Ledger Joins List Of Fallen Celebrities In Their 20’s

The caves of Yahoo had a list up this morning of 10 other well known celebrities in their day that fell before the age of 30; I now present that list for you:

• James Dean, 24, died Sept., 30, 1955, after an automobile crash on the highway near Paso Robles, Calif.
• Sharon Tate, 26, was murdered Aug. 9, 1969, by followers of Charles Manson in Los Angeles.
• Freddie Prinze, 22, died Jan. 29, 1977, after shooting himself in Los Angeles.
• Jon-Erik Hexum, 26, died Oct. 18, 1984, after accidentally shooting himself with a prop gun in Los Angeles.
• Rebecca Schaeffer, 21, was murdered July 18, 1989, by stalker Robert John Bardo in Los Angeles.
• Brandon Lee, 28, died March 31, 1993, after accidentally being shot on the set of “The Crow” in Wilmington, N.C.
• River Phoenix, 23, died Oct. 31, 1993, from a drug overdose outside of a night club in Los Angeles.
• David Strickland, 29, died March 22, 1999, after hanging himself in a hotel room in Las Vegas.
• Jonathan Brandis, 27, died Nov. 12, 2003, from injuries he suffered after hanging himself in Los Angeles.
• Brad Renfro, 25, died Jan. 15, 2008, the day after reportedly spending the previous evening drinking with friends.

It always sucks when a beloved celebrity is taken from us, but especially hard when they were young. People like to grow up with celebrities, they are the famous faces of the era in which we live, and in a way represent our own place in history. When the gods of the screen go on before us, it is a harsh reminder of our own mortality and the loss can hit devout fans especially hard.

Looking over the above list River Phoenix is the one that I remember being the most startling (up until yesterday). Girls had his picture in their lockers, and then word came out and shocked the hell out of everybody. The high school hallways were abuzz with the news and no one could believe it.

Dying young seems to catapult a star into a special place of remembrance; they become like a patron saint of youth that forever understands and intercedes for the young. I don’t want to say that people remember those that die young more or less than those that die late in life; but they certainly do seem to be remembered with a different kind of reverence. James Dean still sells pictures, and I think this is a testament to the remembrance of eternal youth.

Heath Ledger joined the list yesterday and to say that this was a shock would be an understatement. He was beloved around these parts and all the comments on the message board are a testimony to his ability and legacy. So many of you shared your thoughts, and it is good to remember our fallen heroes together. We now wait to see what could be his best performance to date in Batman: The Dark Knight, if there is a better opportunity for a last hurrah – I cannot think of one.

At this point I would like to quote one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth on the matter – Dr. Seuss. “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

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16 thoughts on “Ledger Joins List Of Fallen Celebrities In Their 20’s

  1. Thanks for the well written words, Doug, and thank you for the very intelligent quote at the end! I hadn’t heard that one before.

    @Meli: Thank you for the link! :D

  2. It is interesting. Strangely enough I was coming home from a Halloween Party in 1993 and saw the whole River Pheonix thing unfold. I thought it was just some drunk guy passing out

    Very eerie the next morning.

  3. I’m very sorry guys.

    But i disprove with this. I undestand that every human being should dissapove of this,

    It is important that we are to understand suffering in all its context. But to add him to a list is a tad disrepctful. Sorry guys. I know you mean no discrepect. I thought i should a mentioned it.

  4. I could not believe when I found out yesterday. I actually still don’t believe it! Its weird because it feels like I knew him but,obviously, I didn’t. I was talking with some friends about how many people have died at the age 27 ( I am sure some of you have heard) like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. Its so crazy/sad that these talented people are dying so young. I read somewhere that Heath had been sleep deprived and a little disturbed by the demanding role he was playing in The Dark Knight. Its really sad that these people feel they need to resort to drugs and alcohol to deal with the baggage of being a celebrity. It seemed like Heath was about to explode his career and now Dark Knight is going to be his last hurrah ( I hear his performance is amazing and he steals the movie) So, I guess he went out strong. I feel like a lot of these actors (Belushi and Farley) seem to die when they careers are about to take flight. Heath will go down as a heartthrob/idol of my generations teen years. I am sure E will do a THS Heath Ledger soon and I am eager to see it haha. I wonder if Mary-Kate or Ashley (whose ever apartment it was) will sell the place? I know I would.

  5. I saw that eariler Meli, and for the first time since this whole sad situation began, I smiled about Heath. The story about the girl being white as an egg when she saw him was nice.

  6. I agree with Darren about remembering someone as they lived. Of course when movie stars die it is a little more difficult since we don’t know them personally.

    CNN.com did something I think is rather nice. They asked people who had knew or had met Heath Ledger to write in their experiences. He sounds like he was a good a man.
    Here is the location if anyone is interested.


  7. I don’t know if I would call it reverence, but a reminder of how sad and small we can all be. No matter how many people know who we are or how much money we make.

    I had not heard that quote before today, but I do agree.

  8. Nice quote there Doug.

    Heath Ledger, as cynical as it may sound, has certainly immortalized himself with his tragic death (suicide?).

    I’m curious as to how this all will reflect peoples judgment on his performance in DARK KNIGHT. I’m guessing that less people will be compelled to critize his performance.
    If so, is that right?

  9. As someone who has been touched by the suicide of a friend, I can tell you it’s a horrible thing. If only these people could see how many cared about them (as evidenced by the 100’s that show up to the funeral).

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