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12 Famous People Who Tragically Died While Performing

famous people died

Death is by far the most unpredictable part of our conceived reality. And even the brightest, the mightiest, and the most famous of all are not spared by the touch of it. Below is a list of 12 famous people who tragically died while performing what got them recognition. The art that got these people closer to themselves was what killed them in the end. As tragic as it may sound, there could be no way any of these lives could have been saved. Even if that had been possible, we would still have many of these people on this list who were fairly young at the time of their death.  

1. Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee was a rising action star and the son of the famous Bruce Lee. He died tragically when a prop gun was mishandled on the set of the film “The Crow.” 

Brandon Lee
Brandon Lee (Image to the left), The Crow. Image credits: the crewman.frandom, Dimension Films

Bruce Lee needs no introduction to the world, the action superstar and martial artist suffered an untimely death, and what followed it was the death of his young son, a rising American action star, Brandon Lee. Brandon was shooting for the film The Crow.

On the set during an action sequence, Brandon was shot with a prop gun and suffered major injuries. He later died because of the injuries. Brandon Lee had a very promising career ahead of him, and a lot to offer to the world of action movies. He too left the world in an untimely and very early way, just like his father, the great action hero, Bruce Lee. (source)

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2. Steve Irwin 

Steve Irwin, aka “The Crocodile Hunter” suffered a tragic death caused by what looked like a calm stingray’s attack in 2006. 

Steve Irwin
Australia Zoo, Beerwah, South Queensland, AUSTRALIA. Image credit: Bernard Dupont via Flickr

Steve Irwin was shooting a documentary, namely “Ocean’s Deadliest,” on  Batt Reef. It was September 4, 2006, and due to bad weather, the shooting was suspended for the day. Steve snuck out any way to get some footage for his daughter’s presentation.

He dived deep into the shallow water and came across a short-tail stingray that is generally calm, but that day was unlike any other.

The stingray attacked and stabbed Steve hundreds of times in the chest, and he died because of severe fatal injuries. According to Steve’s cameraman who was not injured and was later able to describe the tragic scene, Steve’s last words were, “I’m dying.” (source)

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3. Chung Ling Soo

Chung Ling Soo, a magician died on stage while performing an act of catching a bullet, which went fatally wrong.

Chung Ling Soo
Chung Ling Soo (Image to the left). Image credit: Henry Ridgely Evans via Wikimedia, Shutterstock

William Ellsworth Robinson, known by his stage name, “Chung Ling Soo,” was a famous Chinese Illusionist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. On March 23, 1918, Soo performed a dangerous act, “Condemned to Death by the Boxers.”

The notorious stunt involved two of his assistants firing a gun at Loo at point-blank range. The magician would then appear, to pluck the bullets out of mid-air.

The act had the potential to go wrong for so many obvious reasons, and it finally did. Soo died because of the severe bullet wound he received on that day while performing the stunt. (source)

4. Vic Morrow

Vic Morrow, an American actor, suffered a tragic helicopter crash while shooting a film that took his life along with two other child actors. 

Vic Morrow
Vic Morrow (Image to the left). Image credits: ABC Television via Wikimedia, CBS Productions

On July 23, 1982, Vic Morrow and two child actors, namely, Renee Shinn Chen and Myca Dinh Le, were killed in a mishap involving a helicopter during the shooting of the film Twilight Zone.

The victims were shooting a fight scene based on the Vietnam War, which involved the actors escaping a chasing helicopter. The pilot of the low-flying aircraft lost control at one point and crashed directly into the three actors. Vic Morrow was decapitated by the blades of the helicopter.  (source)

5. Jon-Erik Hexum

Before the tragic death of Brandon Lee, Jon-Erik Hexum suffered a similar fate. On Oct. 12, 1984, Jon shot himself on a show’s set while attempting to pull a joke on the crew members. 

Jon-Erik Hexum
Jon-Erik Hexum. Image credit: Christie Jenkins via Wikimedia

This 26-year-old action star who played green beret-turned-model, Mac Harper in a widely anticipated series that had worldwide interest and featured style photography, had been taking naps as the shooting was continuously delayed.

Subsequent to realizing there would be even more delays, Hexum held the firearm to his head, allegedly joking to his crew members on set, and pulled the trigger. The effect from the impact cracked his skull.

He was hurried to a nearby hospital where after undergoing lengthy medical procedures, he would stay in a state of coma until he was declared dead due to a severe brain hemorrhage on Oct. 18 (source)

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6. Les Harvey

On 3 May 1972, the 28-year-old famous guitarist of the Glaswegian Band died by touching a short-circuited microphone on stage. 

Les Harvey
Les Harvey (Image to the left). Image credits: bbc.co.uk, Shutterstock

Les Harvey was the guitarist of the famous 70s blues-rock band Stone the Crows. While performing on stage in front of a crowd of thousands of fans, he touched an unearthed microphone.

That caused the death of the promising 27-year-old because of the electrocution. The group would go on to break up a short time later.

Leslie Harvey had been the lead guitarist of several Scottish rock bands and finally joined Stone the Crows as the co-founder. He also collaborated with another group but left after the vocalist and the bassist were killed in a fatal tour van crash accident. (source)

Also read: 10 Actors Who Almost Died on Set While Filming

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