Thursday, 7 January 2010

8 Stars Who Died During the Filming of a Movie

8 Stars Who Died During the Filming of a Movie

Long after their time is up, movie stars live on through DVDs and cable reruns. But the stars on this list died before completing a project, leaving directors in an emotional and logistical bind, and forever attaching a dark footnote to a movie's history. In some cases the movie was canceled, in others the star was recast, while in others production moved forward with some creative editing.

John Candy - Funnyman John Candy, known for portraying portly, lovable losers in such movies as Stripes, Uncle Buck, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles, died of a massive heart attack on March 4, 1994, during the filming of Wagons East. A body double was used to replace Candy, and the film - a comedy set in the Wild West - was released later that summer. The movie was widely panned by critics as an unworthy farewell to Candy, who was just 43 when he died.

Marilyn Monroe - Blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, famous for her film roles, multiple marriages, and memorable serenading of President John F. Kennedy, died on August 5, 1962, before she could finish filming Something's Got to Give.

The comedy, directed by George Cukor and also starring Cyd Charisse and Dean Martin, had been plagued with conflict from the start. At one point, Monroe was even fired. But Martin refused to work with any actress other than Monroe, so the famous beauty was rehired. Before Monroe could resume her role, however, she was found dead in her Brentwood, California, home, the result of an overdose of barbiturates. Something's Got to Give was scrapped, but parts of the unfinished film were included in a 2001 documentary titled Marilyn: The Final Days.

River Phoenix - River Phoenix, a young actor who shot to stardom after appearing in Rob Reiner's Stand by Me, was near the end of filming Dark Blood when he died of a drug overdose on Halloween 1993 at age 23. The movie, a dark tale about a widower (Phoenix) living on a nuclear testing site, was subsequently canceled because Phoenix's presence was crucial to several yet-to-be-shot scenes. Phoenix was also slated to film Interview with the Vampire with Tom Cruise. His role was taken over by Christian Slater, who donated his salary from the film to a charity in Phoenix's honor.

Paul Mantz - To Paul Mantz, stunt flying was a natural calling, and the legendary aviator even lost his spot at the U.S. Army flight school when he buzzed a train filled with high-ranking officers. Mantz landed a role in 1932's Air Mail, in which he flew a biplane through a hangar not much bigger than the aircraft itself. He appeared in numerous films through the years, including For Whom the Bell Tolls, Twelve O'Clock High, and The Wings of Eagles.

On July 8, 1965, Mantz was killed while performing a stunt for The Flight of the Phoenix. Flying over an Arizona desert site, Mantz's plane struck a hill and broke into pieces, killing the famous aviator immediately. Because the majority of the movie had already been shot, filmmakers were able to substitute another plane for some remaining close-ups, and The Flight of the Phoenix was released later that year.

Vic Morrow - Vic Morrow, a tough-talking actor known for his role in the TV series Combat! as well as a string of B-movies, was killed in July 1982, in a tragic accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. The script called for the use of both a helicopter and pyrotechnics - a combination that would prove lethal. When the pyrotechnics exploded, the helicopter's tail was severed, causing it to crash. The blades decapitated Morrow and a child actor, and another child actor was crushed to death.

Although the filmmakers faced legal action from the accident, the project was completed and the movie was released in June 1983. It performed poorly at the box office, based partially on the controversy surrounding the accident.

Oliver Reed - Oliver Reed, as famous for drinking and partying as he was for acting, died in a pub on May 2, 1999, before he could finish filming Ridley Scott's epic Gladiator. Reed, who was 61, collapsed on the floor of a bar in Malta and died of a heart attack. Most of his scenes in Gladiator had already been shot when he died, but Scott had to digitally re-create Reed's face for a few remaining segments. The Internet Movie Database estimated the cost of the digital touch-ups at $3 million. When Gladiator was released in 2000, it grossed more than $187 million in the United States alone and snared five Oscars, including Best Picture.

Steve Irwin - Steve Irwin, aka "The Crocodile Hunter," was in the Great Barrier Reef to film a documentary titled The Ocean's Deadliest when he was struck by a stingray and killed on September 4, 2006. Irwin, a 44-year-old Australian wildlife expert, was known for his daredevil stunts involving animals and could frequently be seen handling poisonous snakes and wrestling crocodiles on his Animal Planet TV show. Because of bad weather, Irwin was actually taking a break from filming his documentary at the time of the stingray attack, instead taping some snorkeling segments for a children's show. The Ocean's Deadliest aired in January 2007.

Brandon Lee - Brandon Lee, an aspiring actor and the son of martial arts star Bruce Lee, was killed in a freak accident on the set of The Crow on March 31, 1993. Lee, who was 28 at the time, was playing a character who gets shot by thugs upon entering his apartment. Tragically, the handgun used in the scene had a real bullet lodged in its barrel, which was propelled out by the force of the blank being shot. Lee was hit in the abdomen and died later that day. The movie was nearly complete at the time of the shooting, but a stunt double was needed to complete a few remaining scenes, and Lee's face was digitally superimposed onto the stunt double's body.

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