Weird Celebrity Deaths

What are your fave weird celebrity deaths? (And I’m using “celebrity” very broadly).

My top one:
Steve Irwin: what are the chances of being impaled through the heart by a leaping ray? Sidenote: I thought he was a nice guy, but his “animal bothering” bothered me; an assassin ray seems an oddly apt payback.

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I’d vote for Bud Dwyer, State Treasurer of Pennsylvania, (that broad enough of a celebrity) that killed himself during a live TV press conference.


Brandon Lee died while filming The Crow from being shot by an actor firing a gun that was supposed to contain blanks, but also had an overlooked dummy projectile that was forced through the barrel from the ignition of the blank round.

Jon-Erik Hexum died from holding a pistol loaded with a blank round to his forehead and pulling the trigger, unaware that the blank would still fire the wadding with lethal force at that close of a range.

Vic Morrow died while filming the Twilight Zone movie during a helicopter accident.

David Carradine appears to have killed himself through accidental autoerotic asphyxiation.

Vic Morrow…Twilight Zone accident with the helicopter. Very weird.

Ramon Rivera died when to guys he paid for sexual deeds beat him unconscious, awoke him, and put him in the shower. One of them hit him and he drowned/suffocated in his own blood.

Lupe Velez took pills, slipped, and fell into the toilet. Hit her head and drowned(I think) in the toilet.

Sonny Bono skied into a tree.

The actor who fired the shot was Michael Massee, who was apparently still having nightmares about it in 2005. (Probably still is, now, but I know he spoke publicly on it in 2005.) I cannot imagine being in his position.

Several actors have died because their safety rigging failed while reenacting Judas’s suicide while performing in either Jesus Christ Superstar or a Passion Play, though I can’t come up with any specific names at the moment.

Ramon Navarro, a star in the silent era, was tortured, then choked to death with a dildo in 1968 by two rent boys he’d hired.

Natalie Wood’s death was the first that came to mind, since the circumstances are still up for debate.

Eric Clapton’s 4-year-old son died falling out of a high-rise window.

Mike Edwards, a founding member of Electric Light Orchestra, was killed when a giant hay bale rolled down a hill and collided with his van.

Clement Vallandigham, a Democratic politician who advocated letting the Southern states secede, was a lawyer who was defending a client charged with murder. While reenacting the defense’s version of how the death took place, Vallandigham, in open court, shot himself in the stomach.

Isadora Duncan, a famous dancer of the 1920s, died while riding in a convertible. Her long scarf blew behind her and wrapped around one of the car’s wheels, strangling her.

Mathematician Kurt Godel died when his wife was hospitalized. He was paranoid, and refused to eat anything his wife had not prepared, so with his wife in the hospital, he starved to death.

Urban legend. Probably didn’t happen, the two boys did beat him to death though, looking for money.

The cause of death was not weird (cancer), but Andy Kaufman’s (alleged) death is still something unique.

Charles Drew, the inventor of the “blood bank” and pioneer of successful blood transfusions, died during a failed blood transfusion after a car accident in North Carolina.

The book “Bury my Heart at Cooperstown” by Frank Russo has some weird deaths of baseball players.

James Phelps: made a running catch, was bitten by a poisonous snake, finished the game and then died.
Len Koenecke: flying from Chicago to Buffalo in 1935 tried to grab controls from pilot who hit him on his head with a fire extinguisher

My favorite
Gus Sandberg; siphoned gas from a friends car. Tried to find out how much was in the tank by lighting a match for illumination. Explosion results, Sandberg died of burns. Sounds like Wil E Coyote.

Gotta go with the classics:

Draco, an Athenian lawyer from Ancient Greece. (He’s the one we get the word “draconian” from.) At a theatre on Aegina, his supporters showered him with so many gifts of hats and cloaks that he was crushed by the weight and suffocated to death.

Aeschylus, the famous Greek tragedian. Legend has that he died when an eagle dropped a tortoise on his bald head, having mistaken it for a rock.

For more modern times, I’ll go with Jeff Porcaro, the prolific session drummer who worked with countless rock bands, most notably Toto. He suddenly fell ill while spraying insecticide in his garden, was rushed to the hospital and died hours later. The official cause of death was “atherosclerosis induced by cocaine use”, but that’s been challenged by many of his friends and colleagues who claim he was never a heavy cocaine user – instead, most believe it was merely a bizarre gardening accident.

Probably best left unsolved

You can’t really …dust for vomit.

King Alexander of the Hellenes (1893 - 1920) died of sepsis contracted when his pet monkey bit him.

Didn’t some famous British puppeteer die while trying to move the TV antenna on the roof of his house?

There was also a Thailand Queen who drowned while people stood around not helping because they weren’t allowed to touch her.

There is also the sort of weird dearth of Ed McKeever. He was co-owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers with Charlie Ebbetts. Ebbetts died of a heart attack in 1925. When they went to bury him, they found the grave wasn’t wide enough for the coffin. It was April, the ground was still frozen and with cold weather it took a while to widen the grave. So McKeever catches pneumonia and died a week later.

  Which had the result of the two families that inherited the team could never agree on things. THE team was paralyzed ("The Daffiness Boys" it was called) and it took some two decades for Walter O'Malley to take control and put it on a sound, successful footing.

Zip line? Parachute? Hang glider?