20 Popular Actors And Actresses Who Died Too Young And In Their Prime

Death is inevitable, but it saddens our hearts anytime death beckons on any human especially young ones. Such untimely death often results in a big outpouring of emotions and sympathy coming from people. Even though there is never the best time to lose anyone particularly the favourite ones. Well, speaking of celebrities, the world has lost countless talented and favourite celebrities (actors, actresses, singers, etc).

While some died at old age, many left unexpectedly early. And their death pierced the very soul of their fans and even up till now, it yet packs an emotional wallop on their fans. To show respect and also to remember the works of some of these celebrities, we have made a list of 20 celebrities who died too young and whose memories up to this time linger in the hearts of their fans. You are free to add other dead celebrities you still have at heart who died too early.

Bobbi Kristina Brown

Age: 22 (1993 – 2015)

h Bobbi Kristina Brown was an American reality television and media personality, singer, and actress. She was the daughter of singers Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. On January 31, 2015, Bobbi was found face down in a bathtub in her Georgia home. There was no evidence to indicate the incident was caused by drugs or alcohol.

Doctors placed her in a medically induced coma after determining her brain function was “significantly diminished”, and her family was told any meaningful recovery would be “a miracle”. Brown later died in hospice care on July 26, 2015, at the age of 22.


Age: 22 (1979 – 2001)

Downloaded from www.sexydesktop.co.uk

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was an American singer, dancer, actress, and model. At the age of 10, she appeared on the television shoStar Search and performed in a concert alongside Gladys Knight. In 2000, she appeared in her first film, Romeo Must Die. On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and eight others were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the single “Rock the Boat”.

The pilot, Luis Morales III, was unlicensed at the time of the accident and had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system. Aaliyah’s family later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Blackhawk International Airways, which was settled out of court.

River Phoenix

Age: 23 (1970 – 1993)

River Jude Phoenix was an American actor, musician, and activist. Phoenix’s work encompassed 24 films and television appearances, and his rise to fame led to his status as a “teen sensation”. He began his acting career at age ten, in television commercials. He starred in the science fiction adventure film Explorers, and had his first notable role in 1986’s Stand By Me. P

hoenix suffered a drug overdose during the early morning hours of October 31, 1993 and collapsed and convulsed for over five minutes. When his brother Joaquin called 9–1–1, he was unable to determine whether Phoenix was breathing. His sister Rain proceeded to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

By that time, paramedics arrived the scene, Phoenix had turned dark blue in full cardiac arrest and in a flatline state. They administered medication in an attempt to restart his heart. He was rushed to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Further attempts to resuscitate Phoenix were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 1:51 am. on the morning of October 31, 1993, at the age of 23.

James Dean

Age: 24 (1931 – 1955)


James Dean was an American actor. He was famous for playing a role in some of 50’s major hits like East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant. He is a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he featured as troubled teenager Jim Stark. He died at only 24 years old in a car accident. See Also: 13 Popular Celebrities Who Are Living With HIV

Tupac Amaru Shakur

Age: 25 (1971 – 1996)


Tupac also known by his stage names 2Pac and (shortly) Makaveli, was an American rapper, author, actor, and poet. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting on September 7, 1996, at the age of 25 years. He died in University Medical Center of Southern Nevada six days after he was rushed  to the hospital.

Jean Harlow

Age: 26 (1911 – 1937)


Jean Harlow was an American film actress and sex symbol of the 1930s. By late 1930, she had become one of the most famous movie stars in the world. She was dubbed the “Blond Bombshell” and the “Platinum Blonde”, and popular for her “Laughing Vamp” movie persona. She featured in hit movies like Hell’s Angels, Red Dust, Dinner at Eight, Reckless and Suzy. She died at the age of 26 from cerebral edema.

Jonathan Brandis

Age: 27 (1976 – 2003)

Jonathan Gregory Brandis was an American actor, director, and screenwriter. Beginning his career as a child model, Brandis moved on to acting in commercials and subsequently won television and film roles. At the age of 17, he landed the role of Lucas Wolenczak, a teen prodigy on the NBC series seaQuest DSV.

Shortly before midnight on November 11, 2003, Brandis hanged himself in the hallway of his Los Angeles apartment building. He was discovered by friends who called paramedics who transported the actor to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Brandis died there on the afternoon of November 12 from injuries he sustained from the hanging.

Heath Ledger

Age: 28 (1979 – 2008)


Heath Ledger, an Australian actor and director is another celebrity who left so early. He is another dead celebrity who is worthy of note no doubt. He was best known for his performances in The Patriot, Brokeback Mountain, and as the Joker in the Dark Knight. Heath Ledger won several awards and was nominated severally as well. His death came as a big shock to everyone. The actor died at the young age of 28 due to intoxication brought about by abusing prescription medication.

Cory Monteith

Age: 31 (1982 – 2013)

Cory Allan Michael Monteith was a Canadian actor and musician, known for his role as Finn Hudson on the Fox television series Glee. As an actor based in British Columbia, Monteith had minor roles on television series before an audition tape of him singing “Can’t Fight This Feeling” helped to land him the most significant role of his career, Finn Hudson on Glee.

Following his success on Glee, Monteith’s film work included the movie Monte Carlo and a starring role in Sisters & Brothers. On Saturday, July 13, 2013, at the age of 31, Monteith was found dead in his room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver.

He had been scheduled to check out that day following a seven-night stay, but when he failed to do so, hotel staff entered his room and discovered his body around noon. The Vancouver Police Department stated that the cause of death was not immediately apparent, but ruled out foul play.

The preliminary autopsy report stated that Monteith died from “a mixed drug toxicity” consisting of heroin and alcohol, and that his death appeared to have been accidental. The final report, released by the B.C. Coroners Service on 2 October 2013, confirmed these findings. It noted that Monteith also had codeine and morphine in his system at the time of his death, and that he was found with drug paraphernalia that included a spoon with drug residue and a used hypodermic needle, as well as two empty bottles of champagne.

Brittany Murphy

Age: 32 (1977 – 2009)


Brittany Murphy was an American film and stage actress, singer, and voice artist. She gained fame in her breakout role n Amy Heckerling’s Clueless (1995), followed by supporting roles in independent films such as Freeway (1996) and Bongwater (1998). She also played a role in popular movies like 8 mile, Sin City, and the voice of Luanne Platter (King of the Hill). She died in December 2009 at the age of 32 basically as a result of pneumonia.

Bruce Lee

Age: 32 (1940 – 1973)


Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong American martial artist, Hong Kong action film actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, filmmaker, and the founder of Jeet Kune Do. His famous movies include Fist of Fury, Enter the Dragon, and Way of the Dragon. Bruce Lee died at the age of 32 from cerebral edema. His son, Brandon Lee, also suffered a similar tragedy; he was accidentally shot while shooting the film The Crow. Brandon died at the young age of 28 and like his father, his legacy as a cultural icon lives on with their fans.

Jayne Mansfield

Age: 34 (1933 – 1967)

Jayne Mansfield was an American actress best known for her bombshell curves and roles in films during the 1950s and ’60s. She was born on April 19, 1933 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. On June 29, 1967, Mansfield and Brody, her attorney/lover, were driving home from a nightclub performance in Mississippi when they whipped around a dark curve and crashed into a slow-moving semi-truck, instantly killing both of them. Jayne Mansfield was only 34 years old and still in the prime of her career at the time of her shocking and tragic death.

Marilyn Monroe

Age: 36 (1926 – 1962)


Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model, and singer. When she was alive, she was one of the most famous film stars and sex symbols of the 1950s. She is also regarded as one of the most valued famous cultural icons of the twentieth century.  She played a role in popular titles like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, and Some Like it Hot. She was found dead at only 36 years old. According to autopsy, she died from a barbiturate overdose.

Paul Walker

Age: 40 (1973 – 2013)


Paul Walker was an American actor. He started his career guest-starring in a good number of television shows such as The Young and Restless and Touched by an Angel. The movie icon gained fame for his roles in coming-of-age and teen films such as She’s All That and Varsity Blues.

However, he gained international prominence for his character Brian O’Conner in the 2001 street racing action film Fast and Furious which is what he is greatly remembered for. He is also remembered for his role in films such as Eight Below, Timeline, Into the BlueJoy Ride and Running Scared. He died at 40 years of age in a car clash after having shot Fast and Furious 7 which was released in April 2015.

Gary Coleman

Age: 42 (1968 – 2010)


Gary Coleman was an American actor, voice artist, and comedian. He was popular for his remarkable role as Arnold Jackson in Diff’rent Strokes (1978–1986) and for his small stature as an adult. The indomitable cuteness written all over him as a child star rode across the hearts of all that watched the show.

However, despite a successful childhood acting career he was regrettably surrounded by misery. He spent a good amount of his adulthood depressed. He had financial difficulties later in his life before he passed away in 2010 at the age of 42 from a fatal head injury sustained from a fall down the stairs of his Utah home.

Natalie Wood

Age: 43 (1938 – 1981)

Actress Natalie Wood starred in the films Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean and in West Side Story as Maria. She drowned during a boating trip in 1981 with her husband and a friend. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning. It was theorized that Wood fell in the water while attempting to secure the dinghy to prevent it from banging into the boat. Some objected to this explanation, as Wood had a lifelong fear of water.

See Also: I Am Tired Of The Devil Ruining My Life – RnB Star Chris Brown

Natasha Richardson 

Age: 45 (1963 – 2009)

 Natasha Jane Richardson was an English stage and screen actress who was marries to Liam Neeson. On 16 March 2009, Natasha sustained a head injury when she fell while taking a beginner skiing lesson at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada about 80 miles (130 km) from Montreal. She was transferred by ambulance to Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur, Montreal, in critical condition and was admitted about seven hours after the fall.

The following day, she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where she died on 18 March at the age of 45. An autopsy conducted by the New York City Medical Examiners Office on 19 March revealed the cause of death was an “epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head”, and her death was ruled an accident. Her heart, kidneys and liver were donated to other individuals.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Age: 46 (1967 – 2014)


Philip Seymour was an American actor, director, and producer of film and theater. Popular for his peculiar supporting and character roles – usually lowlifes, bullies, and misfits. Until his death at age 46 said to be caused by acute mixed drug intoxication, including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine, Philip was a constant presence in films from the early 1990s. His portrayal of the author Truman Capote in the film Capote gained him international prominence. His other popular performances include Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt, The Master, and The Hunger Games.

Judy Garland

Age: 47 (1922 – 1969)

One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era, Judy Garland was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals. She died of an overdose of barbiturates, the drug that had dominated her much of her life, on the 22nd of June 1969 at the age of 47.

Whitney Houston

Age: 48 (1963 – 2012)

Whitney Houston was an American singer and actress. Born on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney Houston almost seemed destined from birth to become a singer. She died at the age of 48 on February 11, 2012, in Los Angeles at a Beverly Hilton hotel where a Grammy party was being held by Clive Davis. Houston had been seen out in the days before her death, including at one of the pre-Grammy parties. According to a report released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office on March 22, 2012, the official cause of her death was accidental drowning. The effects of heart disease and cocaine found in her system were contributing factors as well.

Honourable Mentions

Andy Kaufman

Sal Mineo

Brad Renfro

Gida Radner

Elvis Presley

Phil Hartman

Amira Daniel
Amira is a personal finance and entertainment writer by trade with several years of experience covering businesses, CEOs, and celebrity profiles, her favourite subjects include business and personal finance, entertainment, celebrities, and travel. When she's not writing, you can find her reading or catching up on any of her favourite series


Featured Today

Related Stories