Gone Too Soon

by Matriplex | created - 10 months ago | updated - 6 months ago | Public

How might the world--and the world of entertainment--be different if these remarkable talents had lived longer lives?

1. John Lennon

Actor | A Hard Day's Night

John Winston (later Ono) Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England, to Julia Lennon (née Stanley) and Alfred Lennon, a merchant seaman. He was raised by his mother's older sister Mimi Smith. In the mid-1950s, he formed his first band, The Quarrymen (after Quarry Bank High School, ...

2. Marilyn Monroe

Actress | Some Like It Hot

Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, comedienne, singer, and model. She became one of the world's most enduring iconic figures and is remembered both for her winsome embodiment of the Hollywood sex symbol and her tragic personal and professional struggles within the film industry. Her life and ...

3. James Dean

Actor | East of Eden

James Byron Dean was born February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, to Mildred Marie (Wilson) and Winton A. Dean, a farmer turned dental technician. His mother died when Dean was nine, and he was subsequently raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. After grade school, he moved to ...

4. Rebecca Schaeffer

Actress | Radio Days

Rebecca began modeling at the age of 16, going off to New York on her own to begin her career. Four months later, she found herself in Japan, modeling. Eventually, she landed a co-starring role on My Sister Sam (1986), for which she is now best known. In 1989 she also became a spokesperson for ...

5. Montgomery Clift

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Edward Montgomery Clift (nicknamed 'Monty' his entire life) was born on October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska, just after his twin sister Roberta (1920-2014) and eighteen months after his brother Brooks Clift. He was the son of Ethel "Sunny" Anderson (Fogg; 1888-1988) and William Brooks Clift (1886-...

6. Natalie Wood

Actress | Rebel Without a Cause

Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California, as Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko. Her parents, Maria Stepanovna (Zudilova) and Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko, were Russian-born émigrés, of Ukrainian and Russian descent, who spoke barely comprehensible English; they changed the...

7. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor | The Master

Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ...

8. Judy Garland

Actress | The Wizard of Oz

One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals.

She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in ...

9. George Gershwin

Soundtrack | Manhattan

He was born Jacob Gershowitz, 26 September 1898, in Brooklyn, New York, of Russian-Jewish immigrants. As a boy he could play popular and classical works on his brother Ira's piano by ear. In 1913 he quit school to study music and began composing for Tin Pan Alley; by 1919 he had his first hit "...

10. Janis Joplin

Soundtrack | Watchmen

Janis Lyn Joplin was born at St. Mary's Hospital in the oil-refining town of Port Arthur, Texas, near the border with Louisiana. Her father was a cannery worker and her mother was a registrar for a business college. As an overweight teenager, she was a folk-music devotee (especially Odetta, ...

11. River Phoenix

Actor | My Own Private Idaho

River Phoenix was born River Jude Bottom in Madras, Oregon. His mother, Arlyn (Dunetz), a Bronx-born secretary, and his father, John Bottom, a carpenter, met in California in 1968. They worked as itinerant fruit pickers, and later joined the Children of God religious group (John was originally ...

12. Dorothy Dandridge

Actress | Carmen Jones

Dorothy Jean Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ruby Dandridge (née Ruby Jean Butler), an entertainer, and Cyril H. Dandridge, a cabinet maker and minister. Under the prodding of her mother, Dorothy and her sister Vivian Dandridge began performing publicly, usually in ...

13. Heath Ledger

Actor | Brokeback Mountain

When hunky, twenty-year-old heart-throb Heath Ledger first came to the attention of the public in 1999, it was all too easy to tag him as a "pretty boy" and an actor of little depth. He spent several years trying desperately to sway this image, but this was a double-edged sword. His work comprised ...

14. Natasha Richardson

Actress | The Parent Trap

Natasha Jane Richardson was born in Marylebone, London, England, to director and producer Tony Richardson and actress Vanessa Redgrave. She was the sister of actress Joely Richardson, the niece of actors Corin Redgrave and Lynn Redgrave, and the granddaughter of actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel ...

15. Chris Farley

Actor | Tommy Boy

Christopher Crosby Farley was born on February 15, 1964, in Madison, Wisconsin, to Mary Anne (Crosby) and Thomas Farley, who owned an oil company. Among his siblings are actors Kevin P. Farley and John Farley. He was of Irish heritage. Farley studied theatre and communications on Marquette ...

16. Grace Kelly

Actress | Rear Window

On November 12, 1929, Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to wealthy parents. Her girlhood was uneventful for the most part, but one of the things she desired was to become an actress which she had decided on at an early age. After her high school graduation in 1947, Grace ...

17. John Belushi

Actor | Saturday Night Live

John Belushi was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, on January 24, 1949, to Agnes Demetri (Samaras) and Adam Anastos Belushi, a restaurant owner. His father was an Albanian immigrant, from Qytezë, and his mother was also of Albanian descent. He grew up in Wheaton, where the family moved when he was ...

18. Jean Harlow

Actress | Libeled Lady

Harlean Carpenter, who later became Jean Harlow, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 3, 1911. She was the daughter of a successful dentist and his wife. In 1927, at the age of 16, she ran away from home to marry a young businessman named Charles McGrew, who was 23. The couple pulled up ...

19. Otis Redding

Soundtrack | Top Gun

Otis Redding was born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia, USA as Otis Ray Redding Jr. He was married to Zelma Atwood. He died on December 10, 1967 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

20. Amy Winehouse

Soundtrack | Amy

Amy Winehouse was a five-time Grammy Award-winning English singer-songwriter known for such hits as 'Rehab' and 'You Know I'm No Good' among her other works.

She was born Amy Jade Winehouse, on September 14, 1983, in Enfield, London, England to a Jewish family with Russian ancestry on her mother's ...

21. Jimi Hendrix

Soundtrack | Woodstock

Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington, to African-American parents Lucille (Jeter) and James Allen Hendrix. His mother named him John Allen Hendrix and raised him alone while his father, Al Hendrix, was off fighting in World War II. When his mother became sick from ...

22. Dominique Dunne

Actress | Poltergeist

Dominique Dunne was born to a life of privilege in Santa Monica, California, the daughter of Ellen Beatriz (Griffin) Dunne and Dominick Dunne, a producer, actor, and writer. Actor Griffin Dunne is her brother. After her parents' divorce, she moved first to New York, and then to a posh home in ...

23. Elvis Presley

Soundtrack | Girls! Girls! Girls!

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in East Tupelo, Mississippi, to Gladys Presley (née Gladys Love Smith) and Vernon Presley (Vernon Elvis Presley). He had a twin brother who was stillborn. In 1948, Elvis and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he attended Humes High School. ...

24. Sharon Tate

Actress | Valley of the Dolls

Sharon's early life was one of constant moving as her father served in the military. When she lived in Italy, she was voted "Homecoming Queen" of her high school. After being an extra in a few Italian films, Sharon headed to Hollywood where she would again start as an extra. Her first big break ...

25. John Cazale

Actor | Dog Day Afternoon

John Cazale was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to an Irish-American mother, Cecilia (Holland), and an Italian-American father, John Cazale. Cazale only made five feature films in his career, all which many fans and critics alike call classics. But before his film debut, the short The American Way (...

26. Dorothy Stratten

Actress | Galaxina

Dorothy Stratten's story was brief, glorious and tragic. She was born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten on February 28, 1960 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She grew up in a rough neighborhood in Vancouver, but kept out of trouble and went through the motions of school. While not a beauty as a child...

27. Steve McQueen

Actor | The Great Escape

He was the ultra-cool male film star of the 1960s, and rose from a troubled youth spent in reform schools to being the world's most popular actor. Over 25 years after his untimely death from mesothelioma in 1980, Steve McQueen is still considered hip and cool, and he endures as an icon of popular ...

28. Heather O'Rourke

Actress | Poltergeist

Heather Michele O'Rourke was born on December 27, 1975 in Santee, San Diego, California, to Kathleen, a seamstress, and Michael O'Rourke, a construction worker. She had German, Danish, English, and Irish ancestry.

Heather entered American cinematic pop-culture before first grade. She was sitting ...

29. Ricky Nelson

Actor | The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Ricky Nelson was born on May 8, 1940 in Teaneck, New Jersey, USA as Eric Hilliard Nelson. He was an actor, known for The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (1952) and Rio Bravo (1959). He was married to Kristin Harmon. He died on December 31, 1985 in De Kalb, Texas, USA.

30. Whitney Houston

Soundtrack | The Bodyguard

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born into a musical family on 9 August 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of gospel star Cissy Houston, cousin of singing star Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of soul legend Aretha Franklin.

She began singing in the choir at her church, The New Hope Baptist ...

31. Michael Jackson

Soundtrack | Michael Jackson: Thriller

Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, and entertained audiences nearly his entire life. His father, Joe Jackson (no relation to Joe Jackson, also a musician), had been a guitarist, but was forced to give up his musical ambitions following his marriage to Katherine ...

32. Selena Quintanilla-Perez

Soundtrack | Don Juan DeMarco

Selena was born in Lake Jackson, Texas, a city 50 miles southeast of Houston, to Abraham Quintanilla Jr. and Marcella Quintanilla. Abraham opened a Mexican restaurant, Papagayo, in Lake Jackson. Selena was 9-years-old when her father discovered her talent for singing. He formed a band consisting of...

33. Phil Hartman

Actor | NewsRadio

Phil Hartman was born Philip Edward Hartmann on September 24, 1948, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. His surname was originally "Hartmann", but he later dropped the second "n". He was one of eight children of Doris Marguerite (Wardell) and Rupert Loebig Hartmann, a salesman. He was of German, Irish, ...

34. Jayne Mansfield

Actress | The Girl Can't Help It

One of the leading sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s, film actress Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Vera J. and Herbert W. Palmer. Her parents were well-to-do, with her father a successful attorney in Phillipburg, New Jersey, where Jayne ...

35. Prince

Soundtrack | Under the Cherry Moon

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Mattie Shaw, a jazz singer and social worker, and John L. Nelson, a lyricist and pianist. His father's stage name was "Prince Rogers". His parents were both from African-American families from Louisiana. They separated during his youth, ...

36. Karen Carpenter

Soundtrack | Paul Williams Still Alive

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Karen Carpenter moved with her family to Downey, California, in 1963. Karen's older brother, Richard Carpenter, decided to put together an instrumental trio with him on the piano, Karen on the drums and their friend Wes Jacobs on the bass and tuba. In a battle of the...

37. Sal Mineo

Actor | Rebel Without a Cause

Salvatore (Sal) Mineo Jr. was born to Josephine and Sal Sr. (a casket maker), who emigrated to the U.S. from Sicily. His siblings were Michael, Victor and Sarina. Sal was thrown out of parochial school and, by age eight, was a member of a street gang in a tough Bronx neighborhood. His mother ...

38. Jean Seberg

Actress | À bout de souffle

Jean Dorothy Seberg was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, to Dorothy Arline (Benson), a substitute teacher, and Edward Waldemar Seberg, a pharmacist. Her father was of Swedish descent and her mother was of English and German ancestry.

One month before her eighteenth birthday, Jean landed the title role in ...

39. Buddy Holly

Soundtrack | Mr. Nobody

Buddy Holly was born on September 7, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas, USA as Charles Hardin Holley. He was married to Maria Elena Santiago. He died on February 3, 1959 in Clear Lake, Iowa, USA.

40. Patsy Cline

Soundtrack | Assassin's Creed

Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932 in Winchester, Virginia. Her brush with show business came at age four when she won a prize in an amateur tap dancing contest. By the time she entered grade school, her family was fully aware of her musical talent. On her eighth ...



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