Hollywood is a place where people from all over the world flock to in an attempt to fulfill their dream of being an actress, an actor, a screenwriter, a director, or a singer. It is a place where people can become stars and stars can become legends. However, though it may be depicted in movies as being glamorous and romantic, Hollywood is also known as a place of depravity, dashed hopes, and early deaths. But sometimes it's their deaths that turned these stars (and some potential stars) into legends.
Fame can be elusive and once it is tasted, it can be addicting. Why else would people humiliate themselves for the chance to be on a reality TV show? Hollywood is known for being a sort of monster that will chew people up then spit them out. The public can love you one minute then hate you the next for seemingly no reason at all. This is the case of many of these Hollywood legends on the list. Many of these individuals had at least some success in their life but their fame would never reach the level that it has reached after their untimely deaths. It is a sad truth. Regardless, their deaths have captivated and fascinated readers and audiences for years and they will continue to do so in the years to come. This is because these deaths are tragic, creepy, baffling, bizarre, and very, very mysterious.
15 Heath Ledger
Few famous deaths have shaken the public to its core quite like the death of Heath Ledger and it continues to capture the imagination. The official cause of death was an accidental overdose but many believe that the death had a lot more to do with the fact that he was disturbed by his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. In the recent documentary Too Young To Die, Ledger's mother, Kim, reveals how his preparation for his role may have led to his demise. In the documentary, she shows his diary that he kept during his preparation for the role which featured his handwritten thoughts, photos of Malcolm McDowell as Alex in A Clockwork Orange. In a creepy segment, the end of the diary is revealed which has "BYE BYE" written in bold letters. His death is widely acknowledged as a product of his intense method acting as many claim that he locked himself in a hotel room for weeks and that he dove much too far into his character's psyche.
14 George Reeves
Besides his mysterious death, George Reeves is known for two things: playing Superman and hooking up with Eddie Mannix's wife, Toni Mannix. Eddie Mannix is the famed Hollywood fixer who effectively removed scandals involving MGM stars out of the newspapers. The theory that Mannix is the one who had Reeves killed is a popular one. Reeves died in the house that Toni had bought for him though he had already moved on with another woman. While he had guests downstairs, he died from a gunshot wound to the head. The incident is shrouded in mystery for many reasons, one being the fact that the shells were found underneath him. Also, there were two bullets found embedded in the floor. The coroners did not check for gun powder residue on Reeves' hands and the gun was mysteriously registered under Eddie Mannix's name. Very tragic and very mysterious.
13 Bruce Lee
Though Bruce Lee was only 32 when he died, he had become internationally famous for his work in film and television. When Lee died, his death was ruled "death by misadventure." However, it was not as adventurous as this ruling would have you believe. On July 20, 1973, Lee complained of a headache and his rumored lover, actress Betty Ting Pei, gave him Equagesic, a prescription painkiller. He took a nap and never woke up again. There are several theories in regards to his untimely death and they're all bizarre. One theory is that he was killed by members of the Chinese martial arts community who didn't like that he was revealing their secrets to the public in his films. Another was that he was killed by a mafia (this is a common theory for most Hollywood deaths). Another is that he was poisoned by Ting Pei on behalf of Chinese gangsters. Another theory is that he was cursed which brings us to the next mysterious death on our list.
12 Brandon Lee
Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee was filming his character's death sequence in The Crow a film that was supposed to be his big break. A single blank was supposed to be fired from a prop gun but, thanks to a neglectful and incompetent prop crew, the gun fired an actual bullet which hit him in the abdomen and killed him. He was only 28 years old. After Brandon's death, rumors of a curse on the Lee name were brought up once again but the theories and speculations get even weirder. In Bruce's last film, his character is accidentally killed by a real gun that was switched out for a prop gun. Also, a film on Bruce Lee's life, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was released soon after his death. In the film, Bruce fights metaphorical demons which eventually go after his son Brandon. Here's the thing though: this movie was written and shot before Brandon's death. Coincidence? Probably. But that doesn't keep people from speculating.
11 Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home in 1962 after a barbiturate overdose. Though it was ruled accidental, there are several theories that include murder. One of these theories implicates Bobby Kennedy who she was rumored to have an affair with (along with his brother, John F. Kennedy). Another theory alleges that she was killed by the Mafia, possibly on behalf of Bobby. Another theory includes her psychiatrist, Dr. Greenson, who some believe that she was having an affair with and he administered a lethal injection which killed her. More than likely, she was being manipulated and over-medicated by her doctor who wanted to keep control over her which would mean that she died how she lived, controlled by the men in her life. The truth is quite possibly much less sensation and much more somber than any of the theories.
10 Natalie Wood
The death of Natalie Wood is still shrouded in mystery and even though the incident occurred decades ago, it is still written about, talked about, and speculated on to this day. Wood, her husband Robert Wagner, and Christopher Walden were on a yacht together in Catalina and, on the night of her death, the three were drinking champagne together at a restaurant before returning to the yacht. The next day, Wood was found floating facedown in the water, one mile south of the yacht. Walden and Wagner both said that Wood had gone to her cabin to sleep while the two enjoyed a nightcap. Wagner noticed later that she wasn't in her room and the dinghy was missing. It is believed that Wood untied the dinghy in an attempt to go for a ride, but fell into the water with a heavy down-filled jacket on which weighed her down and caused her to drown. However, many people believe that there was some foul play involved.
9 Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly was the quintessential Hitchcock blonde and starred in two of his greatest films, To Catch a Thief and Rear Window. She was everything that movie stars were supposed to be, beautiful, elegant, yet sensual in an understated way. After she become a model, took Hollywood by storm, and won an Oscar, she captured the heart of Prince Rainier of Monaco and lived a real-life Cinderella story. However, she did not live happily ever after. In 1982, she and her daughter, Princess Stephanie, were driving along a bend in the Mediterranean principality when she allegedly suffered a stroke and drove off the edge which resulted in her death. There are still many rumors about her death including political scandals and an involvement in a secret cult. Though her death did not occur in Hollywood, she was planning to revive her acting career by returning to Hollywood but she never made it back.
8 Jayne Mansfield
Though you may not be familiar with her work, you've probably seen that photo of a disapproving Sofia Loren giving a busty blonde a judgmental side-eye glare. The blonde woman in the photo is Jayne Mansfield and her stardom was a product of a post-Marilyn Monroe Hollywood in which every studio wanted a blonde bombshell. The night that Mansfield died, she was in the car with her driver, boyfriend, and three of her children, one of which was Law & Order's Mariska Hargitay who was only three at the time. The crash allegedly occurred when the car collided with a tractor trailer which killed the three adults. Mansfield was only 32. The most mysterious aspect of the story is the rumor that Mansfield was decapitated by the crash. However, this rumor seems to have spread after Mansfield's blonde wig was found on the road.
7 Anna Nicole Smith
This is another celebrity death which did not take place in Hollywood, CA, but instead in Hollywood, FL. Anna Nicole Smith initially became famous when she was named as Playmate of the Year in 1993 and married the 89-year-old oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall. Sadly, she was known as a punchline more than anything else. Smith was found dead in 2007 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL and her death was ruled an accidental drug overdose. Though there are some bizarre theories that include murder and mind control, there were definitely some shady thing that surrounded her death. For instance, her son Daniel died from an accidental drug overdose a year before her death and another thing that the two had in common was that Smith's lawyer and lover Howard K. Stern was said to have been there at both deaths.
6 Heather O'Rourke and Dominique Dunne
This is the tale of another curse but this time, it involves the classic 80s horror flick, Poltergeist. The story of the curse started when the word got out that the skeletons used in the film weren't fake. That's right, they used actual skeletons because rubber skeletons were too expensive. 22-year-old Dominique Dunne was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend which was the first death that was said to be caused by the curse. Though there were the deaths of two cast members from Poltergeist II: The Other Side, the murder of an actor with a small role in the original movie, the most convincing case for the curse was the death of Heather O'Rourke (the little girl who delivered the famous like, "They're heeere.") who died of cardiac arrest when she was only 12. Tragic coincidence may be more likely than a curse but it doesn't keep people from speculating.
5 David Carradine
The Kill Bill actor, David Carradine was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand, naked and hanging by a rope in the closet. At first, the death was ruled a suicide but it soon become widely accepted as accidental auto-erotic asphyxiation and the theory was backed by two of his ex-wives who both stated that he enjoyed "self-bondage." However, his widow, Annie, has since conducted her own investigation and came to the conclusion that he was murdered. There is another theory that Carradine was killed by the same people who "killed" other celebrities such as Heath Ledger. These people are the "Hollywood Star Whackers" and it's the perfect conspiracy theory for those who are more interested in conspiracies than the truth. Whatever the cause, Carradine has become as famous for auto-erotic asphyxiation as he is for martial arts.
4 Lana Clarkson
The murder of Lana Clarkson at the hands of Phil Spector has found its way into Hollywood infamy and legend after she was found dead in Spector's mansion. The two of them were dropped off at the mansion while the driver waited outside. An hour later, the driver heard gunshots and Clarkson was indeed found with a gunshot wound in her head which killed her. Though Spector later said that it was an "accidental suicide" after she "kissed the gun", his driver claimed that he came out of the house with a gun saying, "I think I just shot her." There are other claims which included him flying into a rage right before shooting the actress. In 2009, Spector was charged with murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison. How exactly it all happened inside the house, we'll never know.
3 Sharon Tate
The murder of Sharon Tate is one of the most infamous Hollywood murders in history because of it's horrific, mysterious, and brutal nature. Tate, who was pregnant at the time, was murdered in her home along with celebrity hairstylist, Jay Sebring, and her two friends Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger. They were murdered by the members of Charlie Manson's "family" for no other reason than the fact that they were in the original home of record producer, Terry Melcher, who Manson hated for not giving him a record deal. The members of the family who murdered them did not even know who their victims were and killed them because Manson wanted them to. The most mysterious aspect of the case was that the killers wrote the word "Pig" in Tate's blood on the side of the house. This had to do with Manson's desire to start a race war and he hoped that the police would blame the murder on African-Americans. The whole story is bizarre, horrific, and incredibly tragic.
2 Brittany Murphy
Though Brittany Murphy's death was ruled accidental, there is still a heavy layer of mystery that envelopes the case. In 2009, Murphy collapsed in her bathroom and died while being transported to the hospital after going into cardiac arrest. Her death was attributed mostly to severe anemia and pneumonia. The strangest aspect of the story is that Murphy's husband Simon Monjack died in the same home just five months after her death. According to an independent lab report, there were "heavy metals" such as antimony and barium in her system which may have indicated foul play though her mother, Sharon, claimed that this was a lie. Another common theory was that their deaths occurred because of toxic black mold in their Beverly Hills home. Though this rumor was dismissed by Los Angeles Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter, a mold inspection of the home was never requested by the Health department.
1 Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dahlia
The brutal murder of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short is so horrific and mysterious that the story still captivates people today. On January 15, 1947, the dark-haired aspiring actress was found dead in an empty field in Los Angeles. Her body had been cut in half and drained of blood. Her intestines were removed and there were gashes cut into the corners of her mouth. The story became a media sensation as the police desperately searched for her killer and while several people confessed to the crime, they were released due to lack of evidence. The story of The Black Dahlia continues to fascinate people to this day and has inspired several movies, books, television specials, and the name of a death metal band. It has been 70 years since the murder yet no one was ever charged for the crime.