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Only the Good Die Young… 10 Entertainers Lost Way Too Soon!

Icons | November 28, 2017

American actress Marilyn Monroe on the set of Asphalt Jungle, directed by John Huston. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “only the good die young". It sounds cliché but is, oh, so true! Over the years we have loved and lost many fine entertainers, suddenly, unexpectedly, and long before we were ready. We naively think of our idols as being superhuman and, therefore, “bulletproof". Nothing could be farther from the truth, though. Entertainers are people too. They are mortal beings and sometimes, because of their status, actually more vulnerable than others.

Celebrity entertainers aspire to charm us with their talents; it is their (show) business. That being the case, entertainers are always under extreme pressure to perform. Stardom seems glamorous to ordinary people but, to celebrities, it is a huge undertaking and all-consuming. At times, in reality, stardom is a life-changing trade-off… trading personal happiness for public notoriety. Celebrities put their fans ahead of their own well-being. Often, there is a breakdown because the circumstances were unforeseen, but other times because the pressure was too great.

When public icons fall victim to a tragic ending it affects fans, as a whole. Countless entertainment icons have lost too soon; including:

Marilyn Monroe: She was lost to this world on August 5, 1962. Her “probable suicide” is still a subject of controversy, as it relates to the CIA and Kennedy brothers. She was just 36 years old at the time of her death.

Otis Redding: Otis Ray Redding Jr. was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American pop music and an influential artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. Sadly, he lost his life in 1967 at the age of 26 in an unfortunate plane crash.

Judy Garland: Garland was the star of many classic musical films, and was known for her incredible talent and, at times, troubled life. She died in 1969, after an accidental overdose. 

Janis Joplin: Joplin was one of the biggest female rock stars of her era. After releasing three albums, she died of a heroin overdose in 1970, at the age of 27. A fourth album, Pearl, was released in January 1971, just over three months after her death. It reached number one on the Billboard charts.

Jimi Hendrix: Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career lasted only four years, he was regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes Hendrix as, "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Sadly, he died in 1970 at the age of 27.  

Bruce Lee: Lee was credited with promoting martial arts in many films. Unfortunately, he died in 1973 as a result of hypersensitivity to medication he was prescribed at that time. He was only 32 years old.  

Salvatore “Sal” Mineo, Jr.:  Mineo was best known for his performance as John “Plato” Crawford in the film, “Rebel Without a Cause.” In 1976, Mineo was stabbed to death in the alley behind his apartment building in West Hollywood, California. He was just 37 years old.

Freddie Prinze, Sr.: At the age of only 20 years old, Prinze was already famous. Despite his overwhelming success, he was under extreme pressure from the Hispanic community, network executives, and his fans. He passed away in 1977, after shooting himself. Freddie Prinze was just 22 years old.

Natalie Wood: Wood was an icon of her time, but best known for her roles in Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story. In 1981, at the age 43, her cause of death was determined to be a drowning. Later, although, her cause of death was reclassified as, “undetermined”.  

Ricky Nelson: From the age of eight years old, Nelson’s life played out in the public spotlight of show business as an actor and musician. He lost his life in a tragic plane crash in 1985 at the age of 45.

Society, as a whole, seems to (over) value celebrities. Celebrities have been known to define us to an extent. When an icon is lost, especially a young one, it has a cultural effect, across the board. It is never a good thing when a young life is lost but, for some reason, it seems much more influential when he/she is a celebrity.  

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.