Celebrity Causes Of Death We Didn't See Coming

This article includes mentions of addiction, substance misuse, mental health issues, and suicide.

When a celebrity dies, the loss affects us in a variety of ways. While most of us have no real connection or closeness to the incomparable lives of celebrities, their absence from the world nonetheless has an impact on our hearts and minds. Sports figures, actors, musicians, artists, culinary icons, talk show hosts, etc., play a meaningful role in our lives as people to look up to, to be inspired by, or simply connect with.

While some celebrity deaths come as less of a shock, whether they're due to old age or an illness known to the public, others are completely sudden, leaving many shocked and desperate for answers regarding what and why it happened.

Over the years, we have tragically lost many celebrities in a number of sudden and devastating ways. Let's take a look back at some of the most shocking celebrity causes of death we didn't see coming, and the profound legacies these celebrities have left behind.

Bob Saget

Bob Saget was most known as Danny Tanner on the '90s sitcom "Full House," where he became known as America's favorite dad. The actor died on January 9, 2022, at the age of 65 in his Ritz Carlton Orlando hotel room. Following his sudden death, several quickly tried to piece together what happened to him, but it wasn't until his official autopsy report was released on February 9, 2022, that Saget's cause of death was revealed. He "had likely fallen backward and hit the back of his head" and died from "blunt head trauma" as a result, per People.

Saget began his comedy career while attending Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the 1970s and started to gain traction after performing at various comedy clubs in the area, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Saget worked to find his place in the comedy world, and got his big break in 1987 as Danny Tanner in "Full House." Throughout his career, Saget has had many roles in films and TV shows, including the Netflix reboot "Fuller House," which lasted from 2016 to 2020.

The death of Bob Saget undeniably left a hole in the world of comedy, with his co-stars, lifelong friends, and fans grieving the loss of the actor. Co-star and close friend John Stamos tweeted, "I am broken. I am gutted. I am in complete and utter shock. I will never ever have another friend like him. I love you so much Bobby." The actor is survived by his widow, Kelly Rizzo, and three children from his previous marriage.

Kobe Bryant

Legendary athlete and sports figure Kobe Bryant is arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, basketball player of all time. On January 26, 2020, 41-year-old Bryant was traveling from Orange County, California, to Ventura County, California, with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and six others when their helicopter crashed near Calabasas. All on board died in the crash, which, according to National Transportation Safety Board authorities, was a result of heavy clouds and fog as well as the pilot experiencing "spatial disorientation," per NBC News.

Bryant's basketball career started to take flight during his high school years at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Following a stellar basketball career in high school, the athlete was drafted to the Charlotte Hornets, according to his NBA biography, then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996 for a three-year, $3.5 million contract. Bryant's career with the Lakers lasted 20 years, and during this time, he won five NBA Championships, and broke several records before ultimately retiring in 2016.

The sudden and tragic death of Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna, left a palpable impact on the world of sports. On losing her husband and child, Bryant's widow Vanessa said, "They were so easy to love. ... They were so full of joy and adventure. God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together" (via CNN). Vanessa and three daughters survive Kobe and Gianna.

Robin Williams

An absolute force of a comedian and actor, Robin Williams set the precedent for outlandish, playful, and immersive comedy, which he showcased on stage and in film and TV. The nature of Williams' death shocked the world, as he always maintained a cheerful and lighthearted persona. The actor died by suicide on August 11, 2014, at the age of 63. Williams privately struggled with depression and in his later life, was misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease, but it was determined after his passing that Williams had Lewy body dementia (per CNN).

Williams' acting career began in the 1970s when he started performing in comedy clubs. Then, on the sitcom "Happy Days," an actor hired to play a martian quit his episode. When director Garry Marshall asked his cast about a replacement "funny martian" guy, actor Al Molinaro mentioned that he knew Robin Williams from a comedy class (as cast members shared on "Home and Family," via The Hollywood Reporter). Williams became Mork and landed the "Mork & Mindy" spin-off. The actor's comedy style helped make him treasured in Hollywood, leading to many film roles in the '80s and '90s, including "Good Morning Vietnam," "Dead Poets Society," "Hook," "Mrs. Doubtfire," and "Aladdin," to name a handful of his notable works.

Williams was a bright, ferocious force whose comedy spanned generations and touched many. Following his death, Williams' daughter Zelda said, in part, "...while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We'll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again" (via TIME).

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

Brittany Murphy

Actor Brittany Murphy, known for her roles in films including "Clueless," "8 Mile," and "Just Married," died suddenly on December 20, 2009, after collapsing in her home in Hollywood. At the time of her passing, Murphy was 32 years old, with the official cause of death ruled as "multiple drug intoxication" in addition to anemia and pneumonia, according to People.

Murphy fell in love with acting at a young age, studying dance as early as five years old. As she grew into her teenage years, her acting career started to take off, and she landed roles in several popular '90s sitcoms, including "Boy Meets World" and "Sister, Sister." It wasn't until the mid-'90s, however, that Murphy got her big break in the 1995 film "Clueless," which she starred in alongside Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd. After "Clueless," Murphy continued to earn roles in other films, with critics taking note of her incredible drama performances in "Don't Say a Word" and "8 Mile."

While the nature of her death still remains heavily speculated by fans, Brittany Murphy is nonetheless missed by many for her warm spirit and passion for acting. On her death, "Just Married" co-star and ex-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher wrote, "2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine. My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany's family, her husband, & her amazing mother Sharon. ... see you on the other side kid" (via Access).

George Michael

Pop icon George Michael is beloved around the world for his music. The singer was in the pop duo Wham! in the 1980s before ultimately going solo in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Michael is known for hits like "Last Christmas," "Freedom '90," "Faith," and several others. He died unexpectedly at the age of 53 on Christmas day in 2016, as a result of natural causes, with "dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and a fatty liver" contributing to his death, as reported by the BBC. Though his death was ruled as natural, it was an immense shock to people around the world.

The musician leapt into the music scene in the early 1980s when he formed the band Wham! alongside friend Andrew Ridgeley. Together, the group became an instant hit following their 1984 hit "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," which spent three weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1984, per Billboard. Wham! officially broke up in 1986, and after that, Michael launched a successful solo music career for over two decades, becoming an icon both in the music industry and in the LGBTQ community after coming out in 1998 (via NBC News).

From Paul McCartney to Lady Gaga to Madonna, an outpouring of love and tributes followed after his death. Elton John, a longtime friend of Michael, tweeted at the time, "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend — the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist."

David Bowie

A legendary musician in the world of rock, David Bowie was regarded as one of the most influential musical figures of the 20th century, with several of his albums reaching the top of the charts. Fans throughout the world were shocked by his sudden death on January 10, 2016. Following his passing, Bowie's publicist revealed that the singer had been privately undergoing treatments for cancer for a year and a half, and died of the disease at the age of 69 (via The New York Times).

Bowie was always passionate about music and started making music professionally in the late 1960s. His early albums, "Hunky Dory" (1970) and "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" (1972) were critically acclaimed and helped to establish Bowie as an experimental musician with an eclectic sound like no other singer at the time. His sound changed over the years, but he nonetheless remained immensely popular among fans, and often collaborated with high-profile artists over the 1980s and 1990s, ranging from Tina Turner to Mick Jagger to Queen, per Rolling Stone.

The singer married model and actor Iman in 1992. The two had one child together, Alexandria, born in 2000, and remained married until Bowie's death in 2016. Iman spoke to Hoda Kotb of "Today" about their relationship and the loss of Bowie, saying, "This was truly the love of my life, and I'll just wait until I meet him again."

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman was a beloved actor known for his roles in "42" and "Black Panther." He had an incredible acting range and his death on August 28, 2020, at the young age of 43 devastated fans. The actor died of colon cancer, which he dealt with privately until his passing, his team shared on Twitter.

Boseman studied at the Midsummer in Oxford program in 1998, graduated from Howard University in 2000, and started his acting career in small roles, appearing in television shows including "All My Children," "Law & Order," "CSI: New York," and "ER." After years of working on television, the actor got his first lead film role in "42," the dramatic biopic about legendary Brooklyn Dodgers baseball player, Jackie Robinson. His role as Robinson continued to push Boseman into the spotlight, which helped him to land several other roles, most notably as Black Panther in the Marvel film franchise.

Toward the end of his life, Boseman acted in two acclaimed films, "Da 5 Bloods" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," both of which earned him Screen Actors Guild award nominations. He posthumously won the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a lead role for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," among his many other career wins. Though his life was cut short, Boseman left an incredible impression on those he encountered and the film industry as a whole. Following his death, there was an outpouring of tributes from people of all backgrounds, ranging from former President Barack Obama to "Black Panther" co-star Angela Bassett, who said, in short, on Instagram, "All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince."

Cameron Boyce

A bright young actor in film and television, Cameron Boyce was beloved by all who encountered him both in the industry and at home on screen. He was most known for his role in the Disney Channel series "Jessie" from 2011 to 2015. Boyce also had roles in the movie "Grown Ups" and its sequel, which were fan favorites. The actor unexpectedly died on July 6, 2019, "due to a seizure which was a result of an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated," according to a family statement (via ABC News).

Before Boyce got his start in Hollywood, he trained as a dancer, appearing in music videos, in "The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers" web series, and in live performances on "Dancing with the Stars." After a few years of appearing in smaller roles in both film and TV, he got his big break as Luke Ross in "Jessie." As the show ended, Boyce starred in Disney's "Descendants" movie franchise and continued to build his career, until it was tragically cut short in 2019.

Being that Cameron Boyce was so young when he died, many were deeply saddened by the unexpected tragedy. Skai Jackson, who starred alongside Boyce in "Jessie," paid tribute to him on Instagram, saying in part, "Cam, you were one of a kind. My heart will be forever broken. ... Thank you so much for being the big brother I never had." Boyce was known for his activism, which is carried on by his loved ones.

Anthony Bourdain

A revolutionary in the culinary world, Anthony Bourdain was unlike any other. Constantly exploring and storytelling, Bourdain had an incredible talent for highlighting the best parts of even the most remote and unknown places. He tragically died on June 8, 2018, by suicide at the age of 61, per CNN.

Bourdain got his start in the culinary world in the 1970s. He attended The Culinary Institute of America and worked in a number of different restaurants throughout the '70s and '80s. He worked his way up through the food scene, but it wasn't until the release of his book "Kitchen Confidential" that his career took a different path and he became more than just a chef, according to CNBC. Bourdain's unique take on the world of food and his unapologetic voice made him incredibly popular, which eventually brought him to television and landed him his own shows, including "No Reservations," which ran from 2005 to 2012. Bourdain went on to have other beloved TV programs, which he was working on up until his death.

The unexpected death of Anthony Bourdain left the world with a hole that will never be filled. Following his death, chef and close friend Eric Ripert shared his thoughts on Instagram, saying in part, "Anthony was my best friend. He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. ... He brought us all on some incredible journeys. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart."

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

Steve Irwin

If you were anywhere near a television in the 2000s, the "Crikey!" catchphrase was a part of your vocabulary. That phrase was popularized by Steve Irwin, also known as "The Crocodile Hunter." Irwin was a wildlife expert and zookeeper that instantly captured the hearts of people who watched his TV show, "The Crocodile Hunter," with his quirky personality and enthusiasm for everything that involved animals. He died on September 4, 2006, in an accident after being stung by a stingray at the age of 44, as reported by The Guardian.

Irwin had had a passion for wildlife since he was a child and grew up around a reptile park owned by his parents. According to The Guardian, "He took over the park in 1991 and renamed it the Australia Zoo." Shortly after taking over the park, Irwin met the love of his life, Terri Raines, and the two married a year later. He managed the zoo and gained enough popularity to get his own television series, "The Crocodile Hunter," which ran from 1996 to 2004.

At the time of his death, Irwin left behind millions of fans, his wife, and two young children, Bindi and Robert. Though it has been over 15 years since his death, his widow Terri still considers Irwin her one and only love. She told People, "Steve was it for me. That's just the way it is. I had a big, big love and it was enough to last a lifetime."

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Revered as one of the greatest actors of his generation, Philip Seymour Hoffman was known for his incredible acting in drama films like "Capote," "Charlie Wilson's War," and "The Master." The actor's sudden death on February 2, 2014, was officially ruled an accident as a result of "acute mixed drug intoxication, including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and amphetamine," according to CNN. He was 46 years old.

Before his worldwide celebrity status, Hoffman grew up looking to have a different career path, one that centered around athletics. In high school, he often competed in both football and wrestling, but a neck injury brought those dreams to a halt and made him reconsider what he wanted to do. It was then that he found a love for acting, signing up for plays and eventually moving on to study drama at NYU, as reported by Rolling Stone. Throughout the 1990s, Hoffman started to build his career as an actor, with credits including "Twister," "Boogie Nights," and "Magnolia." It wasn't until the 2000s, however, that he started gaining traction as lead actor, with his performance in "Capote" (2005) being his first Academy Award win, for best actor.

Prior to his death, the actor publicly spoke of his past with drugs. According to ABC News, Hoffman was sober for 23 years, relapsing just one year before his death. He is survived by partner Mimi O'Donnell and their three children.

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).

Natasha Richardson

Natasha Richardson was an esteemed film and theater actor. Outside of her acting career, Richardson was also known as the daughter of veteran actor Vanessa Redgrave and as the wife to actor Liam Neeson. On March 16, 2009, Richardson accidentally fell while skiing at a ski resort (reportedly during a lesson). At the time of her fall, Richardson experienced a head injury, but didn't think much of it until it was too late. A few hours after the accident, the 45-year-old was rushed to the hospital and died two days later on March 18, 2009, from an epidural hematoma, according to ABC News.

Before her roles in Hollywood films, Richardson started in the theater, appearing in Shakespearean plays "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" alongside contemporary works. Her brilliant stage acting was followed by film roles in the 1990s, including "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Widows' Peak." Millennials most definitely remember her for her role as Elizabeth James in 1998's "The Parent Trap." Richardson had a successful film and theater career up until her death in 2009.

Richardson is survived by widower Liam Neeson, who later spoke on the loss of his wife with Anderson Cooper in a "60 Minutes" interview, saying in part, "It was never real. It still kind of isn't. ... [Grief is] like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability. You feel like a three-legged table. Just suddenly you just — the Earth isn't stable anymore." Richardson is also survived by her two sons, Micheál and Daniel.

Dustin Diamond

A popular face in the 1990s due to his role as Samuel "Screech" Powers in the hit sitcom "Saved by the Bell," Dustin Diamond appeared in several films and TV shows throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The actor died on February 1, 2021, less than one month after being diagnosed with advanced stage-four small cell carcinoma of the lungs, per TMZ.

In 1988 and '89, Diamond was an original cast member on "Good Morning, Miss Bliss," which ultimately became "Saved by the Bell." Diamond was with the show for its whole run and reprised his role in a few spin-off movies and series, including "Saved by the Bell: The New Class" from 1994 to 2000. His acting was limited mostly to these series, though he did appear in a handful of films throughout the 2000s. Diamond also appeared in reality TV shows, which often showcased troublesome aspects of his life.

Diamond died at the age of 44, with his girlfriend beside him. His "Saved by the Bell" co-stars paid tribute to him following his death, with Mario Lopez saying, "Dustin, you will be missed my man. The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted" (via Instagram).

Phil Hartman

Whether you were familiar with Phil Hartman from his days on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1980s and 1990s, or his roles in "Jingle All the Way" and "Small Soldiers," there is no denying the actor's comedic genius. Beloved by both comedians and fans, Hartman's tragic death affected people across the world in a significant way. The actor was shot and killed on May 28, 1998, by his wife Brynn Hartman in a murder-suicide, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. He was 49 years old.

Before Hartman's professional comedy career started, he studied graphic arts at California State University at Northridge and "developed his own graphic arts business, creating album covers for Crosby, Stills & Nash, among other groups," according to his profile by CBS News. Hartman had experimented with acting and comedy for nearly a decade before ultimately being cast on "SNL" in 1986, which helped to launch his career. He was a regular on the show until 1994, and continued to act in both film and TV until his death in 1998.

Hartman married his third wife, model and actor Brynn Omdahl Hartman, in 1987. At the time of their death, she was found to have a mix of "cocaine, alcohol and an anti-depressant drug" in her system, which many speculated had an effect on the actions that led to their deaths (via CNN). She was allegedly addicted to cocaine, per ABC News. Phil Hartman is survived by two children.

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)​.