What is it about fame that causes people to go over the edge? Excessive drinking, drug use and self-destructive behavior seem to go hand in hand with those who get even a small dose of popularity. Does fame cause it? Do famous people begin their own press and decide they don’t need to follow the same rules as everyone? Or, is fame just another drug and people need a fix?
Whatever the reason, celebrities self-destruct in a spectacular manner. Celebrity deaths, especially those of young stars, are very public and very fascinating. But are all the deaths of those who have burned out and died young as accidental as we have been led to believe?
It seems odd that people who lived life in the spotlight sometimes find death in the dark and in secret. And the causes of death remain suspicious and not as simple as we’ve been told.
Former Playboy Playmate of the Year, reality star darling and oil mogul widow, Anna Nicole Smith seemed to have the world in the palm of her hands. A high school dropout, Smith used her body and brains to climb the American fame ladder. Smith rode the celebrity train to go beyond the status of Playmate. She was a successful model for Guess jeans, a spokeswoman for Trim-Spa weight loss, and an actress in several big Hollywood films. She met, married, and soon buried a multi-millionaire husband, then and fought vigorously for her share of his fortune.
At the time of her death she was riding high as a reality TV star and had just given birth to a daughter. Reports said she overdosed on prescription pills in her hotel suite in Hollywood, Florida. Early speculation suggested she may have killed herself because she was distraught over the recent death of her 20-year old son, Daniel. But there are still too many questions. Her personal life was working out. She had love, money, and a new baby girl. Perhaps there is a clue in the immediate struggle after Anna’s death for control of the baby and of the fortune she inherited. Many of the drugs found in her system were prescribed to her boyfriend and others, perhaps showing that they weren’t something she normally took or that she was being given them without her knowledge.
While the cause of her death is known, it still isn’t known if she ingested any or all of those drugs willingly.
Officially the cause of death was suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head. But rumors persist that it was not suicide at all. Kurt’s rise to fame was meteoric. The success of his band, Nirvana, and album, Nevermind, started the musical movement known as Grunge. Kurt was no stranger to drug problems. The battle that he and his wife, Courtney Love, had with heroin was public knowledge and well publicized. Attempts at rehab failed, and even the birth of his daughter didn’t get him to clean up. An intervention with family and friends finally convinced him to check into a rehab clinic; where he simply climbed the wall and left.
The biggest concern with Cobain’s death seems to be the amount of drugs in his system at the time of the fatal gunshot. The amount of heroin in his system wouldn’t allow anyone to operate a firearm or properly position himself to be in harm’s way. Cobain also had no gunpowder burns or residue on his hands. The accompanying note near him seemed to have an addition referring to suicide written in different handwriting.
After his death, there were scores of fans left in mourning as well as a huge increase in Nirvana album sales. His widow, Courtney Love, inherited Cobain’s valuable copyrights and soon became a bestselling musician and award-nominated actress.
3. Marilyn Monroe
Perhaps one of the most mysterious celebrity overdoses is that of film legend and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was the “it” girl of the 1950s. She was the star of such classics as “Some Like it Hot” and “The Seven-Year Itch”. While popular in the spotlight, Monroe never seemed to find true love. She was married and divorced three times and is rumored to have had countless love affairs with actors and politicians, both while single and married.
Her death was attributed to a fatal mixture of barbiturates and alcohol resulting in “probable suicide”. While Monroe did have a prior history of talking prescription medication to help her sleep, she had no known drug or alcohol problem. There were many inconstancies about the final hours of her life and who she saw and spoke with on the phone. Was she the victim of a scorned lover? Some have suggested ties to the mafia who had interest in Monroe based on her relationship with President John Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Her final call on the night she died was reported to be to the White House. Some suggested that it was the relationship with the Kennedys that caused her death. Did she plan to tell about her relationship with one or more of the Kennedy brothers? Was she a threat to the President’s marriage that needed to be removed?
Despite her on-screen persona of the stereotypical dumb blonde, Monroe was known to be quite intelligent. Perhaps she knew or loved too much.