, members of the entertainment industry are often viewed as having the things in life that many strive to have. However, it’s never been more true that money can’t buy happiness for some the celebrities that have lost loved ones. And not just any family members, they’ve suffered the pain of their child’s death.
Children are regarded to be one of life’s greatest blessings and when parents lose a child, their lives are ultimately shattered. Whether in the public eye or not, no parent ever wants to experience such a heartbreaking tragedy. However, when a celebrity’s child passes, the media coverage is on full display trying to capture the story and any glimpse of the entertainer during their time of mourning. While not all celebrities have experienced a child’s death while at the height of their careers, their personal tragedies continue to be a topic of discussion.
For some celebrities, their lives depict the opposite of the happily ever after that movies often portray. Grab some tissues as you continue to read about these 15 celebrities who have tragically lost children.
15 Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore wasn’t able to turn the world on with her smile when her twenty-four-year-old son killed himself in 1980. The actress’ son, Richard Meeker, was talking to his roommate and apparently playing with a shotgun when it fired, fatally shooting him in the head. Meeker’s roommates insisted that the celebrity’s son's death was an accident, as he seemed to be in an upbeat mood during the same evening he lost his life. While Meeker was rarely photographed with Moore, the two were close and it was rumored that the actress purposely kept her only son from the public eye. As a manager for CBS, Meeker appeared to show no signs of having depression, an emotional stigma that oftentimes affects children with famous parents. With the concern of a home invasion occurring in his neighborhood, Meeker owned the sawed-off shotgun that tragically took his life as a young man.
14 Bill Cosby
Despite being infamously known for playing a well-rounded family man on television, Bill Cosby’s real-life portrayal of fatherhood suffered a devastating blow when his son was murdered in January of 1997. Ennis Cosby was brutally shot after visiting friends in Los Angeles. On his way home, the actor’s only son experienced a flat tire and pulled over to fix it with the help of his friend, Stephanie Crane, when he was shot and killed. Following the soul-shattering lost, the Cosbys received an outpouring of love from the public and many left flowers in the location where the murder occurred. In honor of his memory, the grieving family formed the Ennis William Cosby Foundation in order to benefit learning disability programs, for the actor’s son was in graduate school at Columbia University earning his doctorate in special education. Shortly after his passing, Cosby’s killer, Mikhail Markhasev, was ultimately found guilty of murdering the twenty-seven-year-old and received a life sentence, plus an additional decade in prison.
13 Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith turned heads with her voluptuous body as a Playboy model, brief actress, and television personality on her show, The Anna Nicole Show. While she received attention for her over the top personality and the paternity test of her infant daughter's father, it was all derailed when her oldest child, Daniel Wayne Smith, passed away. Just three days after celebrating the birth of his half-sister, Dannielynn, Smith died in his mother’s hospital room in the Bahamas. His 2006 death took the media by storm as it was reported that he accidentally overdosed when the toxicology reports showed methadone and other drugs mixed in his system. The former Playmate of the Year, was outright devastated by her only son’s death and refused to leave his side. Sadly, just five months following her son’s sudden death, Smith succumbed to a prescription drug overdose in a Hollywood, Florida hotel room.
12 Mia Farrow
Actress Mia Farrow has an impressive resume complete with infamous movies and high profile relationships, but she was also recognized for the love and devotion she has for children. Having been a mother of 14 children at one point in her life, the seventy-one-year-old has experienced the pain no mother ever wishes to feel on more than one occasion. The former actress welcomed three boys with her second husband Andre Previn and one son with her former partner Woody Allen. While Farrow has four biological children, the activist had a passion for adopting children to love and nurture as her own and unfortunately has endured the deaths of three of her adopted children. Her first lost occurred in 2000 when her daughter, whom she adopted from Vietnam, died from a heart condition at just nineteen years old. Farrow later lost another daughter, Lark, in 2008 when she died from an unknown cause. And in September of 2016, the mother experienced her most recent loss when her son Thaddeus was found dead in his car.
11 O.J. Simpson
Before he was on trial for his own involvement in the brutal murder case of his ex-wife, O.J. Simpson experienced the pain of losing a loved one. Prior to the media storm that erupted around his crimes, Simpson was married to his first wife, Marguerite Whitley, with whom he welcomed three children. However, his youngest daughter, Aaren Simpson, passed away in an accidental drowning incident in 1979. Just a month shy of her second birthday, a fun-filled day spent swimming at the Simpsons' home pool turned to tragedy. The former football star and his high school sweetheart couldn’t weather the pain that their heartbreaking loss brought following their young daughter's sudden death. That same year, their grief eventually led to them calling it quits on their relationship after twelve years of marriage.
10 Dr. Dre
Rap producer, Dr. Dre, is the go-to name for artists to record their hit singles with. But while his career was at the top of its game, the death of his son greatly overshadowed the fame and glory. At just twenty years old, Andre Young Jr. was found dead in his bed by his mother after spending a night out with friends. Through the results of the toxicologically test, it was concluded that the producer’s son died from a heroin and morphine overdose. Following the news of his son’s death, the multiplatinum-selling record producer released an official statement to the public through his publicist, “Dr. Dre is mourning the loss of his son Andre Young Jr. Please respect his family’s grief and privacy at this time.” Andre Jr. was the third child of Dr. Dre’s six children, which he has with five different women.
9 Keanu Reeves
The Canadian actor has achieved much success in his acting career during his time in Hollywood, but the grief Keanu Reeves has experienced is more depressing than any award winning drama film. His first taste of bitterness occurred in 2000 when Reeves’ girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, delivered their daughter stillborn, following an eight-month pregnancy. The death of their daughter, Ava Archer Syme-Reeves, was a negative blow to their relationship and the couple eventually called it quits just weeks after the birth. Syme suffered severe depression following Ava’s death and a year later was instantly killed when she rolled her car several times after sideswiping parked cars along the street. After losing both his daughter and the mother of his deceased child, Reeves has reportedly led a lonely life.
8 Eric Clapton
While musician Eric Clapton has endured many highs with his professional career, his role as a father suffered a devastating blow when his young son died. The guitarist’s son fell out of an open Manhattan apartment window and fell a total of 49 feet to his death. The four-year-old boy was wearing matching red slippers and pyjamas when the tragic incident occurred. It was reported that the large windows were open after being cleaned by the housekeeper and that Connor ran toward the unguarded windows just shortly before his devastating passing. Understandably broken by the loss of his son, the artist turned to music to cope with his young son’s death. Through his passion, Clapton was inspired to pen his infamous song, “Tears in Heaven.” Following the passing of his young boy, the singer welcomed three daughters, Julie Rose, Ella May, and Sophie Belle with his second wife, Melia McEnery.
7 Sylvester Stallone
After making an impressive acting debut alongside his father, Sylvester Stallone, in Rocky V, when he played his on-screen son, it was evident that the young Stallone had great promise in the land of Hollywood. Following his appearance in the notorious movie franchise, Sage Stallone’s career in the film industry began to take off. Throughout his time spent in the entertainment industry, Stallone did work in front and behind the camera. Despite the success he found early on in his life, he sadly passed away at thirty-six years old. The actor turned director, was found dead in his home in 2012. Many early reports assumed that Stallone had died from a suicide after officials were told that he hadn’t been heard from in four days and empty pill bottles of prescription drugs were found at the scene of his death. However, it was later confirmed by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office that the actor’s son died of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, which caused a heart attack.
While Prince led a colorful life, it experienced a darkness after the death of his son, Ahmir. In October of 1996, the singer and his back-up dancer/wife, Mayte Garcia-Nelson, endured the death of their infant son just one week after he was born to the artistic couple. It was concluded that Prince’s baby died from Pfeiffer’s Syndrome, an abnormality that affects the skeletal structure of the human body. Without releasing any knowledge to the public, the “Purple Rain” singer and his wife cremated their child and filled out an inconspicuous death certificate with incorrect information in order to keep their loss as private as possible. Following the death of Ahmir, the once happy couple suffered a miscarriage, drifted apart, and later divorced. Sadly, in April of last year, the beloved musician passed away and Garcia briefly discussed the loss of their son at Prince’s memorial. Garcia eventually became a mother when she adopted her daughter, Gia, in 2013.
5 Joe Biden
Before finding political success and becoming Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden endured an emotional ordeal within his family. In November of 1972, Biden’s first wife, Neilia, and their three children were in a deadly car accident. The crash occurred just six weeks after Biden won his seat in the Senate for the state of Delaware. An innocent Christmas shopping trip turned tragic when Biden ultimately lost Neilia and their thirteen-month-old daughter, Naomi. In addition to the deaths of his wife and daughter, Biden’s sons, Beau and Hunter, spent several months in the hospital while they recovered from their life-threatening injuries. The Vice President was able to eventually find the light at the end of the tunnel in his love life, when he married his current wife, Jill. However, Biden suffered the loss of another child when his son Beau, succumbed to brain cancer in May of 2015.
4 Mike Tyson
The infamous heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, has had an accomplished career within the ring, but his personal life was put through the ringer following the death of his young daughter. In 2009, Tyson’s 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, suffered a devastating death. The former boxer’s daughter was strangled by a cord connected to a treadmill and was found by her 7-year-old brother. While the treadmill was not presumed to be running when the incident occurred, it was concluded that her death was the result of playing with the cords. Although Exodus’ mother performed CPR on her after she alerted authorities, the young girl was in desperate need of life support. However, the machine was unable to restore the damage her body endured and she was later taken off the support. In a 2011 appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ show, Tyson opened up about his daughter’s death and discussed how it forced him to clean up his act and live a sober lifestyle.
3 Marie Osmond
Marie Osmond’s son's death is just another example that no matter how much money and fame you possess, tragedy can still make an appearance. At just 18 years old, Osmond’s son, Michael, committed suicide by jumping from the eighth floor of his Los Angeles apartment building. His death was a complete shock to Osmond and her family, despite his history with depression. In the suicide note he left behind, it was alluded that Michael felt alone and could never fit in with people his age. At just sixteen, the young man was admitted into a rehab facility for an undisclosed reason. During the time of his death, Osmond’s son was finishing up his final year of high school in Las Vegas, where she and her brother, Donny, had their hit headlining show. Following the performer’s son’s devastating death, their show was on hiatus until she and her family were able to find solid ground in the midst of their earth-shattering loss.
2 Bobby Brown
After losing his first wife, Whitney Houston, in her tragic death, Bobby Brown suffered another loss. Just three years after her mother passed, Bobbi Kristina Brown was found in her bathtub in January of 2015. She slipped into a medically-induced coma where it was confirmed she was brain dead and relying on life-support. Throughout this time, her condition became a media frenzy as many wanted answers to the young woman’s devastating condition. After months on the machine and without any further medical options to revive her life, the twenty-two-year-old television personality ultimately died in hospice care in July of 2015. A year following her death, medical records and police investigation files concluded that the mixture of drugs, prescription medication, and alcohol was the underlying cause of death. However, the medical examiner was unable to conclude the manner of her death.
1 John Travolta & Kelly Preston
John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston may have achieved great success with their acting careers, but their picture perfect life was dented when their sixteen-year-old son, Jett, died. While enjoying a vacation in the Bahamas in 2009, the actors’ son hit his head in a bathtub and suffered a deadly seizure. When younger, Jett was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease which can oftentimes produce inflammation of the arteries, but it was his problematic history with seizures that played a hand in his death. Despite being Scientologists and publicly protesting pharmaceutical drugs, Jett was taking an anti-convulsion drug, Depakote, to help subside his frequent seizures. But despite the medication that he was taking for several years, it eventually lost its effectiveness and the Travoltas were additionally worried that the pills would cause physical damage. Since his death almost eight years ago, the celebrity parents barely talk about their late son to the media.