Live fast. . .

Veteran star of the screen David Carradine,probably best known for his roles as Kwai Chang Caine in the popular 70’s television series Kung Fu and the eponymous Bill in Tarrantino’s Kill Bill two part-er passed away this week aged 72.

Suicide? Accidental death? Murder? All these rumours surround Carradine’s passing. As of yet the true cause of death is not known, what is though is that another movie icon is gone.

If Hollywood has shown us anything, it’s that rarely does a star die peacefully at home after a long accomplished life. Carradine was fortunate enough to leave a long and varied legacy; here is a list of five who were not so fortunate.

1. River Phoenix – August 20th 1970 – October 31st 1993

The 80’s were full of bouffant haired heartthrobs but perhaps the most intriguing teen sensation was River Phoenix.

Stand By Me released in 1986 proved that he was more than your average child actor. Handling difficult emotional scenes with the maturity of a much older actor; Phoenix seemed destined for great things.

A keen animal rights and political activist, roles not often associated with his contemporaries, his career rocketed.

This made it all the more shocking when he died on the morning of 31 October 1993 outside The Viper Room, then owned by Johnny Depp.

Phoenix went to the bathroom where he took a mixture of heroin and cocaine, otherwise known as a Speedball and began feeling ill.

Once outside he collapsed and began convulsing. After many attempts at resuscitation, ranging from mouth to mouth to inserting a pacemaker he was pronounced dead at 1.51 am.

Out of respect, the club closed its doors for the following week, with Depp continuing to close every Halloween until he parted ownership in 2004.

Adding insult to injury, a member of the paparazzi broke into the funeral and took a picture of his body, which was later sold for a large amount.

River was scheduled to star as Lestat in Interview With The Vampire but was replaced by Tom Cruise.

2. John Belushi – January 24th 1949 – March 5th 1982

John Belushi hit the scene in 1975 making people laugh on a new show Saturday Night Live. With characters such as the Samurai Deli and one half of the Blues Brothers, Joliet Jake, it wasn’t long until he decided to leave SNL and focus on film

For anyone that knew Belushi, it was not secret that he liked to party. Whilst shooting The Blues Brothers in 1980 he drunkenly knocked on a stranger’s house in the middle of the night, invited himself in, made a sandwich then fell asleep on the couch.

Put it this way: his role of Bluto in Animal House must not have been too much of a stretch.

Lighting the candle at both ends took its toll and also Belushi’s life. He was just 33 when he died of a drug overdose whilst at famed celeb getaway Château Marmont in LA.

Belushi had been partying with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. Shortly before his death he was left with, among others, singer and drug dealer Cathy Smith. It was Smith who injected the fatal Speedball into Belushi and left him unconscious, she was later charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Besides acting, John Belushi was an accomplished singer and was set to star beside long time comic partner Dan Aykroyd as Pete Venkman in Ghostbusters.

3. Heath Ledger - 4th April 1979 – 22 January 2008

With any actor there is always one role that tips you over the edge. Almost overnight it will take you from a somewhat known actor to a mega star.

Unfortunately for Australian born Heath ledger, that was to be his last fully completed role.

What Ledger did with The Joker was to take an already dysfunctional character and inject him with just the right amount of dark comedy and fear. As a viewer, you really had no idea where he was going to go next, a crucial quality in portraying the Joker.

After completing the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There and The Dark Knight, Ledger began to have trouble sleeping, as he explained to a New York Times journalist “Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night. ... I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going”

Two months after this quote was taken, Ledger was found unconscious in his Soho apartment by his housekeeper and masseuse and pronounced dead shortly after. After much speculation, it was decided that the official cause of death was an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

If he was around today, there is no doubt that he would be one of the cinema's biggest star’s, and one of the most interesting to watch. He will briefly grace our screens one final time in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which he was filming at the time of his death.

4. Chris Farley – February 15th 1964 – December 18th 1997

Comedian Chris Farley bares many similarities to John Belushi; both battled weight and drug problems, both appeared on SNL and both died of a drug overdose aged 33.

Often coupled with scrawny David Spade, Farley was a whirlwind comedy force. Creating classic SNL character such as Matt Foley the motivational speaker and his own personal take on a Chippendale’s dancer, he also made many scene stealing appearances in many comedy films of the early nineties.

But behind the laughter Farley was battling alcohol and drug abuse and his increasing weight problems. On 18th of December 1997 Farley was found dead in his apartment in Chicago as the result of a speedball overdose.

On the night of his death he was reportedly with a prostitute who left early in the morning. Before she left, Farley complained about not being able to breath properly and asked her not to leave, following her to the door and collapsing. A photo of Farley’s dead body can be found floating around the Internet.

He was found the following day by his younger brother John and buried five days later in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.

At the time of his death Farley seemed one step away from becoming a huge star. He had begun recording vocals for the title role in Shrek and was planning on embarking on some serious roles in a biopic of heavyset comedian Fatty Arbuckle.

5. John Candy – October 31st 1950 – March 4th 1994

John Candy was one of the biggest comedic stars in more ways than one. In his career, which began in the late seventies, he stared in many successful movies including Uncle Buck, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Spaceballs.

During the early nineties he began to branch out more taking directorial roles, creating a Saturday morning TV show Camp Candy and becoming a co owner of the Toronto Argonauts.

After having a resurgence in his film career with the success of Cool Runnings Candy began a 70-day shoot for Wagons East! A western-comedy co staring Richard Lewis. Just two weeks prior to completion John Candy died of a massive heart attack in his sleep, he was just 44.

Shooting in Durango Mexico, the intense heat was said not to be a contributing factor to Candy’s death, his role was not a very active one. Heart disease ran in his family his father died at age 34, but sadly Candy’s recent decisions to stop smoking and eat healthier were to no avail.

Wagons East! Was eventually completed using a body double and some digital editing. Among the roles that never came to fruition where Lewis Tully of Ghostbusters (role eventually went to Rick Moranis) and some voice work for a TV film The Magic 7 alongside other stars. The latter was shelved due to animation difficulties and has never had an official release.

1 comment:

rob said...

On sticks now mate but i do think Mitch deserved a mention. An other tragic death via drugs just when he was about to make it big.