15 Attempted Assassinations of Famous People
Celebrities attract all kinds of unwell people who occasionally decide they’d like them better dead, but some go beyond the “everyday stalker” pale. They spend a long time plotting detailed murder schemes, for reasons ranging from political dissention to dating someone they think is wrong for them. Fortunately, these attempts often fail, sometimes hilariously.
Probably the most famous attempted celebrity assassination was the June 3, 1968 shooting of Andy Warhol by writer Valerie Solanas, who suspected Warhol of stealing her manuscript and later suffered the further indignity of being played by Lena Dunham. She served a few years for assault and died 20 years later, the year after Warhol, having apparently survived just long enough to see the job done.
In 2012, an incarcerated murderer put a hit on Biebs and even a bounty on his testicles. The hitmen only failed because they took a wrong turn and ended up at the Canadian border, where one of them was arrested on a warrant for violating parole.
In 1976, Bob Marley played a concert in Jamaica, which should have been the least controversial thing for Bob Marley to do, except the concert was held by Prime Minister Michael Manley, who convinced Marley the show would be a “non-political event” and then changed the date of the upcoming election to coincide so closely that it looked like Marley was playing a Manley rally. The guy who just wanted to do some jammin’ immediately started receiving death threats from the opposition and then death actions from three gunmen who invaded his home two days before the concert. Marley survived only to be killed five years later, as we all know, by the CIA for vague CIA-y reasons.
When you think of organized crime, you probably don’t think of Jackie Chan, but just before he came to the United States, he claims director Lo Wei hired Chinese gangsters to intimidate him. After Chan says they “opened fire at once got off” the airplane, he started packing heat and had to use it when they later “surrounded him with knives at a Hong Kong restaurant.” In fact, he says, he “confronted them with two guns and six grenades.” It might sound implausible that 20 gangsters with knives could assault a famous actor in public without that being a way bigger story, but are you really going to question Jackie Chan?
In 2008, a 16-year-old boy prepared to board a flight to Louisiana with the intention of overpowering the crew and crashing it into a Miley Cyrus concert. He was stopped before he even got on the plane, but if you’ve ever seen a teenage boy try to take down an adult (let alone several), you know no one was ever in any real danger.
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You could probably reach the “frequent sitcom guest star” tier of celebrities who al-Qaeda might like to kidnap and kill before landing on Russell Crowe, but he insisted “something to do with some recording picked up by a French policewoman” led the FBI to believe he was part of a plot to take “iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural destabilization plan.” Crowe isn’t even American, which is just one detail of this story that makes no sense, but the FBI confirmed the threat was genuine.
Getting pushed offstage might not seem as scary as knives and guns, but after an audience member rushed the stage and shoved Zappa 15 feet down into the pit in 1971, he had to use a wheelchair for a year and suffered from back pain for the rest of his life. The attacker apparently snapped because his girlfriend told him she thought Zappa was cute, which seems like an issue that could have been better resolved with some diligent mustache growing.
Posh Spice has been the target of numerous death threats and kidnapping plots over the years, but being married to the hottest man in England will do that (there’s so few to go around). The scariest moment came when the dot of a red laser appeared on her chest during rehearsals for the 2000 Brit Awards and security found a fire escape door wedged open near its origin point. They apparently didn’t try it again, so maybe they just mistook her for a cat.
In 2006, a Russian teenager was arrested after a private investigator uncovered his plans to murder Ms. McGuire at an event she was scheduled to attend. He’d come from Russia specifically to woo her, so he was pretty mad when he found out she was dating Joel Madden. Of course, we all were, but he took it too far.
In 1999, Harrison was attacked in his home by a knife-wielding maniac who actually managed to stab him pretty good before Harrison’s wife conked him on the head with a lamp. The attacker reportedly "believed that the Beatles were witches who flew around on broomsticks” and Harrison had possessed him, which is the ultimate victim blaming.
In 2011, neighbors reported two suspicious dudes hanging around Stone’s house to the police, who found a bunch of swords in their car and detailed plans for robbing and killing the singer because of her connections to the royal family. Let this be a lesson: Don’t commit your pop-star-beheading schemes to paper.
In 2009, security guards at the E! network offices intercepted a guy with a knife trying to enter the building who it turned out had previously attacked one of Seacrest’s bodyguards. Police believed he’d been stalking Seacrest, but we like to think he was just a fan of quality television.
50 Cent is so powerful that people have been plotting his death since before he was even famous. In 2000, he was shot nine times by a rival drug dealer, which might have been a blessing because 50 was safely recuperating by the time the alleged assassin was himself killed a few weeks later and Mike Tyson was accused of ordering a hit on members of the gang suspected of doing it. Bet you didn’t think Tyson was showing up here.
Monica Seles was the number-one women’s tennis player in the world when she was stabbed during a break in a match by a Steffi Graf fan in 1993, taking her out of the game for more than two years. It turns out tennis fans can be just as hardcore as gangsta rappers.
After he blamed them for Altamont, the Hell’s Angels rolled up to Jagger’s house from the sea like leathery pirates, armed and ready to prove him right. They apparently gave up after a storm nearly sank their boat, providing them time to reflect on whether they were, in fact, the baddies, so Jagger owes his entire post-’60s career to the subpar seafaring skills of motorcycle gangs.
Top image: Jack Mitchell/Wikimedia Commons