Stars that are strangely connected to other celebrity deaths

When it comes to celebrity deaths, there is no shortage of speculation, gossip, and even wild conspiracy theories that get thrown around. Was Bob Marley assassinated by the CIA? Did Jimi Hendrix's manager kill him to collect a massive insurance payout? These are actual, admittedly outlandish assertions that have been made in the wake of those stars' untimely passings. But sometimes, there are very real, very strange celebrity connections to a famous fatality. These are some of those cases.  

Mary-Kate Olsen and Heath Ledger

The investigation into Heath Ledger's tragic death has been closed since 2008, and though it once seemed like Mary-Kate Olsen was going to be a key player in the investigation, she was essentially cleared of wrongdoing when the DEA and federal prosecutors declined to compel her to go on the record about what she knew. But that doesn't mean the mysteries surrounding the Full House star's connection to Ledger have gone away.

In fact, two of the biggest questions surrounding their relationship have never been answered. First, it is still unclear why the masseuse who found Ledger's body called Olsen before dialing 911, despite sources telling the New York Post that "they [Ledger's employees] panicked at finding his body and did not know what to do." Second, it is equally puzzling that after receiving the call, Olsen dispatched her bodyguards to go to Ledger's apartment, rather than just letting the authorities handle what was obviously a medical emergency. 

As of this writing, Olsen has not spoken publicly about Ledger's death, except for statements from her attorney, who said , in part, "we have provided the government with relevant information including facts in the chronology of events surrounding Mr. Ledger's death and the fact that Ms. Olsen does not know the source of the drugs Mr. Ledger consumed." So shady. 

Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood

They drowning death of Natalie Wood is one of the most enduring Hollywood mysteries of all time. Not only does it involve the high-profile marriage between Wood and actor Robert Wagner, but it also entangled actor Christopher Walken, who was present the last time Wood was seen alive. Wood was found floating in the frigid waters of Isthmus Bay after going missing the previous night from their yacht, Splendour, where the trio was spending the weekend in November of 1981. 

According to an excerpt from the true crime book Coroner (via HuffPost), the medical examiner who performed Wood's autopsy believed she fell into the water while trying to board a dinghy. The press presumed she was trying to escape some type of altercation between Walken and Wagner.

And that has long been the question at the center of Wood's death. Why did she leave the yacht? In Wagner's 2009 book, Pieces of My Heart (via CNN), he admits to "becoming jealous and arguing with both Wood and Walken." The captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, expanded on the confrontation, telling authorities that Wagner had "exploded" during an "alcohol-fueled argument" and that Wagner had returned "sweaty, flushed, anxious, nervous and disheveled" after a 15 minute argument he'd had with Wood in her cabin, according to Radar Online.

In a 1997 Playboy interview (via The Hollywood Reporter), Walken broke his 18-year silence about the tragic night, suggesting that Wood possibly lost her footing on a slippery ski ramp while trying to stop the dinghy from "bouncing against the side of the boat" and making noise. He also pointed to the way she was dressed when she was found — in only a nightgown, socks, and a heavy jacket — as evidence that she likely wasn't attempting to leave the boat. What's perhaps most perplexing is that Walken offered no indication that any argument took place. Why would he omit that part of the story? Was there actually something going on between Walken and Wood? More than three decades later, and the mysteries remain.

Fatty Arbuckle and Virginia Rappe

Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was literally at the apex of his career when his association with the death of Virginia Rappe sent him plummeting from stardom to infamy. According to Smithsonian, it was 1921 and Arbuckle had just signed a deal with Paramount Pictures which would pay him $3 million dollars over three years to star in 18 silent films. To celebrate Arbuckle's success, a friend threw a party, which is where Arbuckle encountered actress Virginia Rappe and her friend, convicted fraudster Maude Delmont. Four days later, Rappe died of a ruptured bladder, and Delmont went straight to the press, accusing Arbuckle of sexually assaulting Rappe, supposedly having witnessed her "sprawled on the bed, moaning."

At his trial, Arbuckle claimed Rappe "became hysterical" after a few drinks and "complained she could not breathe and then started to tear off her clothes," reported the Smithsonian. He maintained that he was never alone with the actress, and that after he and several other guests found her vomiting in the bathroom, they moved her to a room of her own. His defense also presented evidence that Rappe suffered from "a chronic bladder condition," and that her autopsy indicated there "were no marks of violence on the body, no signs that the girl had been attacked in any way." After three trials — two hung juries and an acquittal — Arbuckle tried to return to his career, but he was barred from appearing on screen as part of the industry's effort to "restore its image." He died ten years later, in relative obscurity, of a heart attack in his hotel room.

Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain

As was the case with Natalie Wood's death, the circumstances surrounding Kurt Cobain's suicide have turned into a full blown conspiracy theory, complete with its own nickname for its followers: Kurtruthers. The theory basically relies on two objections. 1.) Cobain wouldn't have been able to lift a shotgun to shoot himself because of the large dose of heroin he'd taken. 2.) His suicide note appears to have more than one person's handwriting in it.

Naturally, this has led directly to speculation that Courtney Love, Cobain's then-wife must have hired someone to kill him, then forged the note. Unfortunately for Kurtruthers — including the filmmakers behind the damningly accusatory Soaked In Bleach, the "docudrama" that basically asks for the case to be reopened and investigated as a homicide — the Seattle Police Department does not agree. Not only have handwriting experts attested to the fact that Cobain did, indeed, write the note, but the Seattle P.D. has consistently released case files (more than 100 pages worth of police reports and photos) over the years in an effort to debunk the ever-growing conspiracy theories.

According to CBS News, a cold case detective even took a fresh look at the case in 2014 and determined, "The investigation on the death of Kurt Cobain, which was conducted 20 years ago, reached the correct conclusion that the manner of death was (suicide)." All that, and yet Love has essentially spent more than two decades grappling not only with the loss of her husband but her own vilification over a crime police have repeatedly said never happened.

Bill Paxton and JFK

This is definitely one of the lighter connections on this list, even though it deals with a celebrity connection to a presidential assassination. When Bill Paxton was 8-years-old, he got to witness what ended up being the last public address President John F. Kennedy would ever give, according to The Washington Post. And he has the pictures to prove it.

After returning to Dallas in 2007, and tracking down KTVT-TV's video footage of the day, Paxton was able to find his younger self in the crowd, seated atop the shoulders of a man he'd met that fateful day 45 years earlier. The photo was published on the Dallas Observer, proving the late actor/director had seen JFK in person on the day he died. 

Speaking with Texas Monthly, Paxton also recalled how he heard the news of Kennedy's death. He was at recess at the Catholic school he attended when the students were told to return to the classroom and place their heads on their desks. "The radio was on, and the nuns were all crying. Then it was announced that he had died in Dallas. I couldn't believe it. I'd seen him alive!" Paxton said.

The many celebrity connections to the Manson murders

Before his life goal was to spark a race war and pin it on the Black Panthers — seriously — convicted murderer and cult leader Charles Manson actually wanted to be a rock star. According to Manson biographer Jeff Guinn (via People), this led to Manson tirelessly trying to connect to celebrities in a desperate bid for any kind of "in" with the industry, but as successful as his pursuit of the stars was, his musical ambitions never panned out.

Either through his own direct contacts, or via members of "The Family," Manson crossed paths with quite a few musical giants of the late '60s. A great, in-depth breakdown of Manson's musical connections can be found here, but essentially it all started when Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys picked up two hitchhikers who turned out to be female members of "The Family." From there, Manson weaseled his way into Wilson's world, manipulating introductions to both Neil Young, who allegedly referred to Manson's musical talents as "quite good," and producer and songwriter Terry Melcher, whose home was the intended target the night actress Sharon Tate and five others (including her unborn child) were murdered.

But the celebrity with the strangest connection to Manson was probably Angela Lansbury, whose daughter, Deirdre "Didi" Lansbury, actually fell in with "The Family" for a brief time. According to Guinn, Didi was still in high school when she met Manson, who brought her into the fold because of her willingness to let him spend freely with her mother's credit cards. Luckily for Didi, the scam didn't last long and her usefulness to "The Family" ran out. It's terrifying to think how easily she and many other famous figures were duped by the charismatic madman.

Alan Thicke and 'The Hollywood Medium'

Alan Thicke died unexpectedly at the end of 2016, a year that famously saw what appeared to be an inordinately high number of celebs passing before their time. Stars such as lCarrie Fisher, Prince, and Anton Yelchin all died suddenly and with no warning signs, but Alan Thicke was given a huge warning from someone who claims he can communicate with the dead.

According to E! Online, during an episode of Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry, Henry repeatedly told Thicke that he was receiving messages from beyond with concerns relating to preventable heart issues. Even after Thicke protested that his family doesn't have a genetic link to heart problems, Henry insisted, "So if you yourself notice blood pressure or a heart murmur, just see a doctor. But I feel almost like we have to really take this into consideration." Thicke even joked back, "Thank you Dr. Henry. I'm gonna take that…I'm gonna take that to heart."  

Three months after the taping, Thicke collapsed and died after playing ice hockey, having suffered a "ruptured aorta" and a "stanford type A aortic dissection." According to Dr. Jean Starr, a vascular surgeon who spoke with Fox News about Thicke's death, an aortic dissection is a rare condition with a "high rate of death." It's also a condition that is "hard to prevent," so it's unlikely that any kind of screening, as Henry urged, would have subverted the tragedy. Even so, his specific premonition couldn't have just been a lucky guess, could it?

Jim Carrey and Cathriona White

Actor Jim Carrey is currently facing two wrongful death lawsuits involving the suicide of his on-again, off-again girlfriend Cathriona White in 2015. 

The first lawsuit was filed in September 2016 by White's estranged husband, Mark Burton, who alleged that Carrey provided White with the prescription pills she used to commit suicide. The second lawsuit was filed about a month later, by White's mother, who alleged that her daughter's suicide was triggered after White confronted Carrey about him giving her three sexually transmitted diseases.

Carrey has maintained his innocence in both matters, even as headlines continue to paint a messy picture. He's also set to be legally deposed over White's death in August 2017.