Hallmark Stars Who Have Had Near-Death Experiences

A brush with death is a plot device that occasionally pops up in Hallmark movies, and, as it turns out, several of the network's stars have come terrifyingly close to meeting a character you're not likely to see in any of their feel-good movies: the Grim Reaper.

In film, a near-death experience can help drive a narrative by suddenly giving a character a new lease on life. Or, in the Hallmark universe, it can give a protagonist a temp job as an angel tasked with spreading holiday cheer. The movies "Christmas Magic" and "A Heavenly Christmas" both play with this trope. Near-fatal accidents are also a good way to trap a city gal in a small town, where she is force-fed holiday cheer by its festive residents until she becomes one of them. This is (sort of) what happens to Mira Sorvino's character in "A Christmas to Remember."

Here in the real world, near-death experiences don't always come with the soothing balm of a blossoming romance (or the perfect cup of hot cocoa). However, they can still impact people in profound ways that they view as beneficial. Fans have had to say farewell to far too many Hallmark actors, but they can find comfort in knowing that some of the channel's stars have cheated death and lived to tell the tale.

Kristoffer Polaha's explosive brush with death

In an 2021 installment of the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series, "Mystery 101," called "Killer Timing," Kristoffer Polaha's character survives an explosion. According to Polaha, the scene was inspired by something that actually happened to him. On "The Grass is Greener with Paul Greene" podcast, the actor recounted how an idyllic day in New York City took a turn for the terrifying.

Polaha was an NYU student, aimlessly strolling the city streets with a friend named Katherine. At one point, Polaha decided to walk on the other side of his companion. "I said, 'I don't know why, but I feel better on this side of you,'" he recalled. Their meandering took them in front of a restaurant. "All of a sudden ... the grate in the sidewalk blows open, we're engulfed in a fireball," he continued. The explosion came from the basement of the restaurant, but also blew its windows out, causing glass to fly everywhere. Katherine escaped without any serious injuries, but a piece of skin was hanging from Polaha's face and he was bleeding profusely from cuts on his wrists and hands.

However, while taking a cab to the hospital, he requested a kiss from Katherine, which is what inspired his and co-star Jill Wagner's characters to kiss in the show. Polaha believes that swapping spots with his companion could have saved their lives. "The one thing that the fire marshal said which stuck with me was, 'You're lucky to be alive right now. You should have been decapitated,'" he recalled.

A medical mistake almost cost Jane Seymour her life

"A Royal Christmas" star Jane Seymour is among the celebrities who actually died and were brought back to life. In her case, trying to treat one medical issue caused one that was far worse. While filming the 1988 TV movie, "Onassis: The Richest Man in the World," in Spain, the former Bond girl contracted a bad case of bronchitis and had to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, an antibiotic that was supposed to be injected into a muscle was injected into a vein instead, causing her to go into anaphylactic shock. "Then suddenly it was silent, and when it was silent, I just saw this white light. And I was completely peaceful," she recalled on "Collider Live."

According to Seymour, she had an out-of-body experience. As she floated over her lifeless form, she saw doctors frantically trying to resuscitate her, which they eventually managed to do. The actor remembered thinking about her children and all the good she had hoped to accomplish before she died, which made her decide that she was not ready to leave her earthly vessel.

The experience made the Open Hearts Foundation co-founder eager to make a positive impact on the world and changed the way she lived her life; she decided that she had no time to waste on dealing with negative people. "It was a wonderful moment really," she told the Deseret News. "It made me realize how simple it is. It's all about loving and being loved."

Brooke Burns had an out-of-body experience

Brooke Burns is well aware of how dangerous swimming in the ocean can be as a seasoned "Baywatch" alum, but it was the pool in her backyard that put her in mortal danger. In 2005, Burns experienced one of the most traumatic moments of her life when she smashed her head on the bottom of the pool. "[I] took a little dive from the deep end to the shallow end, hit chin-to-chest, had a paralyzing break," she recalled to Gulf Times. The "Gourmet Detective" actor had broken her neck upon impact.

During an appearance on "Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry," Burns recounted how she lost consciousness but remembers feeling like she was being pulled upward. "I could see the pool but I wasn't there," she recalled. She wasn't in pain, but she also wasn't ready to leave her badly injured body behind. After she made this choice, she became conscious that she was drowning.

Burns is extremely lucky that she had a house guest over at the time — and he was a fireman paramedic who knew exactly what to do in that situation. "He literally saved my life. He took a towel, wet it and wrapped it around my neck and floated me in the water till the paramedics came," she told Gulf Times. Burns ultimately had to have some serious hardware fused to her spine. "Now I have a rod and two plates of 10 screws of titanium."

Being in peak physical condition almost killed Chad Michael Murray

Doctors almost missed Chad Michael Murray's deadly medical issue. For most athletes, having a killer six-pack is a desirable trait, but Murray's flat stomach could have killed him when he was just 15 years old. The "Write Before Christmas" took a blow to the stomach while playing football and had to be hospitalized. At first, doctors were mystified by why his blood cell count was plummeting. "My abdomen was tight, and when I started bleeding internally, my stomach didn't expand," Murray explained on "The Jess Cagle Show." His situation became so dire that a priest was called to his room in preparation for his demise.

The former teen heartthrob credited a clever nurse for being the one who saved his life. She realized that he needed a blood transfusion and performed the procedure herself, giving doctors time to discover that the cause of Murray's bleeding was intestinal twisting.

While Murray was fortunate to be alive, his ordeal wasn't over. He told Seventeen that his long recovery caused him to miss a lot of school and kept him off the field, which was tough for someone as passionate about football as he was. "I was in the hospital for two [months] and then out of school for two," he said. But the actor worked hard to get back in shape and was able to play in the state championship as a senior.

Jesse Hutch almost drowned

Before "Christmas in Toyland" star Jesse Hutch became a full-time actor, he made a living as a professional whitewater raft guide. It was a dangerous job, as evidenced by a throwback photo that he shared on Facebook. He revealed that it was taken the moment before he "scorpioned," which he defined as, "to land on your stomach and have the feet touch the back of your head." Somehow, Hutch managed to survive five years of white water rafting before he had a serious death scare.

When Hutch was 21, he wound up in the water during one outing. "I should be completely, honestly dead," he told "CBN News." He was underwater for as long as 22 minutes when someone finally fished him out of the river. "They got me to the hospital, they put me in a pressure chamber," he recalled. Hutch marveled that it was not just miraculous that he didn't drown, but that he suffered no serious long-term effects after his recovery. According to the CDC, brain damage is a potential consequence of a non-fatal drowning. But according to Hutch, his only issue has been vocal cord damage that causes his voice to sometimes deepen.

Hutch said that his harrowing ordeal strengthened his faith. "Just another reminder that God has his hand on my life," he stated. He also revealed during the 2023 interview that he was working on a project loosely inspired by his near-death experience.

Candace Cameron Bure's Fuller House stunt that went terribly wrong

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there's a hard piece of metal waiting to potentially crush you. Well, the entire "Fuller House" set wasn't a death trap, but Candace Cameron Bure believes that one contraption could have killed her. On the "How Rude, Tanneritos!" podcast, Bure chatted with her former co-stars Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber about an episode of the show that involved the construction of an obstacle course inspired by "American Ninja Warrior." In a feat that only sitcom crew members can accomplish, the elaborate course was crammed inside the Tanners' home.

Bure's character, DJ Tanner, was supposed to complete the course with a dramatic flourish: zooming through the house on a zip line. "But during rehearsal, the rig was not set up correctly and there was no safety stop on the end of it," Bure recalled. Because of this, the rig collapsed when Bure's ride ended, and part of it came dangerously close to hitting her head.

According to Sweetin, the heavy rig caused some pretty bad damage to the show's set. "If I just even shifted my weight the tiniest bit, it would have probably broken my neck and landed right on top of my head," Bure explained. Barber agreed when Bure suggested that she could have died. "I still have PTSD from that," Barber said. Thankfully, the stunt was nixed after Bure's close call, and the zip line was replaced with monkey bars.

Jesse Metcalfe's frightful fall

While Hollywood won't cast Jesse Metcalfe anymore, he was a pretty hot commodity in 2008, thanks to his role on "Desperate Housewives." That year, the "Chesapeake Shores" star was invited to Monte Carlo to host the World Music Awards. He left the Monaco district with an unfortunate souvenir: a fractured fibula. The Sun reported that he sustained the injury after taking a 40-foot tumble down the stairs of his hot, knocking him out. "Jesse knows he's had a very lucky escape. The accident could have been fatal," the actor's rep said.

Metcalfe's fall happened a year after he made headlines for checking into rehab for an addiction to alcohol. In an interview with i-D, he revealed that he was using drinking as a coping mechanism for the pressures that come with fame. "There's a lot of alcoholism in my family and that's the route I chose, unfortunately. It was pretty grotesque," he said.

When People asked him about his accident in a 2009 interview, he confessed to imbibing the night it happened. However, he said that alcohol impairment didn't cause his fall. "It was really just a freak accident," he said. "I went to sit back on this railing and just slipped off. I landed on my feet and I broke my leg. I got lucky." He also assured the publication that he had his drinking under control.

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).

Niall Matter was seriously injured in an oil rig accident

Many moons before "Holiday Hotline" actor Niall Matter became a Hallmark Channel mainstay, he worked a generational job he wanted no part of: working on oil rigs in Canada. He explained to MediaVillage.org that the undesired gig helped him relate to his character in the 2018 Hallmark movie, "Love at First Dance," but the job almost left him unable to take his leading ladies for a spin around the dance floor.

Matter told the Chicago Tribune that his parents were unhappy with his rebellious behavior, so they sent him off to work alongside his grandfather on oil rigs when he was 17. He eventually decided that he wanted to attend Vancouver Film School, but after he graduated, he found that he couldn't afford to live in Vancouver. Matter returned to his demanding job to pay his bills, and when he wasn't on the rigs, he pursued acting work.

At age 25, disaster struck. "I was crushed inside the cab of a drilling rig ... They had to rip me out of there. It was pretty awful," he recalled. "It was horrific actually." Initially, the doctor who examined Matter's injuries believed his right leg couldn't be saved, but he was spared an amputation. "I was able to remain intact and go through extensive physio to be able to walk again," he said. Not long after Matter quit the oil gig rig, he landed his first starring role in "Beyond Loch Ness."

Tim Rozon almost died while filming a holiday movie

"Schitt's Creek" actor Tim Rozon had a holly jolly time filming the 2019 Hallmark holiday film "Christmas Town" with Candace Cameron Bure, even though he told Scoop he was hesitant about signing on for a project that was so unlike anything he had done before. "I didn't know if I could do a Hallmark movie. I just didn't know if I could play a normal guy," he said.

It seems that Rozon was able to get in touch with his inner normie, as he decided to shoot some holiday films for competing networks, including Lifetime's "A Christmas in Switzerland," which co-starred Bure's "Fuller House" castmate Jodie Sweetin. He also got cast in UPtv's "Christmas in Wolf Creek" and had an experience that wasn't quite as joyous as his first very merry movie shoot.

"I almost died making 'Christmas in Wolf Creek,'" Rozon explained to Us Weekly. "My appendix exploded and I didn't even know what an appendix was." He decided to treat his health scare like an outlaw of the Wild West would by doing nothing about it, and he almost pulled a Wyatt Earp by dying from a condition that modern medicine is well-equipped to treat. "I didn't do anything because I'm a guy and I just tried to sleep for like 36 hours and then finally I went to the emergency room and had surgery and they saved my life," he admitted. Rozon deemed his escape from death "a Christmas miracle."

Tori Spelling's pregnancy horror story

Like Meghan Markle, Tori Spelling is one of Hallmark's oft-forgotten stars. But maybe you recall her teaming up with William Shatner and Gary Coleman to spread holiday cheer in the 2003 film "A Carol Christmas."

Four years after the film aired, Spelling became a first-time mom. She had two more successful births, but her fourth was more like a horror movie. In a 2012 interview with Us Weekly, Spelling revealed that she was diagnosed with placenta previa, a pregnancy complication that can cause severe hemorrhaging. Spelling's bleeding was so bad that she feared for her life. "I just remember thinking, 'I can't leave three children behind,'" she recalled.

Spelling had nine bleeding episodes during her pregnancy. The third time it happened, she had to ask her toddler Stella for help. "I stumbled to the bathroom, dizzy from losing so much blood. ... There was so much blood I thought, 'I'm dying,'" she recounted to People. The actor called for Stella, who was understandably scared to see her mother covered in blood. But when Spelling asked the little girl to get her father, she listened. When she arrived at the hospital, Spelling learned that she would have to undergo an operation. Worse yet, she was told that she could lose her baby while surgeons worked to keep her alive during the procedure. Thankfully, the surgery was a success, and she went on to give birth to baby Finn in August 2012.