Tragic Details About The Cast Of That '70s Show

The following contains references to sexual assault allegations, domestic abuse allegations, and addiction.

On the whole, "That '70s Show" — which ran for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006 — was a lighthearted, goofy comedy. It propelled us into the hilarious world of a band of teenagers just trying to figure themselves out as best they could, all while firing off zippy dialogue and smoking enormous amounts of pot (they were repeatedly filmed sitting in a circle as they got higher and higher in protagonist Eric Forman's basement all while maybe getting around to reflecting on various life events). It was set, after all, in the 1970s.

But members of the TV show's roster, which included now-megastars (and spouses) Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, have not always had the easiest ride in life. In fact, many of them have suffered unthinkable trauma and loss, whether during their childhood or years after they had finished filming "That '70s Show." Others have been accused of harming people themselves. Here are tragic details about the cast of "That '70s Show."

Laura Prepon's father died during surgery

Laura Prepon, who played Donna Pinciotti on "That '70s Show," went through a very difficult period early in her life when, at age 13, her father died unexpectedly due to a drastic medical error. "We had been told that layers of fat were attacking his heart, making it difficult for the vital organ to pump blood," the actor wrote in her candid memoir, "You and I, as Mothers: A Raw and Honest Guide to Motherhood." Here's what happened to Prepon's dad: "While he was on the operating table, the doctors, thinking they were removing layers of fat, were actually peeling away layers of his enlarged heart; they'd misdiagnosed him."

If this traumatic event wasn't enough, she goes on to explain that her mother's reaction to this death — which was to not cry, or at least not in front of her daughter — conditioned Prepon to avoid shedding tears at all costs until well into adulthood. "It took me a while, and many talks with my husband, to realize that crying didn't equal weakness," she wrote. Her mother was also instrumental in Prepon developing bulimia when she was younger, she revealed in her book. "Many people have thanked me for opening up about my relationship with my mother," she told People. "If there's someone out there who's silently struggling with dysfunctional eating or struggling with their parents, and if I helped a single person, I'd be happy."

Mila Kunis' family endured various struggles

Remember that time "That '70s Show" alum Mila Kunis expertly shut down a Russian journalist who challenged Justin Timberlake's acting career, all in Russian? Well, if you were wondering why the actor who played Jackie Burkhart speaks the language so fluently, it's because she was actually born in Ukraine while it was still part of the USSR. Kunis' family left the country when she and her brother were still kids.

"My parents thought that my brother and I would have no future there, though, so we moved to the United States," Kunis told The Telegraph, noting they arrived with only $250."That was all we were allowed to take with us," she said. "My parents had given up good jobs and degrees, which were not transferable." Reflecting on her early years in Los Angeles on a 2016 episode of "The Kyle and Jackie O Show" (via Today), Kunis said, "I grew up poor." She also noted she's always been "aware of what a dollar is worth."

Kunis' family is Jewish, which added a layer of difficulty when it came to building a good life in Russia. "There was a bit of anti-Semitism in Russia," she told WhatCulture in 2011. In a later interview with The Sun, she remembered, "When I was in school you would still see anti-Semitic signs." In 2012, a Ukrainian politician directed a slur at the actor, which was heavily condemned by the Jewish community, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Danny Masterson was accused of raping multiple women

Multiple women have accused Danny Masterson, who played Steven Hyde on "That '70s Show," of raping them in the early 2000s at his home in Los Angeles. In June 2021, LA Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo "found all three witnesses to be credible and the evidence presented during a preliminary hearing sufficient to support the charges," according to Daily News. The actor pleaded not guilty, with his lawyer stating, "He did not force anyone to have sex with him." However, the prosecutor felt that the women — identified as N. Trout, Jennifer B. and Christina B. — and their testimonies were credible and "heartfelt."

The allegations against Masterson are serious, and include an accusation that he had drugged one of the plaintiffs in order to take advantage of her. In August 2021, Judge Olmedo denied subpoenas made by Masterson's lawyer meant to support the actor's case. According to ABC7, the judge called the subpoenas "stunningly overbroad" and failed to see their relevance to the matter at hand.

When the allegations first came to light in 2017, Netflix fired Masterson from its show "The Ranch." In a statement to USA Today at the time, the streaming company said, "As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of 'The Ranch.' Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Kurtwood Smith's father died in World War II

Kurtwood Smith played the very strict father Red Forman on "That '70s Show," but he sadly didn't get to experience life with his own father in real life: George A. Smith died in March 1945, fighting in World War II. In 2017, Kurtwood posted a photo of himself posing next to his father's grave on Twitter. He wrote, "Veterans Day at my father's grave in the Netherlands American Cemetery near Margraten. Though I never knew him I always remember him!"

The "That '70s Show" alum also played a father in "Dead Poets Society," in which his son dies, a role which was deeply emotional for him both as a parent and as a performer. "I've had multiple people tell me that that movie changed their relationship with their father," he told Collider in 2018. "To be part of something that changed people's lives ... is great, it's really special." Clearly, what it means to be a father figure has been a theme throughout Smith's life and career.

Ashton Kutcher's twin was told he would die at 13

Christopher "Ashton" Kutcher, AKA Michael Kelso, has a twin brother named Michael, whose health struggles started at birth and deeply affected Ashton. Michael was born underweight and with trouble breathing, according to his official website. Although he survived this first obstacle, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a young child, then told at age 13 that he had "just three to four weeks" to live. At that time, "Michael again defeated the odds and successfully received a life saving heart transplant."

In 2003, the "That '70s Show" star revealed in an interview that Michael had cerebral palsy, and Michael was "very angry" that his twin shared this information — but he has since changed his stance. "Chris did me the biggest favor he's ever done because he allowed me to be myself," Michael told Today in 2021. After the interview, he met a little girl named Bella who shared his diagnosis, and the experience moved him immensely. "I realized I needed to let go of the shame I felt and be a champion for people like Bella," he said. "I was finally ready to tell my story and I knew because of my twin, I'd have a big reach." Today, Michael is a fierce advocate for disability and organ donation, helping people across the country cope with their health issues.

Ashton Kutcher dated a woman who was murdered

Ashton Kutcher has seen his fair share of horror in his lifetime. In 2001, he was set to go on a first date with a woman named Ashley Ellerin, a fashion design student. On the night, Kutcher spoke to Ellerin on the phone beforehand to let her know he would be slightly late. But when he made it to her house and knocked on the door, there was no answer. "Mr. Kutcher looked in the window and saw what he thought was spilled wine on the floor," a prosecutor said during the murder trial in 2019 (via CBS News). "We believe now the evidence will show that was actually blood." Kutcher left, thinking Ellerin was angry that he was late and had gone out. He was never a suspect in the case.

In August 2019, Michael Gargiulo, an air conditioning repairman, was found guilty of murdering Ellerin and a second woman, as well as attempting to murder a third, per the Los Angeles Times. Gargiulo, dubbed alternately the "boy next door killer" and the "Hollywood ripper," reportedly stabbed Ellerin a total of 47 times. The woman who survived Gargiulo's attack also testified in the trial. "To this day, spending the night alone creates a world of fear in me," Michelle Murphy said (via AP). "How is it fair that one person's actions can destroy the lives of so many?" In July 2021, Gargiulo was given a death sentence.

Tanya Roberts' partner almost couldn't say goodbye

Tanya Roberts, who played Midge Pinciotti on "That '70s Show," sadly passed away in early 2021. Roberts collapsed on Christmas Eve 2020 and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to ABC News. For most of her time in the hospital, her partner, Lance O'Brien, wasn't allowed to visit her due to COVID restrictions, although he was ultimately permitted to say goodbye.

Roberts died from complications related to a urinary tract infection, although there was confusion as to the time of her death. On January 4, 2021, O'Brien believed Roberts to be dead and communicated this to the press. However, during an interview with Inside Edition that day, O'Brien received a call from the hospital. "Now you're telling me that... that she's alive?" he is heard saying. "Oh, thank the Lord! Thank God!" Roberts actually passed the next day, on January 5. "She was my soulmate, she was my best friend. We haven't been apart for two days," O'Brien said. The actor, who was 65, left her partner the entirety of her estate. In her will, published by Page Six, Roberts wrote to O'Brien, "I know you don't love me but you have been a true friend & for that I'm grateful."

Tommy Chong served time in prison

Tommy Chong played the weed-smoking hippie Leo Chingkwake on "That '70s Show" and, as anyone of a certain age knows, the character wasn't too far off from the actor's real life. A quick browse through his Instagram page will show you what we mean: Almost every single post — from this selfie to this joint art to this meme — is related to marijuana in some shape or form. He even credits it for the success of his comic duo with Richard "Cheech" Marin, Cheech and Chong. "It was my job as a writer and performer to deliver the goods," Chong told The Guardian. "So if that meant being stoned, I gladly did it." The actor is also now at the helm of his own cannabis brand, Tommy Chong's Cannabis.

Although these days cannabis brings Chong both joy and money, it also landed him a nine-month prison sentence once upon a time. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2003, he was not only sent to jail for selling weed paraphernalia, but was fined $20,000. That's why Chong's character was absent from Seasons 5 and 6 of "That '70s Show" and only returned in time for Season 8. In her The New York Times review of "A/K/A Tommy Chong," a 2006 documentary about Chong's arrest, Manohla Dargis called it a "depressing, often ridiculous and generally enraging story."

Chong evidently found a silver lining: He "became more at peace with himself" while incarcerated, The Guardian reports.

Lisa Robin Kelly died in rehab at 43

Lisa Robin Kelly portrayed daddy's girl Laurie Forman on "That '70s Show," the role for which she is most famous, per IMDb. Unfortunately, she led a difficult life after being replaced on the show, and was arrested several times throughout the 2010s. In November 2010, Kelly pled guilty to driving under the influence in North Carolina, according to TMZ. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI again in June 2013, also according to TMZ. She was also arrested for spousal abuse in April 2012, but told TMZ that her "male roommate" was trying to frame her. "He must have scratched himself or done something to himself," she said. "I am clean and sober and I have made a lot of progress. I am completely innocent. I weigh 105 pounds. I could never hurt him. I just want to start working again." She was arrested for assault in November 2012, per TMZ.

Kelly struggled with addiction, and checked herself into rehab in 2013. Tragically, she passed away there in her sleep at the age of 43. "I spoke to her on Monday and she was hopeful and confident, looking forward to putting this part of her life behind her," her agent, Craig Wyckoff, said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times. "Last night she lost the battle." In 2014, a coroner confirmed that Kelly died of multiple drug intoxication, per The Wrap. Her estranged husband, Robert Gilliam, sued the rehab facility for negligence in 2014, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

If you or anyone you know is struggling 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).

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.