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Top 10 Actors Who Died Before Seeing Their Final Movie

What makes celebrity deaths particularly eerie and poignant is that often their final work only comes to light after they have gone. In the case of movie stars, it’s their last film that’s released months after they are buried/cremated/blasted into space. Cinema provides a form of immortality, and watching these farewell movies really is like seeing a ghost on screen.

Heath Ledger and Bernie Mac were not the first. Here are Movie-Moron’s top ten actors who didn’t live to see their final movie, based on a scale of plain old bad luck.

10. John Candy: 1950 – 1994

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A brilliant comedic actor with a sensitivity about his weight, John Candy was apparently taking steps to improve his health in his later years. But it was too little too late. At the age of 43, Candy fell asleep and never woke up again; he suffered a heart attack whilst on location filming Wagon’s East! on March 4th, 1994. A body double was used to finish the movie and it was released that summer. John Candy’s last completed film was Michael Moore’s Canadian Bacon, which came out the following year.

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73 Comments »

  • Sheridan Passell said

    Sadly James Dean is the definition of live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse.

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    • brienne said

      Recently found out that James Dean was my cousin. Not too distant either. Would have been cool to meet him.

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  • Adam Mason said

    Brandon Lee was in “Showdown in Little Tokyo”, one of the best films I’ve ever seen. He says to Dolph Lundgren, “You have the biggest dick I’ve ever seen on a man.”

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  • Suzanne said

    what about health ledger who died before two of his movies where released.

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  • Sheridan Passell said

    Heath Ledger is mentioned in the introduction, he was the inspiration to look back at others from the past.

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  • MissyVonDoll said

    Even to this day, it still breaks my heart about River Phoenix, because that guy could have gone on to make a huge impact in the world. Such a waste.

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    • Angey Schneider said

      He was one of my favorites too. He was kind of a misfit rebel like James Dean. He could of went really far. I loved him in Sneakers.

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  • greg said

    There was no mention of chris farley and his movie almost heroes

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  • george said

    Brad Renfro who had the bad luck of dying from a heroin overdose only 2 days before Health Ledger and thus having his name knocked out of the news and his post partum rise to James Dean status killed by a “bigger celebrity death”

    Ironic huh?

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  • Just Staci said

    I know his character died in the movie Grumpier (and part 1. Grumpy)Old Men,but did’nt Burgess Meredith(original Penguin from Batman tv series)also die before the release of part 2?

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  • Sistarose said

    Not to forget Oliver Reed, who died during the maiking of Gladiator. Once again his roll was completed with a body double and computer trickery. Though what think raises it to legendary status is like he lived, Oliver Reed died pissed as a fart drinking in a pub.

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  • Jerry Thornton said

    You omitted Bela Lugosi, who died during Plan 9 From Outer Space.

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  • Jeff said

    Mako was the voice of Splinter in the latest TMNT movie, and he died before it premiered, too.

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  • Chris Neilan said

    Brandon Lee is a particularly strong case because the film he died shooting – The Crow – is so good. Terrific genre film. Also Oliver Reed in Gladiator is brilliantly creepy because he actually gives a dramatic impassioned speech about facing death with dignity! Amazing. Of course he didn’t face chat shows with much dignity, but then pints of vodka and dignity don’t really mix.

    Has anyone seen that road safety advert that James Dean appeared in just months beofre his death in which he says into the camera the tagline “drive careful, ’cause the life you save might be mine”? Creepy!

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    • Angey Schneider said

      Yes, I saw the safety video. That is really creepy. So much good talent gone. It is strange to think he would be 80 this coming Feb. I am almost positive he would of had several academy awards under his belt, had he lived.

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    • billy said

      the hell with Brandon Lee, what about Bruce Lee. HELLO!

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  • Sheridan Passell said

    You mean this:

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  • Chris Neilan said

    Yep, that’s the one!

    Weirdly, that’s probably his greatest ever performance.

    And I think that studio-sitcom chuckle that the presenter gives right at the end is the creepiest thing of all!

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    • Phil said

      Ironically, Gig Young also died tragically, taking his own life. Seems fame and fortune aren’t all they may appear to be to the common man. Gig won an Academy Award for “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They” and was a popular actor but had his own demons to deal with at night.

      Another sad ending in Hollywood..

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  • Ian said

    What about Tupac Shakur?

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