Old Hollywood has no shortage of doomed stars. From horrific accidents to spiraling addictions, these famous actors met tragic ends that have gone down in history. No amount of beauty, talent, or fame could save these poor souls from the horrors fate had in store for them…
1. Jean Harlow: Ignoring The Warning Signs
For a time, Jean Harlow was the biggest star in Hollywood—but in 1937, her health took a terrifying turn. She had been mildly ill for months, but while filming Saratoga, the star began to complain of nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain. It got so bad that she had to lean on her co-star and friend Clark Gable between takes. When they found out the truth, it was already too late.
2. Her Last Days Were Brutal
Harlow took time off work to recover from what doctors now diagnosed as an inflamed gallbladder, but when Clark Gable visited her, he was heartbroken to find her severely bloated with, astonishingly, the smell of urine on her breath. Soon after that, medical professionals confirmed the young, beautiful girl was in the final stages of kidney failure—and it was only going to get worse.
3. The Show Must Not Go on
Harlow worked for months throughout her illness, tirelessly trying to please her exploitative studio heads while becoming weaker and weaker. She was so determined to curry their favor that she even attended the Oscars ceremony in 1936 while incredibly ill. She was apparently so sick that fellow actress Carole Lombard had to help her reapply her makeup in the powder room.
4. She Missed Every Clue
The warning signs were here, but no one paid attention to them. Harlow’s pallid complexion, many illnesses, and even an earlier severe sunburn all pointed to kidney failure—yet everyone missed the bigger picture. As one MGM writer later wrote of Harlow’s utterly senseless end, “The day Baby died…there wasn’t one sound in the commissary for three hours.”
5. She Had An Epic Ending
On June 6, 1937, Harlow was taken to the hospital. That night, she slipped into a coma. By the next morning, she was gone. She was only 26 years old. Before her passing, Harlow was reportedly reading Gone With the Wind. She even packed it for her last hospital visit, causing one of the nurses to look at the tome tearfully and say, “She’ll never finish it.”
But Jean Harlow certainly wasn’t the only blonde bombshell to meet such a tragic end. Our next doomed starlet, Barbara Payton, battled personal demons that destroyed everything.
6. Barbara Payton: Going Off The Rails
Barbara Payton never had any shame about using her animal magnetism to get her way—but eventually, it came back to haunt her. When she was struggling to pay the bills, she went on a date with a producer and asked him for a role. His reply was downright brutal. He told her he didn’t have any roles, but would happily pay her for one night together.
In need of cash, Payton accepted his offer. She told herself it was a one-time thing—but instead, it led her down a dark path with only one exit: Her unforgettably tragic and twisted end.
7. She Met An Unsavory Character
After sleeping with a string of men, Barbara Payton met a man she nicknamed Dick Fortune, who took a liking to her. Fortune wasn’t just any ordinary man though; he was a powerful gangster in the gambling town of Searchlight, Nevada. Payton moved to Searchlight with Fortune, but Fortune barred her from entering his casinos.
Bored, Payton’s drinking ramped up, and she spent her days as a high-end escort. Eventually, a dangerous situation forced her out of Searchlight.
8. They Nearly Caught Her
One night, an official who owed her a favor asked Payton to meet with him. At their meeting spot, he gave her some grave news. The authorities were about to raid Fortune’s properties in a few days. Afraid that the raid would land her in hot water, Payton slept with several men in rapid succession to make enough money to get back to Hollywood.
She then quickly flew back to Los Angeles, only to make a horrifying discovery.
9. Her Fame Faded Away
Simply put, no one cared about poor, washed-up Payton. She called around to see if any of her friends, agents, or producers she knew had jobs for her, but didn’t hear a peep from them regarding any film roles. Instead, they were more interested in her body. With little choice, Payton agreed to their proposals. Tragically, her fading fame meant that she couldn’t charge as much for her services anymore. This only led her deeper down the path to self-destruction.
10. She Hit Rock Bottom
By the 1960s, Payton’s drinking and newly acquired addiction to illicit substances rapidly made it difficult for her to command high prices for her nightly services. Her condition worsened when her lack of money forced her to live in squalor on Sunset Boulevard. Although her mental state grew steadily worse, Payton found some refuge in writing poetry, which she sold for a paltry $7. But her troubles didn’t end there.
11. Her Addiction Took Over
Payton’s drinking eventually got so bad that the authorities found her passed out near a dumpster on Sunset Boulevard in February 1967. They offered to get her a spot in a detoxification unit, but Payton flatly refused the offer, declaring that she would rather drink her life away. With little recourse, a county social worker drove Payton to her parents’ home in San Diego, hoping they could help. This decision ultimately sealed Payton’s fate.
12. Her Parents Ended Her Life
When the social worker dropped Payton with her parents, their reaction was chilling. Far from helping Payton curb her heavy drinking, Payton’s parents actually encouraged it. The three of them engaged in long drinking binges that only made Payton’s condition worse. Payton even remarked to a neighbor that “I never wanted to be with them, I never wanted to see them again. But here I am, and I got all the booze I want.”
By 1967, Payton was incredibly ill from a lifetime of drinking and addiction, and the end drew near for the ailing ex-actress.
13. Her End Was Tragic
On May 8, 1967, after years of battling with her inner demons, Payton’s heart and liver failed at the age of 39. They cremated her and interred her ashes in San Diego. Payton experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, which cut her promising acting career short. Although her time on this earth was brief, many remember the actress as a gregarious individual who lived life to its fullest.
Clearly, Hollywood had no shortage of struggling addicts, and while William Holden also struggled with drinking, his dark end was much bloodier than poor Payton’s…
14. William Holden: Bleeding Out
Few famous actors are as all-American as William Holden. One of the biggest Hollywood stars of his day, Holden’s handsome features seduced everyone around him. Underneath his pretty face, however, was a man with a troubled life, who constantly struggled with the demons of addiction. Needless to say, Hollywood’s “golden boy” hid many dark secrets beneath his perfect exterior—and they only led to his unspeakably gruesome end.
15. His Addiction Ended Him
On November 12, 1981, after years of recognition for his successful films and charity work, Holden lost his life in the most heartbreaking way imaginable. While intoxicated in his apartment, Holden slipped on a rug and hit his head on a bedside table—but that wasn’t the most disturbing part. According to forensic evidence, the actor remained conscious up to half an hour after the accident. While still aware and breathing, William Holden bled to death on the floor of his home.
As gruesome as Holden’s final moments undoubtedly were, there’s no story quite as chilling as Olive Thomas and her horrific run-in with a bottle of poison.
16. Olive Thomas: One Deadly Mistake
The final moments of starlet Olive Thomas’s short life are both shrouded in mystery and steeped in horror. Thomas and her husband Jack Pickford were on a trip to Paris that served as a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Still, they fell into old habits, partying until dawn at the city’s rowdiest nightclubs. On one such night, they stumbled home, and Pickford fell into bed while Thomas searched for something to help her sleep.
What happened next became the subject of one of Old Hollywood’s very first scandals—and one of its most twisted mysteries.
17. She Had One Last Wild Night
At three in the morning on September 6, 1920, she and Pickford staggered into their hotel to grab some sleep before starting it all over tomorrow. But while Pickford went straight to bed, Thomas stayed up for a while longer. It would be her doom. Out of nowhere, Thomas’s husband awoke to a blood-curdling sound. From the bathroom, the whiskey-soaked Pickford heard Olive screeching “Oh my God!” and he rushed inside to see what was the matter.
The still-tipsy and upset Thomas begged her husband to “find out what was in the bottle” she had just drunk. As Pickford recalled, “I picked it up and read: ‘Poison.’” Then the details began to fall into place.
18. She Made A Fatal Error
While ambling around the hotel room, Thomas had gone to the bathroom cabinet and tried to drink either water or a sleeping tonic. Instead, in a cruel irony, she had picked up Pickford’s external medication that he was supposed to apply on his painful syphilis sores and ingested it. The mercury bichloride solution was potentially fatal—and in an instant, Olive Thomas’s world spun and exploded.
As soon as Jack Pickford got a grip on what was going on, he rushed his wife to the American Hospital in a suburb of Paris, and then he got to praying. For nearly a week, Thomas stayed in the hospital and fought for her life as the mercury ravaged her body. Yet outside the hospital walls, a different and perhaps more scandalous battle was raging.
19. She Became A Media Sensation
Every newspaper in America and beyond fixated on Olive Thomas and the circumstances around her poisoning. Some of the theories were incredibly dark. Many publications suggested Thomas had tried to harm herself after finding out about another of Pickford’s infidelities, while others claimed the attempt was because Pickford had given her syphilis. But there was one more disturbing possibility.
20. Her Fans Suspected Murder
According to some articles, Thomas hadn’t tried to kill herself; Pickford had done that for her. In this version of events, the philandering actor had tricked the young starlet into drinking the poison so he could get a grab at her insurance money. This suggestion, in particular, kicked the case into overdrive, and Pickford had to respond somehow.
21. Her Husband Denied Everything
While Olive Thomas grew weaker in her bed, she had officially become one of the first Hollywood scandals, and Jack Pickford was under the public’s intense microscope. For his part, Pickford always claimed the accusations against him were nothing but lies, and that “Olive and I were the greatest pals on Earth.” Not that Thomas had long on that Earth.
22. She Fought For Her Life
At the beginning, doctors hoped beyond hope that the actress would make a miraculous recovery, and she was alert and awake for most of her stay in the hospital. According to Pickford himself, his wife kept calling for him, and he never left her bedside if he could help it. Yet even as Thomas fought harder than she ever had in her life, the medics suspected the end was near.
23. She Was In Denial Until The End
As the hours turned into days, Olive Thomas took a heartbreaking turn. Although she was conscious, the mercury was nonetheless destroying her internal organs all the while, and eventually, the doctors discovered that the poison had paralyzed her kidneys. It was the end for the beautiful Olive Thomas, and it was as ugly as it was tragic.
In some of what would be her final moments, Olive Thomas was still trying to plan for the future and bargain with fate. She asked her nurse to come back to America with her, and kept talking about convalescing and going home to see her mother. All Jack Pickford could do was smile and try to keep her spirits up while trying not to break down himself.
24. She Had Tragic Last Words
During the last 12 hours that Thomas was alive, she survived only by hypodermic injections, yet never had an epiphany about her mortality. Watching from her bedside, Pickford said he knew the exact moment she was slipping away, but the actress’s last words were gut-wrenching. When Pickford asked how she was feeling, Thomas only replied, “Pretty weak, but I’ll be all right in a little while, don’t worry, darling.”
An hour later, she passed on, leaving devastation in her wake. Similar to Thomas, actress Thelma Todd also became the victim of what seemed like a tragic accident. However, after the shocking news of her passing spilled out, terrible rumors began to swirl.
25. Thelma Todd: A Car Ride To Nowhere
Thelma Todd was a very talented comedic actress who worked alongside Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, and the Marx Brothers, to name a few. However, her incredible career was tragically cut short in 1935 when she was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 30. The death was ruled a suicide, though it flew in the face of her personal and professional lives both lacking a motive for suicide.
Rumors blamed her lover, Roland West, for murdering her, and even claimed that he’d confessed to her murder on his deathbed. Regardless, it was an incredibly unfunny way for such a funny woman to go. While Todd was discovered in her car, however, actress Maria Montez was found bobbing in her bathtub. How did she get there? Well, the story is more twisted than most people know…
26. Maria Montez: A Bad Omen
If Maria Montez was a magnet for scandal, it’s because she made it that way. As a young starlet, Montez essentially invented the publicity stunt, but as she matured, she longed to be taken seriously as an actress. All those dreams were dashed when Hollywood all but exiled her—but that heartbreak was nothing compared to the dark fate that awaited Montez.
27. She Was A Stargazer
At the height of her career, the name “Maria Montez” became synonymous with tropical beauty and enticing mystery. But this wasn’t only because of her on-screen performances. In real life, Montez was a strong and passionate believer in astrology. SO when she received an ominous prediction from a famous Hollywood mystic, she took it seriously. Looking back, so would everyone else.
28. She Had A Date With Destiny
Montez believed in the supernatural forces of astrology—and they believed in her. When she visited the famed Hollywood astrologer Blanca Holmes, she heard an eerie prediction. Consulting her astrological charts, Holmes told Montez that her life would be short and that her demise would come suddenly. Spoiler: Holmes was right.
29. She Was Bathed In Destiny
While taking a hot bath, something terrible happened to Maria Montez. Perhaps it was the toll that her adventurous life had taken on her…or perhaps it was just fate. Soaking in the steam, the Queen of the Technicolor suffered a heart attack and tragically slipped beneath the water. In what could have been a scene in one of her illustrious films, the exotic seductress drowned in the tub.
30. Her Discovery Was Tragic
The discovery of Montez’s lifeless body was just as tragic as the circumstances of her passing. Montez’s sisters found her with only her forehead bobbing above the water. They immediately called the medics who attempted to save her with artificial respiration. Sadly, their efforts were in vain.
Maria Montez’s sudden passing was awfully disturbing, but some Hollywood tragedies were kept under wraps long before the public caught wind of them. One such story is that of Anthony Perkins and his heartbreaking secret.
31. Anthony Perkins: A Terrible Secret
Most renowned for his gruesome role in Psycho, Anthony Perkins lives on in most of our minds as the iconic Norman Bates. However, Perkins himself had a few secrets of his own. Most notably, Perkins hid his passionate affair with Hollywood heartthrob Tab hunter. However, nobody close to Perkins was willing to divulge anything regarding his fidelity or whether he had affairs with men throughout his marriage.
His friends were resolutely loyal to his privacy. However, when he was 58, a strange series of events occurred that led Perkins to a devastating discovery—one with the power to topple not only his marriage but the foundation of his entire life…
32. The Tabloids Found Out First
When The Enquirer—a tabloid paper—published a story claiming that Perkins had HIV, nobody took it too seriously…except maybe for Perkins himself. Completely thrown by the media’s claim, he went for tests to find out the truth. When the results proved positive, he realized that The Enquirer must have gained access to this confidential information before he did…
33. He Contracted HIV…
When a salacious story is on the table, morals have a funny way of flying out the window. Here’s what happened: When Perkins visited the hospital for treatment regarding a facial palsy, someone with access to his blood samples tested it for HIV and leaked the positive results to the paper. Already a seasoned pro in the secrets domain, Perkins was ready to hide his newest, most ruinous secret of all.
34. …But His Wife Didn’t
As a devoted wife and mother, Berry Berenson was no doubt heartbroken by the news of her husband’s diagnosis. But she was also terrified for herself and her children. Over the next two years, she went for testing multiple times and, thankfully, received negative results every time. With sad confusion and bafflement, she said, ”I don’t understand any of this. I don’t understand this disease at all.”
35. He Suffered In Silence
As we know, anything that could hurt Perkins’s career remained concealed beneath the surface. This applied to his many boyfriends—and now—his debilitating diagnosis. He chose to suffer through AIDs with only his wife and family as close confidantes. Even visits to the hospital were incognito…
36. He Used An Alias
Perkins visited the hospital three times during his illness and every time, he and his wife used aliases. The pretending was especially difficult for Berenson—watching her husband slip into another role for the sake of saving face: “You think that this man has spent his entire life giving people so much pleasure in show business, and this is his reward. He can’t even be himself at the end.”
37. He Quoted A Famous Film
During his final days, Perkins illuminated the reason for his silence. He spoke directly to his sons about his decision to keep his illness a secret: “…because to misquote Casablanca, I’m not much at being noble, but it doesn’t take too much to see that the problems of an old actor don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy old world.”
Another actress with problems of her own was none other than the infamous Judy Garland. However, her problems started right from the get-go and ultimately doomed her from the moment she stepped onto a film set.
38. Judy Garland: Doomed From The Beginning
The cruel injustices of Judy Garland’s childhood only led to her fall from grace—an adulthood filled with suffering and depression. With no way out, Garland succumbed to the celebrity lifestyle that never gave her a fighting chance.
By 1959, Garland’s liver had taken such a beating that her health took a turn for the worse. Suffering from acute hepatitis, she wound up in the hospital and was only allowed to go home weeks later. Still, the diagnosis was not looking good. Doctors came to her with heavy hearts and gave her some grim news. The most surprising part? Garland’s reaction.
39. She Almost Didn’t Make It
The doctors told Garland she was seriously ill and they gave her about five years or less to live. They even said she might end up becoming invalid—unable to sing or perform. To hear this said out loud gave Garland an overwhelming sense of relief: “The pressure was off me for the first time in my life.” But Garland was more than a tough cookie—she was super resilient—and as such, she proved them all wrong.
40. She Had Massive Debts
On top of her failing health, Garland had a world of trouble when it came to her finances. Having failed to pay her taxes, she now faced debts to the IRS. And these were some serious numbers: We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Even as the waves seemed to be closing over her head, Garland continued working.
41. She Couldn’t Pay Them Back
By 1966, Garland owed $500,000 to the IRS and the federal tax agents were hot on her heels. Completely desperate, she sold her home for far below its actual worth. Even then, the money troubles kept coming. On one upsetting occasion, just after she finished her run at New York’s Palace Theatre in 1967, agents swooped in and claimed most of her earnings.
Although Garland seemed to be spiraling out of control, she did manage to grasp onto one silver lining…
42. She Had A Strange Meet-Cute
In 1966, Judy Garland met Mickey Deans at her New York City hotel. A mutual friend had told him to deliver a package of amphetamines to her, but when he realized that her children were present, he wisely pretended to be a doctor. For the next couple years, these two became on-and-off lovers…Finally in 1969, he decided to make it official and asked for her hand. But unbeknownst to the happy couple, Garland had very little time left…
43. She Was Too Young
Nearing the end of her life, Mickey Deans tried his best to promote Judy Garland’s fading career, but soon found that her severe addiction to prescription drugs was the greatest obstacle of all. On June 22, 1969, Deans made a shocking discovery in the bathroom of their rented home—Judy Garland had passed. She was only 47 years old.
44. She Accidentally Overdosed
Judy Garland had accidentally overdosed on barbiturates—one of her drugs of choice since childhood. But many experts believed that there were other contributing factors: Some claimed she had cirrhosis while others thought she had an eating disorder. Whatever the case, Judy Garland’s personal demons, and rigorous life had taken their toll. For the world of entertainment and beyond, her passing was a devastating loss.
While Garland’s end left Hollywood reeling, it didn’t quite incite the same shock as our next tormented celebrity: Marilyn Monroe…
45. Marilyn Monroe: Goodbye Norma Jean
On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s lifeless body was discovered at her home in Brentwood, California. She was lying in her bed with a phone in one of her hands. At the time of her demise, Monroe was just 36 years old. While the coroner believed that Monroe had “probably” committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates, some details have made people wonder if the star suffered a darker fate.
46. The Autopsy Was Suspicious
Technicians only tested the toxicology of Monroe’s liver. When the deputy coroner tried to obtain her other organs for testing, he was told they’d been destroyed. Strange details like this have become part of the many conspiracy theories surrounding the star’s untimely demise. Some sources (including her old friend Marlon Brando) believe that she was murdered.
47. People Wonder If Foul Play Was Involved
The most well-known theories are that Bobby Kennedy or the CIA ended Monroe’s life. Kennedy’s motivation would have been to keep Marilyn quiet about her affairs with him and his brother. The CIA’s motivation would have been to punish Bobby Kennedy over how he handled the Bay of Pigs disaster. However, as of 2020, these remain conspiracies, not proven statements.
48. Her Funeral Was Tragic
There was an open casket at Monroe’s 1962 funeral. In her coffin, Monroe wore an apple green dress made of nylon jersey and carried pink roses. Sadly, because her head had been partially shaved during the autopsy, Monroe’s signature platinum blonde hair could not be displayed. Instead, the star wore a wig. Only around 30 people saw Monroe in this state, as she requested that her funeral be limited to her close friends and family.
49. He Gave Her A Heartbreaking Gift
For twenty long years after Marilyn’s passing, Joe DiMaggio sent roses to her crypt three times a week. He outlived her by 36 years but in all that time, he never married again. His last words were apparently, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.” As if this story needed to get even sadder, there’s a heartbreaking reason for DiMaggio’s lifelong inability to get over Marilyn. Apparently, at the time of her demise, they had gotten back together and even planned to remarry.
Marilyn Monroe’s passing carried a sense of mystery that has since captured the imaginations of future generations. However, there’s another mysterious tragedy that still has people guessing…Natalie Wood’s watery end is more puzzling than anything else—and the details are downright horrifying.
50. Natalie Wood: A Watery Grave
On November 29, 1981, fate came for Natalie Wood. She was in the middle of filming Brainstorm when she, her husband Wagner, and her co-star Christopher Walken decided to take a weekend boat trip on Wagner’s yacht Splendour. When the party went to bed on November 28, everything seemed fine. When they woke up, the world had changed.
Wood was missing, and Wagner claimed she wasn’t there when he had gone to bed. The authorities soon recovered her body, drowned, a mile away from the boat. An inflatable dinghy was nearby, but there were very few other clues on the initial scene of the tragedy—those would only come much later, when the investigation deepened.
51. It’s All a Big Mistake
Wood’s autopsy results revealed some chilling information. Wood had a blood alcohol level of 0.14% —above the legal driving limit—as well as motion sickness and painkiller pills that may have increased the effect of her drinking. Because of this, some suggested that Wood had been intoxicated, boarded the inflatable dinghy, and then fallen out.
52. The Plot Thickens
From the very beginning, Wood’s sister Lana was dissatisfied with this conclusion. Since Wood was terrified of water and couldn’t even swim, Lana felt there was absolutely no way she would ever get into the dinghy by herself. More disturbingly, two witnesses reported that they heard a woman screaming for help at the time of her passing.
53. A Secret Revealed
In 2011—almost exactly two decades after she drowned—the cold case of Natalie Wood’s mysterious death blew wide open again. The captain of the yacht, Dennis Davern, finally admitted his dark secret: He had lied to investigators when he said that nothing suspicious had happened on the boat before the actress dried. Something had happened.
The evening of her disappearance, Wagner and Wood had gotten into a heated argument after a jealous Wagner accused her of flirting with Christopher Walken. Suddenly, detectives had a motive.
54. The Cover-up
Another disturbing tidbit: In the hours after her disappearance, Wagner forbid Captain Davern from turning on the searchlights to look for his lost wife. Davern has confessed that he believes that Wagner is guilty of her murder. By contrast, the authorities cleared Walken of any wrongdoing.
55. Person of Interest
Although authorities first ruled Wood’s passing as an “accidental drowning,” in the light of these new allegations, they switched it to “drowning and other undetermined factors.” Then, in 2018, they listed Wagner as a person of interest in the case. It may be all the closure fans and mourners of Natalie Wood will ever get.
The story of Natalie Wood and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her demise is widely known. However, there are some Hollywood beauties that never got the recognition deserved because of their tragic ends. That said, there’s no better example of this than Susan Peters, whose entire life was derailed by one fateful accident.
56. Susan Peters: A Starlet Dogged By Tragedy
When it comes to tragic Hollywood starlets, the story of Susan Peters might just take the cake. When Peters first stepped onto the scene, people thought she was destined to become the next big thing. Nobody could have foreseen that a single disaster would derail all of her hopes and dreams. Even as Susan Peters fought for survival, her persistent misfortune led to one of the most brutal ends the entertainment industry ever saw…
57. She Made One Crucial Mistake
When Susan Peters and her husband Richard Quine headed out on a relaxing hunting trip, they never thought that it would turn into the greatest nightmare of their lives. Peters was supposedly picking up a hunting rifle for her friend when it accidentally went off and pierced her through the abdomen. The result? A bullet tore through her and damaged her spine.
58. She Went Into Shock
As Peters lay on the ground, bleeding out, she recalled feeling like she was floating in the air. As shock leaked through her system, she remembered telling herself not to panic because she wanted to stay alive. Quine rushed her to the hospital where she had to undergo emergency surgery. And although doctors managed to save Peters’ life, they couldn’t save her from a devastating diagnosis.
59. Her Life Changed Abruptly
This hunting trip on January 1, 1945, had meant to signal a new beginning in a new year. And she had hoped to be back stronger than ever before. In a heartbreaking twist, this accident changed her life completely. The damage to her spine left her paralyzed from the waist down. Peters would have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
Although Peters tried her best to soldier on, the accident ensured that nothing was ever quite the same. As much as she tried to stay positive, tragedy just seemed to dog her every move. Her disability made it difficult for her to get the parts she wanted, and before long, her promising career had completely derailed. And that wasn’t all.
60. She Was Unlucky In Love
Peters’ marriage to Quine also didn’t survive the accident’s fallout and they divorced, with Peters claiming that Quine mistreated her—that he was cruel and sometimes wouldn’t speak to her for days on end. Even so, the hits just get coming. When Peters fell for someone new—Robert Clark, a US Army Colonel—she thought things were finally looking up…but she was so, SO wrong.
At the drop of a hat, the Colonel called off the engagement and disappeared, his desertion sending Peters into a spiraling depression. It seemed like life was finally succeeding in breaking Peters’ spirit. Resigned to her fragile state, Peters stepped away from her career and decided to get some much-needed rest. But sadly, Peters knew in her heart that she’d never make a full recovery.
61. Her Health Deteriorated
Peters had always been slender and petite, and after her hunting accident, doctors recorded Peters’ weight at only 80 pounds. Her relationship with food had also been rather unhealthy, and she’d admitted that she’d give up eating whenever Quine tormented her with the silent treatment. But it didn’t get any better. After she moved in with her brother, she started eating even less.
In fact, it seemed like she was a completely different person from the woman who’d struggled to live—who’d maintained a firm grasp on hope and willed herself to carry on. Where was she now?
62. She Lost The Will To Live
In her last visit to the doctor, Peters told him that she felt it would be best for everyone if she was no more. Over the course of the next two months, Peters had a brand new resolution and it was utterly horrifying: she began starving herself to death. Finally, in October 1952, Susan Peters passed. Although the cause of her passing was a “chronic kidney infection,” the doctor admitted she’d hastened her end by starvation and dehydration.
The woman had clearly lost the desire to live.
63. She Had A Sad Ending
Only Peters’ brother and his wife had been with her at the time of her passing. They laid her to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, which is where her mom was also buried. She was only 31 years old. It is overwhelmingly sad to imagine how one accident destroyed Peters, the embodiment of so much promise and potential.
While Susan Peters completely lost her will to live, Carolyn Jones was quite the opposite. In fact, she wanted to live so badly, she carried on despite the fact that she was falling apart.
64. Carolyn Jones: Right To The Bitter End
She’s best remembered for her role as Morticia Addams, the macabre matriarch of the 1964 version of The Addams Family, but Carolyn Jones didn’t always have it easy. Neither her career nor her love life went according to her plan, and just when it seemed like she was on the verge of a comeback, tragedy struck...One night, while flying from Dallas to Los Angeles, Carolyn became severely ill…
65. She Had An Emergency
She barely had enough time to enter the restroom before gruesomely vomiting up large amounts of blood. Terrified, Carolyn had no idea what was going on. Upon landing, she rushed to an emergency room, where physicians proceeded to surgically remove much of her stomach. Carolyn subsequently claimed that ulcers were to blame for her condition. However, the true reason was much more serious.
66. Her Illness Was Life-Threatening
Carolyn had no idea that her terrible stomach problems were due to colon cancer. Shocked by the diagnosis, the 51-year-old decided not to tell anyone, opting instead to undergo agonizing surgery and brutal chemotherapy in secret. She’d only just gotten her life back; now, she was in for the fight of her life. Still, despite everything, she stayed dedicated to her profession.
67. She Took On A New Role
After Carolyn’s cancer went into remission, she took on a starring role in a soap opera called Capitol. Sadly, just as Carolyn got used to the part, her doctors made a disturbing discovery. They found that her cancer had returned. Though Carolyn fought it aggressively, her body stopped responding to treatments. Medically, there was nothing more anyone could do.
68. She Remained Stoic
Carolyn resolved to make the most out of her bleak situation. Acting was her whole life, and she was adamant that she’d never give it up for anything ever again. In pain but still undeterred, Carolyn continued to act on Capitol. Then, after her cancer spread and she became too frail to disguise her sickness any longer, Carolyn resorted to acting from her wheelchair to complete her scenes for the season.
Seriously, that’s one tough lady. Respect.
69. She Married The Love Of Her Life
Carolyn did her best to fill her final days with joy. She knew that she didn’t have much longer to live, and she wanted to surround herself with as much love as possible. So, in a special ceremony, Carolyn married her boyfriend, Peter Bailey-Britton, in September 1982. Wanting to look good for her special day, she made herself up as glamorous as possible, wearing a lace and ribbon cap to cover her hair loss.
The wedding drew a lot of admiration from her castmates.
70. Her Castmates Greatly Respected Her
Carolyn was a force of nature, and her castmates knew it. Nicholas Walker, who played her stepson on Capitol, once commented: “The pluck and courage that lady has is amazing. That week was heck for her. They cut her open on the Monday, and she was back on set on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, she was standing at the altar.”
71. She Fought To The End
Carolyn went into a coma in July 1983 at her home in West Hollywood, California, before dying on August 3, 1983. She was 53 years old at the time. After the cremation of her body, a memorial ceremony was conducted on August 5 at Glasband-Willen Mortuary in Altadena, California. Ever thoughtful, Carolyn made arrangements to donate her Morticia outfit and wig to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences before she passed.
As tragic as Carolyn Jones is, her tenacity lends her story a silver lining that the tale of Peg Entwistle simply does not offer. This next starlet had barely begun her career, not to mention her life, before it all ended on one fateful night.
72. Peg Entwistle: A Gruesome Fall
Peg Entwistle had her whole life ahead of her. A celebrated Broadway actress in her time, Entwistle was poised to make the big time in Hollywood as a silver screen starlet—until it all came crashing down. To this day, Entwistle’s infamously tragic and jaw-dropping end is synonymous with the cold cruelty of Hollywood dreams.
While she stayed in Los Angeles and tried to make it in Hollywood, Peg lived with her aunt and uncle so she could better get by on the film scraps she was getting from studios. Then, on the evening of Friday, September 16 in 1932, a morose Peg went for a stroll to gather her thoughts. However, she did leave a note for her family members to find…
73. She Left A Note Behind
On the surface, Peg Entwistle’s note seemed completely normal. In it, she assured her aunt and uncle that she was just going out to visit with friends and to maybe buy some books to add to her collection and read a little later. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like Peg did much reading that evening. Instead, she had a much darker plan in mind for herself.
74. She Disappeared For Days
Although we can’t know everything about Peg Entwistle’s last moments, what we can piece together from evidence is tragic. That night, the actress never returned home to her aunt and uncle’s house. In fact, she hadn’t been back for two days, and her family members were growing frantic about her. Then, on September 18th, a hiker revealed the awful truth.
75. She Left Breadcrumbs
That Sunday, the unidentified hiker made a discovery that would go down in history for all the wrong reasons. While walking near the famed “Hollywoodland” sign, the hiker found a coat, a shoe, and a purse. These were all strange objects to find just lying around that area of brush. But none of them were stranger—nor more gruesome—than what the hiker found next.
76. She Met A Dreadful End
As the hiker craned her neck down the hill, she saw Peg Entwistle’s lifeless body lying a hundred feet below the 50-foot-tall letter “H” of the “Hollywoodland” sign. Apparently, the tragic would-be starlet—and Bette Davis’s own hero—had hurled herself from the iconic message in a bid to end it all. Tragically, it had worked all too well…
77. She Caused A Scandal
Stunned, the hiker collected the items that she found strewn about the sign and took them to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Station, placing them on the steps and calling in a report. She informed the authorities of the as-yet-unidentified body of a young female at the foot of the “Hollywoodland” sign. Of course, we now know who that woman was.
78. She Chose Her Final Moment
When investigators arrived on the scene, it didn’t take them too long to figure out what had happened. Still, the details were harrowing. Yes, Peg Entwistle had purposely plummeted to her demise, but the responders also believed she had climbed up a workman’s ladder to the top of the “H” and proceeded to leap headfirst. The autopsy had further tragic findings.
79. She Left Few Answers
Despite the fact that the coroner’s autopsy listed Entwistle’s injuries in excruciating detail, it also didn’t provide much clarity. The examination concluded that the starlet suffered from fatal “internal bleeding” and “multiple fractures of the pelvis.” Moreover, there was no trace of any intoxicating substances in her body, though this only means she must have felt everything as she fell.
80. Her Note Was Chilling
When the hiker who found Entwistle’s body and belongings opened her purse, they found a heartbreaking note. Unlike the message Entwistle had left her family, this one confessed her desire to die by suicide in incredibly spare prose. “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything,” the note said, “If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain.” The actress had then finished the letter with her initials, “P.E.”
81. Her Initials Revealed The Terrible Truth
Peg Entwistle’s aunt and uncle found out about her violent end in the worst way possible. By September 20, Entwistle had been missing for four long days—then her uncle read a newspaper report that sent a chill down his spine. It was about a young woman who had leapt from the “Hollywoodland” sign and left behind a note with the initials “P.E.” He knew it could only be his Peg.
Now, unlike poor Peg Entwistle, Grace Kelly was an indisputable star—a princess, in fact—and when her final moments came to pass, they shocked the world.
82. Grace Kelly: A Princess Gone Too Soon
On September 13, 1982, a terrifying car accident caused Grace Kelly’s life to end far too soon. Kelly and her daughter Stephanie were driving home along the hilly Monaco streets when Kelly reportedly had a stroke. She lost control of the car, which plunged over 50 feet down the mountainside. Paramedics rushed Kelly and Stephanie to the hospital, but the outcome was far more horrifying than anyone could have imagined.
83. She Had Two Hemorrhages
While treating Kelly, French doctors made a startling discovery. Their patient had suffered not one but two brain hemorrhages. The CAT scan showed that the first happened before the car crash and likely caused the accident. The second happened after, when Kelly was fighting for her life in the hospital. It likely occurred because of all of the trauma her body endured from the accident.
84. She Didn’t Wake Up
Kelly was comatose and all signs suggested that she would not wake up. Prince Rainier made the tragic decision to take his wife off of life support. She passed at just 52 years old. Of course, the loss of Grace Kelly was no small matter—and the repercussions were staggering. Moreover, Hollywood’s gossip mill was about to take this tragedy to a whole new level…
85. Dark Rumors Swirled About the Crash
After Kelly perished in the car crash, rumors began to swirl about exactly how the tragedy came to be. People thought it was strange for Kelly to be driving at all, since she disliked it so much and always used a chauffeur. When they learned that Stephanie had been pulled out of the driver’s seat, rather than the passenger’s side, they immediately wondered: Was she the one driving on that fateful day?
Stephanie has always denied it, but the rumors persist.
86. An Important Guest Missed Her Funeral
Kelly’s daughter Stephanie thankfully escaped the crash with a hairline fracture and a slight concussion, but the impact on her was immense. Because of her injuries, she could not attend her own mother’s funeral. The entire ordeal was so traumatic that Stephanie refused to talk about it for decades. When she finally addressed her loss, her words were utterly heartbreaking.
Stephanie confessed, “Not only did I go through the horrible trauma of losing my mother at a very young age, but I was beside her at the moment of the accident. Nobody can imagine how much I’ve suffered, and still suffer.” Similarly, a tragic automobile accident also claimed the life of another blonde bombshell—Jayne Mansfield. However, the rumors surrounding her demise were far more gruesome.
87. Jayne Mansfield: Horrific Rumors
Making great use of her buxom figure, Jayne Mansfield was not only a rabidly popular actress, but also one of the most vivacious and visible sex symbols of her age—until it all ended in one of the most shocking tragedies Hollywood had ever seen. In the early morning hours of June 29, 1967, the last tragedy of Mansfield’s short life occurred.
She was on her way to New Orleans with her driver, her attorney, and her children Miklos, Zoltan, and little Mariska. At 2:25 am, their Buick slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer that had been covered in a thick fog of insecticide. When the mist cleared, the truth was unbearable.
88. She Met A Tragic End
When the Buick hit the trailer, all three adults in the front seat perished instantly; Mansfield herself was tragically only 34 years old at the time. The wreckage was so devastating, it took officers and first responders an excruciatingly long time to understand what had really happened, and what Mansfield’s final moments were like. Unfortunately, the answer to that is: Horrific.
89. She Made The Tabloids
When news broke of Mansfield’s violent demise, wild rumors started flying. In particular, many people began to whisper that the force of the crash had decapitated the starlet. One of the biggest confirmations for this came from a real photograph of the scene, which seemed to show her signature blonde hair pressed into the windshield of the wreckage. The truth, however, was much different.
90. Her Autopsy Revealed A Sad Truth
When Mansfield’s official autopsy came out, it announced that she had perished from a “crushed skull” instead of decapitation. So what was that blonde hair doing on the windshield of the sheared-off car? Gruesomely enough, it was actually part of Mansfield’s wig, which got ejected out in the chaos of the collision. Nonetheless, the urban legend about her decapitation still persists—as if her end wasn’t tragic enough.
Hollywood has seen some of its greatest starlets taken by drowning, addiction, and car accidents—but Linda Darnell’s fiery end was an undeniable nightmare.
91. Linda Darnell: A Fiery End
Stories about child actresses seldom have happy endings, and Linda Darnell’s case is no different. Darnell grew up adored by Hollywood but soon learned its many dangers. No matter how hard she tried, happiness always seemed to evade her. Before she even got a chance to turn her life around, the “Girl With The Perfect Face” met an end so horrific—it’s unforgettable.
On April 8, 1965, Darnell was at the home of her former secretary, Jeanne Curtis, spending the evening with Jeanne and her daughter Patty. The trio stayed up late to watch Star Dust, one of Darnell’s early films that greatly boosted her popularity in the 40s. The film made Darnell nostalgic, and she started reminiscing to her hosts about the peak of her career in Hollywood.
Little did they know, this quiet and peaceful evening was about to see a devastating interruption.
92. She Saved Lives
Darnell spent the night at Curtis’ house, but at 3:30 am, little Patty woke her mother up complaining about feeling unusually hot. A fire had started in the living room where the three had sat the night before. Remaining calm, Darnell told Jeanne to get Patty out first through a window on the second floor. Patty broke her leg from the fall, but she made it to safety.
Jeanne prepared to jump down next. But when she looked back to make sure Darnell was right behind her, there was nobody there.
93. Her End Was Tragic
Too frightened to make the two-story-high jump, Darnell decided to ascend the stairs and make a dash towards the door. Sadly, she never made it. Firefighters found her on the living room floor with burns covering 80 percent of her body. They rushed her to the hospital but it was already too late. On April 10, at 41 years old, Darnell closed her eyes forever.
94. She Had One Final Wish
Before her passing, Darnell had expressed a wish to have her ashes dispersed over a ranch in New Mexico. Therefore, when she passed, her loved ones had her body cremated and tried to put her to rest the way she had wanted, but things didn’t work out so well. The landowner of the New Mexico ranch refused to have Darnell’s ashes scattered on his land.
Poor Darnell desperately wanted to live, but fate had something else in store for her. Maurice Chevalier, on the other hand, lived a life destined for loneliness. Fate dealt him a hand of isolation and depression that he just couldn’t overcome…
95. Maurice Chevalier: A Lonely Lothario
Maurice Chevalier was a notorious ladies’ man, but despite years of blissful lovemaking, this French lothario ended up brutally alone. With nothing but his demons to keep him warm, Chevalier did something so unspeakable—it’s unforgettable. In March 1971, Chevalier tried to end his own life. He’d suffered from depression on and off in various stages of his career and in an extreme episode overdosed on barbiturates to end it all.
Although he survived, the action had a lot of adverse effects on his health. Unfortunately, things would never be the same for him again.
96. His Story Ended Suddenly
In the wake of his suicide attempt, Chevalier spent months battling liver damage, kidney failure, episodes of memory loss, and constant fatigue. It was only a matter of time, now. His body stopped responding to dialysis and doctors tried kidney surgery as a last-ditch effort to save him. He passed due to a cardiac arrest in January 1972.
His family laid him to rest in Marnes-la-Coquette, next to his mother. His funeral was a quiet, intimate ceremony attended only by family and some close friends. It was an appropriate farewell to a man who had lived big, but who only had a few to truly call his own…Now, our last starlet lived an undeniably tragic life, but for a long while, her muddled mind confused her friends and loved ones. When the truth finally came out, it was already too late for the infamous Rita Hayworth.
97. Rita Hayworth: Completely Misunderstood
The life story of Rita Hayworth is a tragedy of epic proportions. Beauty, talent, fame, intelligence: She had it all. And yet she remained unhappy and unloved until the day she passed. During one of her last films, The Wrath of God, Hayworth had trouble remembering her lines. In fact, her condition was so bad that the scenes were filmed one line at a time. But this was just the beginning.
98. She Was Unpredictable
She signed up for another movie in the same year but left the set when she realized she couldn’t do it. Moreover, her behavior was more erratic than ever. Most people put down Hayworth’s public outbursts and tantrums as an effect of too much drinking. It took two decades for doctors to realize that alcoholism wasn’t the root cause of her condition.
99. Her Real Disease Wasn’t Very Common
It turned out that Hayworth wasn’t an alcoholic. Instead, she was battling Alzheimer’s. Although the disease is common now, there wasn’t much knowledge about it at the time. In fact, it had largely been ignored since its discovery in 1906, which is why it took 20 years for the doctors to diagnose her correctly. Rita became the first public face of the disease.
In the end, Hayworth’s daughter stepped up to the plate. Yasmin Aga Khan took Hayworth under her care and was a loving and considerate companion to her mother until she breathed her last.