35+ Celebrities Who Passed Tragically Young

This article appeared in Cleverclassic and has been published here with permission.

35+ Celebrities Who Passed Tragically Young

It’s always tragic when a life is lost but it’s even more upsetting when it’s a young life and the person went before their natural time. As it turns out, even all the money, power, and influence, in the world can’t save people from meeting an unfair end. These talented celebrities still had more to share with the world but, sadly, passed away far too soon.

Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate’s passing, at the age of 26, was one of the most publicized celebrity passings of all time due to the terrifying circumstances surrounding her death. The model/actress was known for her roles in Eye of the Devil, Valley of the Dolls, and The Fearless Vampire Killers.

Sharon Tate

Tragically, her life ended far too early at the hand of the Manson Family cult. Sharon was eight and a half months pregnant when she passed.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin will forever be remembered as one of the most iconic musicians of all time, with hits like “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Piece of My Heart.” Unfortunately, she has also gone down as a member of the 27 Club, as she passed away at the age of 27 due to the usage of illegal substances.

Janis Joplin

Janis was posthumously added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison became famous as the lead singer of The Doors. Sadly, he’s also known as a member of the 27 Club — a group of celebrities who’ve all passed away at 27 years old. Like many rock stars of that time, Jim dabbled in illegal substances — which many people believe caused his untimely passing.

Jim Morrison

That being said, it’s never been confirmed. What is known is that, sadly, Morrison was found deceased in his bathtub, due to heart failure.

Jimi Hendrix

James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was a musician who the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has called “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Jimi’s passing raises a lot of questions as no one’s quite sure what happened.

Jimi Hendrix

Additionally, he’s a member of the 27 Club — which has a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding it. Hendrix spent his last day with a woman named Monica Dannemann who claims that the musician took quite a few illegal substances before passing away in his sleep.

Avicii

Tim Bergling aka Avicii was one of the most popular DJs of all time. He’s largely seen as one of the DJs who made electronic music mainstream (although music enthusiasts will gladly debate that) with hits like “Levels” and “Waiting for Love.”

Avicii

However, his life was cut short at the age of 28. After the DJ took his own life in 2018, his friends and family shared that they had been worried about his mental state for quite some time. This was largely due to his sudden and intense fame.

Taylor Hawkins

Taylor Hawkins was most famous for playing the drums as a member of the iconic rock band Foo Fighters. While few people argue over Taylor’s talents, the incident surrounding his passing is highly debated.

Taylor Hawkins

Hawkins passed at the age of 50, due to an overuse of illegal substances. Some say that the drummer was overwhelmed while on tour and had requested to play fewer shows. Others vehemently deny that the Foo Fighters’ tour had anything to do with Taylor’s stress and how he coped with it.

Brittany Murphy

For a while in the late ’90s/early 2000s, Brittany Murphy was America’s sweetheart. The actress was beloved for her roles in Girl, Interrupted, Drop Dead Gorgeous, and Uptown Girls.

Brittany Murphy

Things started to take a turn for the worst for Brittany in 2005 when people began to suspect that she was taking illegal substances — accusations that she firmly denied. She passed at age 32 in what appears to be a tragic accident of taking too much (prescribed) medication while ill.

Princess Diana

There are quite a few theories surrounding the passing of 36-year-old Diana, the Princess of Wales. The general belief is that Princess Diana passed away in a car accident, in which she was trying to escape some paparazzi.

Princess Diana

The tragic story is often served as a cautionary tale for the paparazzi’s intrusive behavior. However, many people believe that there were powerful individuals who wanted Diana’s life cut short, due to the fact that she intended to marry someone deemed “inappropriate” by the royal family.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams was one of Hollywood’s most beloved comedians/actors with a ton of iconic roles under his belt. Williams was most famous for Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and his unforgettable performance as the Genie in Aladdin.

Robin Williams

Tragically, Robin had mental health issues which his wife described as a “terrorist inside my husband’s brain.” At the age of 63, Robin took his own life. Sadly, it took Williams’ demise to see how much he meant to the public, as the entire world mourned in unison.

Luke Perry

Actor Luke Perry was widely known for his roles in Beverly Hills, 90210, The Fifth Element, and Riverdale. At the age of 52, Luke suffered a stroke and was put on life support.

Luke Perry

After a few weeks, he suffered a second stroke, at which point his family decided to take him off of machine assistance. Due to the fact that Luke was still starring in Riverdale at the time, in an emotional decision, his character passed away on the show as well, rather than being re-cast.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman was widely known for his work in Hollywood movies and Broadway productions. His most recent work was in The Hunger Games in which he played Plutarch Heavensbee.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Sadly, Philip struggled with illegal substances in his youth but he’d been clean for 23 years before relapsing in 2013. In 2014, at the age of 46, the actor was found deceased in his home. There were various illegal substances surrounding his body.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker starred in The Fast and the Furious franchise, which had many people worried for his safety. However, it wasn’t a filming stunt that cut his life short, but a regular car accident that happened off set.

Paul Walker

Paul was 40 years old when he passed, and was still in the process of filming Furious 7. His character’s story was completed with the help of CGI and Paul’s two brothers acting as stand-ins.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley aka the King of Rock and Roll changed music forever with songs like “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hound Dog,” plus his notorious dance moves. By the time he was in his 40s, Elvis’s body could no longer handle the number of illegal substances he was consuming paired with a grueling tour schedule.

Elvis Presley

His heart finally gave out when the singer was 42, and he suffered a fatal heart attack. It’s worth noting that the heart attack is only one theory of many as to what ended Elvis’s life.

Mac Miller

Mac Miller was known for perfectly combining jazz and hip-hop with hits like “Stay” and “Dang!” The rapper/singer was open with his fans about his issues in regard to depression and illegal substances and often shared his experiences in his lyrics.

Mac Miller

At the age of 26, Mac passed away due to an excess amount of illegal substances. The men who sold him those substances are now serving time in prison. In 2020, Miller’s family released his already-finished album Circles, which has been an undeniable success.

John Belushi

John Belushi was a comedian/actor best known for his work on Saturday Night Live. Despite his incredible talent, John was fired and re-hired from SNL numerous times, due to his issues with illegal substances and the questionable behavior it caused.

John Belushi

Belushi passed away in 1982, at the age of 33, due to consuming too many illegal substances. In 2004, John was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston became a household name with major hits like “I Will Always Love You” and “One Moment in Time.” Whitney was blunt about the fact that she struggled with illegal substances and she was trying her best to quit using them.

Whitney Houston

Sadly, the singer passed away at the age of 48 by accidentally drowning in the bathtub while using said substances. Eerily, her daughter passed away in a very similar manner, three years later.

Bobbi Kristina Brown

Bobbi Kristina Brown was famous for her appearances on the reality show Being Bobby Brown and her even more famous parents, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Three years after her mother’s passing, Bobbi also passed away, at the age of 22.

Bobbi Kristina Brown

Just like her mother, Bobbi was found passed out in a bathtub with illegal substances in her system. She was put in a medically induced coma for six months, after which she passed away in hospice care.

Corey Haim

Corey Haim is often referred to as the “poster child” for how someone’s life can be destroyed if they become dependent on illegal substances. Corey rose to fame with movies like Lucas and The Lost Boys, and being one half of the duo The Two Coreys.

Corey Haim

Sadly, his inability to stop using resulted in Corey becoming homeless. His friends and colleagues cut all ties with him, and he made several attempts to end his life. Tragically, he passed away from said substances at 38 years old.

Michael K. Williams

Michael K. Williams has long been a staple in Hollywood but his most famous roles are probably that of Omar Little in The Wire and Ray Ray in The Sopranos.

Michael K. Williams

Michael struggled with illegal substances throughout his life, which he largely blames on the trappings of fame, although he was able to stay mostly clean while filming. In 2021, when he was 54 years old, the actor passed away due to his excessive use of those substances.

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger had many iconic roles throughout his career but his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight is undeniably his most lauded work. Despite the awards he got for playing the Joker, many argue that Ledger throwing himself, entirely, into the role led to his untimely passing.

Heath Ledger

At 28 years old, the actor passed away due to consuming too many illegal substances. While this wasn’t a new problem for Heath, some feel that the issue was exacerbated by the taxing role of the Joker.

Cory Monteith

Cory Monteith rose to fame playing Finn in the hit show Glee. At the time, fans didn’t know that Cory had struggled with a dependence on illicit materials ever since he was 13 years old.

Cory Monteith

At one point, the cast and crew of Glee held an intervention for Monteith, asking him to go to a treatment center, to which he obliged. As it turns out, the actor still needed more help. He continued to use those substances, which resulted in his passing at the age of 31.

James Dean

James Dean had a promising start to a career in Hollywood with his role in Rebel Without a Cause. Tragically, his bright future was cut short when James got into a car accident and passed away at the young age of 24.

James Dean

In 1955, Dean became the first actor to ever receive a posthumous Oscar nomination, which he received for East of Eden. The following year, he received another nomination for Giant. To this day, James is the only actor to ever receive two posthumous Oscar nominations.

River Phoenix

River Phoenix began acting at the age of 10, paving the way for his younger brother Joaquin Phoenix’s success. River starred in Stand by Me, My Own Private Idaho, and Running on Empty (the latter earned him an Oscar nomination).

River Phoenix

At 23 years old, Phoenix consumed various illegal substances while out partying, and passed away. These days, Joaquin often honors River in his speeches and interviews. River is further remembered by being compared to James Dean in his potential, early success, and untimely passing.

Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson, commonly known simply as Prince, was one of the most successful musicians of all time. With an androgynous style, wide vocal range, and hit songs like “Purple Rain,” Prince became an icon.

Prince

Sadly, his life ended at the age of 57, due to the usage of illicit materials. Prince is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated pop culture icons of all time. The Los Angeles Times aptly wrote that Prince was “our first post-everything pop star, defying easy categories of race, genre, and commercial appeal.”

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of Nirvana, helping the band rise to fame with hits like “Heart-Shaped Box” and “About a Girl.” However, being famous didn’t agree with Kurt as it led him to have issues both personally and professionally.

Kurt Cobain

He began to struggle with dependencies on illegal substances and depression. Cobain also started to have trouble with his career and with his marriage to fellow musician Courtney Love. In 1994, Kurt chose to end his life, becoming a member of the 27 Club.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is often regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time. Nicknamed the Black Mamba, Kobe was a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. He won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, and was named MVP three times.

Kobe Bryant

In 2020, 41-year-old Kobe was in a helicopter along with eight other people, including his daughter. There was a lot of fog that day, making it difficult for the pilot to see. The helicopter tragically crashed, leaving no survivors.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was one of the most successful singers of the younger generations. Her hits “Rehab” and “Back to Black” were massively successful, as was Amy’s unique style and lack of interest in being like other pop stars.

Amy Winehouse

Similarly to many other pop stars, though, Amy struggled with illegal substances, depression, and eating disorders. At the age of 27 (yes, another member of the 27 Club), the musician consumed too many adult beverages, resulting in her passing.

John Lennon

John Lennon was most famous for being part of the iconic band The Beatles. Lennon was also known for his second band, the Plastic Ono Band, which he started with his wife, Yoko Ono. When John was 40 years old, he encountered a man named Mark David Chapman.

John Lennon

The two had an altercation, which resulted in John’s untimely passing. To this day, his song “Imagine” remains one of the biggest hits of all time, and serves as a stark contrast to how his life ended.

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur was one of the world’s most successful rappers. However, Tupac wasn’t only famous for his music… He had a feud with fellow musician Notorious B.I.G., sparking the East Coast v West Coast rivalry.

Tupac Shakur

Tupac’s life ended when he was 25, either by Notorious B.I.G.’s group or a different group with similar interests. That being said, many people believe that Tupac is still alive and has run away upon learning that someone was after him. To this day, there are often “Tupac sightings” around the globe.

The Notorious B.I.G.

Christopher George Latore Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G., was one of the most successful rappers in history. However, his professional rivalry with Tupac Shakur was also a personal one. The two men, and their respective groups, fought for the honor of being the best rapper and fought in real life, as well.

The Notorious B.I.G.

When he was 24 years old, Notorious B.I.G.’s life came to an end. It’s assumed that Tupac’s group (or a similar rival group) had something to do with it, but we’ll never know for sure.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe came up in Hollywood through her acting but her true claim to fame was her bombshell status. However, Marilyn’s swift rise to fame made her already existent mental health issues worse. She became dependent on illegal substances and suffered both mentally and physically.

Marilyn Monroe

The icon tragically ended her life in 1962, at the age of 36. Her passing shook the world and it’s said that the number of young women ending their lives doubled after seeing their idol do the same.

Kailia Posey

Kailia Posey was a beauty pageant contestant and reality show star. She was most widely known for her participation in TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras, even becoming a meme in the process. Yes, Posey is the child in the Grinning Girl meme.

Kailia Posey

Kailia participated in beauty pageants throughout her entire life, from the age of three until her passing at age 16. The rising star won the title of Miss Lynden Teen in 2021. The following year, in 2022, Kailia took her own life.

Takeoff

Takeoff was one-third of the hip-hop group Migos, alongside Offset and Quavo. The group was extremely popular with hits like “MotorSport” and “Bad and Boujee” as well as their A-list collaborations with artists such as Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Drake.

Takeoff

On November 1st, 2002, Takeoff was at a bowling alley with roughly 40 other people, attending a party. The group was standing outside when there was an altercation that ended Takeoff’s life. Police believe that the rapper wasn’t the intended target and his passing was accidental. He was 28 years old.

Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin aka the Crocodile Hunter was a wildlife expert widely known for his TV show The Crocodile Hunter which aired from 1996 to 2007. In 2006, Steve was filming for the documentary series Ocean’s Deadliest when he was stung by a stingray.

Steve Irwin

The stingray pierced Irwin’s chest, ending his life at 44 years old. Eerily, the entire incident was caught on camera. As of 2022, Steve’s family is following in his footsteps by operating the Australian Zoo and sharing his love of animals with the world.

Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory was known for her incredible acting across all platforms — theatre, movies, and TV. Her most iconic roles were Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter series and Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders.

Helen McCrory

What very few people knew was that Helen had breast cancer for many years. That knowledge only became public when she passed away from the illness at 52 years old. The actress was still filming Peaky Blinders at the time, causing her character’s life to end, and the show to be rewritten.

Cameron Boyce

Cameron Boyce was a child star famous for his work with the Disney channel, specifically, his starring roles in the show Jessie and the Descendants movie trilogy. Cameron had a bright future ahead of him, as he seamlessly grew out of his younger roles and took on more mature content.

Cameron Boyce

Unfortunately, the actor had some health issues. He’d been diagnosed with epilepsy and was taking medication for it. However, something seems to have gone wrong, as he passed away at just 20 years old due to having an epileptic seizure in his sleep.

DJ AM

Adam Michael Goldstein aka DJ AM was famous for his solo work in the music industry and his collaboration with Travis Barker in TRV$DJAM. Sadly, DJ AM had several dependencies and passed away at the age of 36 due to consuming too many illegal substances.

DJ AM

In a move that only added to the tragedy, the public blamed AM’s former girlfriend, Haley Wood, saying their breakup contributed to his emotional state (Ariana Grande suffered the same accusations when Mac Miller passed away). Haley, rightfully, denied responsibility for her ex’s difficulties.

Sid Vicious

Sid Vicious (born John Simone Ritchie) was famous in the 1970s as the Sex Pistols’ bassist, and he’s still a punk subculture icon today. Sid suffered from various dependencies and passed away at the young age of 21, due to having had too many illegal substances.

Sid Vicious

Some conspiracy theories say that Sid’s passing was intentional, as he was on trial and afraid of going back to prison. Others claim that, in true punk fashion, the musician had a pact with his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, and they both wanted to pass away.

Selena

Selena Quintanilla Pérez (known simply as Selena) was so iconic that she was often referred to as the Queen of Tejano music. With hits like “Captive Heart” and “I Could Fall in Love,” Selena was an international sweetheart.

Selena

Things went south when Selena’s former boutique manager (and friend) Yolanda Saldívar was put on trial for embezzlement. The singer went to confront Yolanda about the finances, which led to an altercation that ended Selena’s life. She was only 23 years old.

Aaliyah

Aaliyah’s music is often credited with redefining hip-hop, pop, and contemporary R&B. Singles such as “Try Again” and “More Than a Woman” earned the singer titles like the Queen of Urban Pop and the Princess of R&B.

Aaliyah

To the world’s dismay, Aaliyah passed away at the age of 22 in a plane crash. The flight was last minute and the plane was overloaded, yet, it somehow still got cleared for takeoff. There were nine people on that flight and, tragically, none of them survived the crash.

Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter is most widely known for his singing and acting abilities, and his equally famous brother the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter. Aaron had his struggles in life, particularly with substance dependencies, but was trying to get clean. He was 34 years old when he was found deceased in his home.

Aaron Carter

The case is still being investigated, as no one knows exactly what happened. The main theory is that Carter relapsed on some illegal substances and accidentally drowned in his bathtub. However, at the time of writing this, that hasn’t been confirmed.

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman will always be remembered as the very first actor to play Black Panther in a live-action film. What fans didn’t know was that Chadwich was suffering from cancer while filming many of his movies.

Chadwick Boseman

His illness continued for four years before ending his life when he was 43 years old. Very few people knew about Boseman’s condition, as he didn’t want it to affect his day-to-day life. Clearly, his plan worked, as he continued to star in major films until the day he passed.

Anne Heche

Anne Heche was an actress most known for her roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Wag the Dog. Sadly, Anne suffered from mental health issues due to the mistreatment she endured as a child.

Anne Heche

At the age of 53, Heche was in a series of three car accidents in one night — the third of which took her life. Police who were at the scene said that Anne was “deemed to be under the influence and acting erratically” at the time.

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith was widely known for her modeling work, particularly her appearances in Playboy magazine. Despite her success, Anna led a pretty tragic life that culminated in her untimely passing at the age of 39.

Anna Nicole Smith

The model suffered financial issues throughout her life and finally filed for bankruptcy. Furthermore, her son passed away at the age of 20, due to consuming an excess amount of illegal substances. Anna passed a year later, in the exact same way.

Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera was known for her acting and singing in the show Glee. In 2020, 33-year-old Naya was declared missing when her four-year-old son, Josey, was found alone on a rented boat.

Naya Rivera

Josey recalled his mother helping him onto the boat but struggling to get on herself. Josey was wearing a life jacket but Naya was not. Five days later, Rivera’s body was found. It’s assumed that she and Josey got caught in a rip current, in which Naya heroically saved her son but was unable to save herself.