Actors Who Died In Their 20's

Posted by : foongpc | Tuesday, August 12, 2008 | Published in


Will it happen? The Dark Knight is coming close to sinking Titanic in terms of worldwide revenue! The Dark Knight is certainly a very good film, in fact I dare say the best Batman movie of all. But to beat Titanic, one of the highest grossing movie of all time - will that be possible?

Photo from Wikipedia

Is Dark Knight's success due to the star power of the late Heath Ledger? A big possibility. Heath was at the height of popularity when he died of drug overdose. What a waste! He had so much potential, yet died so early. He was only 28.

With this in mind, I would like to pay tribute to those young Hollywood actors who died early in their career and their life. They had so much potential yet their life was cut short. As a result, they became legends in the Hollywood movie industry.

Photo from James Dean Gallery

James Dean, considered one of the greatest legends of the 20th century, was most famous for his role as a rebellious teenager in Rebel Without A Cause. He died at the age of 24, on Sept 30, 1955, after an automobile crash on the highway near Paso Robles, California. During his time, he was idolized by both men and women. His name was mentioned in the song American Pie sung by Don McLean and was even used as title of songs by The Eagles and Goo Goo Dolls.

Photo from Official Sharon Tate Fansite

Sharon Tate, a model and an actress was most famous in her Golden Globe nominated performance in Valley Of The Dolls. She was married to famous director Roman Polanski and was eight and a half months’ pregnant when she was murdered by followers of Charles Manson in Los Angeles on Aug 9, 1969. She was only 26.

Photo from Wikipedia

Jon-Erik Hexum, the star of popular sci-fi television series Voyagers! was a sex symbol during the height of his popularity. He was also famous for his relationships with Heather Thomas and Emma Samms. Hexum died on Oct 18, 1984 at the age of 26 after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a prop gun loaded with blanks on the set of CBS series, Cover Up in Los Angeles.

Photo from

Brandon Lee, son of martial arts film star Bruce Lee seemed to have suffered the "family curse" as he had died at the age of 28, almost 20 years after his father and before the release of the film that catapulted him to stardom. On Mar 31, 1993, Brandon was accidentally shot on the set of The Crow in Wilmington, North Carolina. Many fans believed his death was a result of foul play, but the police ruled it out.

Photo from Goddess Musings

River Phoenix , the older brother of actor Joaquin Phoenix, was hailed as highly talented by film critics. He was nominated for an Oscar for best Supporting Actor in the movie Running On Empty , portrayed the young Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and acted opposite Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho and Robert Redford in Sneakers. Known for his squeaky clean image, it was indeed a shock to his fans when River died at the age of 23 on Oct 31, 1993 from a drug overdose outside a night club in Los Angeles.

Photo from Who's dated Who

David Strickland, best known for his role as boyish rock music reporter in the NBC sitcom, Suddenly Susan starring opposite Brooke Shields suffered from bipolar disorder and had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. He died at the age of 29, after hanging himself in a hotel room in Las Vegas on March 22, 1999. Apparently, he chose not to take the drug that control his bipolar disorder on the day of his death.

Photo from

Jonathan Brandis, achieved teen idol status after acting in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi TV series, SeaQuest DSV. He dabbled in directing and scriptwriting and also acted in several movies before his popularity started to go downhill. Out of depression, Jonathan committed suicide by hanging himself in his home in Los Angeles on Nov 12, 2003. He was rushed to hospital but died from his injuries. He was only 27.

Photo from Papermag

Brad Renfro, made his movie debut in The Client and acted in many prominent movies including Sleepers opposite Robert de Niro, Kevin Bacon, Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt. Much of his career was marred by substance abuse. He died at the age of 25 on Jan 15, 2008 a day after reportedly spending the previous evening drinking with friends. His death was due to drug overdose.

Tragic? Yes, most definitely.

(17) Comments

  1. Anonymous

    oh my god.. so many rising stars that died at such young age.. such a waste..

    August 12, 2008 at 9:24 PM
  2. Dwacon said...

    Nice blog!

    August 13, 2008 at 8:52 AM
  3. Anonymous

    When they're taken so young and sudden, they become immortal, and live on in our hearts.

    August 13, 2008 at 11:24 AM
  4. Mizé said...

    Hi. Thanks for visiting.
    After reading your post, and because I´m more a music fan than movies, I started to of all the musicians that died young too. This made me think of a proverb we have here in Portugal: "God guives nuts to those who don´t have teeth", a real waste.

    August 13, 2008 at 12:01 PM
  5. eiling lim said...

    I still remember Jonathan Brandis. Gosh, I didn't realise.... so sad...

    August 13, 2008 at 6:41 PM
  6. Anonymous

    I do believe that part of the reason why Dark Knight is a success is due to the death of Ledger. Still it is so sad how so many young and talented people have met such tragic ends.

    August 14, 2008 at 1:46 AM
  7. Toni said...

    So sad. My brother has always said that if you are famous and in your twenties don't get on a plane and definitely don't do drugs... (not that you should do drugs anyway, but you know what I mean)

    I think there are several singers that fit as well...

    August 14, 2008 at 7:17 AM
  8. foongpc said...

    cbenc12, yes such a waste of talent!

    dwacon, thanks!

    cc, they become legends!

    mize, yes a lot of young musicians who died early too. Again what a waste of talent!

    eiling, it's sad alrite. Still remember watching him in Seaquest DSV long time ago.

    imitationangel, I guess when it's time to go, it's time to go! Sad but you can't stop what is meant to be.

    toni, very true - don't drink and drive and don't do drugs. But don't get on a plane may be quite impossible I think as young people like to travel nowadays!

    August 14, 2008 at 1:09 PM
  9. Bengbeng said...

    i remember omos all of them. tragic indeed

    August 16, 2008 at 8:11 AM
  10. foongpc said...

    Yes, very tragic indeed.

    August 16, 2008 at 1:33 PM
  11. Anonymous

    Batman is indeed a very good movie! The best of all batman series!

    August 16, 2008 at 8:40 PM
  12. Anonymous

    Bad omen to post or admire so many dead

    August 20, 2008 at 5:14 PM
  13. Caroline said...

    lol i dnt even know about some of them aye! is it because i was born late?? :P but really such a lost for entertainment industry. :)

    March 30, 2010 at 1:34 PM
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