Death eludes no-one, not even the most rich and the famous. Death is perhaps the only truth about life, and like they say, death is all around us. Even so, when John Lennon was shot four times in the back by Mark David Chapman, we were all naturally outraged. When Michael Jackson was supposedly killed by his Dr. Murray, we were all so disgusted. Unnatural deaths are a pity, and even the celebrities among the lot don’t escape it. Here is a list of ten of the most shocking unnatural deaths to have struck Hollywood.
10. Sal Mineo
Sal Mineo is one of the few Hollywood names of his time who were brave enough to come out in public about their homosexuality. He was best known for his performance in the movie, ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ which also starred James Dean. Sal Mineo was found murdered in the alley leading up to his apartment in Los Angeles owing to a stab to the chest by a blunt, sharp knife. A pizza delivery person was later charged and convicted with committing the crime of murdering Sal Mineo. The accused had also reportedly been the cause behind various robberies in the neighbourhood. Sal Mineo portrayed the role of a bisexual burglar in a theatre comedy ‘P.S. Your cat is dead’, which won him the praise of several critics and this stage of his career was dubbed as his revival. However, he unfortunately did not live long enough to see his career come back on track. He continues to be fondly remembered for being ahead of his time, and being open about his sexual orientation.
9. Brian Keith
Brian Keith has a glorious acting career spanning over four decades and countless movies that gained commercial success. Towards his final days, the actor had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He had however, quit smoking a decade before he was found to have the disease. It was surprisingly, not lung cancer that took his life, but a self inflicted gun-shot caused by acute depression and financial trouble. It had only been a while before that he had found that his daughter had committed suicide and many believe that it was the same news that acted as a big cause for him to take his own life. Brian Keith played the role of uncle, Bill Davis in the popular television show, The Family Affair. Both of his parents had been actors and it’s no doubt that Keith had gathered a lot of his acting from taking inspiration from his parents. He was 75 years of age at the time of his suicide.
8. Bob Crane
Bob Crane was most famous for his acting in the TV series Hogan’s Heroes. Even at his funeral, his colleages and co-workers from the program were his pall-bearers. Bob Crane was a promising actor and he was well loved by the acting fraternity and his audience. He was found dead at his home in Arizona, his head was bludgeoned by an unidentified object which was later speculated to be a camera tripod. There were no signs of forced entry in his apartment, allowing the investigators to arise to a conclusion that the person who attacked and murdered the actor was probably someone known to him. Suspicion later pointed to John Henry Carpenter, a former sales executive for Sony Electronics who was on friendly terms with the actor. The story goes as such that Crane had a habit of filming his sexual encounters on tape, and together Crane and Carpenter would seduce and tape women, many without their consent. There were reasons to believe that their friendship was hitting the rocks at the time of Crane’s murder. There was blood found in Carpenter’s car which belonged to Crane, however one must remember that during that time period DNA testing had not yet evolved and this could thus not be taken further and proved. Years later, when the case was reopened, Carpenter was found to be not guilty due to insufficient evidence which was largely circumstantial in nature backed only by theories. And so, we have another unsolved mystery. Who really did kill Bob Crane?
7. Thelma Todd
Thelma Todd was a famous American actress who appeared in atleast one hundred and twenty pictures during her career as actress. She is remembered fondly for her memorable roles in several comedies, for which she gathered a lot of acclaim from the acting community. Thelma Todd’s death is another one of those mystery deaths that could not be solved, partly due to undeveloped forensic science at that period. She was found dead in the front seat of her car, in the garage of her lover’s ex-wife, succumbing to poisonous carbon monoxide fumes that were exuded by her running car. There have been many strong speculations that she had been murdered by a local mob boss over a dispute over the restaurant that she owned. Her friends and co-workers commented that she seemed to be in a good mood the evening she was murdered and there were no signs that she intended to commit suicide. Also, the investigators also suggested that there were various elements that suggested foul play, like her bloodied lower lip. Her suicide came as a shock to many as she was said to be happy with her life, with nothing significant to bother her, except ofcourse her supposed clash with a mob boss.
6. James Dean
We all know James Dean, you know the numerous references to him that everyone keeps making, and yeah that’s the guy. He is also the only actor to have received the Academy Award nomination for Best Actor posthumously for his path-breaking performance in the movie East of Eden. He earned a second posthumous nomination for his performance in the movie, Giant. James Dean met his untimely end at the age of 24 owing to a vehicular accident. The spot where he met his end has been named as ‘The James Dean Memorial’ that continues to be present on the highway even today. Many who knew him say that he had an illustrious acting career ahead of him if it hadn’t been for the car crash. James Dean was into stunts and was an avid racer. The Eagles wrote a song about him, the lyrics of which went like ‘too fast to live, too young to die.’ Certainly, we all can only agree.
5. Heath Ledger
He is perhaps most famous for his portrayal of ‘The Joker’, Batman’s arch nemesis in Nolan’s epic, The Dark Knight. The world agrees unanimously upon the fact that perhaps nobody would have pulled off the role better than he did, and the world bestowed upon him 30 posthumous award for his path-breaking performance. It’s no secret that Heath Ledger had been written off as a ‘pretty boy’ by many film directors and his career was no more than a struggle to break away from that tag. Towards his untimely end, he did make his point, with nominations for his acting in The Brokeback Mountain and then his subsequent rise to glory with embracing the role of The Joker. He succumbed to what was later found to be an overdose of a variety of drugs including sleeping pills and anti-depressants. His death was rather unfortunate, and it only revealed the volatile person who was hidden behind a mask that the world had forced him to wear. Despite his early death owing to accidental overdose, Heath Ledger is a legend, as though he has died, The Joker still lives on.
4. Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood, originally named Natalia Nikolaevna Zacharenko was an American actress of Russian descent. Born to Russian immigrants in San Francisco, Natalie started her acting career early. At the time of her death, Natalie had featured in over fifty six productions of both television and the big screen. Her death continues to be a mystery today and is one of Hollywood’s unsolved murder cases. On a weekend trip to the Santa Catalina islands, she was on a cruise with her husband Robert Wagner and actor friend Christopher Walken. Later that night she was found drowned in water, and a post mortem report confirmed that she had been inebriated with alcohol when she drowned. There weren’t any eye witness testimonies shedding light on how she went into the water body. Was she killed or was it an accident? Many questions relating to her death are left unanswered as many facts are hazy and there wasn’t enough evidence left for investigators to follow. It was a tragic loss, as this actress had managed to get herself three Academy Award nominations before she had even turned 25. The death of this beautiful actress could hide beneath it a sinister conspiracy or is it just a drunken mistake? Well, one thing’s for sure, we will never know.
3. George Reeves
George Reeves, the American actor known best for his portrayal of Superman in the 1950’s television program ‘The Adventures of Superman’. He also played the part of Start Tarleton in the famous romance landmark, Gone With The Wind. George Reeves was found dead in is Pasadena home, owing to a gun-shot wound. The case was marked as suicide, however there were reasons to believe that he had either been murdered or had been collateral damage in a shooting. His death led to the stirring of a rather full blown controversy with those close to him vehemently denying that he had committed suicide. Forensic officials pointed out to the absence of gunpowder residue on his skin, which is uncommon and unheard of when the victim shoots himself, There were also no prints on the gun belonging to the actor, only further making the question mark more discernible. George Reeves did have a happy life in La La land ahead of him and it’s a mystery to why he would have taken such an adverse step towards ending his life. This, like other celebrity murder cases, is also yet incomplete with many pieces of the puzzle missing.
2. Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate was a beautiful model who appeared on the cover pages of fashion magazines regularly. She had only started off with her acting career, earning a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the 1967 movie Valley of the Dolls. She was pregnant, eight and a half months when she was brutally murdered at her home, along with four others, by the followers of Charles Manson. The acting world had described her as a promising newcomer, unfortunately, before she could carve herself a niche she succumbed to inhumane brutality. She had been only twenty six years of age when she was killed, and Hollywood mourned her loss. She had been killed as a part of the Charles Manson cult’s killing spree in 1969. Charles Manson is still in prison and he has been denied parole repeatedly.
1. Marilyn Monroe
There are very few people who would not know about Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, perhaps the most exalted Hollywood actress who carved quite the niche for herself and starred in hoards of commercially successful films. She came to be known as a sex-symbol and was romantically linked to both John and Robert Kennedy. Her three marriages ended in divorce and she suffered three miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy. Monroe was a strong woman who did not heed to the controversy she was stirring and all the words that were being said behind her back. She was capable of spinning a word or two, and even today, she is often quoted in the context of feminism and the freedom to be as one pleases. Monroe was found dead at her apartment in California as a result of deliberate drug overdose, allowing investigators to label her death as suicide. She had ingested a mixture of various drugs, which caused her death. Ofcourse, there were many theories of murder that were being thrown around but there was no evidence of murder that was found. Reports stated that President Kennedy was the last person that she had spoken to before her death, leading to the popular belief that her death had possibly been a CIA conspiracy. It’s all make believe, isn’t it?