There is something about being a celebrity that makes one larger than life, so when that light is extinguished early, it’s downright shocking and sad. Dead celebrities are remembered at the end of every year, but it is the ones who perish in their prime who always seem to garner the most endearment.
Their missed potential is one reason—for example, River Phoenix passed at the age 23 and already had one Oscar nomination and a line of credits that actors three times his age could be envious of. In fact, he was about to head to New Orleans to film Interview with the Vampire with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise when he perished.
Sharing Phoenix’s much-too-early passing was Amy Winehouse, whose voice was unmistakable and, at the age of 27, was merely getting started. Both of these celebrities passed away from drugs and alcohol—a preventable ending to one’s life.
Then there’s Aaliyah and Paul Walker, both superstars at the cusp of their potential who perished in accidents—hers a plane crash, his a car crash.
No matter how the celebrities die—particularly in their professional prime—it is tragic and causes us all to face our own mortality. Perhaps that is why there is such fascination surrounding famous folks who die too soon. Bow your head and have a look. Here are the 19 greatest celebrities who died in their prime.