Maybe it’s due to their risk-taking personalities, or the pervasiveness of cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs in their line of work. Maybe it’s an old Hollywood curse or simple coincidence. Whatever the reason, it seems as though every year, actors and actresses die years before their time. It’s not a new phenomenon; just ask the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Short. In fact, a 2013 Australian study concluded that actors, singers, and other celebrities have a higher likelihood of dying young than many other professions. Here’s a look at some of the more recent (within the last few decades) stars taken too soon.
1. River Phoenix
Photo: Alan Light
On Halloween night in 1993, the gifted Stand by Me actor (only 23 at the time) stumbled into The Viper Room, a Hollywood nightclub owned by fellow actor and good friend Johnny Depp. According to his friends, Phoenix had been on a cocaine and heroin binge for the last few days, and didn’t look like he should still be partying. A few moments later, River began seizing. An ambulance was called, but Phoenix was pronounced dead moments later at Cedar-Sinai hospital from heart-failure caused by a drug overdose.