In the world of Hollywood, celebrity deaths are tragically extremely common and almost always surrounded by some sort of mystery and controversy. A world of fame, public pressure, controversy, media criticism, substance abuse and partying can often be a lethal combination for many of successful stars.
Unfortunately, the deaths of many celebrities and budding stars will forever remain a mystery to the public. Here are just 16 of some of the most controversial, tragic and mysterious celebrity deaths.
17 Kurt Cobain
When it comes to celebrity deaths, few stories are as tragic and devastating to a community as the one of Kurt Cobain. As the face of the ‘90s grunge scene, loyal fans were devastated when their idol was found dead in his home in Seattle. Overall, Cobain’s death is accepted as a suicide by the majority.
However, there are certain conspiracy theorists who argue that his wife, Courtney Love, was behind the whole thing. A few sources close to the couple claim that Love was extremely manipulative and that they were struggling romantically. Many today (including Love’s estranged father) believe she may have played a role in the Nirvana member’s untimely death.
16. JonBenét Ramsey
One of the most highly-publicized and tragic Hollywood murders is the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. In 1996, this six-year-old beauty pageant queen was found dead in her parents’ basement. Eight hours after her parents say they found a ransom note in their home, they discovered the body of their daughter. The media immediately ran wild with the story, painting the picture of a daughter forced into beauty pageants by her mother. For a while, Patsy and John Ramsey were the main suspects in their daughter’s murder. While the case is still being investigated, the Ramseys were officially cleared in 2002 when an unidentified male’s DNA was found on their daughter’s clothes — suggesting an unknown intruder may have committed the crime. Some are also convinced that JonBenét’s older brother is the culprit. We may never know.
15. Marilyn Monroe
There’s no doubt that Marilyn Monroe is one the most well-known pop culture icons. A famous actress, singer, model, and socialite — the world was stunned at Monroe’s sudden death in 1962 at the age of 36. As someone who personified the culture’s views of women and sexuality, her romantic affairs were constantly discussed in the media. That’s why many people still argue that her death was a mafia/CIA murder, organized to cover up her rumored affairs with John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert. While most people believe her death was genuinely an overdose on sleeping pills, many believe there’s more to the story of this celebrity death.
14. Michael Jackson
Almost everyone can remember exactly where they were when finding out that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson had passed away. While Jackson’s life was filled with highly-publicized controversies and legal battles — the story surrounding Jackson’s celebrity death was unfortunately no different. The singer had a slew of medical issues and substance abuse problems by the time of his passing, and an accidental overdose on drugs (including propofol) was ruled his final cause of death.
However, his personal doctor Conrad Murray was in charge of prescribing such drugs and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. That’s why many loyal fans (and a few Illuminati conspiracy theorists) believe that MJ’s death was a carefully-orchestrated murder, in which the lethal amount of drugs was purposefully given to him.
13. Elliott Smith
Singer/songwriter Elliott Smith’s music was well known for his whispery vocals, layered harmonies, and haunting quality. Much of his life was spent struggling with serious substance abuse issues and problems with his mental health. At the time of his death, however, he was clean and there were no illegal substances in his system. The nature of Smith’s death is incredibly mysterious.
The cause of death was two self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest. While a possible suicide note was found, there were no hesitation marks, which meant his death was ruled as a possible homicide. While Smith’s issues with depression and other mental illness lead many to believe it was a suicide, many fans still feel he may have been murdered — potentially by his girlfriend, Jessica Chiba as they believe.
12. Elizabeth Short
While Elizabeth Short never reached true celebrity status during her life, her highly-publicized death made her a Hollywood legend. You may be more familiar with Short’s post-death nickname, “The Black Dahlia.” An aspiring actress, Short’s body was found in a vacant Hollywood parking lot. The state of Short’s mutilated body was so gruesome that the story immediately garnered national attention. There are countless theories and explanations to her death, and the investigation produced over 150 suspects. To this day, however, Short’s death remains unsolved and continues to inspire countless books, TV shows, and films. It’s truly tragic.
11. David Carradine
Actor David Carradine was well-known for his iconic roles in movies like Kill Bill and Bound for Glory, as well as the TV series “Kung Fu.” However, he also gained a lot of attention for various arrests and legal troubles relating to drugs, burglary and assault. At the time of his death, Carradine was found hanged in his hotel room — leading many to believe this celebrity death was suicide or autoerotic asphyxiation gone wrong. However, Carradine’s fourth ex-wife Marina Anderson believes to this day his death was a murder.
10. Jack Nance
Actor Jack Nance was best known for his work with director David Lynch, with roles in Twin Peaks and Eraserhead. Struggling with alcoholism throughout most of his life, the situation surrounding Nance’s death is mysterious to this day. After a night of heavy drinking, Nance claimed to have gotten into an altercation with two men outside of a doughnut shop. After he returned home with a black eye, Nance was found dead on his bathroom floor the next morning. To this day, no one around the shop at the time remembers ever seeing Nance, and no one is quite sure what caused his death.
9. Jam Master Jay
Jason William Mizell, who was more famously known by his stage name “Jam Master Jay” was one of hip-hop’s most beloved icons. As a member of Run-D.M.C., they remain one of the most successful rap groups in history, with Jay becoming a well-respected hip hop artist and guitarist throughout his life. Unfortunately, his untimely death remains unsolved to this day. While recording in his studio in Queens, New York, Jam Master Jay was fatally shot by an unknown assailant.
8. Tupac Shakur
When one thinks of celebrity deaths, it’s hard to think of one riddled with more mystery and conspiracy than that of Tupac Shakur. Shakur, to this day, is one of the most successful and iconic rappers of his generation — perhaps of all time. Unfortunately, there is no concrete explanation for his notorious death in 1996. Many believe it was the result of a gang-related brawl that took place earlier in the night when Shakur got into a dispute with a member of the Crips. However, the man who fatally shot Shakur from a car later that evening was never caught and his identity has been the source of many conspiracy theories today, including one that The Notorious B.I.G. was involved. Some people even believe that Shakur never died at all.
7. Biggie Smalls
Six months after the murder of Tupac, Biggie told the world he’d hired security and feared for his safety. The East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry was in full swing and Christopher Wallace (Biggie’s real name) didn’t want to be the feud’s next victim. Unfortunately, on March 9, 1997, the Notorious B.I.G. was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. The shooter was never convicted and the mystery surrounding his death is alive to this day. The release of his second album, eerily titled Life After Death, just a few weeks prior to his murder only riled up conspiracy theorists even more.
6. Natalie Wood
Actress Natalie Wood was best known for her roles in movies such as Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause, and West Side Story. The situation surrounding her death in 1981 is one that involves various theories, mysteries and other celebrities. During the filming of Brainstorm, Wood drowned during a boat trip to Santa Catalina Island. The mystery begins, however, when she was found a mile away from the boat, with bruises and and abrasions all over her body — suggesting foul play. She was on board with her husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken. To this day, the cause of this celebrity death remains unknown.
5. Jim Morrison
Another one of the most tragic moments the music industry is the mysterious death of Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors. At just 27 years old, Morrison was found dead of heart failure in a bathtub in Paris, where he lived with his girlfriend. No one is exactly sure of Morrison’s whereabouts or situation preceding his death, but many believe it was related to the years of substance abuse he had experienced. What makes his death extra eerie, though, is that there was no investigation, no autopsy, and an unknown examining doctor. There are a few conspiracy theories that Morrison may be alive today and a whole bunch about what actually happened in the hours before his death.
4. Nancy Spungen
When it comes to celebrity deaths, there are no two names more infamous than Sid and Nancy. Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen were incredibly well-known for their incredibly destructive relationship that involved a serious heroin addiction and severe domestic abuse. After the two moved into the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, Spungen was fatally stabbed with a knife owned by Sid. Before he could be properly charged, Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose four months after her death. The dispute that led to Spungen’s murder will forever remain a mystery.
3. John Lennon
The assassination of John Lennon is a murder that has had fans, the media, the public, and conspiracy theorists talking for decades. While the cause of his death is clear, the reasoning behind it is beyond a mystery. In 1980, John Lennon was shot outside of his New York City apartment by Mark David Chapman. Many believe Chapman was just a seriously delusional fan, as he got an autograph from Lennon earlier that evening. What has confused people for decades, however, is that Chapman was holding a copy of JD Sallinger’s Catcher In The Rye at the time of his arrest. He claims the book can explain his reasoning, and no one has been able to find any connection between the book and Chapman’s actions.
Many also think that the famous star of The Beatles was actually murdered by the U.S. government due to his open support of leftist/radical politics. It was revealed after he died that the FBI had 281 files of information on Mr. Lennon that they refused to release.
2. Brittany Murphy
At the age of 32, Brittany Murphy’s death is one that will likely remain a mystery forever. In 2009, Murphy was suffering flu-like symptoms for days before losing consciousness and eventually dying. Many people point at her husband, Simon Monjack, as a suspect, as he was acting strangely vague and dismissive about rumors that Murphy suffered from substance abuse issues. What makes this case even more mysterious, though, is that her husband died months after with nearly-identical symptoms. To this day, Murphy’s father believes both may have been poisoned.
1. Brian Jones
As a founding member of rock group The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones’s came as a shock to many loyal fans and the band’s members and associates. By the time of his death, Jones was completely estranged from the band since they had asked him to leave due to his serious substance abuse problems. On the night of July 3, 1969, Jones was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool. While the death was officially ruled accidental due to high amounts of alcohol and drugs in his system, many people believe it may have been murder, committed by a construction worker, Frank Thorogood, after an altercation.