5 Celebrities Who Died Ludicrously Preventable Deaths

5 Celebrities Who Died Ludicrously Preventable Deaths

When celebrity deaths happen, they’re enormously affecting. Now, should they be so outsized in mourning, compared to the innumerable people who die every day, or the casualties of war? That’s the sort of question that’s both entirely too psychological and purposely grating for me to ever get into voluntarily. I’ll leave the musings on human morality and the ability of our brains to process grief without throwing our bodies into a woodchipper for some other, more boring website. You’re here for the icky stuff, after all!

Sometimes, a celebrity death is tragic, but not unpredictable, and hard to look back at and prevent. Obviously, outside of somebody finding the cure for cancer growing in a cabinet petri dish, most celebrities with serious medical maladies are done for. Things like addiction and mental health are difficult to defeat as well. Sometimes, though, a celebrity’s death revolves around an infuriating small, avoidable detail, something that could have been prevented with nothing more than a “HEY! Don’t do that.”

Here are five ludicrously avoidable celebrity deaths…

Anton Yelchin


Not even a cool car accident, with flips and stuff.

Anton Yelchin was a talented young actor, who certainly seemed primed for a continual rise. He’d already started to move his way up into the big money movies, landing roles in franchises on the scale of Star Trek. Unfortunately, the star of Terminator: Salvation found himself on the losing end of a battle with a much less impressive machine: his own Jeep.

At the age of 27, which I suppose technically makes him a member of the 27 club with the most insane form of admission ever taken, Yelchin was killed when his car rolled down his driveway and crushed him between a mailbox and security fence. The Jeep model in question was already under criticism for a confusing gear system that had drivers accidentally leaving it in gravity-vulnerable neutral instead of park. Yelchin fell victim to the most gruesome possible outcome of a simple parking whoopsie that it’s likely you’ve probably experienced yourself, but escaping with consequences that could be solved by light body work.

Brandon Lee

Public Domain

Im no fan of nepotism, but Bruce Lees kid gets a pass, because hell yeah.

One of the most famous film accidents of all time is the incredibly unpleasant legacy of Bruce Lee's son, Brandon. One that was brought back into the spotlight after the accident and subsequent finger-pointing caused by a firearm accident on the set of Alec Baldwin’s movie-to-be, Rust. The idea of not playing with guns anywhere, movie set or not, isn’t a lesson that should need to be refreshed by anyone who was never kicked by a horse, but it seems that once somebody hears the words “prop” and “blanks,” they suddenly get dangerously playful.

Blanks, specifically, were the culprit behind the death of Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow, where he had a starring role that he hoped would be his big break. Even if it didn’t launch him into the A-list, it would have pretty much plastered him onto the ceiling of every goth girl for the next few decades. The problem is, people seem to hear “blanks” and assume that gun is now as harmless as an off-brand Super Soaker, forgetting that you know, the thing that makes blanks go boom is still a load of genuine gunpowder. Firing a blank into someone’s head from close range, for example, still funnels a tightly contained explosive force directly into their skull, something medicine strongly recommends against. The thing that’s notably absent from a blank is just the projectile. Unfortunately, if a foreign object, bullet, or bit of metal is still in the barrel when the blank is fired, you’re basically right back to a (less efficient) bullet. A metal fragment in the barrel, launched out in just this way, is what ended the life of Brandon Lee.

Tennessee Williams

Public Domain

Even the most dapper men cant escape death.

I guess it makes a sort of grim sense that a famous playwright’s death would inspire all sorts of drama and warring accusations of cause. It’s exactly the sort of shouting match that the writer Tennessee Williams might have set in a drawing room in one of his plays. Among the greatest American playwrights ever, known for plays you probably either know deeply and love, or at the very least remember from a production at your high school or posters up around your college dorm. A Streetcar Named Desire, with the screamed “STELLA!” mocked in a thousand comedy sketches and movies, might be the most widely known of his plays.

Now, outside of its alleged cause, news of Williams’ death was not nearly as surprising as either of the earlier two entries. To begin with, he was 71, certainly not an age that suggests death’s door, but also one where bathtubs suddenly start becoming a possible cause of death. Secondly, and more worryingly, he was a well-acquainted and regular user of a variety of mind alterants like alcohol and barbiturates. These did lead to his death, but not in the direct way you’d assume: The theory put forward after his death was that he’d thrown back a pill or two on a bottlecap held in his mouth, when his lips slipped and the bottlecap itself lodged itself in his throat, asphyxiating him.

Isadora Duncan

Public Domain

Glamorous fabric and moving parts dont mix.

On the topic of vintage stars, the dancer Isadora Duncan is the less-than-lucky owner of one of the weirdest celebrity deaths of all time. As you might expect from someone who’d achieved fame through ballet dancing, she was known for a glamorous dress sense. Her most iconic and notable key accessory were her long, luxurious scarves.

The danger inherent in a scarf, of course, is that it’s by definition, a loose, flowing bit of cloth that’s attached directly to one of the most vulnerable bits of body you can find: the neck. There’s a reason they didn’t drop people from the gallows with a rope around their waist. It’s the reason they’re not a recommended gaiter for anyone working close to heavy machinery. Something that technically, a car is. All these elements combined to horrible effect in September 1927, when Duncan went for a short-lived drive in a convertible with a long red scarf whipping behind her… directly into the wheel well of said convertible, where it became tangled and strangled her, pulling her out of the car and onto the street by her neck.


Public Domain

Isaac Newton got off easy with an apple.

For our final entry, let’s go even further back into the history of entertainment, by which I mean all the way back to B.C. times. One of Greece’s greatest playwrights was a man with a name I’m deeply thankful I only have to spell and not say out loud — Aeschylus. He’s known as the “Father of Tragedy,” which would also make for an excellent metal album. He’s also famous for maybe one of the unluckiest deaths of all time that could, winkingly, be described as natural causes. Aeschylus was as bald as the day is long, something that turned out to affect not only his looks but his lifespan when an eagle mistook his hairless pate for a rock, and dropped a turtle on it from a great height in an attempt to crack his armored meal open. 

In the span of that single drop, the turtle unwittingly went from victim to murder weapon. Rest in peace, you beautiful, sad, bald bastard.

Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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