From Brittany Murphy to Heath Ledger, the celebrities who died from 'drug overdoses' at the height of their career

From Brittany Murphy to Heath Ledger, the celebrities who died from 'drug overdoses' at the height of their career

BRITTANY Murphy's life and death will be explored during a two-night event called What Happened, Brittany Murphy? which will air October 14, 2021, on HBO Max.

However, the late actress, who was just 32 years old when she died, is one of many celebs who have passed away due to drug overdoses at the prime of their careers.

BRITTANY MURPHY

Brittany shot to fame as fresh-faced teenager Tia in the cult classic 90s movie Clueless.

Brittany was found dead at her home in Los Angeles on December 20, 2009.

The Los Angeles Coroner ruled her death was due to pneumonia, anemia, and drug intoxication due to prescription pills.

In the new documentary, make-up artist Trista Jordan – who worked with Brittany on her last film, 2009's Something Wicked – reflected on the actress' concerning appearance in her final months.

Trista said: "Her eyes were so sunken, and she just seemed so sad."

Brittany's mother Sharon Murphy and late husband Simon Monjack confirmed on Larry King Live that the actress' final words were: “I’m dying. I’m going to die. Mommy, I love you.”

But tragedy did not stop there as five months after her death, her husband Simon was also found dead.

His cause of death was ruled to be the same as Brittany's, creating suspicion among fans and family.

Unfortunately, his death did not stop him from being scrutinized as the new HBO documentary claims he "conned" the actress before her sudden death.

Director Cynthia Hill claimed Brittany was one of Simon's "last victims."

She said: "He was a disturbed individual who was used to conning people and Brittany was one of his last victims.

"There was a pattern of behavior that became very obvious the more research that we did."

HEATH LEDGER

Just a few months after Brittany's career ended so abruptly, Hollywood was rocked by the news that Heath Ledger had also been found dead in his home.

Heath accidentally overdosed on prescription drugs on January 22, 2008, during the editing of The Dark Knight, and midway through shooting his final movie, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus.

He'd taken six types of drug, and the toxicology report states: "We have concluded that the manner of death is an accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications."

Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell stepped in to complete filming for Heath's character Tony in Terry Gilliam's film.

Claims that playing the Joker had pushed Heath to overdose were also trashed by director Gilliam, who said at the time: "Heath was so solid. His feet were on the ground and he was the least neurotic person I've ever met."

It's more likely Heath's insomnia led him to self-medicate, a theory that has been backed up by Michelle Williams, who was the mother of his only child, and Christopher Plummer.

MAC MILLER

In September 2018, Mac Miller tragically died with fans and friends devastated by his death, including his former girlfriend, Ariana Grande.

The 26-year-old accidentally overdosed on a cocktail of drugs at his home in Studio City, California.

The musician had a history of substance abuse and had ingested a lethal dose of alcohol and drugs before his passing.

An autopsy revealed Miller had a lethal mixture of fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol in his system at the time of his death.

"He was on the way back to recovery and health, and by all accounts, it was just a tragic accident," said Guy Lawrence of DJ duo Disclosure told EDM.com.

His death sent shockwaves through the music industry, and grief poured out from his fans and friends.

Cameron James Petit allegedly gave Mac a deadly concoction of Xanax, cocaine, and fentanyl – a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin.

The 28-year-old from Hollywood and two other men were charged in October 2019 with the distribution of a controlled substance in connection with Mac's death.

Petit pleaded not guilty, according to WeHoville.

CORY MONTEITH

Cory battled substance abuse from age 13, and by age 19 entered a rehabilitation center after an intervention from family and friends.

The Glee actor, who was just 31 years old, was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room on July 13, 2013, by staff at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel when he had failed to check out of his room on time.

Police at the scene found a "spoon with drug residue and a used hypodermic needle", along with an empty champagne bottle and glasses.

"There was evidence in the room that was consistent of a drug overdose," the cops said at the time.

Cory's official cause of death was listed as "mixed drug toxicity, involving intravenous heroin use combined with the ingestion of alcohol."

At the time of his death, he was still filming the popular music show and received an emotional tribute episode as his character was also said to have died.

He was also engaged to co-star Lea Michele, who mourned him for years before moving on with Zandy Reich. The couple now shares a son, Ever Leo.

AMY WINEHOUSE

Amy Winehouse struggled with alcohol addiction through her early twenties, even once saying she drank every day since she turned 20 and has been drinking whiskey since age 12.

Her addiction grew worse after meeting Blake Fielder-Civil, who introduced her to hard drugs including heroin.

The singer's first manager, Nick Godwyn, spoke about this relationship with The Times in 2007, saying "Amy changed overnight after she met Blake. She just sounded completely different. Her personality became more distant. And it seemed to me like that was down to the drugs.

"When I met her she smoked weed but she thought the people who took class-A drugs were stupid. She used to laugh at them.”

After footage came out of her smoking crack, she entered rehab in January 2008. She fell off the wagon following her time in rehab and reentered in 2011, but she died just months later after her release.

Amy died of alcohol intoxication.

A coroner's inquest report revealed that Amy's blood alcohol content was 416mg per 100ml at the time of her death, which is more than five times the legal drink-drive limit.

It was also enough to make her comatose and depress her respiratory system. A second inquest confirmed that she died of alcohol poisoning.

WHITNEY HOUSTON

Hollywood lost a huge star in 2012 when the 48-year-old was found dead in a bathtub.

Despite the coroner determining she had died of accidental drowning, heart disease and cocaine abuse were also contributing factors.

Whitney passed away on February 11, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California before she was to perform at Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy Gala.

Despite many blaming her ex Bobby Brown for introducing her to drugs, Whitney herself denied the allegations and said she had used them since before she had met him.

Unfortunately, the demise of her career and later, herself, began when she started dating the rapper as the two would enable each other.

And after years of trying, it was tough for Whitney to stay clean, despite having to take care of her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.

She also died in a very similar way to her mom three years later, which then had Bobby Brown claim someone had done this to them.

MICHAEL JACKSON

Michael died on June 25, 2009, from an overdose of medical drugs.

His personal doctor was convicted for involuntary manslaughter in 2011 and served a two-year prison sentence for his part in the singer's death.

But that didn't mean that people would easily forget the King of Pop's past that easily.

After finding great success as a singer, the iconic star was rocked by a sex abuse claim made by 13-year-old Jordan Chandler, whose father demanded payment from Jackson as compensation.

Michael denied the allegations, but police raided the singer's home later that year and discovered books and photographs in his bedroom featuring young boys with little or no clothing.

A documentary entitled Living With Michael Jackson was broadcast in 2003, after the singer allowed a film crew to follow him nearly everywhere he went for a year.

In the film, Michael was seen holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with Gavin Arvizo, a 13-year-old boy.

After the documentary's release and a police raid, Jackson was arrested and charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent in an attempt to drug the child.

Michael was tried in 2005 and found not guilty on 14 charges, which related to child molestation, attempts to drug 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo, and an attempt to hold him and his family captive.

Michael argued that any sleepovers with the boy, who he claimed was his friend, were never sexual in nature.

After being acquitted, he closed his Neverland Ranch and moved abroad to Bahrain.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH

Anna Nicole Smith, who rose to fame as a Playboy model, died of an accidental drug overdose at a Florida hotel in 2007. She was just 39.

Her death was believed to be a result of "combined drug intoxication."

“She was my best friend, my lover, the mother of my daughter. She was everything to me, literally everything. My whole world,” longtime companion Daniel K. Stern told People.

He also said in court, according to Fox News: “She talked about death really from the time I met her.

"Anna always thought in a way that she was going to die young.

"She thought she was going to be like Marilyn Monroe, she thought she would die at the age of 36 or 37.”

Before her death, Anna had two children: Daniel Wayne Smith and Dannielynn Birkhead.

Daniel died of an accidental overdose at age 20 on September 10, 2006.

Stern said that Anna never recovered from the death of her son.

"Anna saw herself as both mother and father to Daniel," he told People after her death. "From the time I met her, everything was for Daniel.

“I would say that physically, she died last week, but in a lot of ways, emotionally she died when Daniel died.”

KURT COBAIN

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home on April 8, 1994, after dying from a gunshot wound to the head on April 5.

The beloved singer, who suffered from heroin addiction and mental illness, was discovered by electrician Gary Smith, who had arrived to install a security system.

Coming up to a room above the garage, Gary thought Kurt was asleep until he saw how a gun was pointing at his chin.

The coroner ruled that Kurt – 27 at the time, and father to one-year-old daughter Frances Bean Cobain – had killed himself.

A high concentration of heroin and a small amount of diazepam were found in Kurt's body.

The death came at the height of his fame, after the band he'd formed in 1987, Nirvana, had hit the big time with their track Smells Like Teen Spirit, and were all over MTV.

A public vigil for Kurt was held on April 10, 1994, at which his widow Courtney Love read sections of his suicide note to the gathered 7,000-strong crowd.

She later gave some of Kurt's clothing to mourners and attended a second funeral with Kurt's ex-girlfriend Tracy Marander.

On March 3, just over a month before his death, Kurt had attempted suicide in Rome by overdosing on champagne and Rohypnol.

JIM MORRISON

Jim Morrison was found dead in the bathtub of his Paris apartment at the age of 27.

According to his death certificate, he died from natural causes.

However, many have reported that that was not the case with Sam Bernett, a French-born former New York Times journalist, club manager, and friend of Jim, claiming he died of a massive heroin overdose in the bathroom of the Rock & Roll Circus club in Paris’ Left Bank.

He also claimed that the rocker was then moved to the tub as part of an astonishing cover-up meant to deflect blame from his drug dealers.

It is alleged that in the early hours of July 3, 1971, Jim showed up looking to buy heroin for his then-girlfriend Pamela Courson.

After getting what he wanted, he went to the bathroom but failed to reappear.

“About half an hour later, a cloakroom attendant came up to me and told me someone was locked in one of the cubicles and wasn’t coming out. I got a bouncer to smash the door down,” Bernett recalls.

He claimed he found Jim's body slumped over the toilet.

“We were certain he’d been snorting heroin because there was foam coming out of his lips as well as blood,” Bernett claimed.

“He was scared of needles so never injected drugs.”

Bernett brought in a customer who worked as a medic, who proclaimed Jim dead.

He also made the allegations that the club owner told him he'd take care of it and swore him to secrecy. It was then when the rocker was discovered in his bathtub.

JIMI HENDRIX

Jimi Hendrix, similarly to those in this list, was found dead after allegedly taking nine sleeping pills and died of suffocation through vomit.

He became part of the 27 Club – a group of celebrities and musicians who have passed away at 27 years old – then.

Musician Eric Burdon claimed that the guitarist left behind for the girlfriend in whose apartment he died what he called a “suicide note."

He claimed to Rolling Stones: "The poem just says the things Hendrix has always been saying, but to which nobody ever listened.

"It was a note of goodbye and a note of hello. I don’t think Jimi committed suicide in the conventional way. He just decided to exit when he wanted to."

However, Michael Jeffery, Jimi’s personal manager, and Michael Goldstein, Jimi’s publicity agent, have shut down that Burdon was close enough to Jimi to be speaking out about his death.

Jimi had spent September 17th at a German painter's apartment, who found him in a coma the next day.

He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

JUDY GARLAND

In June 1969, Judy Garland's new husband Mickey Deans found her dead in the bathroom of their London apartment after he was forced to break down the door.

She was just 47 years old at the time.

Following an autopsy, the coroner officially ruled the star's cause of death to be a self-administered accidental overdose on barbiturates, a then-common sleep aid.

He announced to the press: “This is quite clearly an accidental circumstance to a person who was accustomed to taking barbiturates over a very long time. She took more barbiturates than she could tolerate.”

Despite the tragedy rocking Hollywood, it wasn't a surprise for many as she had struggled with addiction and depression.

She had attempted suicide multiple times- so much so that it's alleged she tried to take her life more than 20 times.

Judy began using pills at the age of ten. Her mom would give them to her to give her energy on set and then help her sleep at night.

She later admitted that she could not keep up with her extremely hectic schedule without some sort of medication.

MARILYN MONROE

On August 5, 1962, actress Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. She was just 36 years old.

She was found by her doctor as she laid nude on her bed, face down, with a telephone in one hand.

Prescription pills, which were treating her depression, were found all over her bedroom.

After a brief investigation, Los Angeles police concluded that her death was “caused by a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs and that the mode of death is probable suicide.”

However, her death has long been a source of speculation and conspiracy theories – with some suggesting she may have been murdered due to her alleged affairs with the powerful Kennedy brothers John F Kennedy, who was then president, and his brother Bobby.

One theory, published in the book The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed, suggests that her personal psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson killed Marilyn with a lethal injection – at the request of the Kennedys after she threatened to go public about their affairs.

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