Film And TV Stars That Died Way Before Their Time


As decades continue to pass, many have forgotten the young celebrities who have died too young.  The reasons some of these celebrities have died will shock you. Click Start Slideshow to view our heart breaking list of young actors and actresses who have died at a young age.

Cory Monteith

“Glee” star Cory Monteith had a long history of alcohol and substance abuse, which started when he was only 13 years old. When he was 19, he went to rehab and eventually kicked the habit when he started getting into acting. Unfortunately, his old habits came back to haunt him, and the star was found dead from a drug overdose at the age of 31.

Heath Ledger


Australian actor Heath Ledger was praised for his various performances in films such as “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Dark Knight”. On January 22, 2008, just a few months after he finished work on “The Dark Knight”, the actor was found dead from accidental prescription drug intoxication at the age of 28. He would receive Oscar and Golden Globe wins for his portrayal of The Joker.

Bridgette Andersen


Bridgette Andersen got her big break at the age of seven with her performance in the 1982 film “Savannah Smiles”. The California native had addiction problems as a teen, but she tried to kick the habit while working at a health food store. Unfortunately, she would die at the age of 21 from an alcohol and drug overdose on May 18, 1997.

Heather O’Rourke


Heather O’Rourke gained fame in the horror film genre with her classic line “They’re here” in the 1982 film “Poltergeist”. She would reprise her role in “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” and “Poltergeist III”. Aside from films, the San Diego native appeared on “Happy Days”, “Webster” and “The New Leave It to Beaver”. On February 1, 1988, she died from cardiac arrest at the age of 12.

Brittany Murphy


Atlanta native Brittany Murphy broke out on the scene with the role of Tai Frasier in the film “Clueless”, which was followed with her portrayal of Luanne Platter on the hit Fox animated sitcom “King of the Hill”. On December 20, 2009, she would pass away from pneumonia and anemia at the age of 32.

Skye McCole Bartusiak


Skye McCole Bartusiak made her big screen debut in “The Cider House Rules”, which was followed up with roles in “The Patriot”, “Riding in Cars with Boys” and “Boogeyman”. She was best known for portraying Megan Matheson on the hit Fox series “24”. On July 19, 2014, she died from an accidental drug overdose at the age of 21.

River Phoenix


In the ’80s, River Phoenix became a teen idol with appearances in the films “Explorers”, “Stand By Me” and “Running on Empty”, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. On October 31, 1993, the Oregon native died at the age of 23 from a combined drug intoxication outside of The Viper Room in West Hollywood.



R&B singer Aaliyah made the transition into acting with her co-starring role in the 2000 action thriller “Romeo Must Die”. On August 25, 2001, the Detroit native was killed in a plane crash at the age of 23. The following year, her second and final film “Queen of the Damned” was released to the public.

Brandon Lee


After appearances in “Kung Fu: The Movie” and “Showdown in Little Tokyo”, Brandon Lee had his breakout role of Eric Draven in the hit 1994 action film “The Crow”. On March 31, 1993, the actor was accidentally killed by a prop gun at the age of 28 while shooting the film. The movie has gained a strong following worldwide.

Bruce Lee


Bruce Lee is considered one of the best martial arts stars of all time with his roles in “Way of the Dragon”, “Enter the Dragon” and “Fist of Fury”. On July 20, 1973, he died from cerebral edema at the age of 32. 20 years after his death, he gained a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Judith Barsi


In the ’80s, child actress Judith Barsi lent her voice to the characters Ducki in “The Land Before Time” and Anne-Marie in “All Dogs Go to Heaven”. On July 25, 1988, she and her mother Maria were killed by her father in double-murder suicide at the age of 10.

Lee Thompson Young

Lee Thompson Young was best known for his roles of Jett Jackson in “The Famous Jett Jackson”, Cyborg in “Smallville” and Detective Barry Frost in “Rizzoli & Isles”. On August 19, 2013, the actor was found dead in his apartment from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 29.

Brad Renfro


Brad Renfro was known for his roles of Mark Sway in “The Client”, Huckleberry Finn in “Tom & Huck” and Erik in “The Cure”. His career faded away from years of drug and alcohol addiction, which would lead to a handful of arrests. On January 15, 2008, he died at the age of 25 from a heroin overdose. Mark Foster, who was Renfro’s roommate, wrote a song about his death called “Downtown”.

Jonathan Brandis


Jonathan Brandis was nominated for a handful of Young Artist Awards for his work in “The Flash”, “The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter”, “Lady Bugs” and “seaQuest DSV”. On November 12, 2003, the actor committed suicide by hanging himself at the age of 27. Three films were released after his death, including 2005’s “Bad Girls From Valley High”.

Anissa Jones


At the age of eight, Anissa Jones became a child star with the role of Buffy on the sitcom “Family Affair”. After the show, it was hard for the Indiana native to find work, and she dropped out of school and started taking drugs. On August 28, 1976, she was found dead at the age of 18 from a drug overdose.

Justin Pierce


Justin Pierce was best known for portraying Casper in the 1995 film “Kids”, which earned him an Independent Spirit Award. On July 10, 2000, he was found hanging in his hotel room by security. He was 25 years old. A year before his suicide, he got married to stylist Gina Rizzo.

J. Madison Wright Morris


J. Madison Wright Morris made her acting debut in an episode of “Grace Under Fire” when she was nine years old. The Ohio native would land roles in “Earth 2”, “The Burning Zone” and “Safety Patrol”. On July 8, 2006, Madison married medical student Brent Joseph Morris. On July 21, 2006, one day after returning from her honeymoon, the actress died from a heart attack at the age of 21.

Bobby Driscoll


From 1943 to 1953, Bobby Driscoll was one of the biggest child stars out there with film credits in “So Dear to My Heart”, “Treasure Island” and “Peter Pan”. His inability to get work and placement in University High School caused him to use drugs, which led to him serving time in jail later on in life. On March 30, 1968, he died from heart failure at the age of 31.

Christopher Pettiet


In the early ’90s, Christopher Pettiet gained fame with his roles of Zach Crandell in the film “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” and Jesse James in the television series “The Young Riders”. On April 12, 2000, Pettiet died from an accidental drug overdose at the age of 24.

Tara Correa-McMullen


Tara Correa-McMullen had the recurring role of gang member Graciela Reyes on the CBS show “Judging Amy”. Unfortunately, on October 21, 2005, the actress was killed by gang member Damien Watts outside of her apartment. Her killer is currently serving consecutive life prison terms without parole. Reyes was 16 years old at the time of death.

Rob Knox


Hailing from England, Rob Knox struck it big when he landed the role of Marcus Belby in the 2009 film “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”. Unfortunately, his rise came to a tragic end when he was killed at the age of 18 trying to defend his brother outside of the Metro Bar in London.

Dana Hill


Dana Hill was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at a young age, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing an acting career. Her most known roles were Audrey Griswold in the comedy “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” and Max Goof in the animated series “Goof Troop”. On July 15, 1996, she passed away from a stroke after complications from Type 1 diabetes at the age of 32.


Josh Ryan Evans


Dwarfism didn’t stop Josh Ryan Evans from landing his most memorable role of Timmy Lenox in the NBC soap opera “Passions”. His performance would earn him two Soap Opera Digest Award wins and a Daytime Emmy Award nomination. On August 5, 2002, he passed away from complications during heart surgery at the age of 20. Eerily enough, his character died on the series that same day.


Michael Cuccione


Michael Cuccione, who made his acting debut in an episode of “Baywatch”, was best known as Jason “QT” McKnight in the parody boy band 2gether, who were featured in their own movie and television series on MTV. On January 13, 2001, the actor died from respiratory failure at the age of 16.

Ashleigh Aston Moore


Ashleigh Aston Moore got her big break with her portrayal of the characters Alpha and Donna in the Canadian children series “The Odyssey”. In 1995, she received her biggest role as Chrissy DeWitt in the film “Now and Then”. On December 10, 1997, she passed away at the age of 26 from pneumonia and bronchitis.

Michelle Thomas


Actress Michelle Thomas gained popularity with the roles of Justine Phillips in “The Cosby Show”, Myra Monkhouse in “Family Matters” and Callie Rogers Stark in “The Young and the Restless”. On December 22, 1998, she passed away from cancer at the age of 29. Her final role was in the 1999 film “Unbowed”.

James Dean


James Dean was considered one of the first teen idols with his roles in the 1955 films “Rebel Without a Cause” and “East of Eden”. On September 30, 1955, he died in a car crash at the age of 24. He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Oscar nomination for Best Actor.