30 Famous People Who Were Widowed Young

List of  who were widowed young, loosely ranked by fame and popularity. Several famous people have suffered the devastating blow of losing a spouse when they were young. Some lost their spouses to suicide, while others lost their significant others to cancer. Famous actors, musicians, authors, and politicians have all been widowed young.

Who is the most famous person who was widowed young? tops our list. The Hole front woman became a widow at age 30, after her husband Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. Cobain struggled with heroin addiction, illness and depression for most of his life and his death solidified him as a member of the forever 27 club. Conspiracy theorists believe that Love may have played a role in Cobain’s death.

became a widower at 38 when his wife Cassandra Harris died from ovarian cancer in 1991. Brosnan described the difficult time when his wife was dying of cancer saying “When your partner gets cancer, then life changes. Your timetable and reference for your normal routines and the way you view life, all this changes. Because you’re dealing with death. You’re dealing with the possibility of death and dying.”

Other women who are wives with dead husbands include Amy Yasbeck and Terri Irwin.

Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt was just 45 when his wife passed away in her sleep in April 2016, leaving behind their seven-year-old daughter. Michelle McNamara was a crime writer and founder of a website called TrueCrimeDiary.com. No cause of death was immediately revealed, but family and friends reported being shocked by her passing. McNamara was 46 years old.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden became a widower at age 30. His wife of six years, Neilia Hunter, died in a car accident in 1972, along with the couple’s one year-old daughter, Naomi. Their two sons, Beau and Hunter, survived the accident.

Biden married his second wife, Jill Jacobs, in 1975. They have one daughter, Ashley.

Katie Couric

Katie Couric became a widow at age 41. Her husband of 9 years, Jay Monahan, died from colon cancer in 1998. The couple had two children, Ellie and Carrie.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde became a widower at age 44. His wife of 14 years, Constance Lloyd, died after injuries associated with a fall down the stairs in 1898. At the time, the couple was estranged, and Wilde was in prison. After her death, Constance’s relatives sought legal counsel to keep Wilde away from their sons, Cyril and Vyvyan.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt became a widower at age 26. His wife of four years, Alice Hathaway Lee, died after complications with childbirth in 1884, when she was 22. The same day, his mother, Mittie, died of typhoid fever in the same house. Roosevelt left his baby with Lee, Alice, in the care of his sister while he grieved. He resumed custody of his daughter when she was three years old.

Roosevelt married Edith Kermit Carow in 1886. The couple had five children.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson became a widower at age 41. His wife of 10 years, Martha Wayles Skelton, died during childbirth in 1782. The couple had six children, only two of whom survived to adulthood. Keeping a promise he made to his dying wife, Jefferson never married again.

Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin became a widow at age 42. Her husband, crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, was killed by a stingray in 2006 at age 44. The couple had two children, Bindi and Robert.

Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda became a widower at age 45. His second wife, Frances Ford Seymour, committed suicide in 1950. After 13 years of marriage, Fonda had asked her for a divorce, and she entered a psychiatric hospital. On her 42nd birthday, she slit her own throat. She had a daughter from a previous marriage, and her children with Henry were Peter and Jane Fonda. He married three more times.

Courtney Love

Courtney Love became a widow at age 30. Her second husband, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide in 1994, two years after they married. Love has not re-married since.

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan became a widower at age 38. His wife of 17 years, Cassandra Harris, died from ovarian cancer in 1991. Brosnan and Harris had one son together, and he adopted her two children from a previous marriage, Charlotte and Christopher, after their father died in 1986. Tragically, Charlotte Harris also died of ovarian cancer in 2013, when she was 41.

Brosnan married Keely Shaye Smith in 2001, and the couple has two sons together.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor became a widow at age 26. Her third husband, Mike Todd, died in a plane crash a year after they married. Of Taylor’s eight marriages, it was her only one that did not end in divorce.

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne became a widower at age 28. His wife of just a few months, Phyllis Major, committed suicide in 1976. The couple had a son, Ethan, who was born in 1973.

Browne married his second wife, Lynne Sweeney, in 1982. Their son, Ryan, was born in 1982.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall became a widow at age 33. Her husband of 12 years, Humphrey Bogart, died from cancer in 1957 at age 57. The couple had two children, Stephen and Leslie Bogart.

Bacall was married to Jason Robards from 1961-1969. They had a son, Sam.

Bo Derek

Bo Derek became a widow at age 42 after 22 years of marriage. Her husband, actor and director John Derek, died from cardiovascular disease in 1998 at 71 years old.

Martha Washington

Martha Washington was widowed at age 25. Her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, died in 1757 when he was 46. The couple had four children together.

Martha married President George Washington in 1759. They raised her two surviving children, Patsy and John. They also raised two of John’s children, Eleanor and George Washington Parke Custis.

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson became a widow at age 41. Her husband of 9 years, journalist John Diamond, died of throat cancer in 2001 at age 47. The couple had two children, Cosima and Bruno.

Lawson married second husband Charles Saatchi in 2003, but they divorced in 2013.

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski became a widower at age 36 when his second wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969. She and four others were stabbed to death in the home she shared with Polanski by the notorious Manson family. They had been married for less than two years, and Tate, 26, was 8.5 months pregnant at the time of her murder.

Polanski has been married to Emmanuelle Seigner since 1989. The couple has two children.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jackie Kennedy became a widow at age 34. Her husband of 10 years, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in November 1963 at age 46. The murder followed the death of their son, Patrick, who died in August 1963 at just two days old. The couple had two other children, Caroline and John Jr.

Jackie married Aristotle Onassis in 1968, but was widowed for the second time in 1975.

Roy Rogers

Roy Rogers became a widower at age 35. His wife of 10 years, Grace Arline Wilkins, died after complications with childbirth in 1946. They had three children together.

Rogers married Dale Evans in 1947. The couple was together for more than 50 years and had five children together.

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow became a widow at age 21. Her husband of just two months, MGM producer Paul Bern, committed suicide in 1932 at age 42.

Harlow was married to her third husband, Harold Rosson, for just eight months between 1933-1934. She died in 1937 at age 26.

Natascha McElhone

Actress Natascha McElhone was widowed at age 38. The day after their tenth wedding anniversary in 2008, her husband, Dr. Martin Hirigoyen Kelly, died of a heart attack at age 43. At the time of his death, McElhone was 5 months pregnant with their third son.

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith became a widow age 28. Her second husband, 90-year-old millionaire J. Howard Marshall II, died of natural causes and old age in 1995. Smith informally married Howard K. Stern in a commitment ceremony in 2006, but tragically died of a drug overdose in 2007.

Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison was widowed at age 30. His wife of 8 years, Claudette Frady, was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966 at age 24. The couple had three sons, but two of them, Roy Dewayne and Anthony, were tragically killed in a fire in 1968.

Orbison married second wife Barbara Orbison in 1969. They raised his son, Wesley, and had two more sons, Roy Kelton and Alex Orbison.

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King became a widow at age 41. Her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968 when he was 39. The couple had been married for 15 years and had four children together.

Amy Yasbeck

Amy Yasbeck became a widow at age 41. Her husband of 4 years, John Ritter died from a heart attack in 2003 at age 54. Ritter left behind four children, including a daughter with Yasbeck named Stella.

Faith Evans

Faith Evans became a widow at age 24. Her husband of three years, Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” was shot and killed in April 1997 at age 24. The couple had one son, C.J.

In June 1998, Evans married Todd Russaw and had their first son. Their second son was born in 2007.

Carson McCullers

Novelist Carson McCullers became a widow at age 36 when her husband, Reeves McCullers, committed suicide. The couple had first married in 1937 and divorced in 1941, but they remarried in 1945. Both parties suffered from depression, and Carson attempted suicide in 1948. Then, in 1953, Reeves tried to convince his wife to commit suicide with him. Though she fled, he went through with it, overdosing on sleeping pills in a Paris hotel room.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was widowed at age 28. His wife of two years, Ellen Louisa Tucker, died of tuberculosis in 1831 when she was 20.

Emerson married his second wife, Lydia Jackson, in 1835. He changed her named to Lidian and called her Queenie and Asia. The couple had four children.

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