Stars That Are Strangely Connected To Other Celebrity Deaths

The following article includes mentions of drug use, suicide, murder, and allegations of sexual assault.

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 deaths.

So, why is the public so consumed with the idea of their fave A-lister suddenly dying due to foul play? And why are conspiracy theories so addicting? "We are very good at recognizing patterns and regularities. But sometimes we overplay that," notes Professor Chris French, a psychologist at Goldsmith's, University of London, to the BBC. "We think we see meaning and significance when it isn't really there," he adds, explaining that it's human tendency to try and find logic behind a freak accident — essentially our constant craving to "make up a story."

Sometimes, however, there are very real, very strange celebrity connections to a famous fatality, that cannot be chalked up to a simple mishap. Let's dive in and look at the stars that are strangely connected to other celebrity deaths.

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."

Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood

The 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 "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 a 15-minute, "alcohol-fueled argument" with Wood (via Radar). In 2019, Natalie's sister, Lana Wood, spoke out about the incident to The New York Times, claiming that the actor would never board a dinghy. "Let's be truthful about who she was and how she was," she said, adding, "I am not making judgments ... I'm simply looking at facts. Natalie didn't swim. Her fear of dark water was deeply ingrained."

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 over three years to star in 18 silent films. To celebrate Arbuckle's success, a friend threw a party, which is where Arbuckle encountered actor 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 Rappe, 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.

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).

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.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

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 actor 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 dying before their time. Stars such as Carrie 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!, 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

In 2015, actor Jim Carrey faced two wrongful death lawsuits involving the suicide of his on-again, off-again girlfriend Cathriona White.

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 die by 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 maintained his innocence in both matters, even as headlines continued to paint a messy picture. In the spring of 2018, the actor was set to face a civil trial, but as the BBC reported in February of the same year, it was dismissed. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Carrey's lawyer, Raymond Boucher, discovered that White's 2011 document that allegedly claimed she had clean STD test results before meeting the A-list celeb "was a forgery." Since the case was dismissed, Carrey hasn't spoken out, and a rep for the star said "the actor is looking forward to moving on with his life."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee

It's hard following in the footsteps of a legend, yet that's exactly what Brandon Lee set out to do in the mid-'80s, confident he would live up to his father, Bruce Lee's, fame. In an absolutely macabre sense, he did.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the kung fu icon previously died in 1973 "from brain swelling that was ruled accidental" — and many believe his rowdy on-camera antics were to blame. Interestingly enough, five years before Bruce's untimely death, the actor filmed "Game of Death" (via the Los Angeles Times), a flick that saw his character murdered on a movie set after a villain placed a real bullet in a prop gun and fired it during the scene — keep this in mind.

Fast-forward to Brandon filming the now-cult classic, "The Crow," in 1993. For one scene, the younger Lee was to be shot by actor Michael Massee, standing 15 feet away from him. During one take, "Lee crumpled to the ground, severely bleeding from a large wound to his abdomen." Within 12 hours, he was dead. Per the Los Angeles Times, it was only during an autopsy later on that pathologists discovered a .44-caliber bullet in Brandon's body — a shocking find considering the gun fired was a prop. As it turns out, it was "improperly reloaded, with a dummy bullet accidentally jammed in the barrel" (via SyFy Wire). As Brandon's former acting coach, Eric Morris, told Chicago Tribune, "It's weird, spooky, strange, ironic and tragic."

Jack Nicholson and Vladimir 'Spider' Sabich

In 1980, Jack Nicholson stepped into the utterly terrifying shoes of Jack Torrance, a writer and caretaker of the Overlook hotel in "The Shining." While the flick became a cult-classic and etched some truly traumatic scenes involving Nicholson in our heads forever ("Here's Johnny!," anyone?), it makes one wonder how the actor played a sadistic killer with such ease.

As it turns out, Nicholson sat in on two very high-profile murder trials prior to landing the lead role in the Stanley Kubrick film. According to "Nicholson: A Biography," the actor was friends with late actor Sharon Tate, and ended up snagging "passes" to watch the Charles Manson trial in 1970, showing up to the courtroom "almost every day." Later in the '70s, Nicholson bought a vacation home in Aspen, Colorado, his neighbors being French pop singer Claudine Longet and her Olympic skier husband, Vladimir "Spider" Sabich. In 1976, Longet killed her husband, claiming Sabich was showing her how to use a gun when it accidentally discharged. Remarkably, she "got off with a thirty-day sentence."

It's widely believed that Longet attacked Sabich in a jealous frenzy, as the skier was allegedly looking to leave her, unwilling to give up his playboy lifestyle (via GQ). As for Nicholson, who was supposedly friends with Longet, he attended those trials virtually every day, seated in the front row of spectators, "mystified by the lovely face of a woman driven to kill" (via "Nicholson").

George Reeves and Eddie Mannix

While Superman may be invincible on the big screen, the same can't be said about George Reeves, who played the red-and-blue caped crusader in the '50s television series, "The Adventures of Superman."

According to Biography, Reeves gained major success when he took on the role of Clark Kent in 1952. Along the way, he struck up an affair with Toni Mannix, the common-law wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix. Interestingly enough, it's alleged that Eddie knew all about his wife's extramarital affair, as he was known to be quite a womanizer himself (via The Guardian). Once the actor's series was canceled in 1957, he soon broke up with Toni and began dating Leonore Lemmon. According to The Guardian, "it was a mighty blow" for his former lover — especially after Reeves put a restraining order in place.

In June 1959, police were called to Reeves' home in Los Angeles, where he was found on his bed with a bullet through his head. Officially, the cause of death was listed as a suicide, but many have speculated either Toni or Eddie were to blame, per The Telegraph. While things remained relatively hush-hush in the years since, Beverly Hills publicist Edward Lozzi revealed in 1999 that he knew what had happened and only waited to talk until all the key players in the crime were dead. As Lozzi dished on Extra (via The Guardian), Toni reportedly confessed to him on her deathbed that Eddie had his "thugs" come and kill Reeves for her.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Marilyn Monroe and Robert F. Kennedy

Tragedy struck in August 1962 when Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. According to History, the cause of death was listed as a suicide due to "a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs." That being said, it hasn't stopped the public from speculating that there may have been some foul play involved.

After Monroe famously sang "Happy Birthday" to John F. Kennedy for his 45th birthday, rumors of the duo having an affair were sparked, per People. As revealed by "Marilyn Monroe: The Biography," she had allegedly slept with the president on one occasion — but he wasn't the only Kennedy she was sweet on. As biographer James Spada told People, she was supposedly "passed off to his brother," Robert F. Kennedy, once JFK put a stop to the affair. If that's not all, Spada also alleges that Robert was present the night of Monroe's death. "Of course Bobby Kennedy was there [on Aug. 4]," he told People in 2012, making sure to clarify that although that doesn't mean either Kennedy murdered the actor per se, a cover-up would have still been imperative "because it could have brought down the President."

Another celebrity who firmly believed in the Kennedys' involvement? Monroe's second husband, Joe DiMaggio. According to "Dinner with DiMaggio," the baseball legend was once quoted as saying, "The whole lot of Kennedys were lady-killers." Declaring that he "always knew who killed" Monroe, DiMaggio concluded, "She told me someone would do her in, but I kept quiet."

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 anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Thomas Ince and Charlie Chaplin

Who would have ever thought comedic silent film legend Charlie Chaplin could have been wrapped up in someone's untimely death? As the story goes, according to The Vintage News, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst hosted producer and famous silent flick director Thomas Ince on his yacht to celebrate Ince's 42nd birthday in 1924. The party "included stars, writers, managers, choreographers" and Chaplin himself, along with Hearst's mistress and Chaplin's co-star of "The Gold Rush," Marion Davies.

Ince, who was known to have ulcers, suddenly left the boat after some stomach irritation caused by "acute indigestion" and is said to have died three days later in his Los Angeles home. While the official cause of death was listed as heart failure, there were rumors that it was Hearst who actually shot Ince — by accident. As revealed by The Vintage News, a few sources have alleged that even the Los Angeles Times ran the following headline that they quickly took out of circulation: "Movie Producer Shot on Hearst Yacht!" So, why would Hearst shoot his guest of honor?

Per the New England Historical Society, Davies was allegedly having an affair with her co-star, and Hearst's shot was intended to be for Chaplin, with Ince accidentally getting in the way. What makes things even more fishy, according to The Guardian, is that Ince's corpse was very quickly cremated after his death to supposedly cover up a potential gunshot wound being discovered.

Etta James and Sam Cooke

Soul legend Sam Cooke was brutally slain in a seedy Los Angeles motel in 1964, and to this day, the details surrounding his death don't make much sense. According to People, the crooner was dining at an upscale restaurant with friends and Elisa Boyer, a woman he was "getting cozy with," while his wife, Barbra Campbell, was home.

Although Cooke made plans to meet his friends at a club later on, he instead ended up "15 miles south" at the Hacienda Motel, where he checked in with Boyer. Per People, Boyer claims the singer then tried to rape her, but she managed to escape with both of their clothes — along with Cooke's wallet. The crooner was allegedly furious and ran to the motel manager Bertha Franklin, whom he believed was hiding Boyer. In self-defense, Franklin shot Cooke, who fell to the ground, dead, and beat him with a broomstick.

A lot of the story doesn't make sense, such as Cooke being shot with a .22 pistol while the gun registered to Franklin was a .32. But perhaps the biggest clue that things didn't add up was what gospel singer Etta James claimed in her biography, "Rage to Survive." As it turns out, James actually saw Cooke's body before he was buried and claimed his head was almost "disconnected from his shoulders," adding that his corpse was "badly mangled." As she wrote, "No woman with a broomstick could have inflicted that kind of beating against a strong, full-grown man."

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).

Jim Morrison and Marianne Faithfull

It's well-known that in 1971, The Doors frontman Jim Morrison died at the age of 27 — yet what puzzled fans for decades to come was the aftermath. According to People, no autopsy was ever done on the singer's body, and the official cause of death was listed as heart failure (via Untapped New York).

According to NBC News, The Doors were in their heyday in the mid-to-late '60s, yet by the early '70s, Morrison succumbed to alcoholism, and after recording the band's final album in 1971, he moved to Paris. By July, he was found dead in his bathtub by his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, who claimed the singer was "feeling ill" and decided to take a bath (via Today).

Interestingly enough, Marianne Faithfull, fellow '60s icon and ex-girlfriend of Mick Jagger, finally had something to say about Morrison's death — in 2014. Also a regular on the Paris party scene along with Morrison, per Today, she spoke to MoJo magazine, claiming that her heroin-dealing boyfriend at the time, Jean de Bretuil, "was responsible" for the rock star's death (via Rolling Stone). "He went to see Jim Morrison and killed him. I mean, I'm sure it was an accident," she alleged, adding that it was de Bretuil who gave Morrison heroin, resulting in an overdose. "Anyway, everybody connected to the death of this poor guy is dead now," she explained, adding, "Except me."

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).

Tupac Shakur and Sean 'Diddy' Combs

The world lost a beloved legend on September 13, 1996, when Tupac Shakur died in the hospital from gunshot wounds inflicted six days prior. According to CNN, Shakur was the victim of a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas right after he left a boxing match with Suge Knight, the former CEO of Death Row Records.

While it's still unknown who was officially to blame for 2Pac's mysterious death, there have been many theories, some of which point fingers at Sean "Diddy" Combs. In 2008, the Los Angeles Times ran a story by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Chuck Philips, who alleged that an attack on Shakur, which occurred two years before his death at Quad Recording Studios in New York, was "orchestrated" by Diddy, as the rapper was upset that Shakur didn't sign with his record label. Philips relied on alleged FBI reports, and once the story was published, Combs immediately released a statement (via MTV News), brandishing the claims as bogus. A month later, the Los Angeles Times retracted their story, as Philips realized the FBI reports were "fabricated."

Nevertheless, the damage was already done, and since then, others have also put the blame on Combs. In 2011, former LAPD detective Greg Kading, who investigated the murder of Shakur (until he was removed from the case), published a book, "Murder Rap," asserting he had proof that both Combs and Knight were the culprits behind ordering the murder of the legendary rapper in 1996 (via Rolling Stone). Yet again, Diddy denied the claims.