Marilyn Monroe, died August 5, 1962
Screen icon Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her bed by her housekeeper. Her toxicology report stated that chloral hydrate and Nembutal were found in her system. Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded cause of death as “acute barbiturate poisoning,” resulting from a “probable suicide.” Conspiracy theories abound that she was possibly murdered.
River Phoenix, died October 31, 1993
River Phoenix collapsed outside the Viper Room club in West Hollywood, California, where he was to perform. He went into convulsions, and then cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at 1:51 a.m. at the hospital. The official cause of death is “acute multiple drug intoxication” resulting from cocaine and heroin ingestion. His toxicology report also states he had diazepam and ephedrine in his blood.
Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith, died February 8, 2007
About a year after her son died of a drug overdose, Anna Nicole Smith was found unresponsive in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. After a seven-week investigation, the official autopsy report said that Anna died of “combined drug intoxication,” of which sleeping medication was the predominant component.
Kurt Cobain, died April 5, 1994
The lead singer and founder of Nirvana was found dead by Veca Electric employee Gary Smith, who went to his house to install security lighting. A shotgun and suicide note was found on Kobain’s chest. The singer died from a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head and an autopsy revealed that he had a lethal dose of heroin in his system before he shot himself.
Tupac Shakur, died September 13, 1996
Tupac Shakur was shot multiple times after leaving a boxing event in Vegas with Suge Night. Shakur was shot in the head and chest inside his car. Before he fell into a coma, a police officer who arrived at the scene said that Shakur’s last words were, “F**k you.” Shakur died days later of internal bleeding and complications. Shakur’s body was cremated and some of his ashes were supposedly mixed with marijuana, which Outlawz members smoked.
Princess Diana, died August 31, 1997
The Princess of Wales suffered multiple injuries and internal bleeding but she was still conscious in the moments after her fatal car crash in France. The police reported that the driver was under the influence of drugs and was speeding. Diana suffered a cardiac arrest after being removed from the Mercedes and when she arrived at hospital had another. The medical staff were unable to start her heart a second time, despite trying to resuscitate her for over an hour.
Elvis Presley, died August 16, 1977
The King was found dead in his bathroom after crawling a few feet from his porcelain throne. Although an autopsy revealed high levels of some drugs in his body (Presley took prescription sleeping pills and was given codeine by his dentist), the coroner said that “there is nothing in any of the data that supports a death from drugs. In fact, everything points to a sudden, violent heart attack.”
Whitney Houston, died February 11, 2012
Whitney Houston was found with her face underwater in a hotel bathtub. The “Greatest Love of All” singer didn’t seem to love herself as much as that song suggested; the autopsy revealed that marijuana, cocaine, Benadryl, Xanax and Flexeril were found in her system. She was so out of her mind on drugs that she got into a scalding-hot bathtub and swathes of skin were burnt off her back and legs. The official cause of death was listed as “drowning.”
Selena, died March 31, 1995
Singer Selena Quintanilla Perez was shot by her fan club president Yolanda Saldivar. Doctors made a heroic effort to save Selena, including blood transfusions, but the damage from a .38-caliber hollow point bullet that shredded her right shoulder, lung, veins and a major artery left “a massive ongoing blood loss.”
Sharon Tate, died August 9, 1969
Actress Sharon Tate and her guests were murdered by members of Charles Manson’s “family” and their bodies discovered the following morning by Tate’s housekeeper. Tate was two weeks away from giving birth to the baby of director Roman Polanski, her husband. Tate died from 16 stab wounds, including one to the heart.
Michael Jackson, died June 25, 2009
An autopsy on the King of Pop revealed that a propofol overdose killed Jackson, although several sedatives his physician Dr. Murray gave him that morning contributed to his death. The level of propofol was consistent with the amount of anesthesia you’d take before major surgery.
Rodney King, died June 17, 2012
After video of Rodney King being beaten by LAPD officers was televised in 1991, the officers were acquitted. This sparked the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, which caused 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses. King was found by his fiancee at the bottom of his swimming pool in 2012. The official autopsy report lists the cause of death as “accidental drowning” with contributing factors including alcohol, cocaine, PCP and marijuana.
James Dean, died September 30, 1955
The official cause of James Dean’s death is listed as a broken neck resulting from a motor vehicle accident. Dean was driving his Porsche 550 Spyder to a racing event in Salinas, California. On his way to the event, he collided head on with another vehicle at the junction of California State Highways 41 and 46 one mile northeast of Cholame, California. He was driving at an estimated 85 miles per hour.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman, died February 2, 2014
The New York City medical examiner announced that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died accidentally from “acute mixed drug intoxication.” Heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamines were all found in the Hunger Games actor’s system.
Heath Ledger, died January 22, 2008
Actor Heath Ledger died accidentally “from the abuse of prescription medications” — specifically, six kinds of painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs. Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Corey Haim, died March 10, 2010
Lost Boys actor Corey Haim was not a healthy young man. The cause of his death is listed as “community-acquired pneumonia, pulmonary edema and an enlarged heart.” Although he had been called “the poster boy of prescription drug abuse,” the coroner said that the toxicology report revealed no significant contributing factor from drugs as a cause of death. Haim was 38 years old.
Brittany Murphy, died December 20, 2009
Brittany Murphy’s cause of death was initially deferred. Although multiple drugs were found in Murphy’s system, including “elevated levels” of hydrocodone, acetaminophen, L-methamphetamine and chlorpheniramine, these drug were legal and were not directly correlated to her death. The official cause of death on the autopsy report is ruled accidental and listed as “due to pneumonia complicated by anemia and multiple drug intoxication.” Pictured here is a reenactment of the death scene from a TV movie about Murphy.
Aaliyah, died August 25, 2001
Rising R&B singer and actress Aaliyah died after her plane crashed on Abaco Island. No one on board the twin-engine Cessna 402B (N8097W) survived the crash that occurred shortly after takeoff. The crash was blamed on the pilots, who were under the influence of cocaine, as well as the plane being overloaded. Aaliyah’s body was burned when retrieved from the crash site.
John Belushi, died March 5, 1982
Actor and comedian John Belushi was found dead in his apartment in Los Angeles because of “speedball” (mixture of cocaine and heroin) injected to him by Cathy Smith during a party in his apartment. Smith confessed to the crime and was arrested and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.
Phil Hartman, died May 28, 1998
Phil Hartman was asleep in his bed when his third wife, Brynn, came home at 2 a.m. and used her .38 caliber handgun to shoot Phil three times as he slept: twice in the head and once in the right side. She later barricaded herself in the room and shot herself dead before police could reach her.
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, died April 25, 2002
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC was in Honduras when she lost control of an SUV she was driving and ran off a narrow road. The vehicle toppled into a shallow ditch and flipped several times. Surviving passengers said Lopes tried to go around a slow-moving or stopped truck, but an oncoming vehicle was in the lane, and she lost control and went down the ditch. Lopes’ autopsy revealed that she died of internal injuries, the most prominent being a fracture at the base of her skull and brain trauma.
The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G., died March 9, 1997
Rapper Notorious B.I.G., born as Christopher George Latore Wallace, was stopped at a red light in his GMC Suburban in Los Angeles when a black Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up alongside Wallace’s vehicle. The driver of the Impala, an African-American male, rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm pistol and fired at the GMC Suburban, with four bullets hitting Wallace. According to the autopsy report, Wallace died as a result of a “gunshot wound to the abdomen-chest.” Three of the four bullets were nonfatal shots.
Natasha Richardson, died March 18, 2009
An autopsy revealed that Natasha Richardson, the wife of Liam Neeson, died from bleeding in her skull caused by the fall she took on a ski slope. The medical examiner ruled her death an accident, and doctors said she might have survived had she received immediate treatment. Sadly, nearly four hours elapsed between her lethal fall and her admission to a hospital. Her gravestone figure wears a red nose in honor of Red Nose Day, which is dedicated to helping impoverished people around the world.
Ted Bundy, died January 24, 1989
Convicted serial killer Ted Bundy confessed to 30 homicides in seven states shortly before his execution. An estimated 2,000 revelers sang, danced and set off fireworks in a pasture across the street from the prison as the execution was carried out and then cheered as the white hearse containing Bundy’s body left the prison. Postmortem photos show the burn marks on his head from the electric chair. Bundy’s remains were cremated.