20+ Actors and actresses who lost their life while filming

The job of actors and actresses might appear perfect to everybody, but sometimes it does not come without imminent danger. Safety on movie and television sets must be a top priority when the artists are filming, yet with so many factors to manage, sometimes things go wrong and the popular actors and actresses meet their tragic end. When they die while filming for a project, it is heartbreaking for everyone and they leave behind their fans, friends, and family. So, here is a list of actors and actresses who have died while filming and have left a remarkable legacy behind.

Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood

The American actress who began her professional career as a child made for herself as a popular actress in the 1970s. She started acting at the young age of four and ultimately became well-known for starring in West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause. However, her sudden death in 1981 was ruled as accidental drowning by the medical officers while she was on a weekend boat trip. At the time of her death, the actress was in the middle of filming a 1983 movie, Brainstorm.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee

Another American celebrity who died in the middle of filming a project is Brandon Lee, the son of martial artist and film star Bruce Lee. He followed in his father’s footsteps and learned martial arts and acting. However, his professional career and life were cut short while filming the 1994 production The Crow, in which he was selected to play the role of Eric Draven. He sustained some serious injuries while he was using a prop gun. After this, he was taken for surgery but he ultimately died.

Robert Ripley

Robert Ripley

LeRoy Robert Ripley, known by his common name Robert Ripley, was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur, and amateur anthropologist. He became popular for starting the show Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and starring as the presenter and participant. However, after filming the 13 episodes of the show, the actor died three days before the premiere of episode 13 due to a heart attack in 1949. Due to this, his friends and colleagues filled in as the host for the rest of the season.

James Dean

James Dean

James Dean is an American actor whose career lasted only five years. During his life, he became the only actor to receive two posthumous Academy Award nominations for East of Eden and Giant. However, the actor died at the age of 24 in a car collision with another driver before the premiere of his last film, Rebel Without A Cause, which was released in 1955. His untimely death made him an early Hollywood legend.

Barton Yarborough

Barton Yarborough

The American actor who primarily worked on the NBC Radio Network in a radio drama was famous for his part as Doc Long in I Love a Mystery. He was also selected for playing the role of Sgt. Ben Romero in the television series, Dragnet. However, the actor passed away in 1951 due to a heart attack while he was filming for Dragnet. Because of his death, his character was written out in the second episode of the show and his character was also killed from the same cause.

Oliver Reed

Oliver Reed

Robert Oliver Reed, commonly known as Oliver Reed, was a popular English actor who was first spotted making appearances in the 1960s Hammer Horror films. The actor remained with Hollywood for a total of three years, ultimately dying in 1999 due to a heart attack. The actor died while filming the epic film Gladiator, in which he was selected to play the role of Proximo. This film could have been the next step in his career but ultimately became his last project.

Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel

Another renowned actress who has passed away tragically while filming for a project is Hattie McDaniel. She was a popular American actress, singer, songwriter, and comedian. She also became the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind. However, the actress passed away from Breast Cancer in 1952 while shooting for a television show Beulah in which she was selected for the title role of Beulah.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker

Paul William Walker IV who was commonly known as Paul Walker was a widely recognized American actor who started his professional career as a child actor in the 1980s. He was best known for his character, Brian O’Conner, in the Fast & Furious franchise. However, the actor died from a high-speed car accident before filming the final scenes of Furious 7, which was the seventh film in the franchise. So most of the last scenes were done by his body doubles.

Nana Bryant

Nana Bryant

The American film and television actress whose death remains a mystery to date is Nana Bryant. She was a popular actress who appeared in a total of 100 films from 1935 to 1955. Unfortunately, the actress passed away in 1955 due to some unknown causes while filming for a television show called Make Room for Daddy, in which she played the role of Julia, Margaret Williams’s mother.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

The American actress and singer whose real name was Norma Jeane Mortenson, made a name for herself in the Hollywood industry by playing comic blonde bombshell characters. However, the actress tragically passed away at the age of 36 due to a barbiturate overdose inside her home, while she was in the middle of filming the 1962 film Something’s Got To Give. After her death for some time, the film was shelved and forgotten, but it was ultimately restarted.

Charles King

Charles King

The American actor who appeared in more than 400 films during his lifetime was Charles Lafayette King. He was widely recognized for making appearances in films such as The Birth of a Nation, Singing River, and A Motion to Adjourn. However, in 1957 the actor passed away due to Cirrhosis of the liver while he was filming the television show Gunsmoke. Many have also stated that the actor died while playing a corpse on the television set.

River Phoenix

River Phoenix

Another actor who died at a very young age during the height of his professional career is River Jude Phoenix who was commonly known as River Phoenix. He became widely known for starring in the 1986 movie, Stand By Me which was a Stephen King film adaptation. However, the actor tragically died due to an overdose at the age of 23 in 1993 while he was in the middle of filming Dark Blood. Also, after his death, the movie was not released until 2012.

George Cleveland

George Cleveland

George Cleveland was a popular Canadian actor who appeared in more than 180 films during his lifetime. However, the widely known actor died in 1957 due to a heart attack while filming the American television show Lassie in which he was selected to play the character of George “Gramps” Miller. After his death, the character of George “Gramps” Miller was killed off from the show.

Vic Morrow

Vic Morrow

The American actor who gained an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series titled Combat is Vic Morrow. However, while filming The Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1982, the actor met his tragic end in a helicopter crash along with two child actors. The actor was filming the Vietnam War scene when the special effects explosions became massive and affected the ability of the pilot to fly, leading to the horrific accident.

John Hamilton

John Hamilton

John Hamilton was a renowned American actor whose real name was John Rummel Hamilton. During his time in the Hollywood industry, the actor appeared in many movies and television shows but was well-known for playing the blustery newspaper editor, Perry White, in the television show Adventures of Superman. However, while filming this series, the actor tragically passed away due to a heart attack in 1958.

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger

Another popular actor who died before reaching a new level of fame in his career is Heath Ledger, a renowned Australian actor. The actor was mostly known for portraying the character of Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. However, while filming for his next big project, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, the actor sadly passed away due to an accidental overdose, and at that time, he was only 28 years old.

George Reeves

George Reeves

The American actor who was widely known for playing the character of Superman in the American television series, Adventures of Superman sadly passed away at the age of 45. The actor passed away in the middle of filming this show. His death was ruled as Ballistic trauma to the head, however, people believed that he was murdered or was the victim of an accidental shooting.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman

The actor who was voted as one of the 50 amazing actors of all time in a 2022 poll was Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was a widely praised American actor who was known for his distinctive supporting roles and character roles in several movies and television shows. However, the actor passed away in 2014 due to a combined drug intoxication while he was filming the second installment of The Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay – Part 2. The movie was released in the year 2015 and perfectly honored his legacy.

Ward Bond

Ward Bond

Ward Bond was a popular American actor who appeared in more than 200 films during his lifetime and also appeared in the NBC television series Wagon Train. Bond often played roles of cowboys, cops, and soldiers because he was a character actor. However, the actor sadly died in 1960 due to a heart attack while he was filming the show Wagon Train, in which he was selected to play Major Seth Adams.

John Candy

John Candy

John Franklin Candy who was commonly known as John Candy was a famous comedian and a Canadian actor.  He was widely known for playing roles in movies such as Stripes, Uncle Buck, Planes, and Trains & Automobiles. He was also a co-owner of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. However, the actor tragically died in 1994 due to a heart attack at the age of 43 while he was filming the final scenes of Wagons East.

Joseph Kearns

Joseph Kearns

Another popular celebrity who died while filming a project is Joseph Sherrard Kearns also widely known as Joseph Kearns. The American actor who was also a prolific radio actor, was best known for starring in the CBS television series Dennis the Menace. However, sadly in his 50s, the actor passed away due to a Cerebral hemorrhage while he was filming the show Dennis the Menace in which he was playing the role of George Wilson.

Paul Mantz

Paul Mantz

The notable air racing pilot who was also a well-known movie stunt pilot gained fame in the Hollywood industry and in air races. Due to his special skills, the racing pilot landed roles in movies such as Air Mail, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Twelve O’Clock High, and The Wings of Eagles. However, while performing a stunt in the film The Flight of the Phoenix, he tragically lost his life when his plane crashed into pieces, ultimately killing the stunt pilot.

Larry Keating

Larry Keating

Lawrence Keating who was widely known as Larry Keating, was an American actor who was mostly recognised worldwide for his role as Harry Morton on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. The actor was also well-known for portraying the character of Roger Addison on the television show, Mister Ed. However, while filming for his role in Mister Ed, the actor passed away in 1963 due to Leukemia. Because of this, his character was written out without explanation.

Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi

The Hungarian–American actor, who was mostly known for playing the character of Count Dracula in the 1931 horror film, Dracula, was Bela Lugosi. In addition, he also starred in a Broadway stage production for three years and this became the most successful project of his theatrical career. However, sadly the actor passed away in 1956 due to a heart attack while he was in the middle of shooting Plan 9 from Outer Space.

John Larkin

John Larkin

The American actor, John Larkin is best known for portraying the character of Perry Mason on the radio and Mike Karr on the TV show The Edge of Night. The professional career of the actor spanned a total of 30 years, throughout which he acted in 7500 dramatic radio shows. However, tragically the actor passed away in 1965 due to a heart attack while he was filming the show, Twelve O’Clock High.

Cory Monteith

Cory Monteith

Cory Allan Michael Monteith, who was a popular Canadian actor and musician, was widely known by his stage name Cory Monteith. The popular actor made his acting debut by appearing in the 2004 television series Stargate Atlantis and became well-known. He was also a breakout star of Fox’s musical show, Glee in which he played the character of Finn Hudson. However, while filming the fourth and fifth seasons in 2013, the actor tragically died from a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol.

Henry Kulky

Henry Kulky

Another American actor who tragically passed away while filming for his project is Henry Kulky, who was also a renowned professional wrestler from Hastings-on-Hudson. However, while filming for his most notable television show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in which he played the character of Chief Curly Jones, he passed away due to a heart attack in the year 1965.

John Ritter

John Ritter

The son of popular singing cowboy star Tex Ritter, John Ritter was a famous American actor who was well-known for playing Jack Tripper on the ABC sitcom Three’s Company. He was also popular for appearing in over 100 films and television shows during his professional career. However, the actor suffered an aortic dissection which was caused by a heart defect, and died while filming the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Dorothy Kilgallen

Dorothy Kilgallen

The American columnist, journalist, and television game show panelist, Dorothy Kilgallen started her career as a reporter just after her 18th birthday. She also started her newspaper column, The Voice of Broadway in 1938 which became popular. However while filming for the television show What’s My Line? in which she appeared as one of the panelists, she sadly passed away due to a Combined drug and alcohol overdose in 1965.

Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin

The famous Australian zookeeper, conservationist, and television personality is widely known as Stephen Robert Irwin. However, The beloved Australian adventurer and animal advocate was tragically killed by a Stingray when he was filming the underwater documentary, Ocean’s Deadliest in the year 2006.

Alice Pearce

Alice Pearce

The American actress sadly died from Ovarian cancer while she was filming for her television show, Bewitched in which she played the role of Gladys Kravitz. After her tragic death in 1966, her character was recast with Sandra Gould, who filled in for the role and started filming.

Don Rickles

Don Rickles

Another stand-up comedian and well-known actor who passed away while filming for his project is Don Rickles, whose popular roles include Run Silent, Run Deep, Enter Laughing, and Kelly’s Heroes. However, the actor tragically died due to kidney failure at the age of 90 when he had yet to film his part for the 2019 Toy Story 4. His dead body was buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.

Smiley Burnette

Smiley Burnette

The American country music performer who was also a comedian is Smiley Burnette but his real name is Lester Alvin Burnett. During his lifetime, he has performed in Western films,  radio and television. However in 1967 while filming for the show Petticoat Junction, he tragically passed away due to Leukemia. In this show, he played the titular character of Charley Pratt.

David Strickland

David Strickland

The American actor, whose real name was David Gordon Strickland Jr. tragically took his own life while he was in the middle of filming the third season of the NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan. In this show, he played the character of boyish rock music reporter Todd Stites. It was revealed after his death that the actor hanged himself in the Las Vegas hotel room.

Charles Bickford

Charles Bickford

Charles Ambrose Bickford who was known to the world by his name Charles Bickford, was a very popular American actor who mostly did supporting roles in his career. However, the widely acclaimed actor tragically passed away due to Pneumonia and blood infection while he was in the middle of filming the television show, The Virginian in the year 1967. In this television show, he portrayed the character of John Grainger.

Redd Foxx

Redd Foxx

Another American actor and comedian whose professional career was cut short due to his tragic death was Redd Foxx or John Elroy Sanford. He first became well-known for his nightclub performances before and during the civil rights movement. However, after suffering a heart attack while he was rehearsing for The Royal Family, he tragically died in 1991.

Marion Lorne

Marion Lorne

Marion Lorne, whose real name was Marion Lorne MacDougal was a popular American stage, television, and film actress. The actress first started her career as a theatre performer in New York. However, while filming the television show Bewitched in which she played the role of Aunt Clara, she tragically died in 1968 due to a heart attack.

Diana Hyland

Diana Hyland

Another actress who has worked on stage, in films, and on television was Diana Hyland who was born Diane Gentner. However, after becoming widely recognized, the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer and she tragically died in 1977, just 12 days after the first episode of her ABC series Eight is Enough premiered.

Tyrone Power

Tyrone Power

The American actor whose real name was Tyrone Edmund Power III became well-known for appearing in dozens of films. Hi well-known films include Jesse James, The Mark of Zorro, Marie Antoinette, Blood and Sand and The Black Swan. However, in 1958, the actor tragically passed away due to a massive heart attack that he suffered while he was filming the movie, Solomon and Sheba.

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor

Another film star who tragically died while he was filming his project is Robert Taylor. He was a popular television and film actor who was one of the leading men in the Hollywood industry. However, the actor tragically died while he was filming for the show, Death Valley Days in the year 1969 due to Lung cancer. He was the host of this show who was later replaced after his death.

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Megha Chauhan
Megha Chauhan
Megha Chauhan is an accomplished content writer who holds a degree in Law. Her extensive expertise in research and writing has helped her excel in this field. Her expertise spans from engaging blog posts and in-depth articles. Passionate about storytelling, Megha continually hones her skills to stay ahead of trends, ensuring her content remains fresh and impactful.
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