The NY Daily News takes a closer look at celebrity murders that rocked the cultural landscape
More than forty years ago, Sharon Tate - a promising actress and model who also happened to be the wife of film director Roman Polanski - was brutally murdered along with four others by followers of Charles Manson. Tate, who was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1967 for her performance in "Valley of the Dolls," was 8-1/2 months pregnant at the time of her murder in 1969. Manson is still in prison, and has been denied parole numerous times.
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was an anti-hero who became legendary. Siegel, a mobster who did business with the likes of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky in the 1930s and 1940s, gets a lot of credit for the rise of Las Vegas as a gambling haven. Siegel, who was portrayed by Warren Beatty in the popular 1991 film "Bugsy," reached a violent end in 1947 when he was shot many times through a window of his Beverly Hills home.
Was Superman murdered or did he take his own life? That question will probably never be answered - but most people believe he was murdered. George Reeves, who starred as the original "Superman" in the 1950s, died of a gunshot wound in his own house in 1959. His mysterious death was probed in the 2006 film "Hollywoodland," with Ben Affleck playing Reeves.
1980 Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten was murdered by her estranged husband at age 20. The sensational murder led to two movies about the case. Stratten was played by Jamie Lee Curtis in a TV movie, and by Mariel Hemingway in the 1983 film "Star 80."
Everyone knows James Dean won an Academy Award for "Rebel Without a Cause." It was also a breakout role for Dean's co-star Sal Mineo, who was nominated for an Oscar. Sadly, both Dean and Mineo's lives came to tragic ends. Dean died in a car accident in 1955, and Mineo was stabbed to death in West Hollywood in 1976. Dean was 24, Mineo was 37.
The murder of John Lennon in December 1980 stunned the music world. The former Beatle was shot in the back four times in front of the Dakota apartment building by Mark David Chapman. Earlier in the night, Lennon had given Chapman an autograph.
Another music legend, Marvin Gaye, died four years after Lennon. Gaye was fatally shot by his father when he tried to break up an argument between his parents.
Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1997. A movie about his life, "Notorious," debuted in 2009.
Andrew Phillip Cunanan murdered five people during a three-month period in 1997. One of his victims was legendary fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was 50 when he was shot on the steps of his Miami beach mansion by Cunanan. Several days after murdering Versace, Cunanan used the same gun to take his own life.