13 Truly Unlucky Celebs

An earlier post detailed 13 "Unlucky" celebrities as decided upon by Yahoo! OMG. And though we all mourn Tara Reid's botched implants and David Beckham's absence from the soccer pitch his first season in LA, most people know that for most people "unlucky" usually means a hell of a lot more than a sprained ligament.


The celebrity lifestyle can be rough and tumble at times. Drugs, sex, and fast machines all play a part in a culture that constantly needs to push farther and faster to keep up with the press and public demand. While some celebs simply take their wild ways too far and suffer the consequences, others endure heartbreak and disaster from the unlikeliest of sources. Whether struck down by their own hand or God's, here's a list of some of the most unfortunate Hollywood celebs through the years:


1942 - 1972. Cause of death: Motorbike Accident, age 30.

These days most people remember Brandon as the hopeful yet thoroughly annoying Joey from the Alan Ladd classic SHANE. But in his day, Brandon was an up-and-coming star of screen and stage. He made his Broadway debut at only 7 years old, participating in 492 performances of hit show "The Member of the Wedding." He was Oscar nominated at age 11 for SHANE (1953), and went on to feature in HUD (1963), In HARM'S WAY (1965), and other films, costarring with Paul Newman, Warren Beatty, John Wayne, Eva Marie Saint, and James Stewart.

In July of 1972 Brandon was schedule to appear in the Leonard Gershe play "Butterflies Are Free" in Denver, Colorado. En route he swerved to avoid an accident, hit another vehicle, and wound up pinned under his motorcycle with massive injuries. He died shortly afterwards.

1895 - 1926. Cause of death: Complications from surgery, age 31.

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi was born in Italy in 1926. As a young man he had trouble finding work in both Italy and in France, and soon immigrated to the US where he shortly wound up living on the streets, performing a number of odd jobs in order to get out of the gutter. He found himself in further trouble when he was mixed up in a divorce and murder scandal, and after being arrested and put out on bail, he high-tailed it to the west coast. In just a few years he had carved out a niche for himself as a prominent bit player, and went on to star in THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE (1921), THE SHEIK (1921), and other adventure-cum-romance films that sold to a solid female audience.

After a few more scandals, including two simultaneous marriages, a one-man strike against his studio, his work box office slumped and he struggled to regain his footing in Hollywood. In summer 1926 Valentino had surgery for a perforated ulcer after collapsing in New York. Though seemingly recovered, he died of complications a few weeks later. He was 31. His funeral drew an attendance of over 100,000 hysterical people.

11. MARC BOLAN, Rock Star.
1947-1977. Cause of death: Drunk driver, age 30.

Although ridiculed sometimes for his dandy image and blatant plagiarism of 1950's pop songs, Marc Bolan and his band T.Rex were the first big British band of the 1970's, with hits such as Bang a Gong (Get it On), Ride a White Swan, Metal Guru, Hot Love, and 20th Century Boy. Both Marc and the press often repeated that he had achieved in two years the success the Beatles had managed in ten, and the fans seemed to agree. With his first appearance on Top of the Pops in 1971, Marc's glitter eye-makeup launched a thousand screaming fans, and the Glam Rock movement was born.

Despite massive chart success, however, Marc's star soon began to fade, eclipsed by the rise of sometimes-friend David Bowie. By 1975 Marc was a has been. Depressed, he turned to cocaine, deserted his vegetarian diet and put on a massive amount of weight. His strained marriage came to an end, leaving him at rock bottom. This wasn't to last however. Marc and his new girlfriend, singer Gloria Jones ("Tainted Love") had a son, and Marc worked to lose the weight and shake his addiction drugs. He put out a few new singles which received moderate success, and landed a gig to host his own music TV show, MARC. Things were on the upswing. One fear Marc never conquered however, was that of driving a car. In September of 1977, just a few days after featuring David Bowie on his show, Marc had Gloria drive them home from a club, even though she was buzzed. She plowed the car into a tree, killing Marc instantly.

10. LUPE VELEZ, Actress, Dancer.
1908 - 1944. Cause of death: Accident following botched suicide, age 36.

Lupe Velez was born in Mexico but moved first to Texas and then to Hollywood, where she was a bit player for many years. Never achieving the professional success she desired, she moved first to Broadway and then to Europe, finding little work. Eventually she returned to Hollywood and found some success in the Mexican Spitfire series in which she starred with Leon Errol, popular at the time but today would be seen as quite racist and stereotypical.

Lupe in her lifetime was always better known for her romances with Gary Cooper and Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller. It was her final romance however, with Harald Maresch, that would be her downfall. Lupe discovered she was pregnant in late 1944, and devoutly Catholic would not stand for an abortion or the birth of an illegitimate child. When Maresch refused to marry her, she attempted suicide by downing sleeping pills. Rumor has it, however, that she was found by the toilet -- the overdose didn't work as planned, and on her way to the bathroom to expel the contents of her stomach, Lupe slipped and hit her head on the toilet seat, where she was found the next morning.

9. SAL MINEO, Actor, Singer.
1939-1976. Cause of death: Fatal stabbing, age 37.

Sal Mineo will always be remembered for his breakthrough role as Plato in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, a film whose main cast all suffered untimely deaths. Though never as popular as either James Dean or Natalie Wood, Sal was well-known in his time and starred in GIANT (1956) as a Mexican boy, also with Dean, and though Sicilian, he went on played Jews, Native Americans, and other ethnic characters. He was often cast as gay characters or juvenile delinquints. Sal was twice Oscar nominated, in 1955 for REBEL and again for EXODUS (1960).

One night on his way home, Sal was accosted by a mugged who stabbed him just once and fled. Unfortunately the knife hit home and Sal was killed instantly. Though a simple mugging, the cause was first attributed to a "homosexual motivation" on account of Mineo's public bisexuality (and private homosexuality).

8. HEATHER MILLS, Model, Amputee.
1968 - ?

Hear me out on this one. Bad attitude aside, Heather Mills is one unlucky chick. When Heather was only eight years old, she was sexually assaulted. The next year her mother abandoned the family, and her father was sent to prison. Forced back into her mother's care, Heather eventually ran away when she was 15 and ended up living on the streets for a number of months. Starting her infamous "modeling" career in order to make a few bucks and to help refugees escape from the Croation War, Heather only started to get a leg up in the industry when it was succinctly cut out from under her after an awful motorcycle accident left her an amputee in 1993. Taking that in stride as her dreams slipped away, she campaigned for amputees and set up a beneficial charity in London.

In 1999 Heather met Paul McCartney, and they were married barely four years after the passing of Paul's wife Linda. After Paul and his family grew tired of her, she was unceremoniously dumped in 2006 and the press as well as rabid Beatles fans poured their derision upon her. Unwilling to take the defeat with grace, Mills fought her imminent divorce kicking and screaming, further providing the media the means to ridicule her. Fraught with distress, she continues her downward spiral even today, petitioning for PETA and veganism between outbursts. Though still alive and rich off her divorce settlement, Mills is doomed to suffer a lifetime of bad press and in her daughter Beatrice a painful glimpse into what her marriage could have been.

1899 - 1968. Cause of death: Asphyxiation during robbery, age 69.

Another classic Hollywood heartthrob, Ramon Novarro (born José Ramón Gil Samaniego) played romantic leads like no other, taking over for friend Rudolph Valentino upon his untimely death. Starring in the epic SCARAMOUCHE (1923), the original BEN-HUR (1925), MATA HARI (1932), and other big-budget films, he had a string of successes with notable co-stars Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, and Greta Garbo before his fame cooled. Like co-star Lupe Velez, Ramon was born Mexican and a devout Catholic, which put him at odds with his homosexuality, which led him towards a reclusive life as he aged.

In 1968 Ramon paid two brothers to come to his home for sex. Like the Kansas Clutter murders ten years earlier, the men erroneously believed Novarro had a huge stash of money hidden in his house, and tortured him for hours before leaving with a mere $20. Ramon died from asphyxiation after a dildo, a present from old friend Rudy, was repeatedly shoved down his throat and he choked on his own blood. The murderers were released on probation soon after their trial, however ultimately wound up back in jail on other charges.

1931 - 1955. Cause of death: Car accident, age 24.

Everyone's favorite American rebel was born in Indiana in 1931. His mother died shortly after the family relocated to Santa Monica, which had a profound effect on him, and his father sent him back to Indiana for schooling. He tried a number of pastimes includeing sports, science, and theater. Eventually he wound up transferring from Santa Monica Community College to UCLA to major in theater, but he dropped out in 1951 to kick start his career.

After kicking around in Hollywood and New York for a few years, and famous for hosting ambiguous parties on Fire Island, Dean's success came in a short burst, landing him leads in EAST OF EDEN (1955), REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) and GIANT (1956). However Dean had just barely begun to taste his fame when he was killed in a head-on accidental collision that catapulted him from teen sensation to cultural hero. Both Dean's passenger and the other driver survived. In 1956 and later in 1957 Dean was nominated for posthumous Academy Awards for REBEL and GIANT, and was the first actor to have that honor, though he lost both times.

1946 - 1991. Cause of death: Complications due to AIDS, age 45.

African-born, Indian-raised Freddie Mercury always knew he was a star, but by the mid 70's everyone else agreed. However starting with first big single Killer Queen in 1974, the enigmatic Queen front man suffered printed assault from the music press and scandal sheets alike, and was often used and abused by his lovers, often telling the press he had no real friends, and no real loves other than his onetime girlfriend Mary Austin. Luckily the fans disagreed, and by the end of the 70's Queen was the biggest band in the world, and would go on to outsell and out chart the Beatles in their native UK.

Most remembered for his smash-hit classic Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie's crowning moment was Queen's 20 minute set during the Live Aid concert in 1985, where he floored not only the 75,000 fans in attendance and the billions watching at home, but but also the cream of the music crop who put on the impressive show. However this glory was not to last. While friends like David Bowie managed countless years of promiscuous sex without consequence, Freddie's bed-hopping caught up with him when was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, after he had finally found a stable relationship with then partner Jim Hutton. Hounded by the media until his dying day, Freddie managed to record three more albums with Queen before he passed away in 1991, possibly months shy of drugs that would have saved his life.

1964 - ?

As in the case with Heather Mills, sometimes the most tragic lives are those that must continue to endure pain and struggle. Though Keanu Reeves is far from synonymous with tragedy, his life is a far cry from his role as stoner Ted Logan. Born in Beirut, Reeves' losses started early when his father was imprisoned for selling cocaine, and later abandoned the family. He has three sister, but his only full sister, Kim, was diagnosed with leukemia in the 90's.

Keanu's promising acting career started in the early 80's, and he co-starred with in memorable films such as DANGEROUS LIASONS (1987) with Glen Close, John Malkovitch, and Uma Thurman, and the breakthrough BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, which unfortunately saw him typecast as an airhead. He went on to more diverse roles in MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991), and SPEED (1994), though always kept away from the limelight. On the heels of his MATRIX (1999) success, Keanu's fiancee Jennifer Syme had a stillborn child. Still traumatized by this unhappy turn of events while filming the subsequent Matrix films, Keanu was further devastated when Jennifer was killed in a car accident two years later. He has since remained mostly unattached and refrains from speaking about his loss in public.

3. ADRIENNE SHELLEY, Actress, Director.
1966 - 2006. Cause of death: murder, age *40.

Say what you will about WAITRESS (2006), but it is damned hard to make it as a female director in Hollywood, which makes Adrienne Shelley's tale all the more heartbreaking. Starting her career at the infamous Stagedoor Manor acting camp in upstate New York, Shelly originally went to Boston University to study film before dropping out to pursue an acting career. She appeared in a number of indie favorites in the 90's, but is most well known for her directorial debut, Waitress, which was accepted to the Sundance Film Festival in 2007.

Unfortunately before Shelly was able to see her hard work come to fruition, she was brutally murdered by a downstairs neighbor in her Manhattan apartment during a theft in late 2006. Her death was initially covered up as a suicide. Three months later Waitress was shown to critical acclaim at Sundance, and went on to make $18 million dollars at the box office.

1946 - 1989. Cause of death: Ovarian cancer, age 42.
1933 - ?

Gilda Radner has long been regarded as one of few truly recognized female comedians. Starting off in theater and improv, she was the first member cast for the new show Saturday Night Live in 1975, and quickly rose to one of it's most regarded players, and won an Emmy in 1978. She continued to perform on Broadway and in film, and in 1980 married her first husband, a musician.

However in 1982 Gilda met actor Gene Wilder (late of two failed marriages) and the two fell in love "at first sight." She quickly ended her relationship and the two were married in 1984, Gilda was 38 and Gene was 49. They were inseparable and played well off each other professionally.

Before they were able to have any children, Gilda was diagnosed with fast-acting ovarian cancer in 1986. Through treatment it went into remission, but by 1989 had returned and metastasized. Gilda had to be taken in for further medical testing, and paranoid she wouldn't wake up, had to be sedated before being made unconscious for the test. Her fears were confirmed when she remained in a coma for the next few days, until she died. Gene was by her side the whole time, and believing that she would pull through, never got the chance to say good bye while she was awake.

1. SHARON TATE, Actress.
1943 - 1969. Cause of death: Murder, age *26.

Sharon Tate is more well known now for her murder than for her career. Though a talented actress, during her time she was more regarded as arm candy for her famous husband, director Roman Polanski, and her death caused not only a media sensation but rippling effects that are still being felt almost 40 years on.

Tate began her career like many beautiful girls, winning beauty pageants before heading to Hollywood where she starred in a dozen films of middling importance, many of which were panned as no one took her seriously as an actress. She was linked with many men during the years, but turned down offers of marriage instead to focus on her career. Though her relationship with Polanski was open, they eventually married anyway, and fell into a very social crowd of friends.

Two weeks shy of giving birth to her first child, Tate was at home in Hollywood with friends when they were tortured and brutally murdered by the Manson family as a warning gesture to a former tenant. Tate's unborn child was removed from her person during the course of the horrible attack, which was photographed and plastered all over the news. The tragedy was devastating not only for those left in its wake, but for the fun-loving Hollywood community of which Sharon had been a part. It also gave the cops enough to take down the Manson family once and for all, culminating in a stand off at the group's Spahn Ranch base in Death Valley, where Manson was found hiding in the bathroom. Tate's family became staunch advocates of victim's rights, and though most have since passed away, the survivors continue to fight on Sharon's behalf and on behalf of murder victims everywhere.

13 other notables:
* Kelsey Grammer - see comments.
* Vic Morrow - Accidentally decapitated on the set of the TWILIGHT ZONE film.
* George Reeves - murdered/suicide.
* Bob Crane - found killed in a motel.
* Brandon Lee - accidentally shot on set.
* Billie Holliday - rape victim.
* Connie Francis - see comments.
* Montgomery Clift - see comments.
* Phil Hartman - murdered brought on by wife's medication.
* Gabrielle Union - rape victim.
* Fran Drescher - rape victim, cancer.
* River Phoenix - Accidental overdose.
* Heath Ledger - Accidental overdose.

Source: me. Wikipedia for fact checks and Google for photos, stored on my server.