1. Marilyn Monroe
In 1962, the blonde bombshell had finally patched up her rocky reputation with Fox Studios and was set to resume filming on the comedy Something’s Got to Give, as well as being scheduled to appear in several future roles.
However, on August 5, Monroe’s housekeeper woke up “with a bad feeling” to discover the actress locked in her bedroom. A few hours later, doctors confirmed she had already passed away from a barbiturate overdose. She was 36.
2. Elvis Presley
The King of Rock’s health had long since been declining by the time he was attempting comeback tours in 1977. His addiction to several drugs had put a strain on his body, causing several ailments like glaucoma, an enlarged colon, and liver damage.
He was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor by his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, on August 16 at the age of 42.
3. James Dean
While on set filming what would become his final movie, Giant, the amateur racer was strictly banned from driving in any races until it was completed. As soon as they wrapped, Dean set out to enter a series of competitions in Salinas, CA.
On the way there, he and his mechanic suffered a head-on collision with a vehicle much larger than theirs. Though he reportedly had a weak pulse at the sight of the crash, Dean was announced dead on arrival at the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital. He was 24.
4. Judy Garland
At 47 years old, the multi-talented actress had become known for her on set antics, due to her alcohol and drug addiction. Garland was frequently absent and therefore fired from several projects, including the role of Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls.
On June 22, 1969, she was found in her apartment, and already passed away of an apparent accidental barbiturate overdose. Her former Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger was heard commenting at Garland’s funeral, “She just plain wore out.”
5. Jean Harlow
After suffering scarlet fever as a teen, Harlow frequently contracted ailments that kept her from filming throughout her career. When she fell ill on set with Clark Gable for Saratoga in 1937, she and her doctors assumed it was another case of the flu.
Bedridden, she was finally taken to a hospital when a physician brought in for a second opinion quickly realized she was in the end stage of kidney failure. At that point, it was too late. She fell into a coma and passed away at 26 years old.
6. Natalie Wood
Controversy has surrounded the details of Wood’s death since her passing in 1981 at the age of 43.
While out on her boat with husband Robert Wagner and her co-star at the time, Christopher Walken, the actress apparently fell after they had both gone to sleep and was discovered deceased the next morning. Wagner denies any involvement but still faces rumors from her doubtful fans.
7. Montgomery Clift
While at the height of his career as a handsome Hollywood actor in 1956, Clift was in a serious automobile accident that not only altered his looks, which took two months to heal, but also caused an emotional deterioration that led him to overindulge in alcohol and drugs.
His later career has been dubbed,”longest suicide in Hollywood history.” In 1966, his private nurse found him passed away in his bed after suffering a heart attack in the night. He was 45.
8. Dorothy Dandridge
Contradictory details surround the groundbreaking actress passing at 42 years old in 1965. According to a Los Angeles pathology institute, her death was ruled an accidental overdose of tricyclic antidepressants.
The local coroner office, however, lists the cause as a rare embolism that occurred after Dandridge fractured her foot at the gym a few days before.
9. Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer
After he outgrew his role in the Our Gang shorts, Switzer became a professional dog trainer. On January 21, 1957, the 31-year-old was having drinks with a friend when they decided to collect on a $50 they believed Switzer was owed.
While arguing with the man whose dog he had been training named Moses Stiltz, Switzer was shot with a revolver in the groin and died of massive internal bleeding. Stiltz claimed to be acting in self-defense, but his step-son, who witnessed the scuffle, has gone on record saying, “it was more like murder.”
10. Sharon Tate
At just two weeks away from giving birth to her son with husband, Roman Polaski, Tate was brutally murdered by members of the Charles Manson “family” at her own home. The actress was stabbed 16 times, with five of them being fatal blows.
She and her son, posthumously named Paul Richard Polanski, were buried together with the infant in her arms.
11. Jayne Mansfield
In 1967, Mansfield was traveling with three of her children, including famous actress Mariska Hargitay, for a series of shows in the South. On her way to New Orleans from Biloxi, MS, the vehicle they were in collided with the rear-end of a tractor-trailer, instantly killing the actress, her boyfriend, and the driver. The children sleeping in the back seat suffered only minor injuries.
Rumors continue to claim Mansfield was decapitated, but it was actually only the wig she had been wearing at the time that was photographed having landed on the car’s hood.
12. George Reeves
Though his cause of death was ruled as a self-inflicted gunshot in 1959, controversy still surrounds the Superman actor’s passing, with unreliable witness statements and lack of efficient testing done at the time.
According to reports, Reeves was upset with his girlfriend, Leonore Lemmon, for hosting a party late at night, and the revelers eventually heard a single gunshot from his bedroom. Lemmon claims he had been depressed by the decline of his career, but others have come forward saying she was either near or in his bedroom when the gun went off.
13. Lon Chaney
Known as the man with 1,000 faces, Chaney was filming scenes for Thunder in 1929 when false snow made of cornflakes became lodged in his throat and caused a serious infection.
Having already been diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer, he succumbed to the ailments, despite aggressive treatment, in 1930 at the age of 47.
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