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Forever Young: Actors Who Died in Their Early Twenties

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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User Comments
  1. Joshua Miguel

    On February 26, 2009 at 9:09 am

    so sad, all these young talents… nice post.

  2. Ranveer Singh Battu

    On February 26, 2009 at 9:31 am

    sad… well no one can really question god’s decision but we have to take it with a pinch of salt…


    On February 26, 2009 at 9:53 am

    It’s pity…they died very young…

  4. Leroy Altman

    On February 26, 2009 at 10:17 am

    such young talent, good article

  5. jewelsofmine

    On February 26, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Sad but leaves a message to the rest of us to be thankful we’re dtill alive.

  6. Karen Gross

    On February 26, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Fame doesn’t really buy happiness, does it?

  7. Betty Carew

    On February 26, 2009 at 11:32 am

    So many lost to the world to soon. Great write eddie

  8. Gone.

    On February 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Awesome selection, Eddie! Too many die so young.

  9. Joni Keith

    On February 26, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Another great article eddie. So many sad and tragic losses at such an early age.

  10. Blue Buttefly

    On February 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    great article as always!

  11. Mark S Stephens

    On February 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Well done again Eddie

  12. valli

    On February 26, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Nice article.

  13. Ruby Hawk

    On February 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Heartbreaking to lose youngsters at such a tender age.


    On February 26, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    they are actually among the myriads of those who had the same fate…or shall i say choice…

  15. papaleng

    On February 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    good job Eddie, you did it again.

  16. Chambo

    On February 26, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    This is great work Eddie. I enjoyed every word of it.


  17. Eunice Tan

    On February 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Great work! I wonder how old is James Dean when he died?

  18. Unofre Pili

    On February 27, 2009 at 12:00 am

    I always enjoy your work on people bro.

  19. S Air

    On February 27, 2009 at 4:38 am

    So sad. Great atricle.

  20. Moron Savant

    On February 27, 2009 at 5:57 am

    good one!

  21. Anne McNew

    On February 27, 2009 at 7:08 am

    this goes to remind us to make good use of our time: share our talents the best we could – time is so precious – we dont know when death comes to end our life on earth…

  22. CutestPrincess

    On February 27, 2009 at 11:27 am

    great article and very well-researched!

  23. Teresa M Sims

    On April 25, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    good work as always and you put a lot into it

  24. teresa sims

    On April 25, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    hope u dont mind i shared your work with

  25. Sidrah Zaheer

    On April 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    It is a well written article. Seems like you research your work better before putting it all together. And i like that. I have added you as a friend. I hope to come and visit my profile and read my articles too. : )

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