Special Report

20 Movie and TV Stars Who Died Far Too Young

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company (NBC)

Michelle Thomas
> Year of death: 1998
> Age at death: 30
> Cause of death: Cancer
> Best known for: The Cosby Show, Family Matters

TV actor Michelle Thomas reportedly practiced a healthy lifestyle but nevertheless fell victim to a rare form of cancer. Former co-star and ex-boyfriend Malcolm-Jamal Warner (of “The Cosby Show”) was at her bedside during her final days.

Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

Brad Renfro
> Year of death: 2008
> Age at death: 25
> Cause of death: Heroin and morphine overdose
> Best known for: The Client, Sleepers

After breaking out at the age of 11 in 1994’s “The Client,” Renfro struggled with substance abuse and criminal behavior. A decade after his death, Buzzfeed used his rise and fall to examine the film industry’s supervision (or lack thereof) of at-risk child stars.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

Heath Ledger
> Year of death: 2008
> Age at death: 28
> Cause of death: Prescription medicine overdose
> Best known for: Brokeback Mountain, The Dark Knight

The world was shocked by the news of Heath Ledger’s deadly overdose, which occurred approximately six months before the release of his career-making role in “The Dark Knight.” A subsequent DEA investigation cleared two physicians and celebrity Mary-Kate Olsen — who owned the apartment where his body was found — of any wrongdoing. He won a posthumous Academy Award for his performance in the film as The Joker.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Brittany Murphy
> Year of death: 2009
> Age at death: 32
> Cause of death: Pneumonia, anemia, drug intoxication
> Best known for: Clueless; Girl, Interrupted; 8 Mile

An ill-fated movie shoot in Puerto Rico kicked off a bizarre string of events for actor Brittany Murphy, who fell sick and died soon after. Her husband Simon Monjack died under similar circumstances just five months later. To this day, both incidents remain shrouded in speculation.

Source: Courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment

Corey Monteith
> Year of death: 2013
> Age at death: 31
> Cause of death: Heroin and alcohol overdose
> Best known for: Glee

A history of substance abuse trailed Canadian TV star Corey Monteith to the set of the smash hit “Glee” and beyond. He’d recently completed a stay in rehab just months before overdosing in a Vancouver hotel room. Former co-star and then-girlfriend Lea Michele continues to pay tribute to Monteith on the anniversary of his death.