24 Actors Who Died in the Middle of Filming Something

When an actor dies on set, the project (if ever completed) is an eternal memorial, forever remembered for the unique and shocking tragedy. Below is a list of notable celebrities who died while filming a movie or TV show, from Heath Ledger to Brandon Lee to Marilyn Monroe. The list also includes famous actors killed on set. The untimely deaths of the following actors and actresses occurred either while they were on set, during the middle of filming, or before production was completed on the project. These unexpected and tragic deaths of television and film entertainers were shocking and the celeb’s loss was felt all over the world, while there are also other deaths on this list that have even been considered some of the most fascinating unsolved Hollywood murders. Which Hollywood stars spent their final days while in the middle of making a movie or television show? One of the most recent examples of such a tragedy is Cory Monteith, who was starring on the hit musical comedy show Glee at the time of his death. The young Canadian actor was found dead in his hotel room in Vancouver, Canada, and the cause was later revealed to be a lethal mix of heroin and alcohol. There are other celebs on the list below who suffered a similar fate, including fellow promising actors such as Heath Ledger and River Phoenix, both of whom died from a drug overdose. The list also includes Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood, both lovely and talented actresses who passed away while they were in the middle of filming a movie. Both of their deaths have also remained a mystery for many years.  

Some of these stars of the silver screen took their last breath while on the set of a film or TV show, often due to a medical condition. John Ritter, Tyrone Power, and Redd Foxx both suffered from some type of heart failure on location. In other cases, like Brandon Lee and Vic Morrow, fell victim to unforeseen and tragic accidents on set. After reading this list of celebrity incidents where actors died tragically on set, check out this gallery of rock stars whose deaths were the most untimely.

 

On January 22, 2008, Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment from a drug overdose. The Australian actor had just wrapped filming Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and was in the middle of production for Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus when he passed away. Gilliam brought on Ledger’s close friends Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell to step in for Ledger’s character in his remaining scenes.

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Hollywood’s most famous blonde bombshell was in the middle of filming the comedy Something’s Got to Give when she was found dead at her Brentwood, CA home on August 5, 1962. Monroe’s cause of death was reported as an overdose of barbiturates resulting from a probable suicide.

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On November 30th 2013, Fast & Furious star Paul Walker died in a car accident after leaving a charity event with his former racing friend Roger Rodas. The two were killed almost instantly when the Porsche Rodas was driving lost control and slammed into a tree. Fast & Furious 7 was still in the middle of filming, resulting in Universal Pictures to consider the decision to indefinitely put the movie on hold. Eventually the decided to move forward with the project with a combination of special effects and stunt doubles.

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Before he could finish filming the drama Dark Blood, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose of on October 31, 1993 outside The Viper Room in Hollywood. The autopsy found various drugs including cocaine and morphine in his system. Dark Blood remained unfinished for 19 years and was finally released in 2012.

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On February 2, 2014, Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in a Manhattan hotel room from a heroin overdose. After more than 25 years of sobriety, the Oscar-winning actor (for Capote in 2006) had relapsed into addiction 8 months before his death. At the time, the second installment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay was in production, and Hoffman had a week left of filming. He was 46 years old.

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At the time of her mysterious death, Natalie Wood was in the middle of production of the movie Brainstorm. Wood drowned on November 29, 1981 off the coast of California’s Catalina Island during a weekend boat trip with her husband Robert Wagner, her Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken, and the boat’s captain Dennis Davern.

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Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, was killed in a stunt accident on the set of The Crow on March 31, 1993. Lee’s character was supposed to get shot in a scene, but the handgun used contained a fragment of a real bullet. He was hit in the abdomen and died later that day. He was 28.

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The breakout star of Fox’s musical comedy “Glee” was found dead in his Vancouver, Canada hotel room on July 13, 2013, during hiatus between the show’s 4th and 5th seasons. Authorities stated that the actor died from a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol, but ruled out any foul play. Monteith was 31.

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On September 11, 2003, while filming the ABC sitcom “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” John Ritter suffered from an aortic dissection caused by a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect. The actor was rushed to a hospital across the street and died later that evening.

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Beloved Australian adventurer and animal advocate Steve Irwin, famously known as The Crocodile Hunter, was stung and killed by a stingray on September 4, 2006 while filming the underwater documentary Ocean’s Deadliest.

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Horror film icon Bela Lugosi, best known for playing Count Dracula, Lugosi died from a heart attack on August 16, 1956 while filming Plan 9 from Outer Space. Director Ed Wood asked his family’s chiropractor to take over Lugosi’s scenes even though the man didn’t look or sound like the actor.

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John Candy suffered a massive heart attack and died in his sleep on March 4, 1994, just hours after he filmed his final scene in the comedy Wagons East!

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While filming the third season of NBC sitcom “Suddenly Susan,” David Strickland committed suicide by hanging himself in a Las Vegas hotel room on March 22, 1999.

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Known for starring on the classic sitcom “Sanford and Son,” actor Redd Foxx died on October 11, 1991 after suffering a heart attack on the set of his show “The Royal Family.”

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Diana Hyland was diagnosed with breast cancer and on died March 27, 1977, just 12 days after the first episode of her ABC series “Eight is Enough” aired. Her character was written out of the remainder of the first season.

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The veteran actor died on July 23, 1982 while filming a war scene for “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” Morrow and two child actors were shooting an escape scene when a helicopter hovering about 25 feet above crashed on top of them. The impact killed all three instantly.

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Hollywood icon Tyrone Power was filming the epic Solomon and Sheba when he suffered a massive heart attack on set during a fencing scene. Power died en route to the hospital on March 15, 1958.

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The Emmy-winning actor of “Hill Street Blues” died from urethral cancer on November 22, 1983 during the show’s fourth season.

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Playing Jock Ewing, the patriarch of the Ewing family on “Dallas,” Jim Davis appeared in 75 episodes during the show’s first three seasons. Davis died of a brain tumor on April 26, 1981 while season three was still on the air. His character later “died” in a helicopter crash on an episode that aired in January 1982.

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Before post-production was completed on Poltergeist III, the horror trilogy’s child star Heather O’Rourke died on February 1, 1988 from a cardiac arrest caused by septic shock brought on by the intestinal stenosis.

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John Colasanto died of a heart ailment on February 12, 1985 while co-starring as “Coach” on the hit NBC series “Cheers.” Colasanto’s last episode was titled “Cheerio, Cheers.”

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During a break from filming an episode of the TV show “Cover Up,” Jon-Erik Hexum shot himself in the head with a .44 magnum handgun loaded with a blank round. The actor died six days later on October 18, 1984 and his death was ruled accidental.

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British actor Oliver Reed died in a Malta pub on May 2, 1999 during production of Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning epic Gladiator. Reed suffered a heart attack and died after reportedly consuming toxic amounts of alcohol. His film scenes were later completed with the help of CGI techniques and body doubles.

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WWF wrestler Owen Hart passed away on May 23, 1999 during “Over the Edge,” a pay-per-view event. Hart was performing a stunt involving a safety harness that failed, causing the Canadian wrestler to fall 78 feet, bouncing chest first off the top rope.

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