Many TV stars start out as working actors with dreams of getting their own show one day. Once that day comes, it’s a tragedy when their dreams fall apart. From young up-and-comers to solid veterans in the industry, many TV actors have unfortunately passed away during production. Who are these tragic performers of the small screen? Here are 25 TV Stars Who Shockingly Died During Production.
Back in the early 80’s, Jon-Erik Hexum was considered the “next big thing” to hit television. However, while he was on the set of Cover Up, Hexum grew bored and jokingly put a prop .44 Magnum revolver to his head. The prop fired and the blank round hit his skull and shattered it. The injuries were too serious, and he was taken off life support and passed away at the age of 26.
Joseph Kearns played the famous role of “Mr. Wilson” on the television show Dennis the Menace. He died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage due to his excessive dieting. His last episode was titled, “The Man Next Door.”
Nana Bryant played the character Mrs. Wynona Nestor on the 1950’s show Our Miss Brooks. She died at the age of 67 during its production.
Dan Blocker played Hoss Cartwright on the hit television show Bonanza. He died unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism. They paid tribute to him in the episode titled “Forever.”
John Hamilton became famous for playing the role of Perry White on the television show The Adventures of Superman. He died of a heart attack in 1957.
After becoming a huge comedian on the television show Sanford and Son, Redd Foxx went on to appear in the CBS TV show, The Royal Family. However, while filming, he suffered a heart attack at 68.
Best known for his character Jock Ewing on the hit show Dallas, Jim Davis died from cancer during production at the age of 65.
Winner of two Emmys, Michael Conrad played Sgt. Philip Esterhaus on the television show Hill Street Blues. He died from urethral cancer at the age of 58.
Playing the character of Coach on the hit show Cheers, Nicholas Colasanto passed away of a heart ailment during production. His character was written out of the show and no one replaced him. The show did an encore presentation featuring the actor.
Christopher Allport was a veteran actor playing the role of Pete Campbell’s father on the show Mad Men. He was out skiing when an avalanche killed him. He was found under ten feet of snow.
A heavy partier, David Strickland was a co-star on the show Suddenly Susan. At 29-years-old, he committed suicide. The show’s production was temporarily halted after his unexpected death.
John Spencer played the shrewd Leo McGarry on the hit show The West Wing. However, during production, he died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Eerily enough, his character, McGarry, also suffered a heart attack on the show.
Diana Hyland was diagnosed with breast cancer and died at the age of 41. Even though she had cancer, she continued working on the show Eight is Enough up until her death.
Nancy Marchand was a veteran actress who played the hard mob boss mother Livia Soprano in the show The Sopranos. She died of cancer at the age of 72.
Harry Goz was a veteran character and voice actor. He died at the age of 71 during the production of Sealab 2021, the surreal Adult Swim cartoon.
Marion Lorne was a veteran actress before she appeared on Bewitched as Aunt Clara. She won an Emmy for her performance, but unfortunately, she wasn’t able to accept it as she suffered a heart attack and died.
The star of Chico and the Man, Freddie Prinze was beloved by 40 million people. However, after his wife filed for divorce, his life spun out of control, and he shot himself.
Larry Hagman, who played the villainous J.R. on Dallas, died during the show’s production at the age of 81. He died due to complications with cancer.
The first actor to play Superman on television, George Reeves wowed audiences by leaping over buildings in a single bound and being more powerful than a locomotive. His apparent suicide continues to astonish and perplex many. His career wasn’t in ruins. There seemed to be no reason for him to kill himself. Some believe evidence points to murder instead.
John Ritter was the famed television and movie actor known for Threes Company and 8 Simple Rules to Date My Teenage Daughter. He died of an aortic dissection, a break in the main artery that carries blood to the heart. He died suddenly at the age of 54 during production on 8 Simple Rules.
Steve Irwin, also known as The Crocodile Hunter, died while filming an episode of his popular wildlife show. He was stabbed repeatedly by a stingray and died almost instantly.
Glee star Cory Montieth died tragically at the age of 31 due to a drug overdose. An autopsy report showed a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol in his system.
While many know Bill Paxton as a movie actor in films like Apollo 13 and Edge of Tomorrow, he was working on the set of the CBS television show Training Day when he, unfortunately, passed away due to complications after heart surgery.
Andy Whitfield got his big break as the star of the Showtime television show Spartacus. Sadly, he died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while preparing for the second season.
Known for his hilarious sketches on Saturday Night Live, Phil Hartman died in a tragic murder-suicide with his wife in 1998. He died by the hand of his wife before she pointed the gun at herself. At the time, he was working on the shows NewsRadio and The Simpsons.
Photo: 25. Christie Jenkins, Jon-Erik arms, CC BY 2.5, 24. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 23. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 22. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 21. John Hamilton (Movie still; Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 20. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 19. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 18. TV show still via hollywood reporter (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only, no free images available), 17. Nicholas Colasanto (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 16. Christopher Allport (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 15. David Strickland tv show still via Alchetron (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 14. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 13. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 12. mezclaconfusa via flickr. CC BY 2.0, 11. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 10. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 9. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 8. Foto: Udo Grimberg, Lizenz: Creative Commons by-sa-3.0 de, Larry Hagman, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, 7. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 6. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 5. Richard Giles, aka User rich115 on Flickr, Steve Irwin, CC BY 2.0, 4. Eva Rinaldi, Cory Monteith 2, 2011, CC BY-SA 2.0, 3. Gage Skidmore, Bill Paxton 2014 retouched, CC BY 2.0, 2.Gage Skidmore, Andy Whitfield by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, 1. Paul Hartmann, Phil as Chick-1-1, CC BY-SA 3.0