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20 Famous Actors Who Died During The Filming Of A Movie

22 February 2014 | Features, People Lists | by Matthew Keith

actors died during filming

It is always a tragedy to lose a Hollywood icon, serving inspirations and role models to the youth who look up to the actors in hopes of following their Hollywood dreams.  Not all actors are fortunate enough to live long lives, but all on this list left a big imprint on Hollywood during their career.  Here is a list of actors who death came at untimely cost as they were still working in a film, and how Hollywood scrambled to finish the films they were in.

 

20. James Dean (February 8th, 1931 – September 30th, 1955)

james dean - giant

Age: 24

Cause of Death: Car Accident

Movie Affected: Giant

What the Studio Did: The Movie was near completion when Dean passed away, in fact all of scenes were completed.  The last scene of the movie, James Dean’s Character was giving a monologue while being intoxicated.  Dean thought he should do the scene while actually intoxicated so some of his lines were slurred and inaudible.  Before the studio could have the scene reshot, James Dean passed away so the studio used Nick Adams to overdub the lines that needed to be fixed.

 

19. Bela Lugosi (October 20th, 1882 – August 16th, 1956)

Bela-Lugosi

Age: 73

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Movie Affected: Plan 9 from Outer Space

What the Studio Did: Though he was meant to be in the movie, Bela Lugosi passed away before filming.  Director Ed Wood used some scenes that Lugosi and he had shot previously as a tribute to the late great actor. Wood then used his wife’s chiropractor, Tom Mason, as a stand in.  Though Mason had no physical resemblance to him and was slightly taller, throughout the film Mason is only seen with a cape covering the lower half of his face.

 

18. Tyrone Power (May 5th, 1914 – November 15th, 1958)

witness_for_the_prosecution_tyrone_power

Age: 44

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Movie Affected: Solomon and Sheba

What the Studio Did: Tyrone Power had over half of the movie shot when he collapsed on set during a fight scene.  The Studio started over by having Yul Brynner replace Tyrone Power and reshoot all of his scenes.  As tribute to the actor though, the director left him visible in some long shot scenes in memory of Power.

 

17. Clark Gable (February 1st, 1901 – November 16th, 1960)

Gone with the wind

Age: 59

Cause of Death: Coronary Thrombosis

Movie Affected: The Misfits

What the Studio Did: With all of scenes filmed and the movie nearly completed, Clark Gable died just a couple days after.  Clark Gable wanted to do his own stunts and did so throughout the whole movie.  One scene where he crashes a car needed to be reshot though, but with Gables death they decided to honor the actor by not reshooting it because of Gable’s request of doing his own stunt and the studio did not use the scene in the movie at all.

 

16. Marilyn Monroe (June 1st, 1926 – August 5th, 1962)

marilyn-monroe-jpg

Age:  36

Cause of Death: Drug Overdose

Movie Affected: Something’s Got to Give

What the Studio Did: This being towards the end of her career, Marilyn Monroe was already getting heat from the studio for showing up late.  Rumor has it she was fired and replaced, though co-star Dean Martin, who the studio wanted badly for the film, refused to work with anyone but Monroe. After her death the film was abandoned and instead of its intended length is only about 37 minutes long and wasn’t seen until her documentary Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days.

 

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  • disqus_qolBEnnL4G

    mmhhm too bad you only focused on american films! I really like how this one turned out: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080539/ for example. Apart from that, great piece.

  • Sandpaper Screw

    This is why I am a fan of this site. You actually teach me things I didn’t know instead of rehashing the same generic lists with the same generic films. Thank you.

  • LiliGh

    the little girl from poltergeist dies from domestic abuse, no? Or is it me confusing her with someone else?

  • Joker7980

    It was the Older sister from the first poltergeist that died from domestic abuse

    • LiliGh

      I confused her with the little girl from “the land before time”

  • Robert Christopher Hayes

    Interesting article, but a lot of rookie editing mistakes. Someone needs to do a better job of quality control.

  • Dris

    Respectful and interesting article, but written in a quite poor english. A proofreading would help this minor flaw.

  • Hunter

    Marilyn Monroe’s cause of death was the Kennedy’s, period.

  • james nixon

    Good article but no Jean Harlow in Saratoga? She died of uremic poisoning at 26 with most of her scenes shot. They finished the film with two stand-ins, one body double and one voice stand-in. The released film ended up being the top earner of 1937 mostly from morbid curiousity rather than any high quality of the picture