Stars who left us too soon
Alexander McQueen, the iconic British fashion designer with an A-list clientele, was found dead Thursday inside his London home after reportedly killing himself.
The 40-year-old McQueen, the son of a taxi driver who wound up making suits for Prince Charles and gowns for Oscar-winner Kate Winslet, committed suicide, according to the London Daily Mail.
Hollywood stunner Brittany Murphy, who found big-screen success after her breakout role in "Clueless," died on Dec. 20 after collapsing in the shower. Los Angeles cops are investigating the 32-year-old's sudden death, but a coroner official said it "appears to be natural." The screen siren and singer was in full cardiac arrest and could not be revived after her beloved mother - who told paramedics the actress was diabetic - found her unconscious in the shower, TMZ reported.
The King of Pop, legendary artist Michael Jackson, passed away June 25, 2009, after he was rushed to the hospital following possible cardiac arrest. Just the day prior, Jackson, 50, attended a rehearsal at LA's Staples Center to prepare for a series of 50 concerts scheduled to start next month at London's O2 dome and continue into next year.
Elvis Presley, 42 (1935-1977): From the King of Pop to the King of Rock: Elvis Presley's health was rapidly deteriorating leading up to his eventual death, exacerbated by his drug habits. Presley holds the record for the most amount of No. 1 hits by a solo artist, in addition to a string of memorable movie roles. On August 16, 1977, Presley was found on his bathroom floor at Graceland and pronounced dead shortly. Presley, who gave his last performance in early summer 1977, had been expected to start his next tour the following day.
Heath Ledger, 28 (1979-2008): The actor died at the age of 28 of an accidental overdose in his Manhattan apartment and the film world is still feeling the loss. In a moment both solemn and celebratory, Ledger won a posthumous Golden Globe in January for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Joker in "The Dark Knight."
Tupac Shakur, 25 (6/16/71-9/13/96): Son of a revolutionary, Tupac was seen by some as creating his own kind of revolution in hip-hop. He was an exceptional writer and a strong rapper who injected electricity into the hip-hop world. He also ran with some of the street crowd he rapped about, proudly flaunting the "Thug Life." He died of gunshot wound complications after he was shot in the chest.
John Lennon, 40 (1940-1980): On December 8, 1980, the unimaginable happened, music legend John Lennon was murdered outside of the Dakota in New York City by Mark David Chapman. After unprecedented success as a founding member of the Beatles, John Lennon pursued a solo career and is considered one of the best songwriters in music history.
John Belushi, 33 (1949-1982): The "Animal House" star and "Saturday Night Live" cast member died at a young age after an apparent overdose of heroin and cocaine.
Marvin Gaye, 44 (1939-1984): The Motown records crooner made us all wonder "What's Going on?" and yearn for a little "Sexual Healing," but the singer - who fused soul, R&B, rock and funk - met a tragic, premature end. Gaye, who struggled with drug abuse, made a comeback in 1982, going on tour to promote his last album, "Midnight Love." But after the tour ended in early 1983, Gaye succumbed to depression and lived the life of a recluse in his parents' home. Although the musician threatened suicide multiple times, it was Gaye's father who would take his life, fatally shooting him during an argument on April 1, 1984, a day before his 45th birthday.
Marilyn Monroe, 36 (1926-1962): The famed actress and sex symbol developed a dependency of pills in the later years of her life and died of an apparent barbiturate overdose. "The Misfits," shown above, was Monroe's last film. Additionally, "Something's Got to Give" was never finished because of the iconic actress' sudden death. The material later became the 1963 release 'Move Over, Darling,' starring James Garner and Doris Day.
Clark Gable, 59 (1901-1960): The "Gone with the Wind" star, shown above second from r., was still working hard shortly before his death in 1960, following the completion of "The Misfits," shown above second from right, with Marilyn Monroe.
Jim Morrison, 27 (12/8/43-7/3/71): They called him the brooding poet of rock ‘n' roll, which sounds a little pretentious. But this son of a career Navy man wrote some unusual and intelligent songs that explored creepy areas ("The End") and sometimes just had fun ("Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name"). Morrison was found dead in the bathtub of his Paris apartment.
Aaliyah, 22 (1/16/79-8/25/01): Aaliyah, born in Bed-Stuy and raised in Detroit, was the walking definition of street cool in the late 1990s. She only cut three albums - "Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number," "One In a Million" and "Aaliyah," released just weeks before she died in a plane crash in the Bahamas.
Jimi Hendrix, 27 (1942- 1970): Hendrix's single name - either one of them - is still synonymous with the wild, unleashed power of the electric guitar. He found things there that no one else had found, and while he had a basically shy nature, being on-stage brought out a side of him that for many fans still defines the utter freedom of rock ‘n' roll. There is some mystery surrounding his death, but the official cause was listed as asphyxiation after inhaling his own vomit while intoxicated.
Bruce Lee, 32, (1940-1973): The martial arts artists died three weeks before the 1973 premiere of "Enter the Dragon." Although "Game of Death" and its sequel "Game of Death II" would be released later, they are based on footage shot before Lee made 'Enter the Dragon.'
Brandon Lee, 28 (1965-1993): Brandon Lee never really got to know his father Bruce, who died when Brandon was 8. But Brandon picked up the acting gene, and made a success of his own career, largely through the martial arts door. Lee was accidentally shot and killed while filming "The Crow."
Kurt Cobain, 27 (2/20/67-4/5/94): "Grunge" was a loving term slapped onto a style of music, much of it coming from Seattle, because terms like "punk" and "new wave" had already been used. But there was nothing especially grungy about the music of Nirvana, the three-man band Kurt Cobain fronted and for which he wrote most of the music. Cobain shot himself in his Seattle home.
Janis Joplin, 27 (1943-1970): Janis was known as the white girl who sang the blues. A lot of white girls have sung the blues, of course, some of them just as well as the insecure girl from Port Arthur, Texas. But few of them seemed to live the blues quite as thoroughly as Janis. Joplin died of a drug overdose.