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Forever Young: Actors Who Died in Their Late Twenties

Forever young and beautiful actors and actresses who died between the age of 27 and 29.

Heath Ledger (April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008)

Australian movie actor and heartthrob, Heath Ledger got his first taste of critical acclaim as Mel Gibson’s son in the Revolutionary War drama “The Patriot” (2000). His tremendous talent earned him various acting awards for his role as Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) and eventually the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his edgy portrayal of Joker in the “The Dark Knight” (2008). Sadly, he was found lifeless in his Manhattan apartment by his housekeeper. An autopsy concluded weeks later that he died from an accidental “toxic combination of prescription drugs.” He was only 28.

Carole Landis (January 1, 1919 – July 5, 1948)

Tall and glamorous, Carole Landis became the new Hollywood sensation when she was cast as a cave girl in “One Million B.C.” (1940). Possessing a good singing voice, she also appeared in a few musicals but devoted much of her time entertaining US servicemen during World War II. Plagued by depression over failed marriages, financial problems and poor health, she committed suicide at age 29 by taking an overdose of barbiturates (Seconal).

Brandon Lee (February 1, 1965 – March 31, 1993)

The son of the late legendary martial arts expert and actor Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee could have become a major action star had his promising career not been cut short by tragedy. While performing the death scene for the film “The Crow,” he was accidentally struck by a bullet from a supposedly blank-loaded prop gun. The 28-year-old actor was rushed to the hospital but died twelve hours later.

Beatrice Hsu (November 13, 1978 – January 28, 2007)

Taiwanese actress and singer, Beatrice Hsu Wei Lun began her career as a model before gaining popularity for her lovable performances in several TV series, particularly “True Love 18″ (十八歲的約定) and the hit drama “Express Boy” (惡男宅急電). She died at age 28 in a high-speed vehicular accident while on her way to Nantou to film her latest TV show. The front airbag failed to deploy when her Mini Cooper, driven by her assistant, was hit on the rear by a truck.

Barbara La Marr (July 28, 1896 -January 30, 1926)

Image source

Barbara La Marr shot to stardom from a screenwriter to a silent film actress via Douglas Fairbanks‘ “The Nut” (1921). She appeared in over 30 films and danced in many Broadway musical comedies; and was widely known as “The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful.” The fast-paced Hollywood nightlife and her grueling work commitments, getting by with only 2 hours sleep a night, eventually took a toll on her health. She became addicted to drugs and alcohol that brought on tuberculosis and nephritis, from which she died at age 29.

Masako Natsume (December 17, 1957 – September 11, 1985)

Japanese model and actress Masako Natsume attained fame in 1977 when she represented Kanebo Cosmetics in a sunscreen ad where she appeared topless as the “Kooky Face” girl. She is best remembered for her role as the male part of Tripitaka in the cult Japanese TV series “Saiyūki” (1978-79) which was re-titled “Monkey” when it was dubbed into English by BBC in the 1980s. She died from acute leukemia at the age of 27.

Jonathan Brandis (April 13, 1976 – November 12, 2003)

Started acting in TV commercials at age 5, Jonathan Brandis appeared in small roles in several movies and TV shows before landing his first starring role in the film “The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter” (1990) and was rocketed to teen idol status for his portrayal of scientific prodigy in Spielberg’s futuristic TV series “SeaQuest DSV” (1993). Only age 27, he died from injuries sustained after attempting suicide by hanging himself due to depression over his lagging career.

Edie Sedgwick (April 20, 1943 – November 16, 1971)

Scene from Andy Warhol’s 1965 underground film “Poor Little Rich Girl”

American actress, model and socialite, Edith Minturn “Edie” Sedgwick was best known for appearing in several short films made during the 1960s by the avant-garde filmmaker, Andy Warhol, who was frequently blamed for her descent into drug/alcohol addiction and mental illness. She died at age 28 in her sleep after taking her prescribed medication. The cause of death was listed as “probable acute barbiturate and alcohol intoxication.”

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User Comments
  1. rutherfranc

    On February 28, 2009 at 10:05 am

    the researcher behind this article is really working hard.. another informative piece..

  2. Blue Buttefly

    On February 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

    well researched eddie, as usual great post!

  3. Christine Ramsay

    On February 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Another interesting piece eddigoe. So many famous people with such short lives.


  4. papaleng

    On February 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I guess the next article of yours will be Actors who died in the late 90’s.. Just kidding Ed but you have another great article.

  5. CutestPrincess

    On February 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    beautifully written, great article as always!

  6. shafi choudhury

    On February 28, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    thanks for this write!

  7. F J McCarthy

    On February 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Well written and informative, though a very sad topic.

  8. David irvine

    On February 28, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Great read. loved the use of vids on this article.

  9. Unofre Pili

    On February 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    They are truly a wasted talent.

  10. Clay Hurtubise

    On February 28, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks for an interesting piece.

  11. Pete Macinta

    On February 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm


  12. Mr Ghaz

    On March 1, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Thats really amazed me Eddie. I Really enjoyed with your work. Nicely done and thanks for sharing

  13. Betty Carew

    On March 1, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Great write eddie the pics are great

  14. Denise Kawaii

    On March 1, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Really interesting article. Fame isn’t alays what it’s cracked up to be.

  15. AC Hamilton III

    On March 1, 2009 at 10:46 am

    So sad, but thanks again for a thoughtful, well studied and presented piece.


  16. S Air

    On March 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Great article.

  17. Jo Oliver

    On March 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Great tribute

  18. Melody SJAL

    On March 2, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Very interesting, though I haven’t heard a few of these actors. Bookmarked.

  19. fishfry aka Elizabeth Figueroa

    On March 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Very informative.
    As the saying goes
    “Only the die young”

  20. Dee Gold

    On March 5, 2009 at 7:13 am

    nice tribute

  21. Alvin Lim

    On March 13, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Very nice article and also tribute to these celebrities. One of the celebrities which I really admire was the past Beyond’s (a Hong Kong rock band) lead singer who also wrote and composed songs for the band. He died at quite a young age while jumping into a swimming pool. It was a very unfortunate incident.

  22. MMV Abad

    On March 23, 2009 at 1:04 am

    We knew Heath Ledger from the film The Patriot. Nice tribute, Eddie.

  23. David Irvine

    On April 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Some great names here. awesome read. ..

  24. Lucy-fan

    On May 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Lucy Gordon is now in this club too. She died four days ago. It’s so tragic and horrible, beoynd words!! :”(

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