20 Actors Who Died in the Middle of Filming a Project

Although it may seem like celebrities may seem extremely different from those who are not famous.  There’s nothing like a tragic event to remind everyone that people are more alike than they think. Over the years, there have been many celebrity deaths that have taken the world by surprise, and been a wake up call for people who forget that celebrities are just people too.  Sadly, many celebrities have died while in the process of working on a project.  In this cases, tough decisions must be made about how to proceed and also how to pay homage to the fallen star.  While some projects never even get completed, others go on to be smash hits.  Either way, there’s no denying the fact that the death of celebrity, especially while working on something, leaves its mark on the entire entertainment industry. Here are 20 actors who died in the middle of filming a project.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Madame Tussauds Hollywood Unveils New Bruce Lee Figure Alongside The Legend's Daughter Shannon Lee, And The Bruce Lee Foundation

Bruce Lee

In the spring of 1973, Bruce Lee collapsed while in the middle of working on the film, Enter the Dragon.  According to sources, Lee suffered from a very strong headache that day which would return on the day of is death just a few months later in July.  At the time of his death, Lee was filming Game of Death, which was never completed.  However, footage from Lee’s funeral was used in the film.

(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds)


David Strickland

David Strickland is best-known for his role in the popular sitcom, Suddenly Susan. Unfortunately, Strickland’s career was cut short when he died by suicide at the age of 29. Strickland was still filming for Suddenly Susan at the time of his death, and the show’s producers decided to deal with his death in a creative and respectful way which also paid homage to his character.

(image via https://twitter.com/LegacyObits/)


Brandon Lee

Just like his father, Brandon Lee died right in the middle of a project. While on the set of The Crow, Lee was accidentally shot with a gun that was believed to be nothing more than a prop.  He was only 28 years-old at the time of his death. Also like his father, there was much suspicion surrounding his death, and many find the coincidence to be rather odd. Some even believe there may be some sort of family conspiracy theory that may be behind both tragic and untimely deaths.

(image via https://twitter.com/Blackravenstorm)


Freddie Prinze Sr. 

During the 70s, Freddie Prinze Sr. became a household name for his starring role in the popular TV series, Chico and the Man. However, despite his fame and wealth, Prinze was not happy and spent a lot of time battling depression.  In 1977, Prinze hit a low point after going through a divorce, and his depression only deepened.  Eventually, he made the decision to take his own life via a self-inflicted gun shot, and fans everywhere were surprised in saddened. He was only 22 at the time of his death, and left behind a son, Freddie Prinze Jr. who would eventually break out and make a name for himself.

(image via https://twitter.com/AmerikaiMagyar)

Law and Order's 300th Episode Press Conference

Jerry Orbach

Over the years, Jerry Orbach has become a pretty big celebrity. Unfortunately, Orbach was diagnosed with cancer in 1994.  For years, Orbach had been able to battle the disease, but by 2004 his health was beginning to deteriorate.  In the winter of 2004, Orbach lost his battle to cancer. After just filming a few episodes from Law & Order: Trial by Jersey, a spin-off show that was planning to work with Orbach’s character..  Orbach’s personal belonging at the time were kept in a safe until a member of his family came to claim them.

 (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

river phoenix

River Phoenix

During the 80s, River Phoenix was one of the most talked about young stars.  Over the course of his career, Phoenix had portrayed some pretty interesting characters throughout his career, but his ability to take on mature roles at such a young age was truly something special.  Unfortunately, Phoenix was found unconscious outside of a nightclub in the fall of 1993, and he passed away at just 23 years-old. At the time of his death, Phoenix was shooting for the film Dark Blood.

(image via  https://twitter.com/Dustypearle)

Aaliyah Remembered on MTV


Fans everywhere were saddened by the death of Aaliyah when she passed away in a plane crash in 2001.  Although she was most widely known as singer, at the time of her death – she was also in the process of building her resume as an actress.  When she died in 2001 she was still filming parts for the film Queen of the Dammed which would be released after her death.  Her brother, Rashad, stepped in to re-dub some of her lines after her death.

 (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

''The Golden Boys'' Meet and Greet

David Carradine

In 2009, David Carradine was found swinging from a rope in his closet at a hotel in Thailand.  Carradine was in Thailand to film for the movie Stretch which was released in 2011. Although his death was initially ruled a suicide, it was later believed to be some sort of sex accident.  According to his ex-wives, Carradine was into self bondage, which may have ultimately resulted in his death.

(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin

Known as the crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin was famous for his daring exploration of crocodiles in their natural habitat.  However, his work was very risky – and every time he went out to hunt a crocodile he put himself in some serious danger.  Sadly, in 2006 years of good luck finally caught up with him, and Irwin died while snorkeling.  At the time, he was filming for the documentary Ocean’s Deadliest. 

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

James Dean 50th Anniversary Year Global Media Event

James Dean

James Dean has largely been credited with being the catalyst for the teenager movement in the United States. Unfortunately, In 1955 at just 24 years-old, James Dean died in a tragic car accident. At the time of his death, Dean was filming Giant, which was released the following year. At the Academy Awards, Dean earned a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In 2005, the film was chosen to preserved in the United States National Film Registry.

 (Photo by Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images)

Channel 5 Dallas - Launch Party

Larry Hagman

Larry Hagman is best known for praying J.R. Ewing in the popular 80s series, Dallas. In 2012, when TNT launched a reboot of the show, Hagman was called on to reprise his old role. When Hagman died due to complications from leukemia in November of 2012, his character – who was also fighting cancer – was ‘killed’ off the show.

(Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

12th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball - Red Carpet

Cory Montieth

Glee fans everywhere were heartbroken when Cory Monteith, who portrayed Finn, died unexpectedly in 2013. Monteith, who was just 31, was found dead in his hotel room due to what was later ruled as a drug overdose. Glee’s producers immediately held a ceremony to celebrate Monteith’s life, and briefly postponed the show so that they could think of a respectful way to handle the death of his character. When Glee aired its final episode in March 2015, the show again paid tribute to Monteith.

(Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Chrysalis)

Chris Farley

During the 90s, Chris Farley was one of the funniest rising comics on the scene.  In 1990, he landed a role as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, and throughout the decade he also earned several pretty big film roles including Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and Beverly Hills Ninja. The possibilities for Farley’s career seemed endless, but sadly, he died in 1997 at just 33 years-old.  His death was ultimately ruled the result of a drug overdose, which led to comparisons between Farley and John Belushi, a former SNL cast member who also died at 33 due to an overdose.  At the time of his death, Farley was still in the process of filming Almost Heroes, which also starred Matthew Perry.

(Photo by Bryan Haraway/Getty Images)


John Candy

John Candy’s career was booming in the 80s and early 90s, but by the time the mid 90s rolled around – he seemed to be entering a decline.  A string of bad movie roles had him feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, which may have contributed to the heart attack that caused his death.  Candy died in 1994 while filming  Wagons East! Producer used special effects and a stand in to record Candy’s final scenes for the film.

(image viahttps://twitter.com/iseewonderland/)

TIFF Portrait Session For "Candy"

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger’s career was on its way to reaching new heights when he suddenly passed away in 2008.  At the time of his death, Ledger was in the process of filming The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, which was not even halfway completed when he died.  Although he was already done filming The Dark Knight the film was not released until after his death, and the role has gone on to be one of his most memorable.

 (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

'Philip Seymour Hoffman' Photocall - 10th Marrakech Film Festival

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s dead was a surprise to everyone, even those who were closest to him.  Believing that his drug use was under control at the time, nobody expected him to overdose.  When he died, Hoffman was not done filming his seasons for second installment to the Hunger Games Mocking Jay films. However, according to an executive from Lionsgate: “We’re all extraordinarily sad. But as it relates to production, it’s going to have no impact. Obviously, we’re going to have a couple of work-around issues but the movie will be creatively whole. His performances in both [remaining] movies will be up to the best of his craft. We feel it will be a good tribute to him.”

(Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images)


Redd Foxx

Actor/comedian, Redd Foxx, was best-known for his role as Fred Sanford on the popular 70s sitcom, Sanford and Son. Even after the show’s end, he continued to find steady work, and in 1991 he died on the set of the TV show, The Royal Family. According to co-star, Della Reese, Foxx , who suffered a heart attack, collapsed to the ground just before giving an interview. Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly stated: “It was an end so ironic that for a brief moment cast mates figured Foxx — whose 70s TV character often faked heart attacks — was kidding when he grabbed a chair and fell to the floor”

(image via https://twitter.com/bkonair1450)

Cecil Beaton: Portraits Exhibition

Marilyn Monroe

Even decades after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most popular and beloved stars of all-time. During her career she starred in several movies, and rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in movies, music, and politics. When she suddenly died in 1962. people everywhere were shocked and saddened.  At the time, Monroe was still shooting scenes for the film, Something’s Got to Give.  After her death, the film was never completed although pieces of it have been used in a documentary about Monroe’s life.

(Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

4th Annual Family Television Awards

John Ritter

During his career, Ritter was able to find success on both the big and small screens. He starred in several memorable production including the sitcom Three’s Company, and the film Problem Child. At the time of his death, he was filming for the show,  8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter when he became very sick on set.  After being taken to the hospital, Ritter was misdiagnosed and his condition worsened.  By the time they figured out what the issue was, it was too late, and Ritter died during surgery.

 (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Paul Walker

When Fast and Furious star, Paul Walker, passed away in 2013 after being involved in a car accident, fans were extremely sad, but couldn’t help but see the irony.  At the time, Walker was still in the process of filming for Fast 7, and many wondered what would happen to the film after his death.  It was later revealed that he had already completed most of his action scenes, and the film would continue its production and release. The film, which was released a little over a year after his death, was a box office hit and contained a very special tribute to the fallen star.

 (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)


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