Tragically Murdered Celebs

There are certain celebrities that are simply unforgettable, no matter how long they've been gone. Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, and Michael Jackson, for example, are all three legendary stars who seem to have had rather unexplainable deaths that still garner attention from the media and film industry. Whenever the world loses a celebrity, the public always becomes fascinated. We are reminded that although the rich and famous seem untouchable, they experience pain and death the same way anyone else would. There are also certain celebrity murders that still haunt us, because they were so shocking and so tragic. 

In cases like Elizabeth Short or "The Black Dahlia," the actor became more famous in death than she was in life, coincidentally. The body of aspiring actress Short was sadly found in a park in Los Angeles, California in 1947 — cleaned of all evidence (via ATI). There were many theories about what happened to her, along with lots of documentaries and films made, but her murder remains one of LA's biggest mysteries — even today. We'd like to propose a toast to some of our other favorite celebrities who were tragically murdered.

Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate was one of the most beautiful actors in Hollywood before she fell victim to one of the most notorious and devastating murders of the decade. At the time of her murder, Tate was married to film director Roman Polanski, was a Golden-Globe nominee for her work in "Valley of the Dolls", and was also almost nine months pregnant with her first child, per Oprah Daily. The night of the murders, Sharon Tate was at the home she shared with Polanski (10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles California), and three of her friends. Polanksi was not in town at the time.

10050 Cielo Drive once belonged to a record producer named Terry Melcher, who was also the son of famed actress Doris Day. Melcher was said to have snubbed an unhinged man named Charles Manson on a record deal, leaving Manson extremely bitter.  According to "Cults Uncovered: True Stories of Mind Control and Murder," this is when Manson wanted revenge on Hollywood, and ordered three of his followers to go to Melcher's supposed home, to "totally destroy everyone in that house, as gruesome as you can."

Tate, her unborn baby, her three friends, and a friend visiting the home's caretaker (talk about bad timing) were brutally murdered that night — all because of cult leader Charles Manson (via Britannica). Many months passed before Manson and his three followers were identified as the murderers and were all were sentenced to life in prison.

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in Harlem, New York, and was one of the most well-respected artists in the hip-hop community. Like Biggie Smalls, who was also shot and killed six months after Tupac, he was taken from us entirely too soon. He was only 25 years old, and it was unexpectedly at the hands of a gunman, per Biography. Tupac had done a short stint in prison, and his gang-affiliated lifestyle inspired him to create a certain music genre that appealed to his audience, as did his deceased adversary Biggie Smalls. Fan-favorites that are still consistently played on the radio or shared on playlists are "Changes," "California Love," and "Hit Em Up," to name a few.

In the 1990s, it was no secret that the gang rivalries between the East and West Coast were steadily increasing and becoming more dangerous. Sadly, in the case of Tupac, he was shot and killed after leaving a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas in 1996. Tragically, he passed away from his injuries six days later (via Britannica). Although no one was officially charged with Tupac's murder, police suspected fellow hip-hop artist Orlando Anderson, who was also sadly gunned down in 1998, per MTV. Tupac is best remembered for his incredible music, and acting roles in films like "Juice" and "Poetic Justice." In death, Shakur became even more of a rap legend.

Dominique Dunn

Dominique Dunne was on her way to the top when her life was tragically and suddenly cut short by an extremely jealous ex-boyfriend. Dunne was best known for her roles in films like "Poltergeist', where she portrayed the teen daughter of the family who was haunted by evil spirits in their house. The movie became a cult classic, and Dunne was well-received by both critics and producer Steven Spielberg. There was no doubt her future would be bright.

According to Vanity Fair, the young star grew up very affluent and well educated. She was the daughter of journalist Dominick Dunne (for whom she was named after) and her mother, Ellen, who suffered from multiple sclerosis. In the early 1980's, Dunne met John Thomas Sweeney, who was a chef at the fancy Ma Maison Restaurant in Los Angeles. The two began dating and immediately moved in together — which is when the relationship began to crumble. Sweeney became physically abusive; Dunne had managed to escape the relationship, moved in with her mother, and changed the locks to their apartment (via ATI). All was well until Sweeney showed up one afternoon to the apartment when Dunne was rehearsing a scene with fellow actor David Packer. Packer heard a scream and called the police immediately. Sweeney had strangled Dominique Dunne, and she was rushed to the hospital, where she was put on life support. She died several days later at only 22 years old. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Nicole Brown Simpson

Nicole Brown Simpson was famously married to football star O.J. Simpson before her life abruptly ended, resulting in one of the most widely known murder trials of the century. O.J. was on trial for the alleged murder of his former wife and her friend Ron Goldman; Simpson notoriously walked away an innocent man, shocking the entire nation.

According to Biography, Nicole, a former homecoming queen and blonde bombshell, met O.J. when she was working as a waitress in Los Angeles. The sports star divorced his first wife, and he and Nicole were married shortly after, eventually having two children; Sydney and Justin. Nicole was a devoted mother and cared deeply for her children. Unfortunately, O.J. became physically and emotionally abusive, as well as unfaithful; family and friends recall seeing Nicole with bruises on her body, which led to law enforcement getting involved. O.J. pleaded no contest to spousal battery, and the two were later divorced.

Nicole had told her mother that she was scared of her ex-husband, and thought that he was following her. On the night that she was tragically murdered along with her friend, model Ron Goldman, the two were found stabbed to death outside of her Los Angeles condo. After evidence pointed to her ex-husband, he was charged with both of their murders in a tumultuous trial that ended with a jury acquitting him of all charges (via Biography).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Gianni Versace

Gianni Versace was the world-famous Italian designer and founder of the high-end fashion label, Versace. Versace's mother was a dressmaker, and the young Italian boy grew up around fashion, working for other designers like Mario Valentino and more (via Britannica). Before he knew it, he was dressing super models like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell with his daring designs and creations. Simply put, Versace truly became an iconic designer.

According to History, there was no evidence that serial killer Andrew Cunanan ever met Gianni Versace; the only thing they had in common was that they were both openly gay, and possibly had some mutual friends. Cunanan was already on the FBI's most-wanted list after going on a killing spree, and had fled to Miami during the man-hunt. For reasons unknown, Andrew Cunanan shot Versace twice in the head while he was coming home after a morning walk, and the fashion designer died instantly.

Cunanan was eventually found on the houseboat that belonged to Versace that he had broken into after the murder. Police discovered he had killed himself, but did not leave a suicide note. The world — especially the fashion world — has mourned the untimely death of the talented Gianni Versace.

Carl Switzer

Carl Switzer was best known for being a child actor who played the iconic role of Alfalfa in the "Our Gang" comedy (which is now affectionately known to most people as "The Little Rascals"). "Our Gang" was so successful that it became a television series and would employ Switzer for years to come. Who can forget those sweet, sneaky little boys!?

After "The Little Rascals," Switzer found himself much older, struggling for tiny roles on the big and small screen; it was clear that his days of being a successful actor were over (via History).  He made his money working random jobs like bartending, and, unfortunately, had quite a few episodes with the local police. This is sadly not surprising as so many child actors head down a path of destruction.

On the night he was killed, Switzer and a friend went to the home of someone who was believed to owe him money. According to PopCrush, he was shot to death during an argument over $50 – the equivalent of a little less than $500 today, per DollarTimes. Moses Stiltz, the shooter, said the former child star threw a knife at him so he retaliated by shooting him in the stomach.

Marvin Gaye

Legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye sadly didn't live to see his 45th birthday; shockingly, the man who gave him life was also the one to take his life. Gaye was murdered by his own father.

According to History, Gaye had a career lasting an incredible 25 years and was one of the most influential artists of his time. In his personal life, however, he never had the best relationship with his father, Marvin Gay Sr., dating back to childhood. Marvin Sr. was a preacher and an advocate of strict morals that he instilled in his children, albeit violently. It was also rumored that he was secretly a cross-dresser, had issues with alcohol, and instead of being proud of his son, he was always jealous and resentful of his musical success. 

After winning a Grammy award and watching his song "Sexual Healing" rise to the top the charts, Marvin Jr. seemed to be in a fragile state; mentally, physically, and financially. He struggled with depression and substance abuse which led to him moving back in with his parents. The morning of his death, he was having an argument with his father that quickly became a physical fight. That's when Marvin Sr. took a revolver given to him by his son and shot him in his chest three times. According to Marvin Jr.'s brother Frankie, his chilling last words were "I got what I wanted....I couldn't do it myself, so I made him do it" (via History).

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Phil Hartman

Actor and comedian Phil Hartman made us laugh on "Saturday Night Live" and in many films. Hartman's comedic timing and the way he worked with the late Chris Farley on skits like "Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker" made Hartman a household name.

According to Biography, after two failed marriages, Hartman met his third wife, Brynn Omdahl, who was an aspiring model. Omdahl was previously addicted to cocaine, but was in recovery when she met and married Hartman. The couple had two children that he adored, and according to Hartman's friends, his career appeared to be thriving and he seemed incredibly content. Per the Los Angeles Times, Hartman told his friend Joe Dante, "I have a plane. I have a boat. I have a great house. I have a great family. In fact I have everything I ever wanted. It feels great."

However, Omdahl's career seemed to be at a stand-still, causing a rift between the couple and causing her to relapse. Her erratic behavior became increasingly worse, thus leading up to the tragic night. Per Biography, while under the influence, she shot and killed her husband Phil Hartman before turning the gun on herself. Hartman were survived by their now adult children, Birgen and Sean. Truly heart-breaking.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).