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The Most Tragic Things Revealed In Actor Autopsy Reports

The public's fascination with celebrities can be all-encompassing: the most intimate, granular details of their personal and professional lives are sought after and pored over by fans and recalled in exacting fashion by biographers and media outlets. Sometimes, that need for information even extends beyond the lives of celebrities. The how and why of a media figure's final days and death are the subjects of numerous books and documentaries, which often extend their research to the most intimate and morbid element of a celebrity's demise: the autopsy report. Such reports, which typically occur at the request of a family member or if the individual dies unexpectedly, provide a scientific breakdown of the subject's physical state in the hopes of providing an answer to the cause of death. 

In most cases, the autopsy report confirms what was already known about the celebrity's passing. But others reveal secrets that the public, and in some cases, the celebrities themselves, may not have known. Following is a list of tragic details revealed to the public about famous figures through their autopsy reports.

The following article discusses substance abuse and suicide.

Robin Williams

The final months of Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams' life were difficult. His film career had faltered, as had a return to television with the sitcom "The Crazy Ones" only lasting one season. He struggled to maintain sobriety and checked into a rehab center in 2014, but also dealt with a variety of other health issues, including depression, anxiety, memory loss, and paranoia. A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in 2014 seemed to indicate a root cause of his troubles, and Williams' well-being continued to decline. On August 11, 2014, the 63-year-old was found dead by suicide in his home in Tiburon, California.

When the Marin County Sheriff's office released its coroner's report in 2014, it confirmed what friends, family, and the public already knew: Williams died after hanging himself in a locked bedroom in his home and had also cut his wrists with a pocketknife. However, an examination of Williams' brain revealed a shocking new diagnosis: Williams was suffering from Lewy body dementia, not Parkinson's disease. 

The disorder, which affects 1.4 million Americans, is distinguished by a host of physical and mental issues, including memory and attention loss, hallucinations, behavioral issues, sleep and movement problems, and loss of bodily function control. According to Williams' widow, Susan Schneider Williams, the actor struggled with near-constant fear, paranoia, and anxiety, as well as personality changes and insomnia, which eventually proved too overwhelming for the actor to withstand.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker died on November 30, 2013, when a car carrying the "Fast and Furious" actor and his friend, financier and racer Roger Rodas, collided with a lamppost and two trees in the San Fernando Valley suburb of Valencia, California. The vehicle burst into flames after striking the second of the two trees, and both Walker and Rodas were declared dead by Los Angeles County firefighters who arrived on the scene. While it was believed that Walker died as a result of the collision, a report from the Los Angeles County Coroner showed that the 40-year-old suffered a far more agonizing fate.

According to the report, Walker's body was found lying across the passenger seat of the car. Walker had suffered extensive "thermal injuries," including charred skin and fractured bones that, according to the medical examiner, were heat-related; even the position of Walker's body, which was described as a "pugilistic stance" with flexed elbows and knees, was due to body tissue and muscle contraction due to the heat of the fire. Soot was found in Walker's trachea, which indicated that he was able to draw a breath and, therefore, was alive while the car was on fire. His bloodstream also had 14% carbon monoxide saturation — 12% higher than normal levels. The report ultimately cited traumatic and thermal injuries as the cause of Walker's death.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

It was a tragic end to an acclaimed career: Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead at the age of 46 on February 2, 2014, the result of a drug overdose. As his longtime partner, costume designer Mimi O'Donnell noted in an essay for Vogue, Hoffman had struggled with substance abuse during his college years and remained sober for decades before experiencing several personal struggles that led to a relapse and return to treatment in 2013.

In late February 2014, the New York Medical Examiner's Office issued its findings in a report, which stated that Hoffman's death was the result of an accidental overdose caused by acute mixed drug intoxication. A combination of various narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines, may have been "stacked" or taken sequentially in a relatively short period. Chronic drug users may not feel the immediate effects of substances and mix more drugs in order to produce a high; as Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, said in a 2014 interview, "They're not feeling it, but it's still having an impact on their ability to breathe, and that's the real problem."

Bob Saget

On January 9, 2022, comedian and "Full House" star Bob Saget was found unresponsive in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida. The 65-year-old was pronounced dead on the scene of what was initially reported as blunt-force trauma to the head. The Orange County Sheriff's Office conducted an investigation and relayed their findings to Saget's family, who issued a statement in February of that year. "They have concluded that he accidentally hit the back of the head on something, thought nothing of it, and went to sleep," the family wrote in the statement, adding that no drugs or alcohol were involved. The New York Times also noted that the sheriff's office dismissed any suggestion of foul play.

The autopsy report gave a more detailed account of the extent of Saget's injuries. Dr. Joseph Stephany, the chief medical examiner for Orange and Osceola counties, wrote that Saget suffered a serious blow to the head, one that caused fractures to the back, right side, and front of his skull. The blow also led to vein rupture, which caused blood to pool in the space between the brain and the surrounding membrane. Stephany concluded that the injuries were most likely caused by a fall, though medical professionals questioned the idea that Saget would have gone to sleep after experiencing such an injury.

Garry Shandling

On March 23, 2016, Emmy-winning comedian Garry Shandling told a doctor friend that he was experiencing pain in his legs and shortness of breath. The friend advised the "Larry Sanders Show" star to seek medical attention, but Shandling demurred; when his condition failed to improve on March 24, 2016, Shandling called 911 and collapsed during the call. He was rushed to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, where he was pronounced dead at the age of 66.

Shandling's death was initially reported as a heart attack, but the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office opened an investigation to determine the actual cause. The office issued their findings in December 2016, which noted that a toxicology report found only therapeutic amounts of Xanax and opiates (which were prescribed for then-recent dental work) in his system. The report also found that Shandling had died from a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot in his lungs. The clot, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), developed in his legs during a trip to Hawaii, during which Shandling had reported feeling unwell, according to the coroner's report.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blood clots can form when individuals must travel while sitting in a confined space, such as a flight. In many cases, the clots dissolve on their own, but some break apart and move to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

Tyler Sanders

Actor Tyler Sanders' impressive list of television credits included a starring role on the Amazon series "Just Add Magic: Mystery City" and guest appearances on "9-1-1: Lone Star" and "Fear the Walking Dead," all of which he'd achieved while still a teenager. Unfortunately, Sanders also struggled with both depression and substance abuse, the latter of which contributed to his untimely death at the age of 18.

Sanders was found dead in his Los Angeles home by a friend on June 16, 2022, six months before the Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner issued its findings. The report noted that Sanders had a history of drug use and had informed a friend the night before his death that he had reported using fentanyl. The same friend found Sanders at his home and called paramedics, who pronounced the actor dead. Drug paraphernalia was visible and identified at the scene.

Medical examiner Robyn Parks wrote in the report (via Today.com) that fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid, can be 50 to 100 times as potent as the pharmaceutical painkiller morphine. "Based on the history, circumstances, and examination as I currently know them, the manner of death is accidental," she concluded.

Anne Heche

On August 5, 2022, Daytime Emmy-winning actress Anne Heche was involved in a series of vehicular accidents before colliding with a house that caused both the car she was driving and the building to catch fire. It took firefighters 45 minutes to extricate Heche from the vehicle, during which she suffered both severe burns and smoke inhalation; treatment at an area hospital and burn center revealed that the extent of her injuries included a traumatic brain injury. After lapsing into a coma, Heche was declared legally dead on August 11.

Law enforcement officials stated at the time of the accident that Heche was under the influence of narcotics, and a preliminary blood analysis appeared to show the presence of cocaine and other drugs in her system. However, a report from the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner that was issued on December 6, 2022, found only an inactive element of cocaine and marijuana, which meant that she had not used either substance at the time of the crash. 

The official cause of death was listed as smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, with first-degree burns to over 40% of her body. Heche also suffered a sternal fracture due to the collision with the house, which made it difficult for her to breathe and, according to the coroner's office, contributed significantly to her death.

Anton Yelchin

Fans of Anton Yelchin were stunned by the news in 2016 that the "Star Trek" actor had died as a result of injuries incurred when his own car pinned him against a security fence at his home in Studio City, California. A police investigation and subsequent report from the Los Angeles County Coroner's office found that the 27-year-old actor died as a result of blunt traumatic asphyxia, or intense compression of his chest. The report suggested that at 1 a.m. on June 19, 2016, Yelchin may have stepped out of his 2015 Grand Jeep Cherokee to check his gate or mail; the vehicle, which was parked on a steep incline on his driveway, may not have been properly parked, and rolled backward, crushing him against a brick fence pillar and the gate.

The report opined that Yelchin's death was accidental and took place within a minute after the car struck him. CBS News noted in 2016 that 850,000 vehicles — the majority of which were 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees — were under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because of their electronic gearshift, or e-shift, which had an increased "potential for unintended gear selection." Yelchin's family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for undisclosed terms in 2018.

Naya Rivera

The legacy of the popular, Emmy-winning musical comedy-drama series "Glee" was tempered by the fact that three of its cast members died under tragic circumstances. Actors Corey Monteith, who died of a drug overdose, and Mark Salling, who took his own life after being charged with possession of child pornography, preceded actress Naya Rivera, who played cheerleader Santana Lopez on the series. She died while spending time with her four-year-old son at California's Lake Piru on July 8, 2020.

A report from the Ventura County Medical Examiner revealed that Rivera and her son, Josey, were swimming in Lake Piru. After helping her son back into their rented boat, Rivera was unable to return to the craft. The report stated that Rivera's son saw his mother struggle in the water and call for help before disappearing beneath the surface; her body was found five days later on July 13, 2020. According to the report, Rivera suffered from vertigo and had small amounts of the anti-anxiety medication diazepam and an appetite suppressant in her system, but neither of these was cited as a factor in her death, which was attributed to accidental drowning.

Michael K. Williams

Actor Michael K. Williams overcame a debilitating struggle with substance abuse to become a powerful presence in numerous acclaimed television series, including "The Wire," which cast him as the vengeful Omar Little, "Boardwalk Empire," "Community," and "Lovecraft Country," which earned him an Emmy nomination in 2021. Williams was also dedicated to supporting individuals, especially young people, through nonprofits like his Making Kids Win initiative. He also explored the circumstances that often brought young people to the drug trade and juvenile justice system through Emmy-nominated documentaries like the Vice News series "Black Market." Tragically, Williams was found dead at the age of 54 in his Brooklyn apartment on September 6, 2021.

A report from the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that Williams had died of acute drug intoxication after using heroin laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl and an analog, para-fluorofentanyl. His death was ruled accidental. Fans and co-stars alike paid tribute to Williams. In 2023, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York reported that Irvin Cartagena, part of the drug trafficking organization that sold heroin to Williams, pled guilty to charges of conspiring to distribute narcotics.

Cameron Boyce

Authorities were called to the home of Cameron Boyce on the afternoon of July 6, 2019, after the actor was found unresponsive. Boyce, who was best known for such series as "Jessie" and Disney's "Descendants," was pronounced dead on the scene, shocking fans and co-stars alike. While tributes poured in on social media, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office performed an autopsy but deferred giving a cause of death due to a need for "further investigation."

The coroner's report, issued July 30, 2019, noted that Boyce suffered from epilepsy and stated that his death was natural and caused by a seizure related to the condition. A statement from Boyce's family corroborated that finding and added that he died in his sleep due to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), a little–known condition that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects approximately one out of every 1,000 individuals with epilepsy. The exact cause of SUDEP is not known, but the CDC wrote that death may occur when an individual's seizure causes an interruption to breathing patterns or heart rhythm. 

Heath Freeman

A frequent guest star and recurring player on numerous television series, actor Heath Freeman appeared on "ER," "NCIS," and "Without a Trace," and also enjoyed a three-episode arc between 2005 and 2007 as the sadistic serial killer Howard Epps on "Bones." Sadly, Freeman earned more headlines for his untimely death at the age of 41 on November 14, 2021. Freeman was pronounced dead after being found unresponsive in his home in Austin, Texas. Several months later, the Travis County Medical Examiner made public its findings in an autopsy report.

The report was made public on March 9, 2022, revealing that Freeman died of a combination of alcohol, narcotics, and prescription medication. Among the drugs found in Freeman's system at the time of the autopsy was the lethal synthetic opioid fentanyl, as well as cocaine, the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone, and alprazolam, a generic form of Xanax. The report also noted that police discovered both Xanax and oxycodone pills at Freeman's home. Both opiates like oxycodone and benzodiazepines like Xanax are dangerous and potentially lethal when combined with alcohol, while fentanyl is a highly potent drug that carries a high risk of fatal overdose.

Charlbi Dean Kriek

South African model turned actress Charlbi Dean Kriek, who often went simply by Charlbi Dean, was on the brink of stardom thanks to a role in the 2022 film "Triangle of Sadness," which had won the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year. But her ascent was cut short on August 29, 2022, when her representation reported that Dean had died of a sudden and unexpected illness at a New York City hospital. Her cause of death wasn't revealed until December of that year when a spokesperson from the New York Medical Examiner's Office stated that the 32-year-old died of bacterial sepsis.

The examiner's office revealed that Dean, who also had a recurring role as Syonide on "Black Lightning," had been infected by Capnocytophaga, a bacterium commonly found in both animals and humans. The bacteria is related to a variety of health problems and, in certain cases, can cause serious illnesses; the examiner's office reported that the sepsis occurred because Dean was vulnerable to infections after having her spleen removed following a 2009 car accident in Cape Town, which also left her with multiple broken bones and a collapsed lung.

Natalie Wood

The circumstances surrounding the 1981 death of Natalie Wood continue to fascinate classic Hollywood and true crime devotees alike. The Oscar-nominated actress drowned while on a boat trip with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, on November 29, 1981; an autopsy report issued at the time by Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi cited accidental drowning and hypothermia as the cause of her death. The report also noted "superficial skin bruises on the extremities and abrasions on the left side of her face," which were attributed to injuries sustained at the time of Wood's drowning. A number of prescription drugs were found in Wood's system, including the painkiller Darvon, medication to combat seasickness and insomnia, and two unidentified pills.

The superficial injuries on Wood's body remained a pressing question for those who believed that there was more to the actress' demise than drowning, and when the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office reopened the inquiry in 2011, these bruises and other marks were suggested as supporting evidence that Wood may have been injured prior to entering the water. As a result, the cause of death was changed to "drowning and other undetermined factors," though no conclusive evidence of another cause was, or has yet to be, presented.

Yvette Vickers

Cult movie fans remember actress Yvette Vickers as the curvaceous star of '50s science fiction favorites such as "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" and "Attack of the Giant Leeches." The actress and former Playboy Playmate achieved a greater if more tragic notoriety in death when she was found at her Beverly Hills home on April 27, 2011. A concerned neighbor who noted that the 82-year-old Vickers had not been seen for several months entered the actress' house and found her remains, which were in an advanced state of decomposition.

According to a report by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, the cause of Vickers' death was heart disease. However, the body was so decomposed that the coroner's office described it as appearing to be mummified and in a state of decay so advanced that initially, it was impossible to determine whether the body was male or female. Eventually, dental records helped to confirm that the body was that of Vickers, but the exact date of death was impossible to determine. Lt. Tony Carranza of the Los Angeles Police Department told ABC News, "Once you start to have decomposition, it becomes more difficult but it looks like it's probably six months; it's hard to say."

Stephen tWitch Boss

The shock and dismay that fans of Stephen "tWitch" Boss experienced upon learning of his death by self-inflicted gunshot wound were compounded by an autopsy report that shed new light on the circumstances surrounding the dancer and "Ellen DeGeneres Show" DJ's death. According to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's report, no other factors contributed to his death on December 13, 2022, which was confirmed as a suicide.

The 40-year-old entertainer did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system, and his body showed no other signs of trauma or wounds. Additionally, Boss' wife, dancer and choreographer Allison Holker, told law enforcement that her husband did not have a "history of suicide attempts or suicidal ideation;" she also confirmed that he did not have any mental health problems or financial or marital issues that might have contributed to his suicide. "High-functioning depression" — which is not an official clinical diagnosis — has been theorized as the cause of Boss' actions.

River Phoenix

One of the most tragic examples of an actor's life being cut short as their full potential was just beginning to be realized is definitely River Phoenix. A child actor who had already seamlessly transitioned into teen and then adult roles, the sky seemed to be the limit in terms of Phoenix's career prospects as an actor going into the '90s. Unfortunately, like so much of young Hollywood at the time, Phoenix found himself spending a lot of time at L.A.'s notorious Viper Room, a nightclub known as a place that reveled in allowing celebrities to indulge in various excesses. 

In 1993, only two months after turning 23, Phoenix collapsed on the sidewalk just outside of the Viper Room. He was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead a short time later. All signs pointed to a drug overdose, but it wasn't until the results of toxicology reports were released two weeks later that the details behind his death came into greater focus. Not only was the overdose ruled to be accidental, but there was sufficient evidence that pointed to Phoenix not being fully aware of the exact type or dosage of the drugs he was handed while partying. In fact, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department stated that murder charges were on the table for whoever supplied Phoenix with the drug cocktail that took his life. Unfortunately, it was never determined who that person was, so no charges were ever filed. 

Heath Ledger

As short a filmography as Heath Ledger had — and not even reaching his 30th birthday before his passing — it's astounding to look back at how confident the young actor already was in the direction of his career. Even when he did a rom-com ("10 Things I Hate About You") or a silly action comedy ("A Knight's Tale"), he seemed to have a knack for picking the better examples of such genres and wound up appearing in ones that became cult classics for years to come. He also managed to deliver the first performance in a superhero movie to ever earn not only an Oscar nomination but a win for his astounding take on the Joker in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." 

As we all know, that Academy Award would unfortunately be given to the actor posthumously. "The Dark Knight" was in post-production when Ledger was found unresponsive in his Manhattan apartment. Paramedics were called, but they were unable to revive him, and Ledger was gone at just 28 years old. After initial reports suggested that drugs might have been involved, some jumped to the conclusion that Ledger had probably become depressed from having to play such a dark character and intentionally took his own life as a result. An autopsy would refute those claims, with Ledger's death ruled accidental and the result of an ultimately lethal combination of various prescriptions the actor was taking at the time for stress and insomnia.

Carrie Fisher

"Star Wars" actor Carrie Fisher had long battled with various demons related to substance abuse, and she always spoke candidly about such things in interviews and through her various books. By always being open and honest about her personal life and often being humorously self-deprecating in the process, the actor and writer was often celebrated for her mission to battle the stigmas associated with addiction and mental health issues. 

Despite any mixed feelings she might have had about the franchise that made her famous, Fisher — alongside original "Star Wars" co-stars Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford — reprised her role for the long-awaited sequel "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in 2015. None of their characters survived until the end of the sequel trilogy, but Leia's passing was much more poignant: Fisher herself died following the filming of "The Last Jedi" while on a promotional tour for her memoir "The Princess Diarist." She stopped breathing while aboard an airplane and, after four days in an intensive care unit, passed away at the age of 60. 

Cardiac arrest due to complications from sleep apnea was initially stated as Fisher's cause of death. A later autopsy determined that she had heroin in her system and that the drug might have exacerbated her struggles to breathe during her cardiac episode, which significantly decreased her chances of surviving the heart attack. 

Chris Farley

As the 1980s drew to a close, "Saturday Night Live" was in desperate need of a reinvention. Luckily, a fresh batch of cast members would soon inject the show with a new, youthful energy that helped to reintroduce it to a whole new generation of budding comedy fans. Among that group were Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Chris Farley, all of whom would soon become huge stars. 

Unfortunately, fame came at a price for Farley. "Saturday Night Live" had something of a reputation for its performers indulging in various vices behind the scenes, so it shouldn't be taken lightly that Farley's substance abuse struggles were so bad that the show actually suspended him over it at one point. The more famous he got, the more he felt pressured to keep up the manic energy that became his trademark — and he often enlisted drugs to help him in that aim. Those indulgences also spilled over into his personal life, and his hard partying got harder as time went on. 

When Farley hosted "SNL" for the first time in 1997, the decline in his health was noticeable. He would die just two months later at age 33 from a drug overdose. It was later determined that he didn't have a lethal dose of substances in his system when he died, but his heart was in bad shape as a result of his obesity and should have long since been repaired via surgery. 

Bruce Lee

While he had been making movies since he was literally just a baby, most of the English-speaking world first took notice of Bruce Lee when he played sidekick Kato in the 1966 "Green Hornet" TV series. But it was with his pioneering martial arts films in the 1970s — namely, "Fist of Fury," "Enter the Dragon," and "Game of Death" — that Lee truly became a global icon. Sadly, he had already died before two of those movies were even released.

In 1973, just as Lee was becoming a worldwide phenomenon, he passed away a few months shy of his 33rd birthday. He had previously suffered cerebral edema, but doctors were able to initially reduce the swelling in his brain through medication, and Lee returned to his normal routine. But he soon began having headaches again, and after he could not be roused from a nap one evening, Lee was rushed to the hospital — and declared dead on arrival. 

Lee's death has long been the subject of speculation by fans, including the far-fetched theory proposed by biographer Matthew Polly that Lee's surgery to have his sweat glands removed caused his body to become overrun with a lethal amount of water. The autopsy ruled out any foul play or illicit drug use and instead seemed to confirm that the cerebral edema had either returned or had never fully subsided and that an allergic reaction to a medication he took that evening (Equagesic) sealed his fate.

Lucille Ball

"I Love Lucy" is one of the most influential television shows in history, and star and co-creator Lucille Ball was among the first women to wield major creative control in the industry. Despite now being nearly 70 years old, "I Love Lucy" continues to air on television in varying capacities and is still a ratings winner when it does. In addition, even in an era when physical media is on the decline, "I Love Lucy" has seen new DVD and Blu-ray collections as recently as 2019. 

While "I Love Lucy" remained Ball's most famous project, the actor and comedian continued to remain active in show business throughout the rest of her life — including the ill-fated 1986 sitcom "Life with Lucy," her last major project. But even if the show had been a ratings smash, health issues would have severely impacted Ball's ability to give it the effort it needed. Around 1984, Ball began experiencing chest pains. Rather than having a doctor assess the situation, Ball self-medicated with "poppers" to mitigate the pain and did so for several years. 

Though she seemed healthy as recently as the month before her 1989 death at 77 from cardiac arrest, an investigation after her passing found that she had long suffered from a condition called cystic medial necrosis, a slow tearing of the walls of the blood vessels. Had the condition been diagnosed and treated when she first experienced symptoms, she might have lived much longer.

Brittany Murphy

An unfortunate case study of how the media often tends to jump to the worst conclusions about celebrities, even after their deaths, is Brittany Murphy's sudden passing in 2009 at the age of 32. After the "Girl, Interrupted" star had lost a significant amount of weight in the early 2000s, which left her looking much thinner than she previously had, various tabloids decided to make the assumption that drugs — specifically, cocaine — had to be the culprit. Following her death, those rumors reared their ugly heads once again, not helped along by the initial coroner's statement, which mentioned "multiple drug intoxication."

However, a full autopsy report was later completed that painted a very different picture. The drugs found in her system at the time of her death were not only all legal but were of the type used to treat a respiratory infection like a cold or flu. Her death, which was ultimately ruled an accident, was the result of Murphy having contracted pneumonia as the result of a respiratory infection. Additionally, her body was in a weakened state, unable to fight the pneumonia due to an iron deficiency that had been exacerbated by the actor menstruating at the time of her death. It was just a perfect storm of circumstances that proved lethal to Murphy, none of which were the result of taking illegal drugs or even the abuse of over-the-counter medications. 

Errol Flynn

One of Hollywood's first big-time leading men, Errol Flynn, was best known for being the male half of romance movies as well as the hero in epic adventure movies throughout the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. He was also responsible for the first major on-screen portrayal of Robin Hood. But even back then, Flynn was just as notorious for his off-screen behavior as he was celebrated for his acting, known for hard partying that involved a lot of drugs and a lot of women.

Flynn was also one of Hollywood's first cautionary tales in that regard. The actor only made it to his 50th birthday before his hedonistic lifestyle caught up with him, and his death certificate was basically a checklist of all the things that happen to one's body after years of excessive substance abuse and disregard for anything approaching a healthy lifestyle. Particularly shocking is how the coroner's report described the state of Flynn's corpse, saying that the actor's body and internal organs resembled that of a 75-year-old — meaning that his hard living fast-forwarded his biological clock by a whopping 25 years. 

The coroner also made note of rampant evidence of side effects of his many years of womanizing, which we won't go into detail about except to say that a headline about his life describing a "warts and all" account of his later years wasn't just metaphorical. 

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, needs help with addiction issues, contact the relevant resources below: 

  • Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org
  • Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).