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Posted: Mar 9, 2017 / 07:30 AM CST
Updated: Jun 29, 2017 / 06:46 AM CDT
Actress and 1950s-era sex symbol Jayne Mansfield was 34 when she died in a June 29, 1967, automobile accident in Louisiana that also killed her boyfriend and the driver of the car. Three of her children, including future actress Mariska Hargitay, who was 3 years old at the time, were also in the car but escaped with minor injuries.
The Notorious B.I.G., the 24-year-old rapper best known for songs such as "Big Poppa," "Mo Money Mo Problems," "Hypnotize" and "One More Chance," was killed by an unidentified assailant in a March 9, 1997, drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. His double-disc set "Life After Death," released 16 days later, rose to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart.
Rapper Tupac Shakur died at age 25 on Sept. 13, 1996, six days after being shot four times in Las Vegas after leaving the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand.
Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide with a shotgun at age 27 in his Seattle home on April 5, 1994. His body was found three days later by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system. He is just one of several celebrities to die at age 27, making up the so-called "27 Club."
The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 on July 3, 1971. Before his rise to fame, Morrison attended UCLA, where he was enrolled in the film program.
Guitar hero Jimi Hendrix also died when he was 27. He was found dead in a London flat on Sept. 18, 1970, with an inquest later concluding that he had aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates.
Just 16 days after Hendrix's death, on Oct. 4, 1970, strong-voiced Janis Joplin also died at age 27. The official cause of death was an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.
Amy Winehouse, who won five Grammys for her 2006 album "Back to Black," was found dead on July, 23, 2011, at her home in London. A coroner later ruled the 27-year-old's cause of death to be alcohol poisoning.
Rock pioneer Buddy Holly was 22 when he died in the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, that also claimed the lives of Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Holly's successful career lasted less than two years and produced such hits as "That'll Be the Day," "Peggy Sue," "Everyday," "Maybe Baby" and "It's So Easy."
J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson was the eldest of the three rockers who died in the February 1959 plane crash at 28 years old. The disc jockey and singer-songwriter's breakthrough hit was 1958's "Chantilly Lace," but he also wrote No. 1 hits for George Jones ("White Lightnin'") and Johnny Preston ("Running Bear").
Ritchie Valens was 17 when he died in the plane crash. He had a recording career that lasted all of eight months before his death, but still produced the hit songs "La Bamba," "Come On, Let's Go" and "Donna."
R&B and soul legend Otis Redding was only 26 when his plane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, on Dec. 10, 1967.
R&B singer Sam Cooke, whose hits included "Cupid," "You Send Me" and "Twistin' the Night Away," was shot and killed on Dec. 11, 1964, at the age of 33.
Elvis Presley died at age 42 of a heart attack at Graceland in Memphis on Aug. 16, 1977. Among "The King's" No. 1 singles were "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog," "Love Me Tender," "All Shook Up," "Jailhouse Rock," "Return to Sender" and "Suspicious Minds."
Comedian and actor John Belushi, best known for his film roles in "The Blues Brothers" and "Animal House," and as a regular on "Saturday Night Live," died at age 33 in Hollywood on March 5, 1982, after overdosing on a mixture of cocaine and heroin.
Actor and comedian Chris Farley was found dead at the age of 33 on Dec. 18, 1997, in his apartment in Chicago's John Hancock Center. An autopsy would later reveal that Farley had died of a drug overdose early that morning.
Actor Bruce Lee died from an allergic reaction to a painkiller on July 20, 1973, at age 32. He is considered the greatest icon of martial arts cinema, and is known for his roles in "Enter the Dragon" and "Fists of Fury," among others. Raised in Hong Kong, Lee came to America at age 18 and made a career teaching martial arts before he became an actor.
Actor and martial artist Brandon Lee, the 28-year-old son of martial arts film star Bruce Lee, died in an accidental shooting on March 31, 1993, while filming the movie "The Crow" in Wilmington, North Carolina. Lee, who had also starred in "Showdown in Little Tokyo" and "Rapid Fire," was mortally wounded after a bullet from a "dummy cartridge" that had become lodged in the barrel of a prop gun was discharged from the force of a blank round, striking him in the stomach. The film was released posthumously after a stunt double and special effects were used to complete it.
Scott Weiland, whose career as the lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver was overshadowed by his unending battle with drug addiction, died at age 48 on Dec. 3, 2015, while on tour with his latest band, The Wildabouts. Weiland was found dead on his tour bus in Bloomington, Minnesota, with his cause of death later announced as an accidental drug overdose.
Former A Tribe Called Quest rapper Phife Dawg died of complications from diabetes at age 45 on March 22, 2016.
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Feb. 2, 2014, of a drug overdose. Authorities said Hoffman, 46, was found on the bathroom floor and that heroin and prescription medications were also discovered at the scene. The New York City medical examiner's office later ruled Hoffman's death an accident caused by "acute mixed drug intoxication, including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine." Hoffman won an Academy Award for Best Actor for the 2005 biopic "Capote" and also earned Oscar nominations for his roles in "Charlie Wilson's War," "Doubt" and "The Master." He also starred in movies such as "Twister," "Boogie Nights," "The Big Lebowski," "Almost Famous," "Mission: Impossible III," "Moneyball" and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
Paul Walker, who shot to fame as star of the high-octane street racing franchise "Fast & Furious," died in a fiery car crash in Southern California on Nov. 30, 2013. The 40-year-old actor was in the passenger seat of a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT driven by racing team partner Roger Rodus, who also died in the crash, that slammed into a light pole and burst into flames in an office park in the community of Valencia in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles north of Hollywood.
Actor Heath Ledger, best known for his films "The Dark Knight" and "Brokeback Mountain," died from an accidental prescription drug overdose on Jan. 22, 2008, at age 28. The Australia-born actor earned a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of The Joker in "The Dark Knight."
R&B artist Aaliyah died at age 22 along with eight others on Aug. 25, 2001, in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for her single "Rock the Boat." Aaliyah had made her recording debut at age 14 and is best known for songs such as "Back & Forth," "If Your Girl Only Knew" and "Try Again." She also appeared in the movies "Romeo Must Die" and "Queen of the Damned."
Mexican-American singer Selena (seen here in a poster held by a fan), was murdered by Yolanda Saldívar, the former president of her fan club, in Corpus Christi, Texas, on March 31, 1995. Selena, 23, was known as "The Queen of Tejano music." Saldívar had been fired three weeks earlier for embezzling money from the fan club and met with Selena to turn over financial records. After an argument, Saldívar shot Selena in the right shoulder, severing an artery. Saldívar was later found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole in 2025.
"Glee" star Cory Monteith was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room at the age of 31 on July 13, 2013. Three days later the British Columbia Coroners Service announced his death was caused by "a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol." Monteith had a history of drug use, telling Parade magazine in 2011 that he used "anything and everything, as much as possible." He entered rehab at age 19, but it took a family ultimatum after stealing money from a relative to convince him to get clean. He entered rehab again in April 2013, about three months before his death.
Ricky Nelson, the teen idol who rose to fame thanks to his role along with his family on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," died when his private plane made an emergency landing and hit some trees near De Kalb, Texas, on Dec. 31, 1985. Nelson, who was one of seven killed in the incident, was 45 at the time.
Led Zeppelin drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham died on Sept. 25, 1980, of asphyxiation on his own vomit due to consumption of alcohol while sleeping at Jimmy Page's house in Clewer, Windsor, England. He was 32. The remaining members of the band would decide to disband in December 1980 rather than replace Bonham, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock music.
Blues rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was 35 when, on Aug. 27, 1990, he died when the helicopter he was riding crashed into the side of a ski hill after leaving a concert in East Troy, Wisconsin.
Cass Elliot, known as Mama Cass and a member of The Mamas & the Papas, died in her sleep from a heart attack at the age of 32 on July 29, 1974 in London, England.
Keith Moon, the drummer for The Who, died from an accidental prescription drug overdose at the age of 32 in London on Sept. 7, 1978.
Former Beatle John Lennon was 40 when Mark David Chapman shot him in the back four times on Dec. 8, 1980, as Lennon and wife Yoko Ono returned to their New York City apartment. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of the nearby Roosevelt Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 p.m.
Actor James Dean's short-lived career ended with his death in a car crash near Cholame, California, at age 24 on Sept. 30, 1955. He is best known for his starring role in "Rebel Without a Cause," in which he personified the restless American youth of the mid-'50s. His acting career only lasted a little over a year, but his three films and tragic car crash death made him an American legend.
Fate wasn't kind to either of Dean's "Rebel" co-stars, including Natalie Wood, who died by accidental drowning while on a weekend trip to Santa Catalina Island at the age of 43 on Nov. 29, 1981.
Sal Mineo, another star of "Rebel Without a Cause," was stabbed to death in the alley behind his apartment building in West Hollywood on Feb. 12, 1976. He was 37 years old.
Actress, model, showgirl, and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe died from an overdose of barbiturates at age 36 on Aug. 5, 1962. The photogenic actress made only 30 films in her lifetime, but still became a cultural icon and was nicknamed "The Blonde Bombshell." She was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute in 1999.
Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died at age 45 on Nov. 24, 1991, of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS, only one day after publicly acknowledging he had the disease.
Country legend Hank Williams, whose best-known songs include "Lovesick Blues," "Honky Tonkin'" and "Your Cheatin' Heart," died suddenly in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 1953, at the age of 29 from heart failure brought on by pills and alcohol. He was riding in the backseat of a Cadillac somewhere in Virginia or West Virginia on the way to a New Year's Day show in Canton, Ohio, when he died.
Country singer Patsy Cline was 30 years old and at the peak of her fame when she died in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, on March 5, 1963, along with her manager Randy Hughes and long-time country musicians Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas.
Punk rocker Sid Vicious died at age 21 on Feb. 2, 1979, from a heroin overdose. In 1977 he joined the Sex Pistols, the band that initiated the punk movement in the U.K. Vicious was the bass player, and he became known for his charisma and wild antics on and off stage.
Singer and drummer Karen Carpenter, one half of the pop duo group The Carpenters with her brother Richard, died of heart failure on Feb. 4, 1983, at the age of 32 in Downey, California. Carpenter's death, which was related to complications caused by the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, led to increased visibility and awareness of eating disorders.
Bon Scott, the original lead singer for AC/DC, died from choking on his own vomit at the age of 33 in London, England, on Feb. 19, 1980. Scott had passed out after a night of drinking and had been left to sleep in a car owned by an acquaintance. The following morning he was found lifeless in the vehicle. The official cause of death was later listed as "acute alcohol poisoning" and "death by misadventure." While AC/DC considered breaking up after Scott's death, they instead recruited new singer Brian Johnson and released the album "Back in Black" as a tribute to Scott five months after his death.
Rockabilly singer-songwriter and musician Eddie Cochran, the rock 'n' roll pioneer whose hit songs included "Summertime Blues," "C'mon Everybody" and "Somethin' Else," died at age 21 of severe head injuries in Bath, Somerset, England, on April 17, 1960, the day after being in a road accident in which he was thrown from a taxi. Cochran was riding in the backseat of the car along with his fiancée, songwriter Sharon Sheeley, and fellow singer Gene Vincent, when their speeding taxi blew a tire while traveling on a highway through Chippenham, Wiltshire, England. The taxi lost control and crashed into a lamp post. Sheeley, Vincent and the taxi driver, George Martin, survived the accident, although Vincent suffered lasting injuries to his leg.
Rock 'n' roll and rockabilly pioneer Gene Vincent, best known for his 1956 hit "Be-Bop-A-Lula," died on Oct. 12, 1971, at the age of 36 from a ruptured stomach ulcer.
Country singer-songwriter Gram Parsons, who also recorded with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, died Sept. 19, 1973, of a drug overdose in a hotel room in Joshua Tree, California, at the age of 26. Seeking to fulfill Parson's wish to be cremated and spread over Joshua Tree National Monument, close friend Phil Kaufman later stole Parson's body from the Los Angeles International Airport and set his remains on fire in the park. Since there was no law against stealing a dead body, Kaufman and a friend who helped him were fined only $750 for stealing the coffin.
Three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant (third from left), guitarist Steve Gaines (seated, second from right) and backup singer Cassie Gaines, were killed along with three others in a plane crash in Gillsburg, Mississippi, on Oct. 20, 1977. Van Zant was 29, Steve Gaines was 28 and Cassie Gaines was 29.
River Phoenix, the older brother of actor Joaquin Phoenix, collapsed and died of drug-induced heart failure on the sidewalk outside the West Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room at age 23 on Oct. 31, 1993. He began acting at age 10, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Danny in "Running on Empty" in 1988.
Singer Florence Ballard, one of the founding members of the Motown group The Supremes, died Feb. 22, 1976, at age 32 in Detroit, Michigan, from cardiac arrest caused by a blood clot in one of her coronary arteries. She sang on 16 top 40 singles with The Supremes, including 10 No. 1 hits, before Motown founder Berry Gordy removed her from the group in 1967. Ballard was posthumously inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Supremes in 1988.
Comedian and actress Gilda Radner, best known as one of the original cast members of the sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live," died of ovarian cancer on May 20, 1989, at the age of 42 in Los Angeles. While on "Saturday Night Live," Radner created recurring characters such as obnoxious personal advice expert Roseanne Roseannadanna, the Barbara Walters parody "Baba Wawa," and Emily Litella, an elderly hearing-impaired woman who gave angry and misinformed editorial replies on the "Weekend Update" segment. She met actor Gene Wilder while filming the 1982 comedy "Hanky Panky" and the two were later married. She also starred with Wilder in the movies "The Woman in Red" and "Haunted Honeymoon" (pictured), her last role prior to her death.
Michael Jackson was preparing for a worldwide comeback tour when he died in June 2009 at age 50.
"Wizard of Oz" star Judy Garland had a long struggle with alcohol and drug use during most of her career, dying of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 47 on June 22, 1969.
Actor Brad Renfro, who made his film debut at the age of 11 in the lead role of "The Client," died of heroin overdose on Jan. 15, 2008, at the age of 25 in Los Angeles. Renfro also appeared in movies such as "Sleepers," "Apt Pupil" and "Deuces Wild."
Singer-songwriter Jim Croce, known for such songs as "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle," died along with five others in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on Sept. 20, 1973. Croce was 30.
Jimmie Rodgers, one of the first country music superstars and pioneers, died May 26, 1933, from a pulmonary hemorrhage at age 35 in New York City. Rodgers, whose hits included "Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas)," "Blue Yodel No. 9," "In the Jailhouse Now," "No Hard Times" and "T.B. Blues," was also known as "The Singing Brakeman," "The Blue Yodeler" and "The Father of Country Music." He began performing in his early teens before working on the railroad as a water boy and brakeman, but his railroad career was cut short when he contracted tuberculosis at age 27. When the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was established in 1961, Rodgers was one of the first three inductees.
Singer and actor Bobby Darin, a 1950s teen idol best known for the songs "Splish Splash," "Dream Lover", "Mack the Knife" and "Beyond the Sea," died at age 37 on Dec. 20, 1973, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after undergoing surgery to repair two artificial heart valves he had received in January 1971.
Singer and musician Nat King Cole, known for his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres, died of lung cancer on Feb. 15, 1965, at the age of 49 in Santa Monica, California. Some of Cole's best known songs include "Unforgettable," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "The Christmas Song," "Nature Boy," "Mona Lisa," "Too Young" and "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer."
Actress Brittany Murphy, best known for her role in the 1995 comedy "Clueless," died at age 32 after collapsing in her Los Angeles home on Dec. 20, 2009. The Los Angeles County coroner later ruled that the primary cause of Murphy's death was pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication of over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Actor John Garfield, known for movies such as "Four Daughters," "They Made Me a Criminal," "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Gentleman's Agreement," died May 21, 1952, of a heart attack at the age of 39 in New York City. Garfield earned Academy Award nominations for his performances in "Four Daughters" and "Body and Soul" and was known for playing brooding, rebellious, working-class characters and his method acting. Called to testify before the U.S. Congressional House Committee on Un-American Activities in the late 1940s, he denied Communist affiliation and refused to "name names," effectively ending his film career.
Actress Jean Harlow, who became a 1930s sex symbol and is considered among the greatest movie stars despite her short career, died of kidney failure at age 26 in Los Angeles on June 7, 1937. Harlow's first major role was a starring turn in the Howard Hughes-directed "Hell's Angels" in 1930. She went on to star in a string of hit films as a leading lady for MGM, including "Red Dust," "Dinner at Eight," "Reckless" and "Suzy."
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