Celebrities who have survived murder attempts range from rappers embroiled in deadly beefs to stars who were in the wrong place at the wrong time to people with vicious stalkers. And while many celebrities have actually been killed, these are all stories that had happy endings, as the victim either survived an actual attempt on their life, or the planned attempt never took place.
These assassination attempts on celebrities sometimes were undertaken by people they knew, but more often than not, they were plots by people out for money – or people who were mentally ill. In a few cases, death eventually caught up with the victim anyway – such as Tupac Shakur and Bob Marley. But mostly, the celebrities are still alive, grateful for their good luck – and with lots of money for bodyguards.
Here are some of the celebrities who lived to tell the tale after attempts were made on their life.
On December 30, 1999, Liverpool native Michael Abram jumped the fence at George Harrison’s Oxfordshire estate, carrying a large knife. He smashed a window and made his way inside, only to be confronted by Olivia and George Harrison themselves. Abram began screaming at the ex-Beatle, who charged at him and tried to knock the knife out of his hand. Abram stabbed Harrison several times in the chest, then went after Olivia, strangling her with a lamp cord. Finally, police arrived and took Abram into custody.
In court, he revealed that he believed the Beatles were witches, and that he was on a mission from God to kill Harrison, whom he believed to be the Devil. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and committed. Harrison would die less than two years later of cancer.
In 1996, the Icelandic pop singer was sent a letter bomb by obsessive stalker Ricardo Lopez. Lopez had been infatuated with Bjork for several years, writing a diary of over 800 pages devoted to her, that also had dozens of references to suicide and murder. Upon learning she was in a relationship, Lopez apparently snapped. He filmed over 20 hours of footage that consisted mostly of him ranting, then sent the singer a hollowed-out book with a bomb in the middle. He then shot himself on camera – while a Bjork song was playing.
The bomb never reached the singer, having been intercepted by police.
Theresa Saldana was an on-the-rise actress who’d appeared in Raging Bull and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. One unwelcome fan she attracted was Arthur Richard Jackson, a 47-year-old drifter from Aberdeen, Scotland. Jackson flew across the world and illegally entered the US with a plan to find Saldana, kill her, and join her in the afterlife after he was executed for her murder.
Jackson hired a private investigator to obtain Saldana’s mother’s phone number, then called her pretending to be Martin Scorsese, looking for Saldana herself. After Saldana’s mother unwittingly provided her daughter’s West Hollywood address, Jackson drove there and stabbed her 10 times with a hunting knife.
Saldana survived, thanks to a deliveryman rushing to her rescue and pulling Jackson off her. She made a full recovery and Jackson was committed to a mental institution, where he died in 2004. After her recovery, Saldana became a prominent advocate for victim’s rights and relived her traumatic ordeal by playing herself in a TV movie about her attack.
The artist and filmmaker was shot on December 3, 1968, by radical feminist Valeria Solanas. The two were tangentially connected, as Solanas had briefly appeared in one of Warhol’s films, and had submitted a script to his Factory art gallery that she never heard back about. Earlier on the day of the shooting, Solanas had been kicked out of the Factory after trying to get her script back, and shot Warhol when she saw him on the street.
Warhol was badly hurt in the attack, as his heart briefly stopped, and he suffered physically and mentally from the shooting the rest of his life. He died in 1987 of complications from gallbladder surgery.
In the aftermath of the Hell’s Angels stabbing of a man at the Altamont Free Concert, Jagger and the other Rolling Stones understandably weren’t thrilled with the biker gang. They publicly pilloried their behavior, and refused to ever hire them again. The Angels responded with a truly insane plan to storm Jagger’s Long Island mansion – from the sea – and murder him.
Armed to the teeth, they got in a boat and indeed sailed toward the home, only to be hit by a storm that sank the boat. None of them were hurt, but they decided to take the storm as a hint that God is a Stones fan, and called the hit off.
Chan was involved in a long-running feud with the Hong Kong triads that had infested the local film industry and routinely shook down producers for money. Apparently, things got so bad for him that when he first came to America from Hong Kong, a triad sniper shot at Chan on the airport tarmac. Another time, he went to dinner and was surrounded by armed triad men with machetes. He responded by arming himself with guns and grenades, and hired muscle from mainland China, all in an effort to get the gangs off his back and to stop threatening him.
Finally, he paid them off, and they left him alone.