Biggest Celebrity Deaths That Stunned Fans 

Updated December 12, 2018

The Effects of Dying Celebrities

Dying celebrities always make headlines, whether they die from natural causes, long-term illnesses or sudden consequences. The bigger the celebrity, the more publicity he or she will receive, including coverage of the funeral, memorial service, autopsy report and, if applicable, police investigations.

This is a montage of celebrities whose deaths had profound effects on the world and people around them. Even in death, their lives and legacies continued.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) and his band Nirvana brought the alternative rock genre "grunge" into the forefront with their 1991 hit, Smells Like Teen Spirit. Fans and those in the music industry have named Cobain as one of the most "iconic rock musicians in history of alternative music." He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson (1948-2009), the self-proclaimed "King of Pop," was one of the most influential and commercially successful entertainers of all time. He is known for his unique dancing and singing, and was part of the legendary group, The Jackson Five. At the time of his death, traffic on the Internet surged, causing websites to slow down and in some instances, crash. He died from a cardiac arrest.

Martin Luther King Jr.
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The world mourned civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) when he was shot and killed on the balcony outside his hotel room. His legacy has secured human and civil rights movements throughout the world.

Margaux Hemingway
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At six feet tall, Margaux Hemingway (1955-1996) paved the catwalk for many of today's models. She was named the world's first supermodel and also was the first female in her profession to receive a $1 million-dollar contract. She died from a drug overdose.

Princess Diana
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The former Diana Spencer (1961-1997) was known to the world as the "People's Princess." Her life as a British royal was so intriguing, that when she died, more than 2.5 billion people watched her funeral on television. She died from injuries sustained in a car accident.

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy

For 46 years, Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy (1932-2009) served his constituents from Massachusetts, and for many years, was the most prominent member of the Kennedy family. The "Lion of the Senate" had more than 300 bills signed into law during his tenure. He died from brain cancer.

John Lennon
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As one-quarter of the legendary group The Beatles, John Lennon (1940-1980) was more than a musician. As a peace and political activist, he was strong and vocal about his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was fatally shot outside of his apartment building in New York City.

Elvis Presley

Dubbed "The King of Rock 'n Roll," Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was one of the first rockabilly performers and brought a new style of music to a generation of teens. After his death, his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee, became a museum where thousands visit each year. He died from a drug overdose.

Audrey Hepburn
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British actress and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) rose up to be one of early Hollywood's leading award-winning ladies. However, it was her work with UNICEF that brought her the most satisfaction. In 1992, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She died from abdominal cancer.

Stan Lee

Marvel co-creator Stan Lee (1922-2018) changed the world of comics with his intentionally flawed characters and quick wit. His appearances in nearly every Marvel film made him even more recognizable to fans around the globe. His November 2018 death from heart failure was not a shock - he lived to age 95 - but comic fans mourned the loss of Lee's creative genius.

Chris Cornell

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell's (1964-2018) suicide in May 2018 shined a light on mental health issues and showed the world that depression takes on many different forms and isn't always apparent.

David Bowie

David Bowie (1947-2016) was an artist who broke barriers and changed the way people viewed androgeny. Primarily a musician and songwriter, he also dabbled in acting and starred in the popular 1986 film Labyrinth. His death from cancer was anticipated yet still shook fans.

Saying Goodbye

Fans feel as though they "know" celebrities, even if they've never met in person. The death of a celebrity can feel like the death of an era and, for some, requires mourning just as the death of a loved one might.

Biggest Celebrity Deaths That Stunned Fans