10 Great Actors Who Died Way Too Early

There aren’t too many actors out there that have a profound effect on people.  I mean we see them in movies and we like the way they portray certain characters but it doesn’t really mean we think about them too much after we see the movie nor do we pay much attention to what happens to them in the news.

However, there are some people who do in fact have an effect on us.  And once in a while some people come along who have an amazing talent that should shine for multiple decades.

Unfortunately for these 10 actors, their lives were cut way too short for us to see their full potential……

Heath Ledger – 28

We know this one is pretty obvious but it still must be mentioned.  I think of all the people on this list Ledger had the most promise in terms of having the potential to be known as one of the greatest actors of his generation.   The guy just kept getting better in every film he was in and it’s a shame he went when he did.

River Phoenix – 23

I almost feel like Phoenix was a Heath Ledger before there was a Heath Ledger.   River started his career earlier and was a successful child actor.  As he got older his roles weren’t so great and I’m not sure how good an actor he became.  However there was no doubting his talent. Clearly the drug and alcohol abuse got in the way.

Raul Julia – 54

Julia was the oldest of this bunch but that doesn’t mean he didn’t die late.  The  man was young for today’s day and age and he still had plenty of good movies left in him.  He had an incredible singing voice and such presence on screen.  I wish I could have seen him more.

John Belushi – 33

Belushi was a Chris Farley before there was a Chris Farley.   Belushi was one of those guys who was just funny for doing nothing.  You could watch the guy for 5 minutes and laugh.  Was he a great actor?  Yes, in the comedic sense.  I feel like he’d have had a very Adam Sandler like career had he not been such a party animal.  I could see Belushi in serious roles.

James Dean – 24

He wasn’t just a good looking guy.  The man could act.   He’ll go down as one of the most “he shouldn’t have died that early” guys in history.

John Candy – 43

It’s always a terrible thing when someone this likable dies.  I mean who didn’t love John Candy?  Every single movie this guy was in had a redeeming quality:  him!   Candy made every character fun to watch and you knew what you were going to get with him.   It’s a shame he couldn’t keep his body under control as it finally caught up with him.

Brad Renfro – 25

Renfro was just a bad seed.  He was one of those guys that never really had a straight life to begin with.   The guy was doing drugs at a very early age and never really got it together.  However,  all the films I ever saw him in, he did an excellent job.  I really thought that if he pulled it together he’d have been a big star.

Bernie Mac – 50

Probably one of the funniest guys in a long time.  Mac had a funny way about him without having to do anything either.  You just sort of looked at the guy and laughed.  I miss his roles in the Ocean’s movies.

John Ritter – 54

I’m glad to see his son is carrying on his name in the right way.  Ritter was just a good guy and a prime example of how some good guys die just way too early.  No one will ever forget Jack Tripper.

Chris Farley – 33

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to get into detail on Farley.  Guy was a legend in comedy.   Weird that he died at the same age as Belushi.

  • MR

    May they all rest in peace.

  • Trey

    I think a glaring omission from this list would be Bruce Lee (who died at the age of 32) and even his son Brandon Lee (who died at the age of 28) should be included.

  • BOLT

    Farley was absolute gold…even a sub par movie like Almost Heroes is in my collection because of his role in it…not to mention some of the best cameos…the farley spade duo could not be beat and tommy boy may be my most watched movie of all time

  • Mike

    Half of the list died from drugs. No sympathy. They DECIDED to do drugs and paid the price.

  • josh

    You should add Phil Hartman

  • V.

    John Cazale!!!!?????!!!!

  • Grant

    Totally agree about Phil Hartman

  • D

    Totally agree with V. John Cazale was the man. He appeared in only 5 films, but each of them were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture (Godfather, Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, The Conversation, The Deer Hunter). And unlike most of the other actors (who are all great) he didn’t OD on drugs. He tragically succumbed to terminal lung cancer. However, he worked until the end, completing all of his scenes first in The Deer Hunter, just not living long enough to see the final project. He died at the age of 42.

  • Bert

    Phil Hartman FTW. His death caused the Simpsons to jump the shark and robbed us of the best cast member that SNL had since the days of Belushi and Murray.

    And just think – what if we could have seen Raul Julia as say, Willy Wonka in the recent remake? Wouldn’t that blow your mind?

  • agon23

    don’t wanna sound like im trolling but chris farley. Honestly I think the guy was alright and he did have his great roles like the bus driver in Billy Madison but i don’t really see why everyone is always sweating him as a comedic genius.

  • Bert

    @ agon23 – don’t you mean SWEATY comic genius?

  • Ellie

    I don’t think John Ritter died too young. I mean it’s not like his career was taking off like Ledger’s or Belushi’s.

    And the same goes for Bernie Mac.

    Anyhoo, Thelma Todd died too early (only twenty-nine) that was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning that was either an accident or foul play.
    And Graham Chapman died only when he was forty-eight.

  • Matt

    this bought tears to my eyes. John Candy especially. He was my favourite actor as a kid. And when I found out he had died…i was so shocked.

  • Karin

    Sad topic. Here’s three very talented guys I’m missing:

    Andy Hallett – “Lorne” on “Angel”.
    Glenn Quinn – “Doyle” on “Angel”.
    Kevin Smith – “Ares” on “Xena”.

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  • Andy D

    I love John Candy even all the crappy movies he was in are made watchable just by him being in them.

    Also Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the best comedy film of all time.

  • Tony B

    I’d throw in Bruno Kirby, too.

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  • I Plead the 5th

    How about Brittany Murphy? She had her role in King of the Hill and was always decent in every movie i’d seen her in.

  • C

    Died too early versus took a bunch of drugs and contributed to their own death. On your list, most of them were druggies and brought about their own demise, either directly or slightly less directly. It’s not like they were so oblivious that they couldn’t see what was happening to them. We all make choices and have to deal with them. John Candy, a major loss. John Ritter an all around good guy and a loss. Raul Julia, a loss, but he was very sick for quite a while. Bernie Mac was sick, but still a loss. The rest simply wasted their talent.

    • Kathleen LaPorta

      Geuss you don’t know much about the disease of addiction. Get educated

  • Dave

    Not only did Belushi and Farley die at the same age but they both died from the same overdose. Speedballs FTW!

  • Nice to see that a guy 54 years old is considered very young

  • lala

    How can you say that we haven’t see their full potential about people 50 yo? And some of them acting since 70s…

    I agree about Brittany Murphy. She must be in that list (what about girls?)

  • What about Steve McQueen, only 50, died in 1980.

  • korleonis

    7 of your 10 died by their own hand. 5 of them where dope heads and in today’s day and age there is no remorse for a dope head that over doses. Get some real heros kid.

  • dark

    Brittany Murphy.Remember her from ‘Don’t Say A Word’

  • Citheren

    Brandon Lee. Poised to be the next great action hero, could act better than Arnie & Sly combined and squared and had mad skillz in martial arts.

    Would have loved to see him in more.

  • cheech6288

    @C James Dean died in a car accident, not from drugs. And I agree with those who want to have Brittany Murphy added to the list.

  • Spada

    Why can’t you just respect these dead people? I feel so sad for all of them.

  • Piper

    Just an FYI, it’s not actually the majority of this list that died by their own hand via drugs.

    2 for a start – River Phoenix’s death has never been fully settled, there is speculation that he was voluntarily doing drugs that night, but there is also a massive amount of evidence that he was spiked (drugged unwittingly).

    Heath Ledger did die from a drug problem…..interaction of prescription drugs I might point out, that to me is medical negligence, not by his own hand.

    That by my count, leaves only 4 due to drugs, not 7 and not half!

  • evilmidget

    I’m indeed aware that Farley and Belushi both died due to drug problems and Candy due to health reasons, but we can’t forget the curse of Atuk. Just putting it out there.

  • Stephen

    Bruce Lee? Marilyn Monroe?

  • Someon

    Corey Haim …

  • colleen

    To the author of this ….. Brad Renfro was not a bad seed. I knew him for years, he was an amazing person, friend, brother, father and actor and for you to just say he was a loser is pathetic. You know nothing about this man or what he went through. You think he just started doing drugs on his own, no, if your parents shoot you up or give you beer in your baby bottle or just plain screw up your life because they are screwed up then there is a difference. Some choose drugs, others don’t have a choice and as for trying to quit omg did he try, he cried, he begged, he did it all to quit. I think that before you just say something you should stop and think that his sister, his friends and his family see these things and after almost five plus years it doesn’t get easier…. give some respect to people, just because they have a gift doesn’t make them invincible to life and to people only thinking of themsevles and may i say that his mother is dead, his step father is dead and his sister has to see this shit, get it right before you speak.

  • Jason

    I have to disagree with you on River Phoenix, he continued to get better and expand his repertoire all the way through The Thing Called Love, his final role.

  • Daniel Yard

    Curious is famous male celebrities ‘close’ to their mothers dying the same age as their mothers. The most famous were: Elvis at 42.. & Frank SInatra at age 82. Would John Lennon have died at age 44, if he hadn’t been shot down?