21+ Actors Who Died During Production Of Their Movies Or Television Shows
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There are times when actors pass away so tragically and so unexpectedly that all we have left to hold on to is, indeed, their works of art: their movies.
We at Doyouremember gathered the sad stories of beloved movie stars that are no longer here on Earth. At the end of the article, you will find the story of a very young actor whose movies will stay our favorites forever.
1. Bela Lugosi (1882 1956)
What happened: Lugosi was one of the most recognizable stars of early horror movies. But by the mid-1950s, his career had stalled and had become addicted to painkillers after having morphine prescribed for pains in his legs. Despite hospitalization to deal with his addiction, he was still pretty frail when he started working again. He was working on a film with director Ed Wood in 1956 when he died of a heart attack, aged 73.
Did the show go on? Sort of. No one knows what Wood was intending to do with the footage hed shot with Lugosi before he died but it ended up edited in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Since there was so little usable footage of Lugosi, the much taller Tom Mason ended up stepping in, holding a cape in front of his face in a largely futile attempt to hide his identity.
2. Martha Mansfield (1899 1923)
What happened: When actress Martha Mansfield was in a car leaving the set of The Warrens Of Virginia, someone struck a match, and her elaborate Civil War costume caught fire. Her chauffeur attempted to put out the flames, and Mansfield was rushed to the hospital, but she didn’t survive her injuries.
Did the show go on? Yeah. The studio reviewed the footage shed shot, edited her role down a bit, and continued the film regardless.
3. Tyrone Power (1914 1958)
What happened: The swashbuckling Tyrone Power was set to swash more buckles in the historical epic Solomon And Sheba. He was on location in Madrid when he was taken ill and died of a heart attack at just 44 years old.
Did the show go on? Yes, though Powers role was recast, with Yul Brynner stepping in to play Solomon.
4. Aaliyah (1979 2001)
What happened: Aaliyah had more or less finished filming her second movie, Queen Of The Damned, when she traveled to the Bahamas to film a music video for her song “Rock The Boat”. Finishing early, Aaliyah and her entourage boarded a private plane to fly home but it crashed, killing all nine of the people on board.
Did the show go on? Queen Of The Damned was largely complete, so no stand-in was needed but Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad, was brought in to re-record some of her dialogue.
5. Natalie Wood (1938 1981)
What happened: Partway through making Brainstorm, Wood was on a weekend trip with her husband when she tragically drowned. The exact circumstances of her death are unknown, though following an investigation a verdict of accidental death was recorded.
Did the show go on? Not immediately. The set was shut down and the studio, MGM, considered scrapping the project. Eventually, though, things got back on track. The ending was rewritten, a stand-in was hired to replace Wood in the few scenes left outstanding, and the film was released.
Following his ordeal trying to get the film finished, director Douglas Trumbull decided to quit the movie business though he has since directed several shorts and also worked on the special effects for The Tree Of Life.
6. Jean Harlow (1911 1937)
What happened: A star of the early talkie movies, Jean Harlow suffered from bad health in general, and her illnesses delayed production on several movies. When she fell ill on the set of Saratoga, her doctor initially thought she just had a case of the flu. Unfortunately, by the time anyone realized there was something more serious going on, she was in the late stages of kidney disease and died in hospital aged just 26.
Did the show go on? Yup three stand-ins were used, and some scenes were rewritten, but the movie hit cinemas within two months of Harlow’s untimely demise.
7. John Candy (1950 1994)
What happened: After a few years of avoiding comedy movies, John Candy was moving back into the genre and filming Western parody Wagons East! in Mexico when he suffered a fatal heart attack, aged just 43.
Did the show go on? Most of Candy’s scenes were already in the can, and director Peter Markle hired a body double to get the last few shots. Unfortunately, the finished movie was generally reviled by audiences and critics alike, so wasn’t a particularly fitting tribute to the late actor.
His death also meant an adaptation of A Confederacy Of Dunces was shelved.
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