The concept of being in the wrong place at the wrong time gets thrown around a little too lightly. Sure, being in the line for cash 9 when the register goes down sucks, but it isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Being in cash 9 when the lady in front of you suddenly croaks, now that’s unfortunate. With so many tragedies happening around the world, it’s bound to happen that people are going to witness them. But we don’t care about regular old schmucks. We’re interested in the people that matter—celebrities. How many celebrities have witnessed tragedies? How did they react? Well, we decided to find out.
Many celebrities have had terrible tragedies befall their families. You’ve probably heard about some of these. There are plenty. To cut the list down, we wanted to look at those who actually witnessed the event in some way. This means that the person was involved in the tragedy, either being there or being a part of it. The people on this list not only had terrible things happen to them and their families, but they had to witness the damn things as well. That’s got to weigh on a person. It’s incredible that these celebrities were able to go on to have or maintain huge careers after seeing the horrible things they saw.
Here are 15 Megastars Who Witnessed Horrific Tragedies In Real Life.
15. Joaquin Phoenix
There were several famous people on hand the night that River Phoenix died, including his brother, Joaquin Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers member, Flea, Johnny Depp, and more. In the weeks leading up to his drug overdose, River had gotten into doing incredibly hard drugs day and night. Although doing a lot of hard drugs was normal in this crowd, River’s body was fully exerted the night he died. You’re also gambling every time you do a cocktail such as the one he took. Witnesses recall River saying that he felt like he was ODing minutes before he collapsed, but he rebounded and went into the crowd listening to Depp’s band (with Flea) play. That’s when the cries rang out over the crowd to call 9-1-1. Joaquin and some others carried River out to the street and called the ambulance. Flea came outside shortly after to see his best friend die on the sidewalk. He was flatlined before the paramedics arrived.
14. Whoopi Goldberg – Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182 Crash
In 1978, Whoopi Goldberg, who lived in San Diego at the time, recalls going outside one morning and looking up into the sky. It was then that she watched as a massive airliner ran into a small aircraft mid-air. The little plane was obliterated and the Boeing-727 caught fire, plummeted to the ground and crashed. Although it’s never really been confirmed, this was almost certainly the Pacific Southwest Airlines flight 182 crash, which resulted in the deaths of all 144 passengers. Whoopi has since said that she has a deadly fear of flying because of witnessing this event.
13. Kelsey Grammer
It would be foolish to write this list without including Kelsey Grammer. As you may know already, Grammer is, sadly, the poster child for family trauma. This man has been through hell and back. Though he may not have technically witnessed any of the events firsthand, he experienced them and that’s enough. First, his father was killed after a psychopath lit his car on fire. When Grammer’s father went out to investigate the commotion outside, he was shot twice. The man then tried to run over Grammer’s father’s lifeless body, but the body was dragged away before it could happen. Next, Grammer’s younger sister was r*ped and killed by psychopath Freddie Glenn and company. Two of Grammer’s half-brothers died a few years later while scuba diving together.
12. James Woods – 9/11 Attacks?
It was about a month before 9/11, and James Woods was on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles. While sitting in first class, Woods noticed that four Middle Eastern men behind him were acting suspiciously. During the six-hour flight, they didn’t eat or drink. They didn’t sleep or even talk much, except to each other in very low tones. Woods felt that this was strange and said that the men seemed to be on guard. He mentioned something to the flight attendant and even brought it up to the first officer on the plane. He said that he believed these men were going to highjack the plane. Now, nothing happened on his flight. However, shortly after the events of 9/11, Woods called the FBI with what he thought might be useful information. The special agent notified him that the pilot of that flight did file Woods’ complaint. He also said that he believed what Woods witnessed was one of the trial runs performed by the terrorists. Woods also stated that it was unofficially confirmed to him that the men he saw were involved in the 9/11 attacks.
11. Charisma Carpenter
When Charisma Carpenter, one of the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, was 21, she and two of her friends were at a San Diego beach at night. While her two friends were in the water, Carpenter was approached by a masked man. She thought she was being robbed, but this man was Henry Hubbard Jr., a serial r*pist. Carpenter screamed, and her friends came out of the water. Hubbard, with a gun in hand, ordered Carpenter to tie up her friends. She followed the instructions, but ties the bonds loosely. One of her friends then escaped and attacked Hubbard. In the struggle, both friends were shot–one in the chest and one in the stomach–and the attacker got away. But he left behind his flashlight, a police-issued torch. On the bottom of the flashlight was the name Hubbard, which was enough to put the police officer away.
10. Ashton Kutcher
In 2001, Ashton Kutcher was dating a model named Ashley Ellerin. In the early stages of the relationship, Ellerin called Kutcher to set up a date. He had to decline. Later that day, however, he called Ellerin to try and reschedule. He would call twice but there was no answer. At about 10:45 that evening, Kutcher dropped by Ellerin’s place to try and smooth over what he thought was a fight. There was no answer at the door. Kutcher then peered in the window and saw what appeared to be red wine spilled on the ground. He left. Later, he discovered that Ellerin had been killed, stabbed 35 times by the serial killer Michael Gargiulo, and the wine he thought he saw was actually her blood.
9. John Boyega
In the year 2000, John Boyega and his sister, Grace, were walking home with one of their school friends, Damilola Taylor. When Taylor decided to go off home, the Boyega’s asked if they could escort him, knowing that he had to walk through a stretch that was being terrorized by a gang of kids called the Young Peckham Boys. Damilola insisted he go on his own and he left. It was only minutes later that he was attacked by two youths, Danny (12) and his brother Ricky Preddie (13). The kids stabbed Damilola with a broken bottle, killing him in Peckham southeast London. Police asked witnesses to come forward and requested that the Boyegas come in after seeing them on CCTV cameras. They were last to see Damilola alive.
8. Floyd Mayweather – Was On The Phone The Entire Time…
In 2014, Floyd Mayweather got a Facetime call from one his friends, rapper Earl Hayes. Apparently, Hayes was in a fury and talking about his wife, Stephanie Mosely, a professional dancer. Hayes was said to be riled about some possible infidelity and was going to confront her. Mayweather recounts Hayes putting the phone down and walking away from it. Mayweather then heard screaming and gunshots. When Hayes returned to the phone, he told Mayweather that he was going to kill himself next. Despite Mayweather’s pleas, Hayes turned the gun on himself, and Mayweather was on the phone the entire time.
7. Jake Gyllenhaal
When Jake Gyllenhaal was preparing for his role in the film End of Watch, he signed on to accompany a patrol unit in LA to see what the experience was like. It was more than he expected. “We saw a lot of stuff,” the actor said, “a lot of violence, and without a doubt this has had more of an impact on me that anything I have done before.” He recalls the very first day of patrol when they were called to a gun attack. “As soon as we arrived I saw the guy,” Gyllenhaal said. “He had just been shot. The medics arrived but there was nothing they could do and he was gone, basically. I sat there and watched the whole thing.” He also saw a man get riddled in bullets in a shootout, saying, “Once a large man has been shot up. He had about 10 bullets in him, but was cognizant and talking.”
Monica was a megastar in the late ’90s. She had just released her second album, The Boy is Mine, and it was a monster success. But then, tragedy struck in her private life. In 1999, she was dating a man by the name of Jarvis Weems. Weems had his brush-ins with drugs and the law, but the two were happy. One day, while visiting the grave of Weems’ brother who had died in a car accident, Weems suddenly pulled a gun and shot himself. There was no real warning and Monica was floored. “Afterward, I felt, ‘What else could I have done?'” she said. “You replay that situation over and over and you switch it around. Maybe if I had said this, or if I would have done that.” This incident caused Monica to step back and slow down a bit, and her career never really recovered.
5. Christopher Lee
While not really the true definition of a tragedy because the accused was a murderer, the last public execution in France took place in 1939. Public execution by way of the guillotine was a long-held ritual in France, but after the criminal, Eugen Weidmann, was executed, they stopped the public display. The reasons for this were because during this execution, many things went wrong. First, the apparatus was not installed correctly. Second, the crowd was inappropriate and unruly. Third, someone filmed the event. The footage is still available. Amazingly, actor Christopher Lee was present during this execution. He was only 17 years old at the time. That’s not the only crazy thing Lee saw in his full life. His biography is very interesting.
4. Stieg Larsson
Stieg Larsson may not fit the mold of megastar for many, but this is the man who wrote the Millennium trilogy (The Girl Who series). Although the series was published posthumously, it sold more than 80 million copies worldwide and the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, was the most sold book in the US in 2010. The stories, which are centered around the violence committed against women by men, were inspired by a real event. When Larsson was 15, he witnessed his friends gang-r*pe a girl his age. Larsson stood by not interfering for fear of acting against his friends. The young girl would become the inspiration behind the books. Her name was Lisbeth, the same name he would give to the protagonist in the series.
3. Stephen King
Although author Stephen King is hesitant to claim that his tragic past has anything to do with his profession, the story is interesting. Hell, King says that he has no memory of the event, but we included it because he did technically witness something horrible. “The event occurred when I was barely four,” King said. “According to Mom, I had gone off to play at a neighbor’s house — a house that was near a railroad line. About an hour after I left, I came back, she said, ‘as white as a ghost.’ I would not speak for the rest of the day. I would not tell her why I’d not waited to be picked up or phoned that I wanted to come home. I would not tell her why my chum’s mom hadn’t walked me back, but had allowed me to come home alone. It turned out that the kid I had been playing with had been run over by a freight train while playing on or crossing the tracks… My mom never knew if I had been near him when it happened. But I have no memory of the incident at all, only of having been told about it some years after the fact.”
2. John Hurt
Earlier this year, we lost screen legend John Hurt. Hurt was a mammoth in film and TV, but he was also thought of as one of the most gentlemanly actors in the industry. Although he was married four times, Hurt’s longest relationship was with former model Marie-Lise Volpeliere Pierrot, with whom he lived for 15 years. It was Pierrot’s death in 1983 that greatly changed Hurt. While riding horses together at their cottage, both horses got spooked and kicked off their riders. Hurt was thrown safely into a bush, but up ahead, Pierrot was kicked off onto the road, landing on her head. By the time Hurt got to her, she was unconscious. She would die later in the day. Hurt would recall, “It was my lowest point when she died. It was a mighty relationship. All over the place but very powerful.”
1. Jason Aldean
Everyone has seen the footage or heard the stories of the terrible mass shooting in Las Vegas. Well, it was Jason Aldean who was on stage when the shooting began. He recently spoke out about what he saw, saying, “I thought a speaker had blown. It just sounded like a crackling something. Then it happened again. And it lasted longer the second time. And so then I was actually kind of getting aggravated. So I looked over at my monitor guy on the side of the stage as if to say ‘What is that?’ and ‘Fix it.’” It wasn’t long after that others on stage started running in a panic. “And so when I turned to look, my guitar player had run behind me and was telling me to move, like ‘Let’s go!’ and my security guy was running on stage telling me to run.” The lights went out and the stage was evacuated.
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