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Hollywood stars who died of overdose

Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of many young celebrities whose addictions led to tragic deaths

Image Credit: c.Sony Pics/Everett/REX
No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover UsageMandatory Credit: Photo by c.Sony Pics/Everett/REX (540013h)'Capote' film, Clifton Collins Jnr., Philip Seymour Hoffman, 2005VARIOUS - 2005

Gone too soon, Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in New York City on Sunday at 46. He was discovered in his rented apartment-turned-office in Greenwich Village by a friend who had been worried when they were unable to reach him. Investigators came to the scene to find that he had a syringe in his arm and an envelope of what appeared to be heroin in the vicinity.

On-screen, he was most recognised for taking on a diverse range of tough characters and immersing himself fully in his performances. Off-screen, he had spoken out about his struggle with substance abuse and drug addiction that had been going on for more than two decades.

Many a Hollywood star before Hoffman lost their lives to drugs at a young age. As recent as Cory Monteith and as long ago as Marilyn Monroe, tabloid! rounds up some of the industry’s most-loved celebrities who met their untimely demise due to overdose.


Cory Monteith

The Glee star was found dead last year in his hotel room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver after a stint in rehab. He was only 31. Autopsy reports revealed heroin, alcohol, codeine and morphine in his system, though his death appeared to be accidental. He was said to have been found with a spoon that had residual drugs on it, two emptied champagne bottles and a used hypodermic needle. Monteith, who was engaged to co-star Lia Michele, had struggled with alcohol and drug addiction from an early age.


River Phoenix

In the early hours of October 31, 1993, 23-year-old activist-actor River Phoenix died outside of The Viper Room in Los Angeles, where he was set to perform. He suffered a seizure and convulsed on the sidewalk for more than five minutes. His brother, Joaquin, called the police and his sister, Rain, attempted to perform CPR as they could not determine whether or not their sibling was breathing. When paramedics arrived, they found Phoenix in a state of full cardiac arrest, his skin turning dark blue. Along with other substances, heroin and cocaine were found in his system in an autopsy report.


John Belushi

At 33, actor-comedian John Belushi died after having several “speedballs” injected into his system – a drug concoction of both heroin and cocaine. The overdose left him lifeless in his room, Bungalow 3 at Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, on March 5, 1982. Earlier in the day, he’d been visited by actor friends Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. $1,800 (Dh6,611) worth of heroin was said to be a contributing factor in his demise. Belushi was set to host the 54th Academy Award ceremony with his friend Dan Akroyd less than a month later.


Heath Ledger

The unfortunate photos of Heath Ledger, covered in black and strapped to a stretcher as he was rolled away from his Manhattan apartment building, are ingrained in many memories. The actor’s masseuse, Diana Wolozin, found him unconscious in bed when she arrived at his loft for an afternoon appointment on January 22, 2008. Wolozin initially phoned Ledger’s girlfriend, Mary-Kate Olsen, who was in California, but called the police when Ledger stopped breathing. Attempts at revival by Wolozin and, later, paramedics and EMTs, were futile. His death was said to be accidental and due to an abuse of prescription drugs. He was 28.


Judy Garland

The Wizard of Oz star was suffering from cirrhosis of her liver when she died at 47, but the cause of her death was an accidental overdose on barbiturates – depressants of the central nervous system. There were no signs of suicide. An autopsy revealed that her stomach lining was not inflamed, and there was an absence of drug residue, which suggested that she’d ingested the drugs over time rather than all at once. She was found dead by her fifth and final husband, musician Mickey Deans, in the bathroom of their house in London.


Marilyn Monroe

After her death in 1962, Marilyn Monroe was immortalised as a pop culture icon, and is still regarded as one of the most popular actresses of all time. Early morning on August 5, Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, phoned the LAPD to tell them she was found dead in her home. She was 36. Her death was said to be a “probable suicide” by the LA County Coroners office due to acute barbiturate poisoning. In subsequent years, the public speculated that she may have been murdered. President John F. Kennedy was reportedly the last person Monroe had called.