It is said that “death is the only disease that has a hundred percent mortality rate”. Everyone succumbs to it eventually. But sometimes it is so sad to imagine all the lost potential when one is taken away from us so young. Here are some actors and actresses who died in between the ages of 20 and 23.
River Phoenix (August 23, 1970 - October 31, 1993)
River Phoenix first gained public prominence in 1986 for his role in the “Stand By Me” and was hailed as one of the new promising actors that same year. H was nominated for an Oscar in 1988 for best supporting actor for his role in “Running on Empty” and starred in van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho” for which he won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival. However, his promising career was cut short when he died of drug overdose at age 23.
Dominique Dunne (November 23, 1959 – November 4, 1982)
Though Dominique Dunne had made appearances in several television movies and series, she is best known for her role as Dana in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film “Poltergeist.” She was only 22 when her abusive live-in partner, John Thomas Sweeney, strangled her to death for refusing to reconcile with him.
Matthew Garber (March 25, 1956 – June 13, 1977)
An English actor who is best known for his role as Michael Banks in Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins” (1964), Matthew Garber died in a London hospital at the age of 21 of hemorrhagic necrotizing pancreatitis after contracting hepatitis while traveling in India a year earlier.
Savannah (October 9, 1970 – July 11, 1994)
Born Shannon Michelle Wilsey, Savannah was considered one of the most in-demand porn actresses on her time, having starred in more than 100 pornographic films during her short career (1990-1994). At age 23, she shot herself following an auto accident that disfigured her face.
Monisha (1971 – December 5, 1992)
In 1987, 15-year-old Monisha, a South Indian actress, earned critical acclaim for her debut film “Nakhashathangal” (1986), winning the National Film Award for Best Actress, the youngest to ever achieve the feat. She died at age 21 from severe head trauma as a result of a vehicular accident.
Judy Tyler (October 9, 1933 – July 4, 1957)
Born Judith Mae Hess, Judy Tyler came from a showbiz family and landed her first major Broadway role in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Pipe Dream.” She was 22 when she and her husband lost their lives in an automobile accident while driving through Wyoming for a vacation, just a few weeks after the completion of the film “Jailhouse House” in which she starred opposite Elvis Presley.
Rebecca Schaeffer (November 6, 1967 – July 18, 1989)
Best known for her role in the sitcom “My Sister Sam,” Rebecca Schaeffer was shot at point-blank range at her home by Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan who was able to obtain her address through California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records. The incident led to the passage of anti-stalking laws in California.
Freddie Prinze, Sr. (June 22, 1954 – January 29, 1977)
Freddie Prinze, a stand-up comedian, was best remembered as the star of the “Chico and the Man,” the first US television series set in a Mexican-American neighborhood. At age 22, Prinze shot himself in the head after receiving a restraining order from his ex-wife, who filed for divorce due to his increasing drug dependence. He is the father of actor Freddie Prinze Jr.
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