21+ Actors Who Died During Production Of Movies Or Television Shows

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There are times when actors pass away so tragically and so unexpectedly that all we have left to hold on to is, indeed, their works of art: their movies.

We at Doyouremember gathered some sad stories of beloved movie stars that are no longer here on Earth. Though they live on forever in their incredible work, it’s still sad to remember their premature passing. Who made the biggest impact on you? Let us know in the comments.

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1. Bela Lugosi (1882 1956)

What happened: Lugosi was one of the most recognizable stars of early horror movies. But by the mid-1950s, his career had stalled and had become addicted to painkillers after having morphine prescribed for pains in his legs. Despite hospitalization to deal with his addiction, he was still pretty frail when he started working again. He was working on a film with director Ed Wood in 1956 when he died of a heart attack, aged 73.

Did the show go on? Sort of. No one knows what Wood was intending to do with the footage hed shot with Lugosi before he died but it ended up edited in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Since there was so little usable footage of Lugosi, the much taller Tom Mason ended up stepping in, holding a cape in front of his face in a largely futile attempt to hide his identity.

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2. Martha Mansfield (1899 1923)

What happened: When actress Martha Mansfield was in a car leaving the set of The Warrens Of Virginia, someone struck a match, and her elaborate Civil War costume caught fire. Her chauffeur attempted to put out the flames, and Mansfield was rushed to the hospital, but she didn’t survive her injuries.

Did the show go on? Yeah. The studio reviewed the footage shed shot, edited her role down a bit, and continued the film regardless.

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3. Tyrone Power (1914 1958)

What happened: The swashbuckling Tyrone Power was set to swash more buckles in the historical epic Solomon And Sheba. He was on location in Madrid when he was taken ill and died of a heart attack at just 44 years old.

Did the show go on? Yes, though Powers role was recast, with Yul Brynner stepping in to play Solomon.

The Hollywood Museum

4. Aaliyah (1979 2001)

What happened: Aaliyah had more or less finished filming her second movie, Queen Of The Damned, when she traveled to the Bahamas to film a music video for her song “Rock The Boat”. Finishing early, Aaliyah and her entourage boarded a private plane to fly home but it crashed, killing all nine of the people on board.

Did the show go on? Queen Of The Damned was largely complete, so no stand-in was needed but Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad, was brought in to re-record some of her dialogue.

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5. Natalie Wood (1938 1981)

What happened: Partway through making Brainstorm, Wood was on a weekend trip with her husband when she tragically drowned. The exact circumstances of her death are unknown, though following an investigation a verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Did the show go on? Not immediately. The set was shut down and the studio, MGM, considered scrapping the project. Eventually, though, things got back on track. The ending was rewritten, a stand-in was hired to replace Wood in the few scenes left outstanding, and the film was released.

Following his ordeal trying to get the film finished, director Douglas Trumbull decided to quit the movie business though he has since directed several shorts and also worked on the special effects for The Tree Of Life.

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6. Jean Harlow (1911 1937)

What happened: A star of the early talkie movies, Jean Harlow suffered from bad health in general, and her illnesses delayed production on several movies. When she fell ill on the set of Saratoga, her doctor initially thought she just had a case of the flu. Unfortunately, by the time anyone realized there was something more serious going on, she was in the late stages of kidney disease and died in hospital aged just 26.

Did the show go on? Yup three stand-ins were used, and some scenes were rewritten, but the movie hit cinemas within two months of Harlow’s untimely demise.

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7. John Candy (1950 1994)

What happened: After a few years of avoiding comedy movies, John Candy was moving back into the genre and filming Western parody Wagons East! in Mexico when he suffered a fatal heart attack, aged just 43.

Did the show go on? Most of Candy’s scenes were already in the can, and director Peter Markle hired a body double to get the last few shots. Unfortunately, the finished movie was generally reviled by audiences and critics alike, so wasn’t a particularly fitting tribute to the late actor.

His death also meant an adaptation of A Confederacy Of Dunces was shelved.

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8. Paul Mantz (1903 1965)

What happened: A keen pilot from a young age, Paul Mantz found his way into Hollywood as a stunt pilot. Unfortunately, that’s the way he died, too. Filming The Flight Of The Phoenix, Mantz was piloting a specially made craft and crashed into a hillock during the second take of a scene. He was killed instantly.

Did the show go on? Another stunt double was found to replace Mantz; a different plane also had to be built to finish the necessary shots.

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9. Roy Kinnear (1934 1988)

What happened: Character actor Roy Kinnear had a sprawling resume he seems to have been in pretty much every TV show going in the ’80s. He also appeared in a trilogy of films based on The Three Musketeers, culminating in 1989s The Return Of The Musketeers. Sadly, while filming on location in Madrid, he fell off a horse, and despite being rushed to the hospital, died from his injuries.

Did the show go on? Kinnear’s remaining scenes were shot using a body double, with a voiceover artist dubbing over his lines.

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10. Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967 2014)

What happened: Widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generator, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s CV boasted all kinds of high profile roles. The film he was making at the time of his death, though, must be one of the most visible he was reprising his role as Plutarch Heavensbee in Hunger Games sequel Mockingjay Part 2 when he died of combined drug intoxication.

Did the show go on? Yes, there was no way the wheels were coming off the Hunger Games juggernaut. In fairness, hed completed most of his filming, so it just took a bit of rewriting to work around his absence.

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11. Vic Morrow (1929 1982)

What happened: Vic Morrow is probably better known for his TV work than his film roles, and his last role was TV-related: he was filming for Twilight Zone: The Movie when a stunt went wrong and a helicopter crashed. Morrow was killed instantly, as were two children featuring in the scene with him, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen.

The accident was a truly horrible one, and the ensuing trial which saw director John Landis accused of involuntary manslaughter dragged on for nine months. (All defendants were eventually acquitted.)

Did the show go on? The movie was an anthology, so it went ahead more or less as planned, including the segment starring Morrow. But his death cast a pall over the movie, and the incident led to a tightening up of safety regulations on film sets from then on.

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