Famous people often become important parts of our lives whether we like it or not. We blast their music, watch and subsequently rewatch their movies, admire their work for society, and even obsess over their day-to-day lives with reality shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians. That’s what makes it even sadder when one of our favorite celebrities passes away, sometimes tragically.
Looking at the last photographs taken of these celebrities is often spooky and surreal as we witness one of their last moments on this earth. At the time, it would seem like any other ordinary picture, but it’s made all the more meaningful later.
There are some very famous photographs taken of celebrities before they passed away, including Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and more. Without further ado, let’s look into some of the most poignant final photos taken of these celebs while they were alive. Some of them are sure to hit you right in the feels!
One Of The Best Songwriters Of Our Generation
The world still feels John Lennon’s presence in so many ways. Whether it’s his amazing musical works including the inspired “Imagine” or his views on human rights and life in general, Lennon had a huge impact on the world while he was alive.
This photograph is powerful for a number of reasons. Not only was it taken a few hours before Lennon was murdered, but the man he’s signing an autograph for, Mark David Chapman, was actually the man who committed the murder. Only 40 years old when he died, we can only imagine the number of great things Lennon would have done had he been alive all these years.
Lennon’s photo was taken years ago, but click the next slide for a more recent “final photo” of an actor who’s passing was a real shocker!
The Funny Man: Garry Shandling
Someone passing away is always more shocking when it’s completely unanticipated, as was the case with Garry Shandling.
Only 67 years old at the time, Shandling was enjoying some time with famous friends Kathy Griffin and Bob Odenkirk as seen in this photograph. Four days later, the comedy world was rocked by news of his sudden passing. The cause? Apparently, a blood clot moved from his leg into his lungs without any warning.
Check out the next slide to see the last photo of one of history’s greatest actors and a legendary man who died way too young!
James Dean: Hollywood’s Ultimate Bad Boy
“He left this earth too soon” is an expression we hear often, and never has it been more fitting than in the case of the iconic James Dean.
On September 30, 1955, Dean died doing something he loved: racing sports cars. He was traveling on Route 466 in Cholame when he swerved suddenly to avoid oncoming traffic. The ensuing crash took his life, and he passed away at the early age of 24 years old. We can only imagine the thoughts running through James Dean’s mind on this fateful day as he gassed up his Porsche and had his whole wonderful life ahead of him.
He Hunted Crocodiles And Captured Our Hearts
Some celebrities so perfectly represent the personality of their homeland, and Aussie great Steve Irwin was definitely one of them. Known for his adventurous and fun-loving spirit, the “Crocodile Hunter” often entertained us with on his television series showing us all kinds of exciting wildlife.
This photograph was taken just two days before a stingray’s poisonous stinger pierced his heart and he died on September 4, 2006. He’s seen posing with marine biologist Chris Jones on his boat.
His Death Rocked The World…We Still Can’t Believe It
As if being Robin Williams wasn’t cool enough, the man also had a monkey named Crystal!
It’s well-noted that Williams battled depression throughout his life and even attempted to take his life previously. Finally, rumored illness became too much for Williams as he took his own life. Later, his neighbors would comment that he looked very hollowed and frail in the weeks leading up to his death. This photograph captures one of the last happy moments in Williams’ life.
There’s no doubting the impact Robin Williams had on this world, but the next person on our list was a huge icon in his own right.
Freddie Mercury: A True Performer
Singer, songwriter, producer – was there anything Freddie Mercury couldn’t do? We’ll never know for sure as he passed away when he was only 45 years old.
This photograph was taken of the British frontman of legendary band Queen shortly before he died of bronchial pneumonia as a result of AIDS. His band took a long hiatus after his passing, but have tried to forge ahead in his absence with new singers like Adam Lambert. One thing is for sure, no frontman will ever do it like Freddie Mercury did!
The Man, The Legend, The Goblin King Himself
Looking at this final picture taken of David Bowie, one would never think that he was seriously ill and not long for this world, but that was the sad truth.
After an 18-month battle with cancer, Bowie passed away on January 10th, 2016 after 70 years of life. This photograph was taken only two days before on January 8th. The beauty of the picture is that Bowie made the most of his life, even in the final hours. He released his final album shortly before his passing.
He Changed The Tech World Forever
Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur, inventor, marketer, and true visionary. He was one of the founders of mega-company Apple, and his absence has been noted in both his professional and personal life.
This photograph captures the sad reality of cancer and how hollow it can leave a person. This was taken on August 26, 2011, and Jobs died two months later on October 5, 2011, as a result of his battle with pancreatic cancer. There have been multiple biographies and films made about his life that tell a colorful story.
A Man Whose Story Lives On More Than 60 Years After His Passing
Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps still one of the most influential people in the world even though he’s been dead for over 60 years.
Gandhi led the independence movement in India back when it was ruled by Britain. He relied solely on non-violent civil disobedience, and despite his peaceful ways, he was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Nathuram Godse, the other man in this picture, shot Gandhi three times in the chest in the middle of a large crowd of people.
The Original Bombshell & National Heartthrob
Despite appearing to have it all, Marilyn Monroe had a sad fate in store for her.
On August 5, 1962, Monroe’s psychiatrist found her dead from a barbiturate overdose in her home. Only a week before, she was captured in this photograph with jazz pianist Buddy Greco and appeared to be having a grand ‘ole time. Although having a huge film career and reputation as one of Hollywood’s biggest sex symbols and actresses, Monroe died in a suspected suicide at 36 years old.
The King Of Orgasmic Rock Aka Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison’s talent was matched only by his personality, and he still has a cult following to this day.
This picture was taken on June 28, 1971, and it captured one of Morrison’s happy moments with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. The frontman of the popular band The Doors died only five days later in Paris due to what appeared to be a heroin overdose. Fans still identify with his rebellious and rambunctious spirit today.
Musicians, especially in the past, seemed to meet similar fates at the hands of drugs.
Hendrix Made The Electric Guitar What It Is Today
One shocking fact about Jimi Hendrix is that his career spanned only four short years. Even though it was a brief stint, he’s still noted as one of the most influential guitarists to ever live.
Monika Danneman took this beautiful picture of Jimi Hendrix on September 17, 1970. It was taken in the garden behind Danneman’s apartment. The next day, Hendrix died due to a drug-related asphyxia that occurred in London.
Amy Winehouse Sung About Rehab And She Desperately Needed It
It turns out that Amy Winehouse’s song “Rehab” wasn’t so far from her everyday reality as she suffered from alcohol and drug addiction.
Winehouse was photographed while strolling the streets of London on July 12, 2011. Just over a week later on July 23, 2011, she died from an alcohol overdose. Winehouse was found in her London home. Although only 28 years old when she died, her short career was impactful and she had many fans that mourned her passing. Her parents established a foundation in her honor.
It Was Always 4:20 Somewhere In Bob Marley’s World
Bob Marley survived being shot in 1976, but unfortunately, couldn’t survive the cancer that took his life five years later.
Known for his loving and peaceful nature, Marley was beloved by his family and by a huge fanbase that seems to have only grown larger in recent years as the message carried in his lyrics still applies. This final photograph was taken of Marley while he was in Munich, Germany in 1981. He died a few months later on May 11 in Miami, Florida. His musical legacy has been carried on by his children.
The King Who Died On His Throne
The “King of Rock and Roll” was an American heartthrob and musical game changer. At a conservative time in history, Elvis Presley was anything but conservative!
This picture was taken at Graceland on August 16, 1977, just after the clock struck midnight. That same day, Presley passed away due to multiple factors including a bad heart and a drug habit that he couldn’t beat. His health was notoriously awful leading up to his death with a poor diet being the leading cause. He was found dead in his bathroom.
America Loved Lucy
Lucille Ball was one of the leading female comedians and actresses in the early to mid-1900s at a time when there weren’t that many female comedians. Most notably, Ball starred in the sitcom I Love Lucy which ran for a number of seasons and was wildly popular. It continues to be so many years later! She truly was a groundbreaking actress.
Taken a month before she passed away, Ball is seen here attending the Academy Awards on March 29, 1989. On April 26, 1989, she died due to an aortic rupture while in her Los Angeles home.
Did Playing The Joker End Up Killing Heath Ledger?
Celebrity overdoses have historically been a common cause of death, but not so often are those overdoses accidental and caused by prescription medication as was the case with Heath Ledger.
On January 22, 2008, Ledger died in his New York home as a result of accidentally overdosing on sleeping medication he had been prescribed. One of the last noteworthy films he worked on was The Dark Knight as the Joker which he won posthumous awards for, but his last film was actually The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. This photograph was taken while he was on set for that film.
A Real Jackass
When we think of the Jackass franchise, we often think of Johnny Knoxville first and foremost, but the large cast also included the unforgettable Ryan Dunn.
Hours before his death, Ryan Dunn (pictured on the far left) posted this picture on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, Dunn was involved in a car accident that caused his death on June 20, 2011, in Pennsylvania. The cause of the accident appears to have been alcohol-related. The Jackass family took the news hard and many of the stars spoke out about how Dunn’s death affected them.
One Of The Biggest Sluggers In Baseball History
Nicknamed “The Great Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat,” George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr. was a beloved baseball player and one of the all-time greats.
Ruth was sadly diagnosed with cancer which he battled but eventually succumbed to on August 16, 1948, in New York. This picture was taken in 1948 when he appeared at Yankee Stadium for the last time. A beautiful photo for a beautiful moment that no doubt brought many in the crowd that day to tears.
Michael Jackson Thrilled The World Till The End
We’ve had a few “Kings” grace this list, and Michael Jackson was known as the “King of Pop.” Jackson’s career started with his family band The Jackson 5, but eventually he launched his own solo career which was wildly successful and spanned decades.
Taken at a rehearsal for one of Jackson’s upcoming shows, this photo shows Jackson in his prime as a performer. Two days later, on June 25, 2009, Jackson went into cardiac arrest and died at his home in Los Angeles. He was only 50 years old when he passed away and is survived by his children Paris Jackson, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr, and Prince Michael Jackson II.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Tragic Downfall
Many Hollywood heavy-weights considered Phillip Seymour Hoffman to be one of the most talented actors of his generation. He had a gift for inhabiting characters while also somehow remaining relatable to the audience. Hoffman also had a darker side though, admitting to having struggled with substance abuse, though from all appearances he seemed to have a handle on it, having reportedly stayed sober for 23 years. Sadly though, Hoffman’s demons would get the best of him when he died of an overdose in 2014.
One of the last known photos of the beloved actor is this haunting print that was taken at one of his last appearances at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. He was at the festival to premiere what would be his last film, “God’s Pocket,” and many people who saw him there described him as being disheveled and “out of sorts.” He would die just weeks later.
The Unsolved Murder of Tupac
On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting while in Las Vegas with the leader of Death Row Records, Suge Knight. Tupac had stopped at a red light and was hit by four .40 caliber rounds that were fired from a Glock. There were no witnesses to the shooting and Tupac’s murder went unsolved.
Immediately following his death, various conspiracy theories came about. Because the events surrounding Tupac’s death were suspicious, many believed the police were covering something up. Some even believed that Tupac wasn’t even dead at all. The unsolved murder spawned numerous documentaries, such as Murder Rap, which debuted in 2015. In this documentary, the former LAPD Detective Greg Kading remarks that it had been confirmed by a family member that Orlando Anderson was the one who shot and killed the rapped two decades ago.
Talia Joy’s Inspiring Life
Talia Joy Castello rose to fame from her YouTube channel where she shared makeup tutorials, as well as videos on fashion and cancer. Talia had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma and leukemia six years prior and connected with a family friend, Tammy DeLaRosa, who was a cancer survivor. Tammy showed Talia how to use her makeup, which inspired the young girl to experiment with different styles and create tutorials.
Her YouTube channel eventually gained so much popularity that she was invited to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. During the episode, she was announced as a face for CoverGirl cosmetics. The photo above shows Talia alongside her CoverGirl ad. She passed away just a few months later.
The Assassination Of Robert F. Kennedy
One of the most shocking photos on this list shows the moments immediately after Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Robert F. Kennedy had just recently won the California presidential primaries in the 1968 election when he was shot while exiting the hotel’s kitchen after having given a speech at the podium.
He was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, who was a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant. Today, Sirhan Sirhan is serving a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego.
The Final Picture Of The Space Shuttle Columbia Crew
On February 1, 2003, NASA experienced one of the most devastating disasters to following the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy in 1986. The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. The disaster killed all seven crew members on board.
When the shuttle launched, it sustained damage to the wing from a piece of foam insulation that broke off. Other shuttle launches had experienced similar damage, so it wasn’t thought to be a serious issue. However, Space Shuttle Columbia had sustained more damage than expected, which caused the space craft to break apart upon reentry.
The Last Known Photo Of Hitler
The photo above is allegedly the final photo taken of Adolf Hitler on April 28, 1945—two days before his death by suicide. In the photograph, Hitler is seen standing outside of his Berlin bunker surveying the devastating bomb damage. The damage to Germany was so immense and the country had been at war for six years, so Hitler knew imminent defeat was quickly approaching.
Right after this photograph was taken, Hitler married Eva Braun and the couple penned their last will and testament before committing suicide together by swallowing cyanide.
Chris Benoit’s Double-Murder And Suicide
This was the final photo taken of professional wrestler, Chris Benoit, before the tragic incident which claimed the lives of Chris as well as his wife and seven-year-old son. On June 25, 2007, police came to Chris Benoit’s home after he missed numerous welfare checks. Inside, officers found his body, along with his wife Nancy’s and son Daniel’s.
As details unfolded, it was determined that Chris Benoit has committed the murders before taking his own life. It is still unclear as to why Chris Benoit committed the heinous acts of violence, but some medical professionals have suggested that his outburst may have been caused by trauma to his brain.
The Reagan’s Last Photo Together
The final photo of Ronald Reagan shows he and wife, Nancy, sweetly embracing one another just days before his death. Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States, serving from 1981 to 1989. When he left office he had the highest approval rating of any departing president in the modern era.
During the final decade of his life, Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and on June 5, 2004, died from pneumonia. His death was devastating for many, and George W. Bush declared June 11 a National Day of Mourning. Reagan’s body was transported from California to Washington D.C., where more than 100,000 visitors visit the casket to pay their respects on the first day.
Mark Twain Died While Reading One Of His Favorite Books
Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, at 75 years old. The last known photo of him, shows him weakened, wrapped in blankets, and being assisted by other men. The New York Times released a detailed obituary of Mark Twain’s death writing that the famous author died with a copy of a beloved book, Carlyle’s French Revolution beside him.
Near the book lay his glasses with a note from Twain as he was too weak to talk, which said, “Give me my glasses.”
Amelia Earhart Packs For Her Trip Around The World
This photo shows aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart as she prepared for her solo journey around the world, of which she would mysteriously disappear. With a big smile on her face, she sits comfortably in her living room and packs a small suitcase and a briefcase to bring along.
Amelia Earhart had already captured the respect of millions for being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, but her solo trip would end in tragedy and mystery. Her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean approximately 800 miles off the coast of Papua New Guinea. She had already successfully flown more than 22,000 on her solo aviation trip.
The Last Photo Of All Four Beatles Members
This is the last photo taken of the Beatles in the same room, two days after their last recording session together. It was shot on Friday, August 2, 1969, in John and Yoko’s home in Tittenhurst Park. Despite the smiles on the band members’ faces, times had been tough for the world’s biggest rock band.
They hadn’t performed a show in more than three years and were trying to write and rehearse new material, but it wasn’t going well. Just a month later, John Lennon informed his band mates that he was leaving the group. The Beatles officially announced their break-up in April of 1970.
Whitney Houston’s Final Days
Whitney Houston had one of the most powerful and iconic voices in pop music history. She released her debut album in 1985 which had three singles reach the top on the Billboard Hot 100. She would go on to release the single “I Will Always Love You,” which sold more than 4 million copies and was certified Platinum, four times.
Sadly, Whitney Houston’s light started to fade in the early 2000s. She battled drug abuse and used cocaine frequently throughout her career. It was around this time that rumors circulated about her being fired from her performances of that year’s Academy Awards. The photo above was taken a few days before the 2012 Grammy’s, which Whitney Houston was supposed to attend. Unfortunately, the starlet was found face down in her hotel bathtub and was declared dead before the award ceremony.
The King Of Cool
Dean Martin was a legendary Hollywood actor, comedian, and film producer. Nicknamed the “King of Cool,” Dean Martin was a member of the Rat Pack and had a prolific career in entertainment.
Dean Martin was a heavy smoker and was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 1993. Doctors told him surgery could prolong his life, but the actor refused and retired from public life in early 1995. This photo was taken of Dean Martin as he left a restaurant on December 12, 1995. He died just two weeks later on Christmas day from complications of emphysema.
Gene Wilder’s Health Battle
Gene Wilder’s death came as a surprise to fans worldwide who loved the actor for his iconic role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Gene had kept his health battle private while living a low-key lifestyle for the last years of his life. But behind closed doors, the actor was struggling with complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Gene’s nephew told People that prior to his diagnosis, his uncle was living an idyllic life, splitting his time between homes in Connecticut and California. He reportedly spent much of his time playing tennis, reading, painting and enjoying life with his wife. One of the last public photos of Gene shows he and his wife, Karen, leaving an appointment.
A Talented Life Cut Short
Brittany Murphy’s death shocked everyone. The actress was just 32 years old when she passed away unexpectedly in 2009. Her death was determined to be a mixture of pneumonia and drug use. The photo above was taken of Brittany Murphy at her final premiere.
Although Brittany Murphy was best known for her roles in hit films like Clueless, Just Married, Uptown Girls, and 8 Mile, she was also a talented singer. She once commented, “My singing voice isn’t like my speaking voice…I’ve just always kept it a secret and never taken credit for it because I wanted to learn how to work behind the microphone in a recording studio, and some of the singer’s don’t even know it was me recording on their albums.”
Another Beatle Gone
This final photo taken of George Harrison shows the former Beatles resting at home with his family member during November 2001. He died on the 29th of November a few days later from cancer.
The talented musician had been a heavy smoker for the majority of his life and was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997. George Harrison was very religious and known for being peaceful, which is clear to see since he has a smile on his face, even in the hardest of times.
He Is Still One Of The Most Celebrated Stars Of The 21st Century
The last photo of River Phoenix shows the young actor outside a nightclub just hours before he passed away unexpectedly. The actor rose to fame at a young age, starring in films like Stand by Me, Running On Empty, and My Own Private Idaho.
On the evening of October 30, 1993, River Phoenix was supposed to perform with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers at The Viper Room in Los Angeles. During the early morning hours of Halloween, the young actor suffered a drug overdose and began convulsing outside of the nightclub. Paramedics rushed to the scene, but River Phoenix was pronounced dead just before 2 a.m. Today, he is still one of the most celebrated and influential young actors in the 21st century, and fans still pay tribute to the fallen actor every year on the anniversary of his death.
Tiny Tim Died On Stage
Tiny Tim was an interesting man. He was a singer and ukelele player most commonly known for his hits, “Livin’ In the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” and “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” which he sang in a high falsetto voice.
This haunting final photo of Tiny Tim shows him just moments before he collapsed on the stage from a massive heart attack. Concertgoers reported his wife, Sue Gardener, ran onto and asked if he was ok, to which he said, “No I’m not.” After hours of CPR at a local hospital, Tiny Tim was pronounced dead.
We All Loved Him In Dirty Dancing
Patrick Swayze won the hearts of millions for his roles as the romantic lead in a slew of hit movies. But later in life, his health declined and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2007.
He immediately began chemotherapy to treat the tumor and responded positively to various treatments and was seen out in public looking relatively healthy. He continued to work until the end of his life, leading a series on A&E called The Beast. Unfortunately, his cancer continued to spread, ultimately metastasizing in his liver and he passed away in September 2009.
The Tragic Death Of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lisa Lopes was best known for being one-third of the girl group, TLC. She was a talented creative who was credited with writing the majority of the group’s song and bringing the overall concepts to life. But this four-time Grammy award winner’s life was cut short in 2002.
Lisa Lopes was in Honduras on a retreat with her sister when they were in a head-on collision. Lisa Lopes was driving the red SUV pictured above when she swerved to avoid a truck. The car flipped and rolled into a ditch and Lisa Lopes died immediately from head trauma.