Ever since it’s beginning, Hollywood has been known as a den of sin, immorality, and depravity. While, this generalization is not true for all of Hollywood, it sums up a big portion of it. For some, it is a beacon of hope and promise of stardom and many flock to the Hollywood Hills with dreams of becoming famous. Not everyone becomes widely famous, however, but some do become famous…but for some pretty tragic and horrific reasons. Many of these celebrities are known more for the deaths they were involved in than anything else they have ever done.
Not all of the celebs on this list killed on purpose, and one of them only attempted murder but, luckily, did not do the deed. Many celebrities have been involved in car crashes that resulted in the death of innocent individuals and all of the celebs on this list essentially got away with vehicular manslaughter with merely a slap on the wrist. When it comes to celebrities, they usually have enough money and power over the media to keep the horrific stories of deadly crashes and the parts they played in accidental deaths under wraps, at least for the most part. You may have heard of Caitlyn Jenner’s crash that claimed a life but what about a deadly crash involving a certain former First Lady? Or the “accidental” shooting of a famous author’s wife? On this list, you will learn all about the stories that celebrities have managed to (mostly) cover up and now the deaths they caused are mere footnotes in their biographies.
Before she became a First Lady and before she was even married to George W. Bush, she was Laura Welch from Midland, Texas. There has long been a rumor of the future First Lady getting into a car accident which resulted in the death of a classmate and it turns out that the rumor is absolutely true. When she was 17, Bush and her friend Judy Dykes had just come from a drive-in movie when she ran a stop sign and hit a sedan driven by a classmate named Michael Douglas who was also 17. According to the news accounts at the time, Douglas had been thrown from his car and died of a broken neck. While some say that Douglas was actually Bush’s boyfriend at the time, or at least an ex-boyfriend, she has since stated in her biography that she was not romantically involved with him but he was a close friend of hers. She blamed the accident on the darkness of the night and her own poor eyesight.
Back in the 1990s, Snoop Dogg had a lot less chill than he has today. When he was 24 in 1993, the rapper was connected to the murder of Philip Woldemariam who was killed by his bodyguard, McKinley Lee. When Snoop Dogg had been discovered by Dr. Dre in 1992, he had already gotten involved with the Crips gang as a teenager. Snoop and Lee were under house arrest for two until the trial actually took place. His defence lawyer claimed that Woldermariam had threatened the rapper multiple times before he was shot. The prosecution argued that Snoop Dogg’s lyrics were inherently violent and dangerous which meant that he was an inherently violent and dangerous person capable of murder. In the end, Snoop and his bodyguard were found not guilty on the grounds of self-defence. Things ended up all right for Snoop in the long run because the publicity from the trial only helped his career and he, of course, became the successful rapper that he is today.
William S. Burroughs is the author of books such as “Naked Lunch” and “Junky” and he definitely knew a thing or two about being a junky because he was one. It is said that when a person is drinking and doing drugs, it can lead them to have a disregard for human life which is what happened one night to Burroughs when he and his wife, Joan Vollmer, were at a party. The story goes that Burroughs was with his boyfriend (he was a closeted homosexual at the time) and his wife and he told Vollmer that they were going to move to the jungle and hunt for food. Vollmer laughed and said that he was such a horrible shot that they would starve to death. Burroughs told her to put a glass on her head and he would prove to everyone how good of a shot that he was by shooting the glass off her head. She put the glass on her head, he took a shot, and he shot her in the forehead which killed her. Burroughs was only given a two-year suspended sentence.
Though he had an extensive film career, Michael Massee is known more for his involvement in the death of Brandon Lee than any of his roles. In 1993, Massee and Lee were on the set of The Crow, filming Lee’s character’s death scene. A single blank was supposed to be fired from a prop gun by Massee but, because of a neglectful and incompetent prop crew, the gun fired an actual bullet which hit Lee in the abdomen and eventually killed him. The incident traumatized Massee so badly that he had to take a break from acting and refused to ever view the film. In an interview in 2005, Massee admitted to having nightmares about the event and that he had never comes to terms with it, saying, “I don’t think you ever get over something like that.”
Before Mark Wahlberg became the successful actor he is today, and even before he was known as Marky Mark, he was a part of gang when he was just 14 years old. He was the youngest of nine children and dropped out of school when he started getting into trouble with the law. Wahlberg, who claims to have gotten addicted to the powder during this time, was 16 years old when he attacked a Vietnamese man named Thanh Lam for no reason at all. He attacked Lam with a large wooden stick and screamed obscenities at him. He then struck him with his fist which permanently blinded him. This altercation did not end in the death of Lam but Walhberg was initially charged with attempted murder which was dropped to criminal contempt but, in the end, he was sentenced to two years in prison and only served 45 days.
Actress and model Rebecca Gayheart is probably not someone you think about very often but she has just enough small parts in films and TV shows that may make you think to yourself, “Where do I know her from?” She appeared in films such as Scream 2 and Jawbreaker and had some roles on shows such as Nip/Tuck and Beverly Hills, 90210. However, she disappeared from Hollywood after she struck a nine-year-old boy named Jorge Cruz, Jr. with her car in 2001. Jorge died from his injuries the next day. Gayheart pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to three years probation, a suspension of her license for a year, a $2,800 fine, and 750 hours of community service. She is just one of many celebrities who received vastly unjust sentences after purposefully or intentionally killing another human being. Unfortunately, you can get away with a lot of things in Hollywood.
In 2003, actress Lana Clarkson was found dead in Phil Spector’s mansion slumped in a chair with a gunshot wound to her face and broken teeth scattered on the carpet. It’s not exactly clear what happened between Clarkson and Spector but, right before she was killed, the two of them were dropped off at the mansion while the driver waited outside. The driver heard gunshots and Clarkson was indeed found with a gunshot wound in her mouth which killed her. Though Spector later said that it was an “accidental suicide” after she “kissed the gun”, his driver claimed that he came out of the house with a gun saying, “I think I just shot her.” There are other claims which included him flying into a rage right before shooting the actress. In 2009, Spector was charged with murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison. The mugshot seen above is the most recent photo of Spector which accurately depicts his transformation into Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.
In 2006, Brandy Norwood was involved in a fatal car crash on a Los Angeles freeway that claimed the life of a mother of two, Awatef Aboudihaj. Norwood was driving about 65 miles per hour and didn’t realize that the cars in front of her had slowed down. The R&B singer’s Range Rover hit Aboudihaj’s Toyota which caused it to strike another vehicle and then hit the centre divider. When the Toyota had come to a stop, another vehicle crashed into the car as well. Norwood was not arrested and she was not charged with vehicular manslaughter due to lack of evidence. Apparently, there were some witnesses who said that Aboudihaj’s Toyota had hit the car in front of her before Norwood had crashed. Regardless, Norwood avoided a lawsuit by settling out of court with the parents of Aboudihaj. She has since said that whether or not she caused the crash, she feels tremendous guilt for the entire situation.
If you are either a fan of Sons of Anarchy or Katy Perry (or both), you probably know who Johnny Lewis is but, at this point, he is most known for murdering his 89-year-old landlady, Catherine Davis. Before Katy Perry became the pop star she is today, she dated Johnny Lewis but they had gone their separate ways long before the murder. In 2012, Lewis broke into his landlady’s villa which he ransacked before beating Davis to death and also killed her pet cat. However, in an even stranger twist of fate, Lewis was found dead the next morning in Davis’ driveway after falling from either the roof or the patio of the villa. His death was ruled accidental, as there was no evidence that he had been pushed or attempted suicide. As to why Lewis killed his landlady and her cat, we’ll never know as there appeared to be no motive for the brutal murder which makes the case incredibly strange and horrifically tragic.
“Sid and Nancy” has become synonymous with dysfunctional relationships and, at this point, Sid Vicious is known more for the brutal murder of his girlfriend than the music he made. The Sex Pistols bassist met Nancy Spungen when she moved to London to pursue any member of a punk band that would have her. When she was turned down by Sex Pistols lead singer, Johnny Rotten, she set her sights on Sid and the two began a tumultuous 19-month relationship. The two, who were already addicted to many other drugs, became addicted to other drugs together as well In 1978, Vicious claimed to have woken up from a drugged stupor to find his girlfriend on the bathroom floor of their hotel room in Manhattan with a stab wound in her abdomen. Vicious had tried to take his own life after Spungen’s death by slitting his wrists and trying to jump out a window. He eventually died, however, due to an overdose in 1979.
Obviously, a list of celebrities who have killed people would be incomplete without the most famous murder case in Hollywood history and the subsequent “trial of the century” that followed. The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and the eventual trial is about so much more than marital troubles, jealousy, and violence. It also involves complicated matters such as racism, social justice issues, and the media as a whole. Though Simpson was found not guilty of the murder of his wife and Goldman, he still went to prison in the end for a bizarre case involving kidnapping and armed robbery in 2007. But, now that the dust has settled and we have books, TV specials, and documentaries about the case, it’s safe to say that most people believe that O.J. Simpson was directly responsible for the murders. However, Simpson is eligible for parole in October 2017.
Howard Hughes is a Hollywood legend for many reasons: his immense wealth, his passion for aviation, his overwhelming desire to be involved in the film industry, and his relationships with many beautiful and famous movie stars. His first film, Hell’s Angels, originally meant to be a silent film, took so long to shoot that it had to be re-shot after sound had been invented because the original actress could not speak English well enough so Jean Harlow was cast in her place. Along with the strenuous years of filming, 70 stunt pilots were used in the film and they all refused to perform a specific aerial stunt that Hughes wanted so he did the stunt himself and got the shot…but also crashed the plane. During shooting, three stunt pilots and one mechanic were killed due to Hughes insistence that they do incredibly dangerous stunts for the film. After that point, Hughes became known as a perfectionist when it came to his movies and he would get the shot he wanted, no matter the cost.
Oscar Pistorius, a renowned South African sprint runner who inspired many due to the fact that he had both of his legs amputated when he was an infant and still went on to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics. However, he is not the inspiring figure today as he was before. On Valentine’s Day in 2013, the Olympian shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Though he shot Steenkamp four times through the closed door to the bathroom, he claimed that he thought that she was an intruder. In 2014, Pistorius was not charged with murder but, instead, with culpable homicide which is the legal equivalent to manslaughter in other parts of the world. He was given a five year sentence and a three year suspended sentence but was released after just a year. In 2015, the Supreme Court overturned his original conviction and found him guilty of murder. He was then sentenced to 6 years in prison.