Celebrity deaths that are still shrouded in mystery

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Two things always go hand in hand: celebrity deaths and conspiracy theories. Nothing tickles normal folk’s imagination more than a celebrity death under murky circumstances.  So, even though some of these deaths happened decades ago, that hasn’t stopped the many ‘Sherlock Holmeses’ from trying to sniff out the truth. And sometimes, these conspiracy theories even led to the reopening of cases after decades. Here are 10 of the most mysterious celebrity deaths.

1. Natalie Wood, 1981

On November 28, 1981, the child star-turned-Oscar-nominated actress Natalie Wood was yachting off Santa Catalina Island with her then-husband Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. That night Wagner and Walken got into a heated argument and the intoxicated Wood went to bed. When Wagner went to bed, the actress was already missing. Hours later, Wood’s body was found floating in the Pacific covered in a flannel nightgown and blue socks, starting one of the most mysterious deaths in the history of Hollywood.  At the time, the “West Wide Story” star’s death was ruled an accidental drowning, but since then there have been countless rumors and questions raised about what actually happened on the boat that night.  The case was shrouded in mystery for nearly 30 years, leading the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to reopen the case in 2011 and the following year  the cause of death on her death certificate was changed to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

2. George Reeves, 1959

 

In 1959, George Reeves, renowned for his role in “The Adventures of Superman,” was discovered lifeless in his Beverly Hills home. The 45-year-old actor was found lying naked in his bed, a single gunshot wound to the temple ending his life. While authorities initially ruled the death a suicide, the circumstances surrounding Reeves’ untimely demise sparked further investigation. Intriguingly, Reeves’ mother, unsatisfied with the official conclusion, commissioned an independent inquiry of her own. As speculation mounted, some suggested that Reeves’ former lover, actress Toni Mannix, may have played a role in orchestrating a sinister plot against him. These enigmatic circumstances surrounding George Reeves’ death captured the attention of the public, with the story even inspiring the 2006 film “Hollywoodland.”

3. Marilyn Monroe, 1962

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Sam Shaw

Marilyn Monroe

Hollywood’s most glamorous and doomed star was found dead in her bed on August 5, 1962, at her Los Angeles home, reportedly due to sleeping pills overdose. The actress’ sudden death was officially ruled a probable suicide, but her fans strongly disagree with many claiming there’s more to Monroe’s demise than an accidental overdose. Many theories point fingers at the Kennedys being involved in the actress’s death, as the “Some Like it Hot” star was supposedly having an affair with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. Some 20 years after her death, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office reopened the case in but found no evidence to support any of the theories, and backed the findings of the original investigation.

4. Tupac (1996)

On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur attended a boxing match and later rode in Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight’s car. At a stoplight, a white Cadillac approached, opened fire on Shakur’s side, and inflicted fatal injuries. Six days later, the rapper succumbed to the wounds and was declared dead. Yet, over the years, fans have sworn to have spotted Shakur alive and well, claiming that the rapper orchestrated his own death in a very Machiavellian fashion. Despite fervent conspiracy theories, uncooperative witnesses, and flawed investigations, no one has been held accountable for Shakur’s murder.

5. Bob Crane, 1978

On June 29, 1978, the star of the TV comedy “Hogan’s Heroes,” was found beaten to death in his Scottsdale, Arizona apartment, at age 49. The police found Crane who had an electrical cord wound around his throat had photographed and filmed pornography, and had probably been bludgeoned with a camera tripod. Crane’s case was reopened in 1990 and Crane’s friend John Carpenter,  was tried for the crime and acquitted in 1994 due to lack of DNA evidence.

6. Jack Nance, 1997

Jack Nance,  the regular gloomy antihero in David Lynch’s cult favorites such as “Eraserhead” and “Twin Peaks,” was found dead on December 30, 1996. The cause of death was attributed to a subdural hematoma caused by blunt-force trauma. A day before his lifeless body was found on the floor of his apartment by screenwriter Leo Bulgarini, Nance showed up with a black eye at a South Pasadena coffee shop.  “I told off some kid,” he said, as actress Catherine Case later recalled. “I guess I got what I deserved.” Speculation surrounds the circumstances leading to Nance’s demise, with two prevailing theories emerging. One theory suggests that he was involved in a physical altercation at a local doughnut shop, where he may have been struck in the head and knocked to the ground. Another theory proposes the possibility of self-inflicted harm, as Nance was found to have a high blood alcohol level at the time of his death.

8. Bobbi Kristina Brown, 2015

Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late Whitney Houston, met a tragic end on July 26, 2015. After being discovered unconscious in her Georgia home, she remained in a comatose state until her passing nearly six months later in an Atlanta-area hospice. Sadly, Bobbi Kristina never regained consciousness, leaving unanswered questions about the events leading up to her being found face down and unresponsive in her suburban Atlanta bathtub.

Over a year later, the autopsy results revealed that her death resulted from a fatal combination of multiple drugs and water immersion. However, the medical examiner couldn’t definitively determine if her demise was intentional or accidental, categorizing it as “undetermined.”

9. David Carradine, 2009

Thai authorities discovered the lifeless body of a renowned actor and martial artist, known for his roles in both “Kill Bill” films, in a Bangkok hotel room. The 72-year-old was found naked and hanging in a closet. He had traveled to Thailand to work on his latest film, “Stretch.” A subsequent private autopsy revealed that the cause of death was asphyxiation, ruling out suicide but leaving the possibility of accidental death open. In 2011, the actor’s widow reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the production company behind the film. She alleged that an assistant was supposed to assist him in navigating the city but abandoned him the night before his body was discovered by the police.

10. William Desmond Taylor, 1922

William Desmond Taylor, a prominent director of silent films was discovered dead on the floor of his Los Angeles bungalow, with a bullet lodged in his back. Adding a layer of intrigue to the case, a love note addressed to Taylor from Mary Miles Minter, a young actress who had starred in his films, was reportedly found in his home. Minter later admitted to being present at Taylor’s residence on the night of his murder, along with her mother, Charlotte Shelby. Curiously, the gun used in the crime matched the one Minter had previously attempted to use on herself. Despite these intriguing circumstances, no one was ever prosecuted in connection with the case, leaving it unsolved.

 

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