Fame isn’t always what it seems—and these doomed celebrities are proof. Tragically, wealth and recognition only led them closer to their untimely ends. From Natalie Wood’s mysterious drowning to River Phoenix’s shocking overdose to Princess Diana’s chilling car wreck, these celebrities had fairytale lives…until they turned into horror stories.
1. Bobby Driscoll: The Boy Disney Abandoned
While Disney likes to believe it has a squeaky-clean image, one look at Bobby Driscoll will tell you that things are never that simple. The story of this child actor, who starred in films like Song of the South and Peter Pan, is a heart-wrenching one. After Disney turned its back on him, the budding actor was left to fend for himself, and it led to his early and tragic end.
2. He Was All Alone
On March 30, 1968, two boys playing in a deserted East Village apartment stumbled upon a gruesome discovery. What they found was the body of Bobby Driscoll in a cot, with two empty beer bottles nearby and surrounded by religious pamphlets. An examination revealed that Driscoll passed from heart failure directly related to his drug usage. This was already sad enough, but it wasn’t even the most devastating part.
3. No One Knew Who He Was
The real tragedy of Bobby Driscoll was the fact that no one identified his body. The authorities showed photos of his body to people living in the neighborhood, but no one had any idea who he was. As a result, the city buried Driscoll’s unclaimed body in an unmarked pauper’s grave on Hart Island. It wasn’t until one year later that Driscoll’s family learned of his passing, and the results were agonizingly tragic.
4. They Searched For Him
In late 1969, one year after the discovery of Driscoll’s body, Driscoll’s mother attempted to find her son. Driscoll’s dad was nearing the end of his life, and Driscoll’s mom wanted to reunite father and son one last time. She reached out to Disney for help, which eventually led her to the NYPD. They managed to identify Driscoll through his fingerprints, which led them to Hart Island.
It took even longer for news of Driscoll’s passing to reach the public.
5. The Public Finally Took Notice
In 1972, Disney re-released Song of the South, which reignited public interest in Driscoll, the smiling little boy in the film that brought Disney back from the verge of bankruptcy. Reporters looking into Driscoll discovered the ghastly tale of Driscoll’s career and his end. News of Driscoll’s end finally went public, four years after tragedy took the young man’s life.
Unfortunate circumstances made it difficult to keep Driscoll’s memory alive, however.
6. His Final Resting Place Is A Mystery
First, the exact spot where the city buried Driscoll remains a mystery. Driscoll’s burial records, along with many others, were destroyed in a fire. All that is known is that Driscoll’s body is somewhere in the Northern part of the island, surrounded by deer, red raccoons, and a bird sanctuary. Driscoll’s legacy as an actor is even harder to keep alive.
7. They Forgot Him
Although Driscoll did much to bolster Disney during a time of crisis, he is still, to this day, not a part of Disney Legends, the Disney equivalent of a Hall of Fame. To make matters worse, Disney distanced itself from Song of the South, as well as Peter Pan to a lesser degree, both films in which Driscoll played a pivotal role. Sadly, the story of Bobby Driscoll did not end with “happily ever after”—and neither did this next royal celebrity…As we all know, Princess Diana did not make it out alive.
8. Princess Diana: Goodbye England’s Rose
Diana, Princess of Wales captivated the world when she married into the House of Windsor. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get the same unconditional love or attention from her husband nor her in-laws. From there, she was sucked into a whirlwind of struggle and scandal that ended with her untimely death. And since then, the world’s fascination with her demise has never wavered.
9. The Beginning Of The End
In 1997, Diana took her sons for a summer vacation to the South of France, where they were guests of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. While on the trip, she met his son Dodi, and they later began seeing each other after the trip ended. They went on a couple of cruises together, where paparazzi caught them in an embrace.
The steamy photos not only started a sensation, but they also set off the dire sequences of events that concluded with Diana’s dark end.
10. They Were Running From Them
When the press realized that Diana had a boyfriend, they went into overdrive following them around France. To avoid them, Diana and Dodi changed their dinner reservations and even sent out a decoy car to give them some cover—but all their planning couldn’t prevent the tragedy that loomed ahead. After the decoy car left the Paris Ritz, the hotel’s head of security, Henri Paul, got behind the wheel of a Mercedes meant to secret shuttle them to Dodi’s apartment.
They never made it there.
11. They Never Made It Out
Just after midnight on the morning of August 31, 1997, the car carrying Diana, Dodi, Henri Paul, and Trevor Rees-Jones, a member of the Fayed family’s security team approached the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. As it entered the tunnel, a number of motorcycles carrying photographers swarmed the car—which never made out the other side.
The car crashed in the tunnel, bouncing between walls and pillars before coming to a stop. It looked horrible—but the reality was even worse.
12. They Surveyed The Aftermath
While some of the photographers who’d been chasing them rushed to help, others just took pictures. As the authorities arrived, they split their time between investigating the crash and immediately arresting the offending photographers, and confiscating their rolls of film. Others attended to the car’s passengers—two of whom were still conscious, but in rough shape.
13. She Didn’t Survive
Both Rees-Jones and Diana were conscious when ambulances arrived 15 minutes after the crash. She was speaking, occasionally saying “Oh my god”. A doctor on the scene thought she was in shock—but the truth was so much more devastating. Soon after EMTs took her out of the car, she went into cardiac arrest. They did their best to revive her, and they did, but when she got to the hospital, the damage was much worse than they’d thought.
About three hours after her initial rescue, she was pronounced dead. The aftermath was heartbreaking.
14. People Were Heartbroken
When Diana died, it felt like the whole world was grieving. As Prince Charles and her sisters rushed to France to retrieve Diana’s body, mourners left more than a million bouquets outside the gates of Kensington Palace. Over the days, the pile grew to be five feet tall in places. The public mourning at the funeral was equally prolific—and as the details of what happened emerged, the tragedy deepened.
15. He Had Been Hiding Something
Following Diana’s death, a number of investigations began looking into the causes of the crash. What they found was fairly predictable—speed the presence of paparazzi were factors—but there was one surprise. The driver of the car, Henri Paul, had both alcohol and prescription medication in his system. While most investigations have blamed this for the crash, others haven’t been so quick to believe…
16. People Think It Was A Set-Up
For nearly a decade, Mohamed Al-Fayed (the father of Diana’s romantic partner Dodi Fayed, who also perished in the crash) maintained that his son’s death was the result of a murder plot by MI6. He even pressed for further investigation, including a demand for the release of the NSA’s file on Diana. While Al-Fayed eventually gave up on his quest, it’s not because he didn’t stop believing—he just decided to let it go for William and Harry’s sake.
Princess Diana’s death was both sudden and horrific, and so was Linda Darnell’s—a Hollywood actress who made a fatal mistake.
17. Linda Darnell: A Fiery End
Stories about child actresses seldom have happy endings, and Linda Darnell’s case is no different. Darnell grew up adored by Hollywood but soon learned its many dangers. No matter how hard she tried, happiness always seemed to evade her. Before she even got a chance to turn her life around, the “Girl With The Perfect Face” met an end so horrific—it’s unforgettable.
18. She Never Saw It Coming
On April 8, 1965, Darnell was at the home of her former secretary, Jeanne Curtis, spending the evening with Jeanne and her daughter Patty. The trio stayed up late to watch Star Dust, one of Darnell’s early films that greatly boosted her popularity in the 40s. The film made Darnell nostalgic, and she started reminiscing to her hosts about the peak of her career in Hollywood.
Little did they know, this quiet and peaceful evening was about to see a devastating interruption.
19. She Saved Lives
Darnell spent the night at Curtis’ house, but at 3:30 am, little Patty woke her mother up complaining about feeling unusually hot. A fire had started in the living room where the three had sat the night before. Remaining calm, Darnell told Jeanne to get Patty out first through a window on the second floor. Patty broke her leg from the fall, but she made it to safety.
Jeanne prepared to jump down next. But when she looked back to make sure Darnell was right behind her, there was nobody there.
20. Her End Was Brutal
Too frightened to make the two-story-high jump, Darnell decided to ascend the stairs and make a dash towards the door. Sadly, she never made it. Firefighters found her on the living room floor with burns covering 80 percent of her body. They rushed her to the hospital but it was already too late. On April 10, at 41 years old, Darnell closed her eyes forever.
Old Hollywood was more dangerous than it seemed, and just like Darnell, Sal Mineo learned this the hard way.
21. Sal Mineo: A Mysterious Demise
Sometimes, a supporting role can make or break a film. Nowhere is that more evident than in the case of Sal Mineo, the actor best remembered for his role in the iconic film Rebel Without a Cause. But after this meteoric rise, he seemingly disappeared…only to re-enter the public eye years later, when his life came to a tragic end.
22. Stabbed In The Heart
Late on the night of February 12, 1976, on his way home from his play rehearsal, Mineo encountered a dangerous situation that ultimately resulted in tragedy. While it’s still not 100% clear what exactly went down that night outside his Hollywood apartment, neighbors called the authorities when they discovered Mineo lying in a pool of blood with a wound in his heart.
Sadly, the 37-year-old star didn’t make it through the night. But right off the bat, a plethora of questions surrounded the Mineo case.
23. Someone Screwed Up The Investigation
Due to Mineo’s well-known orientation, investigators simply assumed that the attacker had been either hate-motivated or upset about an intimate relationship with Mineo. Time would prove that they made this flawed assumption without any actual evidence to back it up. The real story, however, was just as senseless…but it would take a long time to discover.
24. The Mistake Had Consequences
This initial mistake caused justice to be delayed for a long time, as investigators searched in the wrong places. They focused almost exclusively on patrons at gay bars, and even suspected Mineo’s long-time boyfriend of being the culprit. Unfortunately, the public believed the reporting of this false narrative hook, line, and sinker, too.
25. The Breakthrough Came From An Unlikely Source
After more than a year of searching with no results, authorities finally apprehended a suspect named Lionel Williams, who had been working as a pizza delivery boy. At first, this development led to even further controversy. See, Williams is Black and the original witnesses who reported the incident claimed the perpetrator was caucasian.
Some accused the officers of merely trying to throw a person from a racialized background under the bus. But then a few facts came out that changed everything…
26. Justice Finally Took Place
Williams’ own wife is the one who turned him in. She’s also who ultimately revealed the incriminating details. On the night of the incident, she claimed Williams came home and announced he had “stabbed a dude in Hollywood” while robbing him. Later on, Williams realized his victim had been a celebrity. At that point, Williams apparently bragged about what he had done to some friends.
Although some of the further evidence has still never been completely proven, these facts sufficed for a judge to put Williams away for over 50 years. Mineo’s tragic end was due to nothing more than a petty theft attempt.
27. His Passing Had A Special Significance
If you believe in the curse against Rebel Without a Cause, Mineo’s untimely demise completes the trifecta of all three of its main stars losing their lives mysteriously at young ages. Now, the classic film doesn’t particularly need any help in exuding a unique aura. Still, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit this development adds an extra layer of spookiness to the experience of re-watching it.
Of course, the notion of wasted potential doesn’t end with Sal Mineo. Up next? The ill-fated celebrity, Jayne Mansfield—a stunning actress taken far too soon.
28. Jayne Mansfield: Horrific Rumors
Making great use of her buxom figure, Jayne Mansfield was not only a rabidly popular actress, but also one of the most vivacious and visible sex symbols of her age—until it all ended in one of the most shocking tragedies Hollywood had ever seen. In the early morning hours of June 29, 1967, the last tragedy of Mansfield’s short life occurred.
She was on her way to New Orleans with her driver, her attorney, and her children Miklos, Zoltan, and little Mariska. At 2:25 am, their Buick slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer that had been covered in a thick fog of insecticide. When the mist cleared, the truth was unbearable.
29. She Met A Tragic End
When the Buick hit the trailer, all three adults in the front seat perished instantly; Mansfield herself was tragically only 34 years old at the time. The wreckage was so devastating, it took officers and first responders an excruciatingly long time to understand what had really happened, and what Mansfield’s final moments were like. Unfortunately, the answer to that is: Horrific.
30. She Made The Tabloids
When news broke of Mansfield’s violent demise, wild rumors started flying. In particular, many people began to whisper that the force of the crash had decapitated the starlet. One of the biggest confirmations for this came from a real photograph of the scene, which seemed to show her signature blonde hair pressed into the windshield of the wreckage. The truth, however, was much different.
31. Her Autopsy Revealed A Sad Truth
When Mansfield’s official autopsy came out, it announced that she had perished from a “crushed skull” instead of decapitation. So what was that blonde hair doing on the windshield of the sheared-off car? Gruesomely enough, it was actually part of Mansfield’s wig, which got ejected out in the chaos of the collision. Nonetheless, the urban legend about her decapitation still persists—as if her end wasn’t tragic enough.
Now, while Mansfield’s demise came without warning, this next celebrity had plenty of time to ponder his mortality. The beloved Freddie Mercury suffered a great deal before he made his final goodbye.
32. Freddie Mercury: A Heartbreaking Diagnosis
With a stunningly powerful voice and an onstage presence to match, it’s not an overstatement to say that Freddie Mercury was one of the greatest rock frontmen of all time. But behind the scenes, Mercury’s life was wildly different than what fans saw. From secret pain and heartache to controversy to the jaw-dropping tragedy of his untimely death, the story behind Mercury’s painful unraveling is not for the faint of heart.
33. He Wasn’t Well
After Queen’s Magic Tour, it seemed as though Mercury and the band were sitting on top of the world. But the singer was hiding a devastating secret. He was sick, and he had been sick for a while. It was getting bad enough that it was beginning to show, and rumors began to fly about Mercury’s health.
34. There Were Early Signs
While Mercury didn’t receive a definitive diagnosis for years, he began to see doctors about worrisome symptoms. At the time, so little was known about HIV and AIDS that people were still calling it “gay cancer”. While in the US at part of Queen’s final stateside performance, Mercury saw a doctor about a white lesion on his tongue—potentially an early symptom of an infection.
Still, Mercury appeared healthy on the outside, so no one had reason to talk…until 1986.
35. He Had To Deal With Vicious Rumors
In October of that year, the British press reported that Mercury had taken an AIDS/HIV test at a local clinic. In an interview, Mercury claimed that he’d tested negative—but within a year, those close to him began to worry. Mercury’s best friend in Munich, Barbara Valentin, visited him in 1987—and when she saw him, her heart sank to the floor.
36. She Knew When She Saw Him
Valentin had a cabal of gay friends—and sadly, had lost quite a few to AIDS. When she noticed dark patches on Mercury’s face, a symptom of Kaposi’s sarcoma, she knew exactly what was happening. Though they refused to confront the truth of it, Valentin helped him use makeup to cover the patches that night. From there, things began to take an even darker turn.
37. He Was In Terrible Pain
Eventually, the patches spread to the rest of Mercury’s body—but they weren’t simple discolorations. They were quite painful, and Mercury had to take medication just so that he wouldn’t be in constant agony. In April of 1987, doctors finally gave Mercury a definitive diagnosis. He had AIDS. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the famously private singer now had to share the news with his loved ones.
38. His Love Stood By Him
When Mercury told his partner Jim Hutton that he had AIDS, he said “I would understand if you wanted to pack your bags and leave”. Hutton’s reply was so touching, it’s unforgettable. He vowed to stand by Mercury and told him that he was in it for “the long haul”. Hutton would ultimately deliver on this promise—but first, Mercury had to deal with the day-to-day tribulations of living with a horrific illness.
39. He Lost Himself
It doesn’t take watching the YouTube video of Queen’s 1985 Live Aid set to know that Mercury possessed incredibly physicality and energy—but you could, and should, watch said video at your earliest convenience. As AIDS ravaged his body, Mercury grew gaunt, frail, and lost his vigor. His shocking appearance only served to fan the flames of the rumors about his health, but Mercury remained steadfastly private in the face of the stories.
40. He Faded Away
When asked about his health, Mercury would simply say that he’d calmed down a lot from his hard-partying days, and that it was all simply a matter of age taking its toll. After performing for his album Barcelona in 1988, Mercury largely disappeared from the public eye. When he did appear at the 1990 Brit Awards with Queen to accept the trophy for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, fans and critics alike were shocked.
Mercury was extremely gaunt and quiet, and May did most of the talking. It would sadly be his last ever appearance on stage.
41. He Gave It His All
By the time the band made the album Innuendo, Mercury could barely walk. Still, he was committed to giving every he had to the songs he recorded, including the heartbreaking “The Show Must Go On”. As May later said, he had no fear, and kept begging for more material to sing. The video for the song “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” was filmed in black and white to further conceal Mercury’s gaunt appearance.
It would be the last time that he was on camera.
42. He Finally Told The Truth
On November 23, 1991, Mercury released a statement that confirmed to the world that he did, indeed, have AIDS. But the short statement didn’t let on just how terrible his suffering was. Mercury was bedridden, had lost most of his sight, and had stopped taking his medication three weeks earlier, hoping to hasten the inevitable. Ultimately, he got his heartbreaking wish.
43. He Wasn’t Alone
In his final days, Mercury couldn’t leave his bed, but he told Hutton—with whom he’d exchanged wedding rings—that he wanted to go downstairs and see his collection of art. Hutton remembers that he hadn’t truly accepted just how bad Mercury’s physical state was until he carried him down the stairs. Hutton not only had to face the truth of that situation, but of his own potential fate as well—he’d received his HIV diagnosis just a year before.
But while he’d been there to take care of Mercury, Mercury sadly wouldn’t be able to repay the favor.
44. He Was With His Loved Ones At The End
Mercury had told them that his illness was terminal about a year before—but as his family remembers, even in that devastating moment, he worried more about how the news would affect them than he did about himself. Just 24 hours after he released his statement, Mercury died of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS at his home in Kensington. He was only 45 years old.
Freddie Mercury’s voice will live on forever, as will Jean Harlow’s staggering features. But sadly, no amount of youth or beauty could save her from her chilling end.
45. Jean Harlow: Ignoring The Warning Signs
For a time, Jean Harlow was the biggest star in Hollywood—but in 1937, her health took a terrifying turn. She had been mildly ill for months, but while filming Saratoga, the star began to complain of nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain. It got so bad that she had to lean on her co-star and friend Clark Gable between takes. When they found out the truth, it was already too late.
46. Her Last Days Were Brutal
Harlow took time off work to recover from what doctors now diagnosed as an inflamed gallbladder, but when Clark Gable visited her, he was heartbroken to find her severely bloated with, astonishingly, the smell of urine on her breath. Soon after that, medical professionals confirmed the young, beautiful girl was in the final stages of kidney failure—and it was only going to get worse.
47. The Show Must Not Go on
Harlow worked for months throughout her illness, tirelessly trying to please her exploitative studio heads while becoming weaker and weaker. She was so determined to curry their favor that she even attended the Oscars ceremony in 1936 while incredibly ill. She was apparently so sick that fellow actress Carole Lombard had to help her reapply her makeup in the powder room.
48. She Missed Every Clue
The warning signs were here, but no one paid attention to them. Harlow’s pallid complexion, many illnesses, and even an earlier severe sunburn all pointed to kidney failure—yet everyone missed the bigger picture. As one MGM writer later wrote of Harlow’s utterly senseless end, “The day Baby died…there wasn’t one sound in the commissary for three hours”.
49. She Had An Epic Ending
On June 6, 1937, Harlow was taken to the hospital. That night, she slipped into a coma. By the next morning, she was gone. She was only 26 years old. Before her passing, Harlow was reportedly reading Gone With the Wind. She even packed it for her last hospital visit, causing one of the nurses to look at the tome tearfully and say, “She’ll never finish it”.
But Jean Harlow certainly wasn’t the only blonde bombshell to meet such a tragic end. Our next doomed star, Edie Sedgwick, battled personal demons that destroyed everything.
50. Edie Sedgwick: The Doomed It Girl
While her association with Andy Warhol would bring her lasting fame, Edie Sedgwick’s life was not without its tragedies and torments. With her distinct platinum hair and kohl-rimmed eyes, Sedgwick was the ultimate cool girl of the 60s. She acted as muse (or lover) to countless famous artists and musicians who passed through New York—but she passed shockingly young.
51. She Couldn’t Keep It Together
In March 1967, Sedgwick embarked on her last project, a film called Ciao! Manhattan. The entire production was a substance-addled adventure as the entire cast indulged in speed. For most of the filming, Sedgwick was usually drunk or high. Her health rapidly deteriorated to such a point that she’d sometimes convulse on set and have to be restrained. Soon, however, Sedgwick dropped the ball entirely.
52. She Set Her Room On Fire
While filming, Sedgwick managed to set her room on fire at the Hotel Chelsea, and this time, she sustained some serious burns that landed her in the hospital. Not long after, her ravaged health became the reason for the suspended production on Ciao! Manhattan. Once again, Sedgwick had no choice but to return home. She was broken, exhausted, and in desperate need of help.
53. She Met Her Husband
In the summer of 1969, after being caught by the authorities for using, Sedgwick ended up in the psychiatric ward of Cottage Hospital. But her time spent there wasn’t all bad. In fact, she even managed to spark a romance with fellow patient Michael Brett Post—her future husband. After a couple of troubled years, the hospital finally allowed her to finish filming Ciao! Manhattan—under strict supervision, of course.
54. She Couldn’t Be Left Alone
Sedgwick’s relationship with Post was rather peculiar. They’d met under harrowing circumstances and he was eight years her junior. Apparently, she’d convinced him that he didn’t need to wait until the age of 21 to lose his virginity. But that wasn’t all. Post also filled a very important role in her life. She wasn’t allowed to live on her own and she definitely didn’t want a live-in nurse.
And so, Post became responsible for regulating her medication. But he wouldn’t have to do this for long.
55. She Slipped Down The Slope
Around this time, Sedgwick actually managed to pull herself together. At least for a short while. But her brief fling with sobriety came to an abrupt end when she fell ill and required prescription medication. Once again, she slid down the slippery slope of addiction and sunk deeper into barbiturates and drink. But this time, she never bounced back.
56. She Wasn’t Sure Anymore
On the tragic night of November 15, 1971, Sedgwick attended a fashion show and then later, a party that offered up some of her vices. There were drinks galore, and when she was through, she called her husband for a lift. But this wasn’t a cheerful night. In fact, on the drive home, the mood was terribly somber. Sedgwick wasn’t sure about her marriage and voiced her worries to Post as they whipped through the night. Unbeknownst to both of them, Sedgwick would never live to see the light of day.
57. She Wasn’t Breathing Properly
Right before bed, Post made sure to give Sedgwick her medication. And after slipping beneath the sheets, Sedgwick quickly fell into a deep slumber. However, Post later noted that her breathing sounded extremely labored: “…it sounded like there was a big hole in her lungs”. But Sedgwick was a notorious smoker and her husband didn’t dwell too much on it. When he drifted off to sleep, Post could never have imagined the horror that awaited him in the morning.
58. She Did Too Much
When he awoke at 7:30 am, Post saw that Sedgwick wasn’t breathing. She had passed in her sleep. According to the coroner, she had overdosed on barbiturates, but whether it was accidental or intentional could never be determined. Edie Sedgwick was only 28 years old. It’s safe to say that her lifestyle of excess combined with her mental health issues only contributed to her early demise.
Similarly, Susan Peters suffered a great deal with her mental health before making a horrifying decision—one that sealed her chilling fate.
59. Susan Peters: A Starlet Dogged By Tragedy
When it comes to tragic Hollywood starlets, the story of Susan Peters might just take the cake. When Peters first stepped onto the scene, people thought she was destined to become the next big thing. Nobody could have foreseen that a single disaster would derail all of her hopes and dreams. Even as Susan Peters fought for survival, her persistent misfortune led to one of the most brutal ends the entertainment industry ever saw…
60. She Made One Crucial Mistake
When Susan Peters and her husband Richard Quine headed out on a relaxing hunting trip, they never thought that it would turn into the greatest nightmare of their lives. Peters was supposedly picking up a hunting rifle for her friend when it accidentally went off and pierced her through the abdomen. The result? A bullet tore through her and damaged her spine.
61. She Went Into Shock
As Peters lay on the ground, bleeding out, she recalled feeling like she was floating in the air. As shock leaked through her system, she remembered telling herself not to panic because she wanted to stay alive. Quine rushed her to the hospital where she had to undergo emergency surgery. And although doctors managed to save Peters’ life, they couldn’t save her from a devastating diagnosis.
62. Her Life Changed Abruptly
This hunting trip on January 1, 1945, had meant to signal a new beginning in a new year. And she had hoped to be back stronger than ever before. In a heartbreaking twist, this accident changed her life completely. The damage to her spine left her paralyzed from the waist down. Peters would have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
Although Peters tried her best to soldier on, the accident ensured that nothing was ever quite the same. As much as she tried to stay positive, tragedy just seemed to dog her every move. Her disability made it difficult for her to get the parts she wanted, and before long, her promising career had completely derailed. And that wasn’t all.
63. She Was Unlucky In Love
Peters’ marriage to Quine also didn’t survive the accident’s fallout and they divorced, with Peters claiming that Quine mistreated her—that he was cruel and sometimes wouldn’t speak to her for days on end. Even so, the hits just get coming. When Peters fell for someone new—Robert Clark, a US Army Colonel—she thought things were finally looking up…but she was so, SO wrong.
At the drop of a hat, the Colonel called off the engagement and disappeared, his desertion sending Peters into a spiraling depression. It seemed like life was finally succeeding in breaking Peters’ spirit. Resigned to her fragile state, Peters stepped away from her career and decided to get some much-needed rest. But sadly, Peters knew in her heart that she’d never make a full recovery.
64. Her Health Deteriorated
Peters had always been slender and petite, and after her hunting accident, doctors recorded Peters’ weight at only 80 pounds. Her relationship with food had also been rather unhealthy, and she’d admitted that she’d give up eating whenever Quine tormented her with the silent treatment. But it didn’t get any better. After she moved in with her brother, she started eating even less.
In fact, it seemed like she was a completely different person from the woman who’d struggled to live—who’d maintained a firm grasp on hope and willed herself to carry on. Where was she now?
65. She Lost The Will To Live
In her last visit to the doctor, Peters told him that she felt it would be best for everyone if she was no more. Over the course of the next two months, Peters had a brand new resolution and it was utterly horrifying: she began starving herself to death. Finally, in October 1952, Susan Peters passed. Although the cause of her passing was a “chronic kidney infection,” the doctor admitted she’d hastened her end by starvation and dehydration.
The woman had clearly lost the desire to live.
66. She Had A Sad Ending
Only Peters’ brother and his wife had been with her at the time of her passing. They laid her to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, which is where her mom was also buried. She was only 31 years old. It is overwhelmingly sad to imagine how one accident destroyed Peters, the embodiment of so much promise and potential.
Now, our next celebrity lived a bit longer than poor Susan Peters: Natalie Wood certainly lapped up her fair share of fame and fortune before her infamous passing. However, it may just be the most mysterious demise of all.
67. Natalie Wood: She Never Saw Land Again
In 1981, 43-year-old Natalie Wood boarded her husband Robert Wagner’s yacht Splendour, completely oblivious to the dangers ahead of her. The fateful evening of November 28th began innocently enough. Wood and Wagner were hosting her co-star and friend, Christopher Walken, and the three stars had planned a night of camaraderie…But what started as a relaxing hangout ended in infamy.
68. She Went Missing
The next morning, everyone on the Splendour awoke to find that Wood was missing—but the truth of her whereabouts was downright chilling. At 8 am, authorities discovered her body about a mile away from the yacht, as well as a dinghy that had washed up on land nearby. The beloved actress, who absolutely feared water, had tragically drowned.
Although the events leading up to Natalie Wood’s disappearance have remained mysterious for decades, there are some clues as to what may have happened.
69. Her Disappearance Was Mysterious
Natalie Wood’s sudden demise had a huge question mark hanging over it. Wagner claimed that when he fell asleep, his wife wasn’t with him. But there’s quite a lot of evidence that casts suspicion upon Wagner himself. For one, his story changed. When the captain, Dennis Davern said that he’d heard the couple fighting earlier in the evening, Wagner completely denied it.
However, when Wagner published his memoir, he confessed that he had indeed fought with his wife before her disappearance. Already, his unreliable retelling shrouded the truth—but that wasn’t all.
70. Her Autopsy Report Contained Clues
When Wood’s autopsy report came through, it raised even more questions. Her body bore evidence of some obvious injuries: bruises on her body as well as a scrape across her cheek. And yet, the coroner couldn’t pinpoint how she actually sustained such inflictions. Instead, he hypothesized that the mixture of alcohol and painkillers exacerbated her intoxication. While trying to board the dinghy, the unsteady actress could have accidentally fallen.
But even this hypothesis seemed weak.
71. Screams Were Heard
Wood’s sister, Lana, didn’t believe for a second that her sister would have left the yacht by herself. After all, Wood had a terrible phobia of water. But perhaps the most chilling piece of evidence came from some people aboard another boat. At the time that Natalie Wood vanished, witnesses remember hearing a woman crying out for help.
All this conflicting evidence pointed to something sinister, and yet, too many pieces of the puzzle were missing. It was only years later that Splendour’s captain came forward with some horrifying new evidence.
72. They Reopened Her Case
In 2011, Natalie Wood’s case reopened after Dennis Davern confessed to lying to authorities about the night of her passing. Along with revealing the tell-tale argument between Wood and Wagner, he also claimed that the actress had been outwardly flirting with her guest, Christopher Walken. This enraged Wagner, so much so, that when Natalie couldn’t be found onboard, he did the unspeakable.
According to Davern, Wagner allegedly told the captain not to search for her in the water and not to call for help. Basically, the captain opened up a whole new can of worms: He placed all the blame on Wagner. Suddenly the grieving widower was cast as the murderous villain.
73. Her Husband Is A Suspect
As recent as 2018, Robert Wagner became a person of interest in the investigation of Natalie Wood’s passing. He was undoubtedly the last person to see her alive, and officials say that there is a distinct possibility that the actress was beaten before drowning in her watery grave. Wagner, of course, denies all accusations.
Of course, it’s not just actors and royalty that have a habit of getting themselves into dangerous situations, it’s also models. Yup, Margaux Hemingway’s story is proof that beauty does not make one happy.
74. Margaux Hemingway: A Family Curse
With a face like hers, Margaux Hemingway was born to be a model…but she also inherited a much darker legacy from her ancestors. The granddaughter of infamously volatile writer Ernest Hemingway, Margaux and her entire family were plagued by the so-called “Hemingway Curse” running through their veins. Many of them met tragic ends—but none were as tragic as Margaux’s.
75. She Suffered With Depression
Margaux’s unraveling is now notorious, but few people know how deep the Hemingway unhappiness runs. From her disastrous marriages to her deep depression and breakdowns, Margaux watched in horror as he tragic private life became tabloid fodder. As her addictions dragged her closer to the edge, this fallen model was on a crash course headed straight for disaster.
76. She Went Downhill Fast
In 1996, within days of Hemingway moving into her new place, her neighbors began noticing disturbing signs. When one neighbor talked to Hemingway just outside her apartment, they said they noticed she had a “troubled tone”; when another walked by her on the street, he said she looked painfully “disturbed and haggard”. No one was quite sure how to take this behavior, but one of Hemingway’s old friends saw it for what it was—and she was terrified.
77. She Didn’t Return Any Calls
Hemingway’s long-term friend Judy Stabile had witnessed a strange series of mood changes in Margaux, and the model’s listless demeanor put a small, dark feeling into the pit of Stabile’s stomach. A worried Stabile tried calling her regularly—but in the last week of June, Hemingway stopped returning her calls entirely, pushing Stabile to make a visit to her in person. Little did Stabile know, by then it was too late.
78. Her Friend Tried To Save Her
When Stabile pulled up to Hemingway’s apartment, she could see the model’s car in the driveway, but there was no answer at the door. Even more certain that something was gravely wrong, Stabile was desperate enough to locate a ladder and look in through the bedroom window of the house. The scene she came upon was nothing short of gut-wrenching.
79. She Died Alone
Stabile found her friend Margaux Hemingway lying abnormally motionless in her bed, still in a nightgown and with her arms folded, as if she could wake up at any moment. Only, she couldn’t. When Stabile got emergency medics to break into the house, they confirmed Hemingway was dead, and had been for quite some time. But how this happened was much less clear.
80. Her End May Have Been Sudden
At first, Hemingway’s friends wanted to believe a comforting version of events. Since the authorities found no forced entry and didn’t suspect any foul play, some of them suggested the peaceful-looking Hemingway had simply passed from yet another epileptic fit. These days, however, that is not the accepted story, and darker signs point to a more violent end.
81. Her Autopsy Revealed Suspicious Findings
Although the autopsy results on Margaux’s body were inconclusive, many believed there was only one sinister conclusion to draw. After the toxicology report came in, it showed that Hemingway had overdosed on phenobarbital, leading some to argue that the model, caught off balance and sinking into another depression, had ended her own life.
82. Her Last Recorded Words Were Heartbreaking
For a long while, the truth about Margaux Hemingway’s final moments on Earth remained a mystery, but one of her last voicemails revealed a tragic glimpse. Just two days before her body was found, Hemingway called a friend and left an erratic and rambling message on the machine that, looking back, amounted to a goodbye letter. In the last sentence, she mumbled, “God loves you, God loves you, and I love you too”.
83. Her Case Is Closed
In recent years, the Hemingway family has come around to the sad truth about Margaux’s end. Mariel Hemingway actually went on an episode of Larry King Live in 2005 to retract her earlier doubts about the suspicious death. She clarified that she now believed her sister did take her own life. It’s not an ending that can give much happiness. Still, it can give closure and peace for a family wracked with tragedy.
84. There’s A “Curse” On Her Family
Like the Kennedys, people often talk about the “Hemingway Curse” when it comes to Margaux’s family. There is a horrific reason for this. Although her grandfather Ernest had the most infamous death when she was just a child, an incredible amount of Margaux’s relatives also took their own lives during the years—a total of seven, including Margaux herself. She was only 42 years old.
Actors, royals, models…and now, politicians. And if there’s one political family known for being cursed, it’s the Kennedys.
85. John F. Kennedy Jr.: A Watery Grave
As the eldest son and namesake of one of America’s best-loved presidents, John F Kennedy Jr spent his entire life in the public eye. He was just three years old when his father was assassinated, and became a living symbol of the hope, optimism, and vitality of the Kennedy administration. And then the worst happened.
86. He Crashed The Plane
On July 16, 1999, at approximately 9:40 pm Eastern time, John F Kennedy Jr’s plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean nose-first. In the first few desperate hours before officials found the airplane debris and black box, there were wild hopes that somehow John, Carolyn, or Lauren had survived. Tragically, these were false hopes.
Based on what we now know, all three passengers were killed on impact. The Kennedy curse had struck again.
87. They Found The Bodies
On July 21, 1999, following a map of images of the ocean floor, Navy divers dove beneath the water to look for the remains of the three tragic souls. They found John F Kennedy Jr still strapped to the pilot’s seat, going down with his plane. Carolyn and Lauren were nearby, and all three bodies were brought into the medical examiner’s office.
Kennedy was cremated, and his ashes scattered over Martha’s Vineyard. He died at only 38 years old. But the drama surrounding this tragedy didn’t end with his demise.
88. He Was Responsible
In the aftermath of the tragedy, America desperately looked for a reason behind the senseless loss, or at least someone to blame. After a thorough investigation, they got a heartbreaking answer. Although investigators found a number of contributing factors to the crash—including poor visibility—they put the ultimate blame on Kennedy himself.
In addition to an ankle injury that affected his ability to control the plane, Kennedy was simply too inexperienced. The official report cited “Kennedy’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night”.
89. Her Family Sought Revenge
This heartbreaking revelation only made the tragedy harder to take, particularly for Carolyn Bessette’s grieving family. Angry and embittered, they ended up suing the Kennedy clan for wrongful death. The families settled out of court for a reported $15 million. It wasn’t enough to bring their daughter back, but they felt it gave some closure.
The tabloids pounced all over Kennedy’s demise, just like this next young star. Everyone believed that River Phoenix was “the next big thing”—until fate dealt him the cruelest hand of all.
90. River Phoenix: A Lost Talent
Even after more than 20 years have passed since the moment, the tragedy of River Phoenix’s premature death threatens to eclipse whatever legacy he made for himself while he was alive. It’s hard to remember his impact if you’re not a movie buff, but Phoenix showed all the telltale signs of being one of Hollywood’s biggest talents, even when he was a child
Sadly, no amount of talent could save him from his incredibly shocking end.
91. A Concert Gone Wrong
In the early hours of October 31, 1993, Phoenix was in a Hollywood nightclub known as The Viper Room. Phoenix was in attendance with his sister Rain, his brother Joaquin, and his girlfriend Samantha Mathis. Performing on stage in the Viper Room were three of Phoenix’s friends; actor/musician Johnny Depp, Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Unfortunately, the enjoyable concert morphed into a downright horror show.
92. His Chilling Last Moments
The revelry in the Viper Room was interrupted by an altercation between Phoenix and another man. Soon after the fight was broken up, Phoenix stumbled outside the club and collapsed on the sidewalk. As his brother Joaquin called 9-1-1, his sister Rain tried to resuscitate him. Inside the club, Flea stopped playing with the band and hurried outside to try and help his friend.
Sadly, all of their efforts were in vain. Phoenix was 23 years old when he died. An autopsy later determined the cause of death to be “acute multiple drug intoxication”. But that wasn’t all.
93. The Tabloids Exploited Him
Due to the shocking nature of Phoenix’s death, coupled with his high celebrity status, the media of the time had a field day, much to the outrage of Phoenix’s grieving family. Joaquin Phoenix’s 9-1-1 call was broadcast on several television stations, and when Phoenix’s body lay in its casket, someone broke into the funeral home and took a picture, which was then published in the National Enquirer.
River Phoenix’s tragic demise shocked the world, just as this next actress-turned-princess. Grace Kelly was all things good and regal, but it only took one doomed car ride to destroy her.
94. Grace Kelly: A Princess Gone Too Soon
On September 13, 1982, a terrifying car accident caused Grace Kelly’s life to end far too soon. Kelly and her daughter Stephanie were driving home along the hilly Monaco streets when Kelly reportedly had a stroke. She lost control of the car, which plunged over 50 feet down the mountainside. Paramedics rushed Kelly and Stephanie to the hospital, but the outcome was far more horrifying than anyone could have imagined.
95. She Had Two Hemorrhages
While treating Kelly, French doctors made a startling discovery. Their patient had suffered not one but two brain hemorrhages. The CAT scan showed that the first happened before the car crash and likely caused the accident. The second happened after, when Kelly was fighting for her life in the hospital. It likely occurred because of all of the trauma her body endured from the accident.
96. She Didn’t Wake Up
Kelly was comatose and all signs suggested that she would not wake up. Prince Rainier made the tragic decision to take his wife off of life support. She passed at just 52 years old. Of course, the loss of Grace Kelly was no small matter—and the repercussions were staggering. Moreover, Hollywood’s gossip mill was about to take this tragedy to a whole new level…
97. Dark Rumors Swirled About the Crash
After Kelly perished in the car crash, rumors began to swirl about exactly how the tragedy came to be. People thought it was strange for Kelly to be driving at all, since she disliked it so much and always used a chauffeur. When they learned that Stephanie had been pulled out of the driver’s seat, rather than the passenger’s side, they immediately wondered: Was she the one driving on that fateful day?
Stephanie has always denied it, but the rumors persist.
98. An Important Guest Missed Her Funeral
Kelly’s daughter Stephanie thankfully escaped the crash with a hairline fracture and a slight concussion, but the impact on her was immense. Because of her injuries, she could not attend her own mother’s funeral. The entire ordeal was so traumatic that Stephanie refused to talk about it for decades. When she finally addressed her loss, her words were utterly heartbreaking.
Stephanie confessed, “Not only did I go through the horrible trauma of losing my mother at a very young age, but I was beside her at the moment of the accident. Nobody can imagine how much I’ve suffered, and still suffer”. Of course, Grace Kelly wasn’t the only blonde bombshell in Hollywood to meet an early end. Even today, Marilyn Monroe’s passing remains the stuff of legend. However, the rumors surrounding her demise were far more mysterious.
99. Marilyn Monroe: Goodbye Norma Jean
On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s lifeless body was discovered at her home in Brentwood, California. She was lying in her bed with a phone in one of her hands. At the time of her demise, Monroe was just 36 years old. While the coroner believed that Monroe had “probably” committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates, some details have made people wonder if the star suffered a darker fate.
100. The Autopsy Was Suspicious
Technicians only tested the toxicology of Monroe’s liver. When the deputy coroner tried to obtain her other organs for testing, he was told they’d been destroyed. Strange details like this have become part of the many conspiracy theories surrounding the star’s untimely demise. Some sources (including her old friend Marlon Brando) believe that she was murdered.
101. People Wonder If Foul Play Was Involved
The most well-known theories are that Bobby Kennedy or the CIA ended Monroe’s life. Kennedy’s motivation would have been to keep Marilyn quiet about her affairs with him and his brother. The CIA’s motivation would have been to punish Bobby Kennedy over how he handled the Bay of Pigs disaster. However, as of 2020, these remain conspiracies, not proven statements.
102. Her Funeral Was Tragic
There was an open casket at Monroe’s 1962 funeral. In her coffin, Monroe wore an apple green dress made of nylon jersey and carried pink roses. Sadly, because her head had been partially shaved during the autopsy, Monroe’s signature platinum blonde hair could not be displayed. Instead, the star wore a wig. Only around 30 people saw Monroe in this state, as she requested that her funeral be limited to her close friends and family.
103. He Gave Her A Heartbreaking Gift
For twenty long years after Marilyn’s passing, Joe DiMaggio sent roses to her crypt three times a week. He outlived her by 36 years but in all that time, he never married again. His last words were apparently, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn”. As if this story needed to get even sadder, there’s a heartbreaking reason for DiMaggio’s lifelong inability to get over Marilyn. Apparently, at the time of her demise, they had gotten back together and even planned to remarry.
Marilyn Monroe’s passing continues to fascinate modern generations, and yet, there’s one gorgeous blond actress that has mostly been forgotten. Her name was Barbara Payton—and if you haven’t heard of her, well, maybe that’s because of her harrowing end.
104. Barbara Payton: Going Off The Rails
Barbara Payton never had any shame about using her animal magnetism to get her way—but eventually, it came back to haunt her. When she was struggling to pay the bills, she went on a date with a producer and asked him for a role. His reply was downright brutal. He told her he didn’t have any roles, but would happily pay her for one night together.
In need of cash, Payton accepted his offer. She told herself it was a one-time thing—but instead, it led her down a dark path with only one exit: Her unforgettably tragic and twisted end.
105. She Met An Unsavory Character
After sleeping with a string of men, Barbara Payton met a man she nicknamed Dick Fortune, who took a liking to her. Fortune wasn’t just any ordinary man though; he was a powerful gangster in the gambling town of Searchlight, Nevada. Payton moved to Searchlight with Fortune, but Fortune barred her from entering his casinos.
Bored, Payton’s drinking ramped up, and she spent her days as a high-end escort. Eventually, a dangerous situation forced her out of Searchlight.
106. They Nearly Caught Her
One night, an official who owed her a favor asked Payton to meet with him. At their meeting spot, he gave her some grave news. The authorities were about to raid Fortune’s properties in a few days. Afraid that the raid would land her in hot water, Payton slept with several men in rapid succession to make enough money to get back to Hollywood.
She then quickly flew back to Los Angeles, only to make a horrifying discovery.
107. Her Fame Faded Away
Simply put, no one cared about poor, washed-up Payton. She called around to see if any of her friends, agents, or producers she knew had jobs for her, but didn’t hear a peep from them regarding any film roles. Instead, they were more interested in her body. With little choice, Payton agreed to their proposals. Tragically, her fading fame meant that she couldn’t charge as much for her services anymore. This only led her deeper down the path to self-destruction.
108. She Hit Rock Bottom
By the 1960s, Payton’s drinking and newly acquired addiction to illicit substances rapidly made it difficult for her to command high prices for her nightly services. Her condition worsened when her lack of money forced her to live in squalor on Sunset Boulevard. Although her mental state grew steadily worse, Payton found some refuge in writing poetry, which she sold for a paltry $7. But her troubles didn’t end there.
109. Her Addiction Took Over
Payton’s drinking eventually got so bad that the authorities found her passed out near a dumpster on Sunset Boulevard in February 1967. They offered to get her a spot in a detoxification unit, but Payton flatly refused the offer, declaring that she would rather drink her life away. With little recourse, a county social worker drove Payton to her parents’ home in San Diego, hoping they could help. This decision ultimately sealed Payton’s fate.
110. Her Parents Ended Her Life
When the social worker dropped Payton with her parents, their reaction was chilling. Far from helping Payton curb her heavy drinking, Payton’s parents actually encouraged it. The three of them engaged in long drinking binges that only made Payton’s condition worse. Payton even remarked to a neighbor that “I never wanted to be with them, I never wanted to see them again. But here I am, and I got all the booze I want”.
By 1967, Payton was incredibly ill from a lifetime of drinking and addiction, and the end drew near for the ailing ex-actress.
111. Her End Was Tragic
On May 8, 1967, after years of battling with her inner demons, Payton’s heart and liver failed at the age of 39. They cremated her and interred her ashes in San Diego. Payton experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, which cut her promising acting career short. Although her time on this earth was brief, many remember the actress as a gregarious individual who lived life to its fullest.
Clearly, Hollywood had no shortage of struggling addicts, but so did the modeling world. Enter: Gia Carangi.
112. Gia Carangi: A Devastating Beauty
Gia Carangi took the modeling industry by storm with her fearless, androgynous look and risk-taking sensibilities. Although she is widely considered to be the first supermodel, her early exposure to substances derailed her career right at the peak of her success. Gia’s story is a cautionary tale—one of heartbreak and regret—and it only ends in tragedy.
113. She Couldn’t Get Better
For a brief moment in time, Gia was the model in the industry: bold, proudly queer, and with the face of an angel. Unfortunately, because of her bad behavior and addictions, nobody wanted to work with her. Having fallen out of favor, she had no choice but to step out of the spotlight and seek help. However, not even rehab could save her.
By 1985, Gia started using again, but this time she had no safety net—no second chances. With nowhere to go, her life took a dark and dangerous turn.
114. She Became A Night Worker
In lieu of unemployment, Gia resorted to selling more than just her image, but also her body. Compounded with her spiraling addiction, this was a recipe for disaster. In December 1985, she was admitted to a hospital in Pennsylvania. She was extremely ill and doctors diagnosed her with bilateral pneumonia. But little did Gia know, she wasn’t out of the woods yet.
115. She Had A Devastating Diagnosis
A few days later, doctors revealed another, more terrifying diagnosis: Gia had AIDS-related complex. Gia was diagnosed with AIDS at a time when doctors knew very little about the disease, and there was precious little that could be done to save her. In the fall of the next year, Gia was in hospital once again—and this time, she was in much worse condition.
116. She Was One Of The First
In 1986, Gia faced a horrific ordeal—she was beaten and raped, and left out on the street. On October 18, her health took a severe nosedive, and she found herself hospitalized for the final time. With so little known about her disease, doctors treated her as though she was highly infectious. They rigorously wiped down every surface she touched, and anyone attending her wore full protective gear.
117. She Had Regrets
Although the end was near, Gia didn’t find much solace in her brief life or career path. Shortly before her passing, Gia had a casual conversation with one of her nurses. Oblivious to Gia’s past, the nurse told her about a photographer who wanted to take pictures of her daughter. Gia’s response was absolutely tragic: “Don’t do it. Even if she wants it, don’t let her do it. I used to be a model. You don’t want your kid to be a model”.
118. She Had A Tragic End
On November 18, 1986, Gia Carangi passed away from AIDS-related complications. She was only 26 years old. In fact, she was one of the first famous women to ever succumb to the disease. Her family held a small service in her hometown of Philadelphia. Having been such an icon in the modeling world, one might expect Gia’s funeral to be attended by a great number of old coworkers and friends…But this just wasn’t the case…
119. They Forgot Her
When her long-time supporter and collaborator, Francesco Scavullo, heard the tragic news, he sent his sympathies and a Catholic Prayer card to her family. However, not one single person or any of her so-called friends from the fashion world attended the service. The world had already moved on from Gia Carangi.
Last but not least, there’s Brittany Murphy—the promising young actress from the 2000s whose demise only sparked controversy.
120. Brittany Murphy: A Shocking Loss
From the moment she first came on screen in Clueless, which became her breakout role, it was clear to many that Brittany Murphy would be a star. She cemented her place in Hollywood with appearances in more dramatic films like 8 Mile and Sin City. But then, it began to look like she might become a victim to the perils of fame—only for her to turn things around, settle down, and find her happily ever after.
This turnaround made it all the more shocking when she suddenly passed in 2009. Police explained it all away—but then the tragedy and mystery deepened.
121. Her Career Floundered
In late 2009, Murphy flew to Puerto Rico—with Monjack and her mother by her side, as always—to work on a film named The Caller. Once there, things quickly took a dark turn. On day one of filming, producers wanted to ban Monjack from the set. Everyone involved has contested what happened next. One thing is for sure: Murphy never made it past that first day. She either quit or producers fired her—while an official announcement called it a mutual decision.
Murphy and her entourage of two decided to stay in Puerto Rico for another week and enjoy the sun and sand—they didn’t know that it would be a fatal mistake.
122. She Performed CPR
While in Puerto Rice, both Sharon Murphy and Monjack came down with colds. Then, on the flight back home, Monjack suffered a medical emergency that necessitated CPR, which Murphy herself performed. Between Murphy losing her role and what happened on the plane, the tabloids went wild. It was devastating—but things would only get worse once they arrived back at their Hollywood Hills home.
123. She Became Severely Ill
Murphy caught the same cold that her husband and mother had suffered from—but it hit her much worse. The actress took a daily cocktail of prescriptions for various ailments, and was taking a number of medications to combat the flu-like symptoms she was battling. On the night of December 19, 2009, she struggled to breathe, yet she refused to call a doctor, thinking of the negative attention she’d received after Monjack’s episode on the plane from Puerto Rico.
It was a Saturday night, and she finally gave in and made an appointment for Monday. Sadly, she’d never get to see that doctor.
124. She Knew What Was Happening To Her
In the early hours of December 20, 2009, the power went out in Murphy’s home and their backup generator failed. Murphy called out for her mother, making an absolutely heartbreaking plea. She said: “I’m dying, I’m going to die. Mommy, I love you”. She’d always had a flair for the dramatic, so Sharon didn’t necessarily take her daughter seriously—but a few hours later, Murphy collapsed in the bathroom, and they were forced to spring into action.
She called 9-1-1 and took instructions from the operator as Monjack tried to revive Murphy. Paramedics brought the actress to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but it was a futile gesture.
125. The Sense Of Loss Was Palpable
Murphy went into cardiac arrest at Cedars-Sinai and passed on at 10:04 that morning, two hours after the initial 9-1-1 call. She was just 32 years old. The next day, the coroner performed an autopsy. Two months later, they revealed the results, citing pneumonia as the primary cause, with anemia and the combination of medications she’d been on as the secondary causes.
While the coroner ruled it to be an accident, they also emphasized that such a potent cocktail of medications could have a terrible, adverse effect on the body. And soon after, the dark truth emerged.
126. They Were Gaming The System
A Hollywood pharmacist claimed that he’d suspected Murphy and Monjack of doctor shopping, where users acquire their medications from multiple doctors at a time. The couple mostly avoided doctors, for fear that medical professionals would leaks the news of their health problems, potentially damaging their careers. For his part, the pharmacist was apprehensive about any repercussions if anything should happen to them.
He told Monjack that he could no longer help them fill their prescriptions just months before Murphy’s tragic passing.
127. She’d Struggled To Help Them
When Brittany Murphy passed on in 2009, few knew about the secret struggles she’d been enduring in her final months. Murphy had been acting as a caregiver to both people she shared her home with. After two bouts of breast cancer, Sharon was now suffering from neuropathy, where damaged nerves can cause debilitating pain—and that wasn’t all.
128. Everyone In Their House Was Unwell
Murphy’s husband Monjack had been having frequent seizures. On the plane back from Puerto Rico, they suspected that he had a minor heart attack. When he’d seize, the petite actress would have to hold him down and prevent him from hurting himself or swallowing his tongue. Her final weeks had been relentlessly tense and terrifying.
129. Bad Luck Comes In Twos
The loss of Brittany Murphy sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood, and condolences poured in from friends and collaborators. The coroner released the autopsy report and it seemed like that was end. But it was then that the tragedy—and mystery—deepened. Five months after Murphy’s passing, her husband, Simon Monjack, died in the same bedroom that Murphy had spent her final moments in.
In a disturbing coincidence, the coroner also listed the cause of his passing as pneumonia and anemia—and the story didn’t end there.
130. Was It The House?
After the loss of both Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack, Murphy’s mother Sharon was determined to get to the bottom of the real cause of their deaths. She came forward with a disturbing claim. Sharon Murphy has said that both her daughter and son-in-law passed due to a presence of toxic mold in their house—the one that Brittany had hated so much.
Somehow, things got even more bizarre from there.
131. He Has His Suspicions
Following the loss of Murphy, her father Angelo Bertolotti came out of the woodwork and made some shocking allegations of his own. He acquired some of his daughters hair and had a toxicology test done on the strands. The results convinced him that someone had poisoned his daughter and son-in-law…and his suspicions fell on one person in particular: his ex-wife, Sharon Murphy.
Murphy disputed the claims in a public letter—but Bertolotti wasn’t done yet.
132. They’re Still Fighting About It
In January 2019, nine years after Murphy’s loss, Angelo Bertolotti passed on at the age of 92—but that doesn’t mean that his cause did. His son, Brittany’s half-brother, has continued his father’s quest for the truth about Murphy’s passing, keeping her name in the news more than a decade after she took her final breaths. With all the competing stories and third parties, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know what really happened to Brittany Murphy.