Celebrities are victims of seemingly unrestricted access to their private lives since they are always spied on and documented by the media. In some cases though, their fame and popularity proved to be insufficient in saving them from dying or even in finding the true cause of their death. Of course, homicide cases frequently go unsolved not only for decades, sometimes even longer, yet one would expect the police would have an easier job in discovering the killer (if there is one) when the victim is famous. However, many of the celebrity murder and mysterious death cases end up closed after years of fruitless searching. Still, some of them remain open and even decades after the murder authorities are still attempting to piece together what actually happened. Who wouldn’t want to know the events behind Marilyn Monroe’s untimely demise, even if it’s been over fifty years? Who doesn’t want to know the truth behind the night Princess Diana’s car crashed, resulting in her tragic and heart breaking death? Will we ever find the answers to these tragic events? One can only hope. As of now however these 25 celebrity deaths are still unsolved and at least for now remain a mystery.
Mary Meyer was an American socialite and former wife of CIA official Cord Meyer. There were also rumors she was one of the many mistresses of John F. Kennedy. On October 12, 1964, Meyer finished a painting and went for a walk along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath in Georgetown. A mechanic named Henry Wiggins was trying to fix a car on Canal Road and heard a woman cry for help. He claimed he heard two gunshots and ran to a low wall overlooking the path where he saw “a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap standing over the body of a white woman.” Meyer’s murder stirred speculation relating to Kennedy’s presidency and assassination, but her case remains unsolved.
On July 24, 1975, just three episodes into the TV series Phyllis, American actress Barbara Colby and a colleague, James Kiernan, were walking to their car following an acting class in Venice, California, when they were shot inside a parking area. Colby was killed instantly; Kiernan, however, was able to describe the shooters to police before he too succumbed to his wounds. Kiernan said he did not recognize the two men, and that the shooting had occurred without warning, reason, or provocation. Police noted there was no attempt to rob the pair and concluded it was a random drive-by shooting. The killers were never identified and the case remains open.
Peter Ivers was the host of the New Wave Theater when he was found bludgeoned to death in his bed in downtown LA in 1983. Evidence was later unearthed by the Los Angeles Police Department to reopen the investigation. Upon his death, many of his friends went to Ivers’s apartment to mourn him, though in doing so, they accidentally tampered with the evidence. A number of theories abound about the cause for his murder. Some say he was killed as the result of a robbery, while others speculate that he was killed by one of the attendees of the New Wave Theater. The case remains open.
Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith was a famous American model, actress, and television personality. She first gained popularity in Playboy and was the 1993 Playmate of the Year. She is best remembered, however, for her mysterious death and the media drama surrounding it. Initially, her behavior on her reality show started to become increasingly bizarre, but when her son died of an overdose in 2006 she literally broke down. She died six months later after suffering from severe depression, under the influence of a similar drug cocktail her son had died from. But what remains unknown is whether Smith took her own life or if someone prescribed the fatal cocktail.
Nance was an American actor known for his work with director David Lynch, particularly for his role in the film Eraserhead. He died in South Pasadena, California, on December 30, 1996, under mysterious circumstances. Nance told friends a young homeless man had beaten him outside a Winchell’s Donuts store in the early hours of December 29. Later that day, he lunched with friends who noticed a visible “crescent-shaped bruise” under his eye. After lunch he went home, complaining of a headache. The injuries he received caused a subdural hematoma, resulting in his death the following morning. A subsequent police investigation failed to find evidence of the alleged fight.
The murder of Stompanato, a bodyguard for LA’s notorious Mickey Cohen, a member of the Jewish Mafia, was a major television event, with both Stompanato’s girlfriend, actress Lana Turner, and Cohen testifying in court. According to rumors, Stompanato was a very violent bodyguard, a blackmailer, and allegedly abusive to Turner. Though the star’s daughter, Cheryl Crane, was found guilty of justifiable homicide for stabbing Stompanato with a kitchen knife at Turner’s house while he was attacking Turner, rumors persisted that Turner had murdered Stompanato and passed the crime on to her daughter, who was fourteen at the time.
Chasen was an American publicist who once represented such actors as Michael Douglas, as well as musicians such as Hans Zimmer and Mark Isham, among others. She was shot in Beverly Hills on November 16, 2010, at approximately 12:28 a.m., as she was driving home from the Hollywood premiere of the film Burlesque. No one knows who killed her and what motivation he/she had for doing so and five years later her murder still remains a mystery.
On June 4, 2009, Carradine was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok, where he was shooting a movie. The actor’s body was found hanging in the closet with a rope tied around his neck, wrist, and genitals, in an apparent act of autoerotic asphyxiation. Following his death, two of Carradine’s ex-wives, Gail Jensen and Marina Anderson, stated that Carradine did indeed have a self-bondage fetish and an overall penchant for “deviant sexual behavior.” Since then, Anderson has publicly claimed she conducted her own investigation into Carradine’s death, claiming he was murdered.
Jill Dando was a famous English journalist and television presenter who worked for the BBC for fourteen years. She was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head on April 26, 1999, after leaving the home of her fiancé. Her death sparked Operation Oxborough, the biggest murder inquiry and largest criminal investigation since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, but her murder remains unsolved.
On March 25, 1998, twenty-four-year-old NASCAR driver Chris Trickle died of injuries sustained in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting on February 9, 1997. A quirk in Nevada law at the time meant that the gunmen could not be prosecuted for his murder, since his death had occurred more than a year and a day after the attack. The law was subsequently changed. No suspects have ever been identified, and the case is considered cold.
Brian Spencer was a popular hockey player who played for many NHL teams during a ten-year career that ended in 1979. He was shot during a robbery after allegedly buying cocaine in Riviera Beach, Florida, on June 2, 1988. The year before, Spencer had been acquitted of a 1982 murder and kidnapping. Despite not entirely believing the story told them by Spencer’s companion that night, police said he was not a suspect, but many believe Spencer’s murder was a face-off and an act of payback.
Olof Palme, prime minister of Sweden and the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, was extremely popular and loved by his people, but despite this he was shot in the back while walking home from a movie theater with his wife shortly after 11 p.m. on February 28, 1986, in Stockholm. His murder remains unsolved to this day.
Mary Rogers, also known as the “Beautiful Cigar Girl,” was found in the Hudson River on July 28, 1841. The story became a national sensation and inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” in 1842. Her death remains a mystery to this day.
Hard-core superhero fans might know Reeves for his role as Superman in the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman. However, he’s best remembered for his mysterious death at age forty-five from a gunshot. The official findings stated it was a suicide, but there was a lot of evidence to make many people believe he was either murdered or the victim of an accidental shooting.
On September 7, 1996, hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur was fatally shot in Las Vegas, Nevada. Shakur, who was shot five times by an unknown man who remains on the streets, died from his injuries six days later.
The Notorious B.I.G.
The murder of Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G., happened a few months after Tupac’s murder, on the night of March 9, 1997, when the rapper was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, California, which led to his death an hour later. His murder remains unsolved as well.
Bob Crane, an American actor best known for his role in Hogan’s Heroes, was discovered bludgeoned to death with a weapon that was never found—but which police believed to be a camera tripod—at the Winfield Place Apartments in Scottsdale, Arizona, on June 29, 1978. Crane was involved in the underground sex scene and filmed his numerous escapades with the help of John Henry Carpenter, who was an audio-visual expert and main suspect in the murder.
Tall, blond, and gorgeous, Christa Helm could count only bit parts on Wonder Woman and Starsky and Hutch as her high points. But she excelled at parties and in bedrooms in the Hollywood Hills, where she consorted with the likes of Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Joe Namath, and the Shah of Iran among others. Helm kept details of her trysts in her “sex” diary, and that is why after she was found stabbed and bludgeoned to death one night in 1977 on a street in West Hollywood, police suspected she had been killed because of what she knew.
Virginia Rappe was an American model and silent-film actress in the early days of the twentieth century. The circumstances of her death in 1921 became a Hollywood scandal and were covered widely by the media at the time. During a party on Labor Day, September 5, 1921, she was in a hotel room with fellow silent-film actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in San Francisco. Rappe allegedly suffered a trauma and died on September 9 from a ruptured bladder and secondary peritonitis. Arbuckle was charged with her murder. Some believed he squashed her with his weight while raping her, others believe he raped her with a foreign object, causing peritonitis. Unfortunately, we will probably never know what happened that night.
JonBenét Patricia Ramsey was a six-year-old American girl who was murdered in her home in Boulder, Colorado, in 1996. Police found her body in the basement of the family home about eight hours after she was reported missing. She had been struck on the head and strangled. The case remains unsolved, even after several grand jury hearings, and it continues to generate public and media interest.
During the making of her last film Brainstorm, Wood drowned while on a weekend boat trip to Santa Catalina Island, in California, with her husband Robert Wagner, Brainstorm costar Christopher Walken, and the boat’s captain, Dennis Davern. Many facts surrounding her drowning are unknown, because no one admitted seeing how she entered the water. Authorities discovered Wood’s body at 8 a.m. on November 29, 1981, a mile away from the boat, and a small inflatable dinghy beached nearby. According to Wagner, when he went to bed, Wood was not there. The autopsy report revealed Wood had bruises on her body and arms as well as an abrasion on her left cheek that made many fans believe she was murdered by her jealous husband.
Jimmy Hoffa, a notorious gangster and labor union president, had one of the most mysterious deaths of the twentieth century. He was last seen in the parking lot of a restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, in 1975 while waiting to meet with a local mobster and a union leader from New Jersey to settle a feud. However, the mobsters never showed up. Hoffa’s car was found in the parking lot the next day, but there were no clues as to what happened to him. He was finally declared legally dead in 1982, though his body was never recovered and speculations as to what happened abound to this day.
On July 20, 1973, Bruce had a headache and was given a prescription for Equagesic. After taking it, he lapsed into a coma and could not be revived. A coroner’s inquest determined he had a severe allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the painkiller. This reaction caused an increase in the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, and he died the same day at age thirty-two while filming Enter The Dragon. However, many conspiracy theorists and fans were not convinced by the explanation and claim to this day that Lee was murdered either by the Triads (a Chinese transnational organized crime organization based in Hong Kong), or that he died from a Dim Mak (a “death strike”) he received from his master as a young man, a Shaolin monk.
There’s a question shadowing Diana’s death since 1997: Did she die in a car accident while running from aggressive paparazzi, or did the Royal Family stage the accident to keep her from marrying Muslim billionaire Dodi Al-Fayed and having his baby? The world will never know, unless results of the newly opened investigation reveal interesting details around this tragedy.
Marilyn Monroe was found dead on August 5, 1962, in the bedroom of her Brentwood home by her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. She was thirty-six. Her death was determined to have been caused by a barbiturate overdose and was ruled a probable suicide. However, there are many theories that claim she may have been murdered, with many of these involving President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.