By Loryn Stone
It’s sad enough when a celebrity suddenly dies. But as crazed fans, we always want to know more. Especially if rumor comes out that a celebrity death has a story that’s a little more layered than we knew.
And involves the presence of other stars, such as when…
8) Heath Ledger’s Masseuse finds him Dead…and Doesn’t Call Police
Before actor Heath Ledger had a chance to celebrate the success of his (generally agreed upon) best performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight, he died suddenly in his Manhattan apartment on January 22, 2008 of an overdose of prescription drugs. There are shaky details and mystery surrounding his death to this day, and it all involves Mary-Kate Olsen.
The agreed upon story goes as such: Heath Ledger was having trouble sleeping. He called his sister and she told him not to mix any prescription drugs. A masseuse comes for a scheduled appointment, sets up, and finds Ledger unresponsive. Instead of calling 911, she picks up Ledgers phone and calls Mary-Kate Olsen three times. Olsen sends her personal body guard to the scene. The body guard finally makes the 911 call. Heath Ledger is then pronounced dead. And while other parties close to Ledger, such as his ex-relationship and baby mama Michelle Williams were happy to cooperate with the police, Olsen was less than compliant. She was let off the hook without further investigation, but she was nearly subpoenaed to court because she refused to answer questions about Ledger, their relationship, knowledge of his drug use, where he got the drugs, etc.
7) River Phoenix has a Smorgasbord of Celebrities at his Death
On October 31st, 1993, heartthrob actor River Phoenix collapsed outside of The Viper Room in Hollywood. He died instantly (on the sidewalk) from a lethal combination of cocaine and heroin, which is called a Speedball. I guess Meth wasn’t a thing back then, am I right? But while his death was a surprise to family members and fans who weren’t aware of his addiction problems, friends in the Hollywood acting and music scene had witnessed his downward spiral for the majority of his career.
Among the group of celebrities who watched him overdose, were Johnny Depp (owner of the Viper Room who was on stage playing with his band when River Phoenix collapsed), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist and Phoenix’s friend), his actor siblings Rain and Joaquin, and girlfriend Samantha Mathis, who’d played Krysta in Ferngully and Daisy in the Super Mario Bros. Movie, most recently. Flea rode in the ambulance with River Phoenix who was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Sources even suggest that Dan Ackroyd, who’d lost his best friend and business partner to heroin, tried to steer the young actor away from drugs. And while it’s reported that Ackroyd was a good influence on Phoenix, the pull of addiction was just too strong.
6) Jon Lovitz Blames Andy Dick for Phil Hartman’s Death
We’ve touched on this one before here at PopLurker, but a story this strange is worth repeating. Back before Jon Lovitz bought his (now closed) Jon Lovitz Comedy Club in Universal Citywalk in Los Angeles, he had a contracted gig with The Laugh Factory in Hollywood. The agreement was that he did a stand-up comedy hour “Every Wednesday until he died”. I was lucky enough to make it one of those Wednesdays, back in 2007 I believe, where Jon Lovitz shared a story about how comedian Phil Hartman was dead because of comedian Andy Dick. Lovitz claimed that Andy Dick did cocaine with Phil Hartman’s wife Brynn, who was a recovering coke addict, and supposedly 10 years clean. Brynn Hartman’s habit picks up in full force, and on an apparent bender on May 28th 1998, murders Phil Hartman before committing suicide.
In 2007, Jon Lovitz and Andy Dick got into a physical fight when Andy Dick said to Lovitz at a restaurant “I put the Phil Hartman Hex on you- you’ll be the next to die.” So, while Lovitz blames Dick for the death of his friend, Dick defends himself in the below YouTube clip when he appeared on the Tom Green Show, saying “I did cocaine with Brynn Hartman, it’s not like she went off and killed Phil Hartman that night. It was about half a year later and I was in rehab already.”
5) Brittany Murphy and her Film-Maker Husband Become Addicted Shut-Ins
Brittany Murphy, who made her acting debut as Tai the sweet third wheel and pet project to Cher in 1994’s Clueless, was nearly unrecognizable by the end of her career. She married British film maker Simon Monjack in 2007, a few years after her break up with Ashton Kutcher. In December 2009, Brittany Murphy was found dead in her home by her husband. The cause of death was pneumonia paired with severe anemia. Evidence arose that Murphy and her husband had both become paranoid pill addicts. Prior to her death, Murphy looked the part of an addict, to say the least. Footage of their home showed a cluttered hoarder’s lair, with windows that never opened. Murphy was convinced she was being spied on. Five months after her death, Murphy’s mother found Simon Monjack dead in his home, from the same illness that had claimed Brittany Murphy.
In 2013 Murphy’s father attempted to re-open the case, convinced his daughter had been poisoned and murder. The case was never re-opened, as clearly, voluntary drug addiction (seriously, look at the woman in Sin City and 8 Mile. If that’s not what a tweaker looks like, we didn’t party hard enough in our youth) is not a murderable offense.
4) Singer Ray J. blames himself for Whitney Houston’s Death
Less than 24 hours before the 2012 Grammys Award Show, singer Whitney Houston was discovered dead in her hotel room bathtub on February 11th, 2012. The cause of death ruled as drowning due to drug intoxication. Police agreed there was no criminal intent; her autopsy showed that Houston had done cocaine shortly before her death, and there was a cocktail of other drugs found in her body such as diphenhydramine, alprazolam, cannabis and cyclobenzaprine, therefore ruling her death an accident.
But when you’re dating a megahit superstar like Whitney Houston, it’s hard not to try to get in on the spotlight, which is what Ray J’s “emotional confession” reeks of. A musician in his own right, younger brother of R&B singer Brandy, and the lesser cared about other half of the Kim Kardashian Sex Tape extravaganza, Ray J had someone to blame for the death of his platonic/no wait, romantic significant other, Whitney.
Fun fact: This guy lived literally down the street from me in high school. Everyone and their mother had a “Ray J did something to get attention” story, as his sister Brandy was at the height of her R&B/Moesha career in those years.
In January, 2017 on an episode of Celebrity Big Brother, Ray J stated the following (from BET):
“It’s something that nobody can explain. It’s all my fault. All my fault… It’s all my fault. All of that happened. I wasn’t there”
“Stacy [Francis] and I — we had a conversation about what happened with Whitney Houston before she passed,” he continued. “I never talk about it but it was something I felt she wanted to talk about and it was the right time so we talked briefly about it and I told them how I felt, how I blame myself on a lot of stuff. I never really talked to no one about it. I don’t know if I need to more as I’ve accepted it and it’s deep inside of my heart but it still affects me.”
In a sad twist of tragedy, Whitney Houston’s daughter passed away in the exact same way as her mother in 2015.
3) Legacy Record Producer Phil Spector murders actress Lana Clarkson
Legendary music producer Phil Spector fatally shot and killed B-movie actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. In 2009, Phil Spector was convicted of the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and received a 19-year prison sentence, which he blamed on the demons inside him, or his bipolar disorder. One version of the story says that Spector shot Clarkson when she grabbed a gun and attempted to shoot herself.
However, according to CNN, during the prosecution at least five other women claimed Spector held them at gunpoint. In 2011, he sought to appeal his sentence in high court. There’s even a movie about it, but criticism of the movie states it’s less about the case and more about exploiting the justice system.
2) There’s (another) Documentary Trying to Prove that Courtney Love Killed Kurt Cobain
It’s generally agreed upon that Kurt Cobain, Nirvana front man with a drug addiction, wrote a note and committed suicide on April 8th, 1994. Police ruled his death as self-inflicted and everyone moved on. But many fans are still convinced that Cobain’s death was the direct result of his then-wife Courtney Love, front woman Hole. Many fans even felt the case needed to be reopened. The 2015 documentary Montage of Heck captured a painfully raw portrayal of two married drug addicts raising a baby together in pieced together home footage and interviews with Love and bandmembers, a film that Courtney Love very vocally supported.
At the same time, a second documentary surfaced, called Soaked in Bleach. It was a docudrama, cast with actors that made claims that Courtney Love conspired to kill her husband, to the point where Courtney Love’s legal team ordered a cease and desist to try to keep it out of theaters.
“The Film falsely presents a widely and repeatedly debunked conspiracy theory that accuses Ms. Cobain of orchestrating the death of her husband Kurt Cobain,” writes the Hole singer’s attorney in the order. A false accusation of criminal behavior is defamatory … which entitles Ms. Cobain to both actual and presumed damages.”
No complaint has been filed with the courts as of yet.
1) John Belushi’s Death was Accidental- Until a Singer Claimed She Killed Him
Comedian John Belushi died on March 5th, 1982. The death was ruled an accidental overdose of cocaine and heroin. Then, his lady friend Kathy Smith, a backup singer/groupie, was brought into trial, where she admitted she’d been sticking Belushi with drugs, even administering the lethal dose that would ultimately kill him. She was charged for 2nd degree murder, but sentenced to probation and drug count instead.
“Surely Mr. Belushi issued the invitation to this dance, but it is an inherently dangerous dance, and the legislature has provided that the price for the piper in these instances is high,” Nelson told the court. Via the Washington Post
“In an interview with a free-lance writer, Smith said that during the last day of Belushi’s life, she injected the star of the movie “Animal House” and the television show “Saturday Night Live” 20 times with a combination of heroin and cocaine known as a “speedball.”-LA Times”
“Then, in June 1982, Smith gave an interview to the National Enquirer in which she labeled herself as Belushi’s murderer: “I killed John Belushi,” she was quoted as saying. “I didn’t mean to, but I am responsible.” Smith told the Enquirer and other reporters that she had injected Belushi with cocaine and heroin numerous times over a five-day period prior to his death.” -Washington Post
Some people will stop at nothing to worm their way into that spotlight. Trust us, people, it’s not worth that much. At least we can try to be YouTubers and yell into that Twitter echo-chamber these days, right?
Follow Loryn on Twitter and tell her about your life. She also has a personal blog, and her debut novel My Starlight (a YA novel about anime, cosplaying, fandom, sexuality, love, loss, and friendship) will be released August 3rd, 2018 by Affinity Rainbow Publications. Pre-sales will be available in July.
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