19 Celebrities Who Died Of Alcohol & Drug Overdoses (PHOTOS)

Michele Marin | Aug 18, 2015 Celebrities

You see it so often in Hollywood, talented actors and musicians succumbing to fatal overdoses of drugs or alcohol -- sometimes both. Some live a public party life, so when news of their untimely death surfaces, few are surprised. But others struggle privately behind closed doors. 

Whether it's prescription pills or street drugs, when the death involves a famous face, it draws attention to demons that neither money nor fame can tame. These 20 stars lost their lives to overdoses, but their legacy lives on in the body of work they left behind.

Image © Kieran Doherty/Corbis

  • Cory Monteith

    1

    Image © Gus Ruelas/Corbis

    The Glee singer and actor died at 31 in a Vancouver hotel as a result of an alcohol and heroin overdose. His girlfriend at the time, Lea Michele, recently took to Instagram to honor the anniversary of Monteith's death. Michele posted, "Today we remember the laughter and joy you brought into our lives every day. We think of you always and love you so." 

  • Whitney Houston

    2

    Image © Brock Miller/Corbis

    It was the night before the Grammys, February 11, 2012, when this pop diva checked into room 434 of the Beverly Hilton. She was scheduled to appear at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party, but the star never made it. Houston was found in the bathtub of her hotel room, prescription bottles littering the room. The vocalist ingested cocaine, Flexeril, marijuana, and Xanax and fell into a deep sleep in the bathtub. Sadly, her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, also was found unconscious in a bathtub, and has since passed away.

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman

    3

    Image © Max Rossi/Reuters/Corbis

    This Oscar-winning actor was tragically found dead with a needle in his arm in February 2014. A combination of heroin, cocaine and other drugs took the Capote star's life in his Manhattan apartment. The actor had three children with his partner, Mimi O'Donnell.

  • Anna Nicole Smith

    4

    Image © Vaughn Youtz/Corbis

    This Texan rose to stardom as Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1993. Smith modeled for Guess and H&M, and her marriage to J. Howard Marshall, who was 90 when the blond bombshell married him, led many to call her a gold digger. Sadly Smith passed away due to an overdose of chloral hydrate and benzodiazepines in 2007. She left behind an infant daughter when she was found dead in a Hollywood, Florida, hotel room.

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  • Michael Jackson

    5

    Image © Brock Miller/Corbis

    Known as the King of Pop, Jackson was reportedly introverted, odd and quiet. Alas the icon kept his prescription drug habit well hidden. He left a nation mourning when he died of cardiac arrest due to an acute propofol and benzodiazepines intoxication.

  • Brittany Murphy

    6

    Image © Will Burgess/Corbis

    The Girl Interrupted and Clueless star reportedly died of a drug overdose, but many don't buy into this theory. Mystery has surrounded her death for years, and some even speculate that she was murdered. Her father even ordered a second set of lab tests to prove his theory, but the results were not conclusive. The star passed away at the age of 32 in 2009.

  • Heath Ledger

    7

    Image © Eric Thayer/Corbis

    This Australian actor had just finished his dark role as the Joker in the Batman saga, The Dark Knight, when he was found dead due to a combination of prescription pain killers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety drugs. He was only 28. He left behind a daughter, Matilda, whom he had with his former girlfriend, Michelle Williams. 

  • Amy Winehouse

    8

    Image © Kieran Doherty/Corbis

    Plagued by a life of drugs and alcohol, Winehouse succumbed to the struggles she faced throughout her 27 years, dying of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011 (her blood alcohol content was five times the legal limit). The Back to Black singer known for her sultry voice and retro looks famously said, "I don't want to die." 

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  • Brad Renfro

    9

    Image © Paublo Alfaro

    This 90s teen heartthrob who rose to fame in The Client died in his Los Angeles home from an overdose of heroin and morphine. He was only 25.

  • Marilyn Monroe

    10

    Image © Screen Prod/Photononstop/Corbis

    Born Norma Jean, Monroe was the ultimate sex symbol of her time. The Some Like It Hot and How To Marry A Millionaire star died in 1962 of a prescription drug overdose. Cryptic letters and personal relationships with both John and Robert Kennedy led many to wonder if the overdose was indeed accidental.

  • Jimi Hendrix

    11

    Image © Douglas Kent Hall/Corbis

    One of the best known electric guitarists in the world, Hendrix and his Fender guitar revolutionized the music scene in the 1960s, but his drug addiction was no secret. Hendrix died on September 18, 1970, at the age of 27 in London after a deadly dose of alcohol and drugs. The musician passed out and reportedly choked to death on his own vomit.

  • Janis Joplin

    12

    Image © Ted Streshinsky/CorbisT

    This original wild child was only 27 when she died of a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970, at the Hollywood Landmark Hotel. Pearl was her last and most successful album. While she struggled outwardly with addiction, the "First Lady of Rock and Roll" was known for her sultry vocals and is considered a music legend.

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  • Jim Morrison

    13

    Image © Manfred Rohm/Corbis

    "LA Woman," "Light My Fire" -- these songs by the Doors are the epitome of classic rock. The music industry lost a legend when the Doors frontman was found dead in a bathtub in Paris. While the official cause of death was heart failure, there is speculation that a combination of alcohol and barbiturates led to the heart attack.

  • Chris Kelly

    14

    Image © Johnathon Phillips/Coribs

    One half of the 1990s rap duo Kris Kross, Kelly rocketed to stardom with the single "Jump." At the time, the rapper was known for wearing his clothes backwards. On May 1, 2013, at only 32, he was found unresponsive in his home and later died in an Atlanta hospital. His death was the result of a cocaine and heroin overdose.

  • River Phoenix

    15

    Image © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

    This teen heartthrob was only 23 when he died on a Halloween night outside the Viper Room nightclub in West Hollywood. Surrounded by his brother, sister and girlfriend, the young star had already had five seizures by the time the paramedics arrived. The environmentalist and animal rights advocate died after injecting speedballs, a mixture of heroin and cocaine. Known most for his role in Stand by Me, Phoenix appeared in more than 24 films.

  • Chris Farley

    16

    Image © John Spellman/Corbis

    It's hard to imagine this funny man as having demons. His knee-slapping SNL skits as a Chippendales dancer as well as roles with David Spade in Tommy Boy and Blacksheep kept America laughing. Just like another famous comedian, John Belushi, Farley died of a cocaine and morphine overdose at 33.

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  • John Belushi

    17

    Image © Owen Franklen/Corbis

    A speedball, the lethal combination of cocaine and heroin injected simultaneously, led to Belushi's death in 1982. Found in a bungalow at the famed Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, Belushi was known as a party guy. The fast life caught up with the Animal House and Blues Brothers star when he passed away at 33.

  • Elvis Presley

    18

    Image © Corbis

    The singer/actor known as the "King of Rock N Roll" got hips shaking with "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Don't Be Cruel." Women everywhere would melt each time he took the stage. At only 42, Elvis Aaron Presley died of a methaqualone, codeine, barbiturate and cocaine overdose in 1977.

  • Andy Irons

    19

    Image © Mindy Schauer/Corbis

    The life of this three-time world championship surfer was paralleled in the movie Blue Horizons. A drug addiction claimed his life at only 32. He was found in a Texas hotel room with alprazolam, zolpidem, cocaine and methamphetamine in his body.

     

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