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Here are 30 movies that came out after a lead actor died and 20 actors who tragically never made it to their final movie premiere.
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The death of Natasha Richardson shocked the world after the Parent Trap actress died after hitting her head during a ski trip accident in Canada back in 2009. She'd been married to actor Liam Neeson for 15 years at the time of her death and her sister, Joely Richardson was known for her roles in the live-action 101 Dalmations and on FX drama Nip/Tuck. Natasha's death was excedingly tragic because, although she injured herself skiing, she regusing medical attention until a harsh headache came on hours later and she was jetted off to a prestigious NYC hospital. Unfortunately, two days later, she died from bleeding in the brain.
The actress's voice role in The Wildest Dream was maintained and the Everest flick based on a true story came out the year after her death.
Bernie Mac was a comedic national treasure when he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a bewildering medical condition that causes tissue inflammation in those affected. In 2008, when Bernie was just 50, sarcoidosis attacked his lungs and caused cardiac arrest after treatment. The actor had three movies in post-production at the time, including Soul Men. Eerily, Barnie's co-star in Soul Men, Isaac Hayes also died before the flick came out — just one day after Bernie did.
You may know Peter Boyle from Everybody Loves Raymond, Scooby Doo 2, or While You Were Sleeping. After a long career in the movie industry, Peter died at 71-years-old due to plasma cell myeloma (multiple myeloma) and heart disease. The actor was recast in The Golden Boys, which had yet to film. However, since his role was finished in All Roads Lead To Home, the movie was released posthumously. The film won Best Feature Drama at the International Family Film Festival and also featured Patton Oswalt.
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There were two tragic deaths of lead actors prior to the straight-to-DVD release of 2005's Bad Girls From Valley High. Jamie Leigh Curtis's mom and the star of Psycho, Janet Leigh sadly passed from vasculitis. She had dedicated almost 60 years of her life to Hollywood when she died at 77-years-old. Her Bad Girls... costar was much younger when he died in 2003 at age 27 from suicide. The film had actually completed filming in '00, though the studio waited five years to release it and it didn't make quite a splash as it went straight to DVD. Strangely, this film has suicide as a central theme.
Aaliyah was best-known for her talent beyond her years in the musical department, but the young star was trying her hand at film when she died in a plane crash with eight others on her team who were also killed. After she died, the music video for her hit track "Rock the Boat" premiered. Then, Queen of the Damned premiered, which was the second film she ever starred in. Her brother helped get the film ready for release by re-dubbing some of her lines during post-production. The horror flick was number-one in the box office when it came out.
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Aaliyah wasn't the only famous musical artist who had films released after their death. Tupac Shakur may be known as a rapper, but he had three films in the works when he was murdered in September of 1998. Bullet was released just one month later and costarred Mickey Rourke, Adrien Brody, and Donnie Wahlberg. Gridlock'd came out four months after Tupac died, and Gang Related with James Belushi and Dennis Quaid came out 13 months after his death.
Since Tupac's death, archive footage of the West Coast rapper has been used for several other films, and he's even been made into a hologram for concerts. It's safe to say his spirit lives on with the fans who remember him.
Bruce Lee is iconic. The martial-arts expert and San Francisco native had appeared in countless movies and TV shows before his unexpected death in 1973. He actually first collapsed while doing work for Enter the Dragon. The MMA fighter found out he had cerebral edema, but it wasn't until three months later when he had an allergic reaction to a pain-reliever prescribed to him that he died. Two of his films were released after he died. Enter the Dragon came out shortly after Bruce's death and made a whopping 90 million dollars worldwide as it was hailed as one of the best movies from '73.
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Gone With The Wind actor Clark Gable was once referred to as "The King Of Hollywood" until he died at age 59 in 1960 after a heart attack and arterial blood clot. The Misfits came after his death, but perhaps more noteworthy, his only son also came after Clark Gable died. In fact, Kay Gable gave birth in the same hospital her husband died in. She blames his work in The Misfits for his untimely departure. "It wasn't the physical exertion that killed him. It was the horrible tension, the eternal waiting, waiting, waiting. He waited around forever, for everybody. He'd get so angry that he'd just go ahead and do anything to keep occupied," she allegedly said. Though some claimed Marilyn Monroe's lack of professionalism irritated Clark, she did go to his son's baptism after the actor died.
Bill Paxton has been a beloved celebrity since he was in a band called Martini Ranch in the late '80s. He jumped into acting soon after, starring in The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, The Greatest Game Ever Played. He appeared on TV shows like Big Love and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. His last role was in a movie that premiered after his death called The Circle that starred Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.
When Bill was 61-years-old, he died of a stroke eleven days after his open-heart surgery in 2017. Just weeks before he died, he said during an interview that a rheumatic fever he had in his childhood caused damage in his heart valve.
Waitress may be known for Keri Russell's role in it, but her co-star and director Adrienne Shelly made headlines before the films release for all the wrong reasons. The 40-year-old actress, real name Adrienne Levine, was found dead in November of 2006 under suspicious circumstances. Investigators initially believed it to be a suicide because of how she was found but her husband knew that couldn't be true since she had a two-year-old daughter. There was a sneaker print found in her home, along with cash missing from her purse. A construction worker for her building ultimately confessed that he'd attacked the actress and staged her body to appear as a suicide.
Waitress, the film Adrienne wrote, directed, and starred in, premiered the year after her murder.