In spite of the hope that many of the most talented celebrities in Hollywood would shine on forever, the reality is that even the most glamorous of them are, in fact, human. These 35 final photos of some of the world’s favorite icons serve as more than a memorial to these incredibly talented individuals. They are a reminder to each of us to appreciate each and every moment that we have on this earth.
Best known for being a leading man in films like The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, Semi-Tough, and Hooper, Burt Reynolds’ legacy also includes being voted the world’s number one box office star for five years in a row, from 1978 to 1982.
Reynolds’ last photo was taken in March 2018 at the Build Studio, six months before he passed away. When asked about his life and career in an interview in Mirror, the Academy Award nominated star proudly stated, “I just think of the luck I’ve had. I’d like my epitaph to be, ‘He had a hell of a good time and he was a good friend.’”
Known as “The Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin first found success around the close of the 1960s, with such hits like “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Think.” Born in Memphis, Tennessee, the future Queen of Soul’s father was a Baptist minister and her mother was a pianist and singer.
Franklin’s final appearance was at an Elton John fundraising gala in November 2017, which included an inspired rendition of her hit song, “I Say A Little Prayer.” After her death, in August 2018, the public discovered that Franklin did not leave a will for her $80 million estate and, after some last minute legal scrambling, her four sons equally and amicably divided up her assets.
Ranked by Fox Sports as being one of the greatest NASCAR drivers ever, Dale Earnhardt was a 76 time Winston Cup race winner and a seven time champion. His aggressive professional driving style earned him the nicknames of “Ironhead,” “The Intimidator,” and “The Man in Black.”
Sadly, in 2001, Daytona Beach, Florida’s 500 mile long Daytona 500 would end up being the professional drivers’ last race. In his final photo Earnhardt can be seen standing with his wife Teresa. Moments later, during the last turn of the race, Earnhardt’s car was clipped by another car and he was propelled into a wall.
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Robin Williams wasn’t just another comic, he is widely considered to have been one of the greatest comedians that ever lived. Nominated twice for an Academy Award, Williams’ most memorable works include Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, Aladdin, and Mrs. Doubtfire, to name just a few.
On August 11, 2014 many were stunned to discover that Williams had taken his own life at his home in Paradise City, California. Although the act was initially contributed to depression, Williams’ wife disputed that, saying in an interview with the Guardian that, “Depression was one of…50 symptoms, and it was a small one.” Rather, she asserted, it was a debilitating brain disease that was the primary cause.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had been drawn to acting as a teenager, where he began performing on stage before attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Shortly after graduating, Hoffman made his first appearance in an episode of Law & Order and a year later, in 1992, gained widespread recognition for his supporting role in Scent of a Woman.
The actor known for choosing to play roles of “reprehensible” characters, namely lowlifes and misfits, made his final public appearance at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. There, Hoffman spoke openly and honestly about his personal problems, including his addiction to heroin. Nearly two weeks later, Hoffman was found dead in his apartment from a drug overdose.
The wife of Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son, Prince Charles, Princess Diana initially was noted for her shyness in the public eye. But these appeared to be just growing pains, coming in to the royal family, and seen her shyness gave way to a charisma that endeared her to the public along with her involvement in numerous charities.
The Princess of Wales’ final photo was taken moments before the car crash that would tragically end her life, and her funeral was one of the most viewed events in history. The venue, Westminster Abbey, had an estimated 3 million mourners and was watched by about 2.5 billion people in 200 countries and in 44 languages.
Chester Bennington was the lead singer of the popular band, Linkin Park, whose first studio album, Hybrid Theory, is considered to be the best selling debut album of the 21st century. Following the release of Linkin Park’s second album, Meteora (2003), Bennington formed his own band, Dead by Sunrise and later became the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots.
Bennington’s final photo was taken by his wife, Talinda, and she posted it on her Instagram a month and a half after his death. For the caption Talinda wrote, “Suicidal thoughts were there, but you’d. Never kmow [sic].” In honor of her late husband, Talinda then launched a campaign called 320 Changes Direction whose goal is to break the stigmas surrounding mental illness.
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One of the best selling music artists of all time, and with albums which were all certified, at minimum, gold, Whitney Houston has been considered by many to be one of the best singers ever. She was so beloved for her talent, that she was even given a Guinness World Record for most awards received by an artists.
Houston had originally been scheduled to perform at a pre-Grammy Awards party on February 11, 2012. Three days prior, Houston had the final photo taken of her while rehearsing for that party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. The guests were likely stunned to discover that Houston had died on the same day the party was scheduled, which instead became a tribute to her.
Known as the “King of Rock and Roll,” or simply, “The King,” Elvis Presley’s musical career would invariably have a profound effect on popular culture at the time by making rock and roll a cornerstone of the counterculture movement of the 1960s.
Presley’s final appearance would be at his June 26th concert at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1977. Less than two months later, The King was found dead at his Memphis mansion, Graceland. Presley’s effect on music and American culture was so profound that in 2018, he was posthumously given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in The United States.
Garry Shandling initially began his career not as an actor, but as a writer for sitcoms like Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter. After a successful stand-up performance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Shandling became a guest-host before, in 1986, starring in his own late-night show It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and later The Larry Sanders Show, both of which were nominated for numerous Emmys.
Shortly before his passing, the comedian had been featured on the popular Jerry Seinfeld show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In it he joked, “What I want at my funeral is an actual boxing referee to do a count, and at ‘Five,’ just wave it off and say, ‘He’s not getting up.’” His final photo was posted just days after his death by his longtime friend, Kathy Griffin.
James Dean is arguably most associated with his role as troubled teenager, Jim Stark, in the 1955 film, Rebel Without A Cause. After his death, close friend and actor Martin Landau described Dean as the embodiment of teenage angst and disillusionment following the generation that had just returned from World War II.
Dean died at age 24 in a car accident. The above photo actually shows the young actor with the Porsche that he was driving on that fateful afternoon. A week before his death, Dean, who was very interested in racing at the time, was showing off his car to British actor Alec Guinness who remarked, “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.” Curiously, this happened exactly seven days prior to the terrible incident.
Originally from Ontario, Canada, John Candy became a well-known Hollywood comedic actor of the 1970s and ’80s. He is mostly known for his roles in Splash, Spaceballs, and Uncle Buck to name a few, but also had work in more dramatic films like Only the Lonely and JFK.
Candy had been struggling with weight issues for awhile, and ultimately died of a heart attack while filming the Western parody, Wagons East in Durango, Mexico. That film, along with another film Candy starred in, Canadian Bacon directed by Michael Moore, were dedicated to Candy’s memory as a result of his untimely death.
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Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Brittany Murphy moved to Los Angeles at age 15 in order to pursue a career in acting. Four years later, in 1995, Murphy accomplished her breakthrough role as Tai Frasier in the hit romantic comedy, Clueless. Other notable works include Don’t Say A Word, 8 Mile, Happy Feet, and as the voice of Luanne Platter in King of the Hill.
Murphy’s untimely death occurred only seven days after her last public appearance, which was a red carpet appearance for the unveiling of Tt Collection’s Pop-Up shop in Los Angeles. On December 20, 2009 Murphy died from what appeared to be pneumonia. The oddest thing was that her then-husband died of the exact same thing only months later, fueling speculation about a possible alternative cause.
Born in 1989 in what was then called Leningrad in the Soviet Union, or modern day’s Saint Petersburg, Russia, Anton Yelchin’s family left for the United States when the future actor was just a baby. Yelchin’s acting initially started with small television and film roles, but his career got a big boost after appearing in the Steven Spielberg miniseries, Taken.
The actor, who was also an aspiring photographer’s final photo was posted on his own Instagram account just three days before he died. His death resulted from a freak car accident near his home in Los Angeles. Two years after his passing, an exhibition of Yelchin’s personal photographs was conducted at New York’s De Buck Gallery.
Amy Winehouse’s deep, soulful voice helped her become a critical success after the release of her debut studio album, Frank, in 2003. Winehouse’s success hardly stopped there, and her second album, Back to Black (2006) earned her five Grammy Awards, making her the first British woman to win that many Grammys.
Winehouse’s final photos were taken only a few days before her death, when the hitmaking artist was performing to a crowd of 20,000 people in Belgrade, Serbia. After the disastrous concert, the remainder of Winehouse’s European tour was canceled. A few days later, the Back to Black singer was found dead in her North London home.
Dubbed the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson’s four decade career earned the praise of crowds and critics who described him as one of the greatest entertainers ever. Jackson’s popularity made him one of the best-selling artists in history, and his 1982 album, Thriller, is still the best-selling album of all time according to Guinness World Records.
Even at age 50, Jackson was still showing off the dance moves that had made him a legend. In the photo above, Jackson is captured rehearsing for an upcoming concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 23, 2009, just two days before his death.
The legendary Lucille Ball is mostly famous for playing the lead role on the popular ’50s sitcom, I Love Lucy. Not only was this leading woman nominated for 13 Emmys, out of which she won four, but she was also the first woman to run a major production company, Desilu Productions, responsible for popular television series like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek.
Ball’s last appearance was the the 1989 Academy Awards ceremony, where she had been convinced by her friend, and popular comedian Bob Hope, into joining him in appearing on stage. Apparently, only after a significant amount of begging did Ball finally relent and join Hope on stage at the awards show. Sadly, less than a month later, the star passed away.
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s solo trans-Atlantic flight was a historic moment. Not only had Earhart been the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a plane, her 1932 solo flight made her the first female pilot to ever successfully attempt such a feat. Her experiences were written down in several novels, and were considered to be instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an international organization for female pilots.
Sadly, on July 2, 1937, her Lockheed 10E Electra crashed near Gardner Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Rumors and conspiracy theories were rampant following the famous pilot’s death, including that she had been a spy and was captured by the Japanese.
Bradley Nowell, the lead singer of ska punk band Sublime, was born and raised in Long Beach, California where he also met bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh while attending California State University. Sublime’s first two albums, 40oz. To Freedom and Robbin’ the Hood both received both critical and commercial success.
At the time, nobody knew it was about to be Sublime’s final concert, but that night at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, California would be the last time all the original band members played together. The day after the show, Nowell died of a drug overdose. Two months later, the band released their third album in his honor.
The space shuttle Challenger’s first launch was on April 4, 1983. At the time, it was the second orbiter of NASA’s Space Shuttle program to be put in to use. Three years and nine launches later, the ship broke apart 73 seconds into its tenth mission resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members, including a civilian teacher, Christa McAuliffe.
After the tragedy, a special commission to investigate the account was appointed by then-president Ronald Reagan. The investigation discovered that NASA itself was to be held responsible for the incident, since many of their own safety guidelines were ignored during the mission.
The Russian revolutionary partially responsible for bringing down the Czarist Empire and bringing about the rise in communism is considered a highly divisive figure in history. While Vladimir Lenin’s motivations were brought about after the execution of his brother by the Russian Empire, he eventually became the founder and leader of a regime responsible for repression and mass killings.
In the final photo before his death, Lenin can be seen in a wheelchair next to his sister, Anna Ilyinichna Yelizarova-Ulyanova, and one of his doctors, Aleksei Kozhevnikov. This 1923 photo was taken a year before Lenin’s death. By this time, Lenin had already suffered three strokes.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay and widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali’s quickness in the ring was summarized by one of his most famous quotes, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” In addition to boxing, Ali was an active philanthropist and humanitarian who involved himself in numerous political and civil issues.
Ali’s final photo was taken on May 22, 2016, just 12 days before he died, by his daughter Hana. After his death, Hana recalled in a blog post about how she had been watching one of her father’s interviews where he recanted how he “whooped George Foreman.” “Wasn’t I something?” he reportedly asked, to which his loving daughter replied, “You still are, and you always will be.”
Frank Zappa’s numerous influences make his style of music difficult to characterize. His first album with band The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined rock and roll with studio generated collages, and later projects incorporated his satirization of American culture. For this, Zappa has been described as the “godfather of comedy rock.”
Zappa’s last public appearance was during an interview near the end of his life where he talked about his friend, composer Nicolas Slonimsky, and how much he admired his work. Zappa, who had been suffering from prostate cancer for a while up to that point, died on December of 1993, shortly after that final appearance.
Originally from Perth, Western Australia, Heath Ledger came to the United States in the early 1990s to pursue his dream of acting. That dream eventually became a reality for the actor from down under, and Ledger became a respected award-winning actor in Hollywood, most recognizable for his roles in A Knight’s Tale, Brokeback Mountain, and The Dark Knight.
Ledger reported to the New York Times that his work on I’m Not There and The Dark Knight had caused him some adverse sleep effects, particularly his work as the Joker, during which he isolated himself in a hotel room in London for a month. Some of the last photos taken of him, like the one featured above, were on the set of his final movie, The Imagination of Doctor Parnassus, which was released after his death.
Lawyer, statesman, and President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln’s accomplishments include leading the Union through the Civil War and preserving the unity of the United States. He also was responsible for the abolishment of slavery in the United States, along with strengthening the federal government and modernizing the country’s economy.
Lincoln’s final photo is disputed, as some believe it was the one shown above, which was taken by Alexander Gardner on April 10, 1865, only five days before his death. Other sources point towards evidence that the former president’s final photo was actually taken on the White House’s southern lawn by Henry F. Warren.
Who shot and killed John F. Kennedy? Much to the disappointment of conspiracy theorists, evidence from five independent government investigations points to the direction that it was this man, Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was a former Marine who defected to the Soviet Union, where he lived for three years before moving back to the States with his new Russian wife.
At 12:30 p.m. on November 22, 1963, Oswald shot then-president Kennedy while he was driving in a motorcade with his wife. After his arrest, the assassin denied any involvement in the murder, claiming that he was just a “patsy.” The final photo of Oswald shows him being transferred by Dallas police officers, just as he was shot and killed by nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.
One of the most successful songwriters in history, both with Paul McCartney and as a solo artist, was the legendary musician John Lennon. Originally part of the Beatles, in 1969 Lennon started a new band with his second wife, Yoko Ono, and a year later the Beatles disbanded.
The formation of the Plastic Ono Band with Ono coincided with a shift in Lennon’s music. The lyrics began to reflect a far more pacifist message, particularly advocating for an end to the war in Vietnam. Three weeks after he and Ono’s final album was released, Lenon was shot outside his Manhattan apartment. In the top center photo, Lenon can be seen signing a copy of that album for Mark Chapman, the man who would murder him only minutes later.
Alan Rickman’s deep, slow voice, combined with his purposeful pronunciation, made him an ideal movie villain, a role which the late actor excelled at. Rickman was praised for his work as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, and who can forget his performance as Serverus Snape in the Harry Potter movie series?
In 2015, Rickman revealed to close friends that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, one of the most common forms of the horrible disease in the UK and the United States. One of his last public appearance was at the performance of the hit Broadway play, Hamilton, where he was photographed backstage with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, less than two months before his passing.
From songs like the classic 1969 hit, “Space Oddity,” to 2016’s “Lazarus,” few could compete with David Bowie’s meteoric career – spanning nearly half a century. He has been considered by numerous publications to have been one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, and at 140 million albums, is one of the best selling artists of all time.
Two days before the musical icon’s death, he had made his final appearance for the release of his final album, Blackstar. That album’s release was also on the same day as Bowie’s 69th birthday, and all signs pointed that more would soon follow. According to Bowie’s producer, Tony Visconti, “At that late stage, he was planning the follow-up to Blackstar.” Guess that album is up there with the stars, rest in peace Bowie.
With one of the opening lines of “Lord Vader, only you could be so bold,” Carrie Fisher stepped in to popular culture playing the memorable character of Princess Leia in Star Wars. One of her most defining roles, Fisher was posthumously made a Disney legend in 2017.
The Star Wars princess’ last photo was taken only hours before she died. Before boarding a flight from London to Los Angeles, Fisher stopped to upload a photo of herself in front of the Charles Dickens Lounge. While on the plane, Fisher suffered a heart attack, and a doctor and several nurses who happened to by flying rushed to the actress’ aid, until the plane made an emergency landing. Sadly, she died later that same day.
Steve Irwin, otherwise known as “The Crocodile Hunter,” was best known for his career on the show which gave him his moniker, The Crocodile Hunter. Irwin’s love for animals was apparently inherited from his parents, who were the owners of the 1,000 acre Australia Zoo, just outside of Queensland.
Irwin’s last photo came moments before his sudden death on September 4, 2006. At the time Irwin and his cameraman, Justin Lyons, were conferring about whether the weather was considered too poor to continue shooting for the day. It was determined it was, so Irwin and Lyons jumped in the water for another project about stingrays they were working on. Sadly, it was Irwin’s last swim, he was stabbed by one of the stingrays and died after being rushed to the hospital.
Scholars have considered statesman and president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt to have been among the greatest presidents in US history, placing him next to the likes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Roosevelt not only led the United States out of the worst economic disaster in history, he was also at the helm throughout almost all of World War II.
In preparation for the founding conference of the United Nations, Roosevelt went to rest up at his personal retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia; a place affectionately named “The Little White House.” On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, Roosevelt abruptly stated, “I have a terrific headache,” before slumping forward, unconscious, in his wheelchair. He died later that day.
Serving at the height of the Cold War, John F. Kennedy (otherwise known simply as Jack) was the 35th president of the United States. A talented orator, many of his speeches are considered iconic, and the significance he placed on civil rights helped lead to the passing of the landmark Civil Rights Act in 1964.
In a moment that shocked the nation, Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 while riding in his motorcade through Dallas, Texas. The president was rushed to Parkland Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Since then many memorials, such as the Kennedy Space Center, have been named in his honor.
Originally from Wembley, Middlesex, England, Keith Moon was the drummer for the British rock band, The Who. Moon’s prodigious drumming has been credited to his restless behavior – the artist was the first to smash musical equipment after shows in what became a signature end to concerts performed by The Who.
Moon’s last photo was taken on the night he died, at the premiere of a Buddy Holly biopic, The Buddy Holly Story. The premiere was taking place at the Covent Garden Diner in Peppermint Park, and thrown at the behest of Paul McCartney. Moon can be seen in the photo with his then girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax, hours before his death resulting from a drug overdose.
Singer, poet, and songwriter, Leonard Cohen’s many accolades include an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cohen’s music, tackling many of life’s most important subjects from war to love, has been named as influential by numerous famous musicians.
Less than a month before his death, Cohen gave his final press conference for the You Want It Darker album at the Canadian consulate in Los Angeles. There, the talented musician remained in good humor, joking with the audience while discussing the themes in his, and other artists’, work. Ultimately, the Canadian star died on November 7, 2016 due to his battle with leukemia.
Source: You Magazine, ABC News, New York Times