The life of a film star or anyone working in Hollywood seems all glitz and glamour, but we never really seem to think how dangerous their jobs could be sometimes. So dangerous, in fact, that some people have actually taken their last breaths on a movie set.
See Also: Ridiculous Workplace Accidents
10. Roy Kinnear
In a series of unfortunate events, Roy Kinnear died while filming the movie The Return of the Musketeers, on September 19, 1988, while in Toledo, Spain. The 54-year-old British actor was riding a horse when he fell and broke his pelvis, and was taken to hospital but died the next day from a heart attack.
The film’s director, Richard Lester, was so affected by Kinnear’s death that he quit the film industry not long after. Kinnear’s family ended up suing the producer and director for his death and received £650,000 pounds in a settlement.
9. Martha Mansfield
What happened to Martha Mansfield on November 30, 1923 can only be described as a freak accident. She was on the set of the silent film The Warrens of Virginia and was sitting in a car during a break in between takes. A passerby had a lit cigarette and accidently flicked their match, which was still hot, into the car.
The match landed on Mansfield’s costume – a giant Civil War-era dress which was also highly flammable. The dress went up in flames and, despite a costar throwing a coat around her to try and extinguish the blaze, Mansfield died the next day in hospital suffering severe burns. She was only 24 years old.
8. Brandon Lee
Son of martial artist and Hollywood star Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee died on March 31, 1993. He was on the set of The Crow, filming a scene in which his character was meant to get shot as he walked through a doorway carrying grocery bags. Unfortunately, the prop gun actually contained fragments of a real bullet, which were projected out of the gun by the blank shot and into Lee’s abdomen. At the age of 28, Lee ended up dying later that day.
7. Art Scholl
On September 16, 1985, aerobatic pilot Art Scholl was on the set filming Top Gun, when he attempted to perform a flat spin in his plane but was unable to complete the maneuver due to the weight of the camera equipment that was attached to the aircraft. The plane spun out of control into the Pacific Ocean and, along with Scholl’s body, was never recovered.
Other airman reportedly said they heard Scholl’s last words over the radio saying “I have a real problem here”. When the rescue team went searching for the wreckage, they were only able to find an oil slick and small pieces of debris. Those nearby never saw where the impact occurred and it is speculated that the plane ended up sinking about 900 feet into the water with Scholl still trapped inside.
6. Steve Irwin
He was known around the world as the Crocodile Hunter. An Australian adventurer and animal advocate, Steve Irwin lost his life after being stung by a stingray during filming for his underwater documentary Ocean’s Deadliest.
On September 4, 2006, Irwin and his cameraman Justin Lyons were in chest-deep water in Queensland, Australia. They had been filming an 8-foot-wide stingray for a while when it suddenly turned around and attacked Irwin. Thrashing its tail around, it ended up fatally stabbing Irwin in the chest.
5. John Ritter
After falling ill while working on the ABC series 8 Simple Rules (originally known as 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter), John Ritter collapsed on set on September 11, 2003. He was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery to try and repair a tear in his aorta. However, the surgery was unsuccessful and Ritter died later that evening.
4. Vic Morrow
Vic Morrow and two child actors tragically died on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie in July 1982, while filming a pyrotechnics scene at night. Morrow’s character had to carry the two children across a river during the scene while being pursued by US soldiers in a helicopter, which was piloted by an actual Vietnam War veteran. An explosion was set off right underneath the helicopter, severing its tail and causing it to crash, decapitating Morrow and one of the children, while the other was crushed to death.
During an investigation, it was later discovered that the two children were illegally employed and paid under the table. The director, John Landis, was trying to avoid child labor laws which disallowed children from working at night. Landis and four others were eventually charged with involuntary manslaughter.
3. Paul Mantz
Paul Mantz was seemingly born to be a stunt pilot. During his time at the US Army flight school, Mantz decided to dive toward a train full of high-ranking officers to show off his skills, pulling up at the very last minute. He was naturally dismissed and later found work in Hollywood as a stunt flyer.
On July 8, 1965, Mantz was performing a stunt over the Airzona desert for the film The Flight of the Phoenix, which he had specially come out of retirement for, and sadly struck a hill, killing him instantly.
2. Jon-Erik Hexum
Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally met his end while filming the CBS adventure series Cover Up in 1984. Hexum played the lead character on the show, Mac Harper, a Green Beret-turned-model. The show centered on a fashion photographer (played by Jennifer O’Neill) and a veteran Special Forces soldier (Hexum) who went on missions together around the world.
On October 12, 1984, during an on-set break, Hexum grew tired of filming delays and jokingly picked up a .44 Magnum prop gun and started playing Russian Roulette. Although the gun was loaded with blanks, the sheer force of the blank cartridge’s impact fractured his skull, sending a bone fragment the size of a quarter into his brain, which resulted in massive hemorrhaging. Hexum was rushed to hospital and pronounced brain dead after an unsuccessful five-hour surgery. He was taken off life support on October 18.
1. John Jordan
John Jordan may not have been an actor in the film he was working on, but his death was a tragedy nonetheless. Jordan was acting as the second unit director on the film Catch-22 in 1970. During one point of filming, he was on a plane and refused to wear his harness. He ended up getting sucked out of the plane’s open door and falling 4,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico below.
His tragic end came just three years after another accident he had while filming You Only Live Twice. After refusing to wear his harness, yet again, while filming from inside a helicopter, he ended up losing his leg after it was severed by the helicopter’s rotor blades.
Can you think of any other Hollywood deaths? Let us know in the comments section below!