The most recent tragic drug-related celebrity death on everybody’s lips is that of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman’s death is only the most recent to be added to a way-too-long list of stars we lost because of drugs. It’s really a shame that addiction is still so misunderstood when there is so much evidence as to just how powerful and deadly the disease is. Here, we will remember 20 stars we lost too soon due to addiction.
#1. Cory Monteith, 31, the Canadian actor and musician was best known for his role as Finn Hudson on the Fox television series Glee. Monteith was found in his hotel room last July, having succumbed to an alcohol and heroin overdose.
#2. River Phoenix, 23, at his young age, was already a critically acclaimed actor whose talent was boundless. Phoenix collapsed and died of a drug overdose outside an LA nightclub in 1993.
#3. Heath Ledger, 28, another young and extremely talented actor, Ledger was also found, alone in his NYC apartment, a victim of his addiction to prescription drugs. Ledger left behind a young daughter.
#4. Chris Farley, 33, comedian and actor. Probably best known for his various roles as a cast member on Saturday Night Live as well as his silly comedies made with best bud, David Spade. Farley died of a speedball overdose in 1997.
#5. John Belushi, 33, comedian, actor, and musician, Belushi is best known as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. He was known for his brash, energetic comedy style and raunchy humor. Belushi died in 1982 of a speedball overdose, a mixture cocaine and heroin.
#6. Judy Garland, 47, died of a barbiturate overdose back in 1969. Garland was a talented singer and actress, perhaps best known for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
#7. Billie Holiday, 44, was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Holiday struggled with heroin addiction as well as alcoholism. She died in 1959 from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver and heart failure.
#8. Jimi Hendrix, 27, was an American musician and singer-songwriter. His mainstream career was quite brief – only 4 years long – but, in that short time established himself as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” He died in 1977 from respiratory arrest and asphyxia due to alcohol and barbiturate overdose.
#9. Janis Joplin, 27, singer and musician, she was known as “The Queen of Psychedelic Soul.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked her #46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004 and #28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. She died in 1970 from a heroin overdose.
#10. Jim Morrison, 27, Musician, singer, songwriter The Doors, Morrison died in 1971 from heart failure from a possible heroin or cocaine overdose. Morrison was also known to struggle with severe alcoholism.
#11. Amy Winehouse, 27, was a very talented British singer whose death in 2011 was ruled as accidental alcohol poisoning. Winehouse had recently completed a rehab program. She had also struggled with various co-occurring problems, such as self-harm, depression, and bulimia.
#12. Corey Haim, 38, was an actor and, at one time, teen heartthrob. Haim had used aliases to procure 553 prescription pills in the 32 days prior to his death in 2010, having “doctor-shopped” seven different physicians and used seven pharmacies to obtain the supply, which included 195 Valium, 149 Vicodin, 194 Soma and 15 Xanax.
#13. Michael Jackson, 50, the “King of Pop” died in 2009 from cardiac arrest, due to acute propofol intoxication. The autopsy report also noted the presence of various other drugs, including midazolam, lidocaine, diazepam, and lorazepam.
#14. Elvis Presley, 42, musician, singer, actor, cultural icon, died in 1977 from a heart arrhythmia, possibly aggravated by multiple prescriptions: methaqualone, codeine, barbiturates, as well as cocaine.
#15. Anna Nicole Smith, 40, was a model, actress, and television personality who first gained popularity in 1993 as Playboy’s Playmate of the Year. She died in 2007 from a drug overdose of the sedative chloral hydrate combined with other prescription drugs Klonopin, Ativan, Serax, and Valium. Tragically, Smith’s 20-year-old son, Daniel, also died from drugs 5 months before his mother.
#16. Mitch Hedberg, 37, my favorite comedian, Hedberg died in 2007 at the height of his career from “multiple drug toxicity” in the form of cocaine and heroin. Sadly, he was found alone, in a hotel room.
#17. Gia Marie Carangi, 26, was an American fashion model during the late 1970s and early 1980s and is considered to be the first supermodel. She struggled with polysubstance abuse, using alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, was an IV drug user and died of AIDS in 1986. Carangi is thought to be one of the first famous women to die of AIDS. Angelina Jolie portrayed this tragic figure in a biopic entitled Gia, made by HBO in 1998.
#18. Derek Boogaard, 28, a Canadian professional ice hockey player for the New York Rangers, died in 2011 from an accidental alcohol and oxycodone overdose.
#19. Len Bias, 23, Boston Celtics second and overall NBA draft pick of 1986, passed away from cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose in 1986.
#20. Whitney Houston, 48, singer and actress drowned in 2012 in her hotel room bathtub from complications of cocaine and heart disease. At autopsy, the presence of Flexeril, marijuana, Xanax and Benadryl were found.
All of these people had more than fame and drug addiction in common. They were all super talented people who died before their time.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.