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Hollywood’s Top Ten Tragic Figures

Updated on March 18, 2015

The extravagant lives celebrities lead always seem to captivate society. Often, they are permanent fixtures in their fans’ daily lives, as they watch these icons on TV and become invested in their adventures. They are almost a part of the family; many people grow up with them from childhood to old age. They are intrigued by their love life, marriages, divorces, lifestyles, births and deaths. A well-known celebrity passing away unexpectedly can be a shock, as the world pauses for a moment to mourn the loss of a fallen star. These are ten of the most prominent such Hollywood tragedies.

Anna Nicole Smith transitioned from modeling to acting in the mid-1990s.
Anna Nicole Smith transitioned from modeling to acting in the mid-1990s. | Source

# 10: Anna Nicole Smith

This former Guess model intrigued viewers from the moment she appeared on the Hollywood scene. Her Marilyn Monroe-esque appeal was incredibly alluring. She married a 90-year-old billionaire Texan and the world took notice again by labeling her an opportunist and gold digger. After her husband died, she became involved in a legal battle over her his estate. At that time, fans began to notice a physical change in Anna; the once curvaceous beauty began gaining weight and her public interviews made some wonder if she was abusing drugs. Later, she became a reality star with her television series The Anna Nicole Show that allowed viewers to take a peek into her personal life; it was definitely a train wreck waiting to happen and made her sudden passing of a drug overdose in 2007 somewhat less surprising.

Brittany Muirphy's passing was marked by extensive confusion regarding her cause of death, with toxic mold, drugs and pneumonia all potential explanations.
Brittany Muirphy's passing was marked by extensive confusion regarding her cause of death, with toxic mold, drugs and pneumonia all potential explanations. | Source

# 9: Brittany Murphy

Who could forget the '90s hit movie Clueless? Brittany Murphy shined as the insecure, bashful transfer student, Tai. At the time, it was difficult to see Murphy moving out of this type of role. However, she proved everybody wrong by branching out into more serious roles in movies like Girl Interrupted, Riding in Cars with Boys and 8 Mile. She was a rising star who accomplished a great deal in a short period of time; she was still in the process of conquering Hollywood when she suddenly passed away in December of 2009.

Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight" is widely considered to be one of the greatest villain portrayals in film history.
Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight" is widely considered to be one of the greatest villain portrayals in film history. | Source

# 8: Heath Ledger

Ledger was an Australian-born actor who quickly rose to fame in the U.S. Early in his career he became known for his roles in 10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight’s Tale and The Patriot. Later he received widespread acclaim for his role in Brokeback Mountain, and even more so for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, before The Dark Knight was released Ledger overdosed on a mixture of medications and was found dead in 2008.

"Kill Bill" reintroduced modern audiences to Carradine's work.
"Kill Bill" reintroduced modern audiences to Carradine's work. | Source

# 7: David Carradine

This movie martial arts legend led a very low key life. He was known for his role in the 70s TV show Kung Fu. He had smaller roles (mainly in “B” movies) throughout the rest of his career. However, most people know him as the titular character from the popular two-part Quentin Tarantino movie, Kill Bill. His death from apparent autoerotic asphyxiation in 2009 was a shock to fans across the world.

Patrick Swayze was survived by his wife Lisa Niemi, a dancer and actress.
Patrick Swayze was survived by his wife Lisa Niemi, a dancer and actress. | Source

# 6: Patrick Swayze

Dirty Dancing made audiences want to dance their problems away. Patrick Swayze is probably known most for this movie, for his role in Roadhouse and for his performance with Demi Moore in Ghost. Sadly, Swayze passed away in 2009 from Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

Bruce Lee is revered around the world by martial artists and movie fans alike.
Bruce Lee is revered around the world by martial artists and movie fans alike. | Source

# 5: Bruce Lee

This man revolutionized action movies and brought martial arts to the forefront. He is remembered for such movies as Enter the Dragon and Fists of Fury and for the TV series The Green Hornet. He was the founder of his own style of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do, and was described by his friends as being an extraordinarily philosophical man. His untimely death in 1973 due to a bad allergic reaction to medication shocked the entire world.

Whitney Houston's legacy lives on through her music.
Whitney Houston's legacy lives on through her music. | Source

# 4: Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston had a voice that brought an entire stadium to tears during her rendition of the National Anthem. She sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide and became a renowned actress in her debut in The Bodyguard. Her life was sometimes difficult to watch as she dealt with her troubling relationship with singer Bobby Brown. Her fans saw her go from being the Queen of Pop to struggling with drug addiction and legal woes. She passed away in 2012; her voice will never be replaced.

To many people, Christopher Reeve's will always be the definitive Superman performance.
To many people, Christopher Reeve's will always be the definitive Superman performance. | Source

# 3: Christopher Reeve

It is hard to associate any other face than Christopher Reeve’s with Superman. In fact, being a superhero runs in the family; his father, George Reeve, played Superman in the 1950s TV series.

Although the Superman series is Reeve’s best-known work, he did play in other movies like Somewhere in Time as well. In 1995, he suffered a spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed. Reeve remained very active for years in politics and social advocacy until his passing in 2004.

The picture of Marilyn Monroe on a subway grate is one of Hollywood's most iconic images.
The picture of Marilyn Monroe on a subway grate is one of Hollywood's most iconic images. | Source

# 2: Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was an American icon and one of Hollywood's biggest mainstream sex symbols. Most of her childhood was spent in foster homes, but this experience helped lead her to Hollywood. Some of her most popular films are How to Marry a Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Seven Year Itch with its infamous skirt blowing scene. Like many actresses in Hollywood, she received a lot of attention for her romantic encounters. The most notorious of these alleged encounters was with President John F. Kennedy. Her seductive rendition of the “Happy Birthday Song” made people wonder if there was something between the two. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe died from an overdose of barbiturates; many believe she actually committed suicide.

Elizabeth Taylor's wild love life likely added to her mystique.
Elizabeth Taylor's wild love life likely added to her mystique. | Source

# 1: Elizabeth Taylor

Known as the woman with the violet eyes. Elizabeth Taylor was the prototype for what a Hollywood actress should be: beautiful, poised and alluring. She began acting at the age of nine. She has appeared in countless movies, but the movie that everybody remembers most is Cleopatra. Her love life was just as fascinating as her films. She was married eight times, twice to Richard Burton who was her Cleopatra co-star. She passed away in 2011 due to congestive heart failure.

Which of these celebrities' passing saddened you the most?

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What other tragic celebrities do you remember?

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    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 3 years ago

      Elizabeth Taylor tragic? I disagree and bet she would have too. She had a full and amazing life. She was blessed with beauty, talent, and according to those who new her, brains and a kind heart. She became famous, wealthy and enjoyed critical acclaim. She was beloved and will be remembered. Her life was a triumph, not a tragedy.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 3 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I voted for Bruce Lee. He launched a legend, paving the way for Asians to be prominent in mass media, then died too soon. I understand it was a curse placed on him for opening a Martial Arts school in San Francisco. That curse extended to his son, who also died at age 32.

      I almost voted for Christopher Reeve, but decided not to, because being a quadriplegic for 10 years, he suffered long enough. The real tragedy was not his death, but his becoming a quadriplegic.

    • profile image

      Stargrrl 3 years ago

      Excellent hub. I think it was just a shame about Brittany Murphy's untimely death. I wonder about the deaths of Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger. I honestly don't know why anyone cared about Anna Nicole Smith, but it was too bad about her and her son, who died shortly after her.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      whitney houston is a legendary singer and actress, such a pity that she died due to drugs

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      So sad that so many have been lost too soon...and the list keeps growing.

      It makes me wonder that if they were not such public figures would their lives have been different.

      Angels are on the way to you this afternoon.

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