Death is a very difficult thing to get your head around. One minute someone's there, and the next they're gone forever. You'll never get to see or speak to that person again, and all you're left with is your memories of them. It's tragic, but death is part of life.
Sometimes, people know death is approaching and have time to get used to the idea. Other times it can happen suddenly, long before it's expected. Those are always the hardest deaths to accept or get used to. That can be especially true if the deceased person was happy and full of life.
One of the most common ways to remember a lost loved one is through photographs. That's as true of celebrities as it is of family members. Sometimes, those photographs can be taken days or even hours before someone draws their final breath. Here are fifty such images of departed stars.
1. Kurt Cobain
There may be some fan-taken photographs of Kurt Cobain which were taken closer to the Nirvana star and grunge pioneer's death than this one, but this is the final image from his final professional photoshoot. The iconic shot was taken in November 1993. Cobain was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head in April 1994. Cobain is, like several others on this list, a member of the '27 Club'.
The official verdict on Cobain's death is that he took his own life, but fans and conspiracy theorists are less-than convinced. The neat positioning of his body on the floor with his hair combed out behind him, coupled with the strange phrasing of his alleged suicide note, leave plenty of facts open to question. Twenty-five years later though, no new evidence has emerged. Nirvana's 'Nevermind' remains an essential part of any alternative teen's record collection.
2. James Dean
The infamous 'Rebel Without A Cause' was years ahead of his time in terms of both his outlook and his style. James Dean's casual t-shirt and jeans look is commonplace today, but nobody dressed like that during Dean's time. His spirit of rebellion and disillusionment with the society around him was the same as that felt by all the young people involved in the punk movement, but Dean had been dead for twenty years before that took hold. Dean lived fast, died young and stayed beautiful.
He took the 'living fast' part of that with special sincerity. Dean loved driving fast cars, and ultimately died while doing so. This picture was taken only hours before he passed away on September 30th, 1955. He was driving this very Porsche at high speed when he swerved into oncoming traffic, dying instantly.
3. John Lennon
This is an especially poignant image of one of the world's most famous musicians. John Lennon, formerly the driving force behind the Beatles and author of hits like 'Imagine' and 'Working Class Hero,' was considered such a revolutionary force that he was monitored by the FBI for years. They were concerned that he was a Marxist who might radicalize the young people of America! Lennon did want people to think more about how they could make the world a better place, but more than that he wanted to entertain them.
In this picture, Lennon is signing an autograph for Mark Chapman on December 8th, 1980. A few short hours after the photo was taken, Chapman shot him dead. Chapman has never provided any explanation for his crime, and remains incarcerated to this day. Lennon was 40 years old.
4. Freddie Mercury
When Freddie Mercury died of complications related to AIDS in 1991, it made headline news all over the world. A tribute show dedicated to his memory sold out London's famous Wembley Stadium. The world had lost one of its greatest musicians, and a man who some feel was the greatest frontman in the history of rock music. Mercury was the consummate performer; someone who was never more alive than when he was on stage.
Recently, his name has been back in the news again after the release of the 'Bohemian Rhapsody' biopic film, and Mercury's work is being discovered by a whole new generation. He'd likely have loved that - while some artists struggle in the public eye, Mercury always welcomed the attention. He didn't openly admit to suffering from HIV or AIDS until weeks before his death, which was shortly after this photo was taken in November 1991.
5. Steve Irwin
According to the name of the television show that he was most known for, Australian Steve Irwin was a crocodile hunter. The nickname was good for attracting the attention of the public towards his work, but it wasn't a truly accurate description of what he did. Irwin was a marine biologist and conservation expert who just happened to have a particular affinity for crocodiles.
Given his habit of taking apparent risks with the animals - including sticking his head between their jaws to demonstrate that they wouldn't attack him - it wouldn't have been too big a surprise if he'd met his end that way. Instead, though, he was stung through the heart by a poisonous jellyfish while swimming in September 2006, a mere two days after this photograph was taken. He'd been trying to film the jellyfish swimming for a documentary he was working on at the time.
6. Robin Williams
We find this picture to be particularly difficult to look at. Although he may look a little older greyer and thinner than you remember him, you wouldn't necessarily believe there was anything wrong with Robin Williams from looking at this picture. He's smiling for the photographer, as is his beloved pet monkey Crystal.
Williams was one of the most celebrated comic actors of all time making us laugh for decades as both a stand-up comedian and in his movie roles like 'Mrs. Doubtfire' and 'Hook,' but also demonstrating his more 'serious' side in 'Good Will Hunting' and 'One Hour Photo.' Behind the smile and the art, though, there was an unhappiness that very few people knew about. Just days after this picture was taken, Williams took his own life at the age of 63. His death prompted a national debate about the way we recognize and react to depression in men.
7. David Bowie
There will never be another performer anything like David Bowie. There probably won't be anyone who even comes close. Whether you knew him as Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke or just plain old David Bowie, you'll have a personal favorite Bowie song and Bowie era. He shaped, defined and influenced the world of music for almost five decades, and went out in a blaze of glory.
Nobody other than his very closest friends even knew Bowie was ill, he as he worked on his final album he was suffering from terminal cancer. He took the opportunity to stage-manage his own death. Only three weeks before he passed, he released the single 'Lazarus,' of which the first line was 'Look up here man, I'm in heaven.' The video for the song concluded with Bowie shuffling backward into a closet and closing the door. This picture was taken on January 8th, 2016. He died two days later.
8. Steve Jobs
It's sometimes shocking to see pictures of people close to the end - especially when that ending is caused by sickness or disease. We were used to seeing Steve Jobs stood on stage in an auditorium, extolling the virtues of his latest Apple invention. This is the man who was primarily responsible for bringing the world the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. Many of the people reading this article right now will be doing so on a piece of technology Jobs invented.
Jobs was known for taking a relaxed style to business dress, preferring black turtleneck sweaters and blue jeans to shirts and suits. It was one of the factors which made him and his company appear 'cooler' than Bill Gates and Microsoft. Jobs seemed to keep his style to the very end, but here he looks frail and gaunt, supported in standing by a friend. This picture was taken on August 26th, 2011. Jobs finally succumbed to his illness on October 5th that year.
9. Mahatma Gandhi
This picture is a little harder to make out than the others because it's very old, and the people in it are moving. One you focus on it, though, you'll realize that you're looking at one of the most appalling and pivotal moments of the 20th century. This is Indian header, healer and guru Mahatma Gandhi coming face to face with his assassin Nathuram Godse on January 30th, 1948. Just seconds after this picture was taken, Godse shot Gandhi three times in the chest, killing him instantly. Gandhi was 79.
To say that Gandhi abhorred violence would be to state the obvious. He devoted himself to the creation and maintenance and peace. Godse shot him because they believed he did too much in attempting to make peace between Muslim and Hindu forces during the partition of India. We imagine Gandhi wouldn't have died for anything else.
10. Garry Shandling
Garry Shandling was, for a long time, one of America's best-known comedians and television presenters. He had his own self-titled show, but he was arguably better known for 'the Larry Sanders' show, which he starred in across from Kathy Griffin. Perhaps fittingly, it was with Griffin that he had his last known photograph take - although he wouldn't have known it at the time.
Shandling suffered from a heart condition which meant that his life was always in a degree of danger, although it was believed he was controlling it with medication. On March 24th, 2016, Shandling suddenly collapsed at home and was rushed to a hospital, but was beyond medical help. He'd suffered a pulmonary embolism, and passed away at the age of 66. Hauntingly, this picture was taken just four days prior. He didn't have the look of someone at death's door.
11. Michael Jackson
This is the last known photograph of Michael Jackson - or is it? So much speculation and intrigue surround the strange world of the King of Pop that it's impossible to know what's real and what isn't. Some say he's still alive to this day. Others say that he used a series of lookalikes to handle public appearances for him. Those who were working on his 'This is It' farewell shows say that from day to day he often seemed to be two different men in both appearance and energy levels.
Whatever your opinion, there's an official version of events, and it goes like this. This picture was taken at a rehearsal for the show, two days before Jackson's death. On 25th 2009, Jackson suffered a heart attack at home in Los Angeles and died at the age of 50. His doctor would later be charged with involuntary manslaughter, and many of his relatives also feel that he was killed via a combination of medications. What's myth and what's reality? In death as in life, Jackson is an enigma.
12. Bob Marley
This photo is quite remarkable because Bob Marley was known to avoid cameras in the final few months of his life. He was suffering from cancer, and wanted people to remember him the way he was instead of the way he looked towards the end. However, he appears to be at ease here among friends, and is smiling despite the presumed pain of his condition. The picture was taken in Germany in early 1981, a few months before his death on May 11th of that year. He was 36 years old.
Marley did more than anybody else in the history of music to make reggae popular with an American and European audience. It was the music of his native Jamaica, but Marley's talent made it relatable to a wider audience. His message was simple too - simply to live in peace and love your neighbor. He could also veer into the political, as he demonstrated with 'Buffalo Soldier' and 'Redemption Song.'
13. Albert Einstein
It must have been a dress-down day at Princeton University, New Jersey, when the most famous scientist in the world stood for this photograph in March 1955. That would explain why he seems to be wearing a tracksuit! Albert Einstein provided many of the theories that physicians still use today when building theoretical models of the universe. The German was the man who came up with 'E=MC2', the theory of special relativity which made nuclear fusion possible. Both theory and practicality have come a long way in the seventy years since his death, but we would still probably benefit from having Einstein's mind around to help us interpret new discoveries.
Einstein was so famous that our stereotypical image of a 'mad professor' - the crazy white-haired man with the glasses - is based on him. He passed away on April 18th, 1955, a month after the photo was taken, due to an abdominal aneurysm. He was 76.
14. Marilyn Monroe
These days, beauty queens and stars who are celebrated for their looks as much as their talent are everywhere. Seventy years ago, Marilyn Monroe started that trend. She was the most desired woman in the world, having had the good fortune to be a talented actress and incredibly beautiful just at the dawn of Hollywood's golden age. Everyone wanted to see Marilyn, and everyone wanted to know her story.
Her story, sadly, wasn't always a happy one away from the camera. She struggled with addiction issues and with fame, ultimately finding it to be a hollow place where people paid more for your smile than your soul. She's smiling here in this picture with pianist Buddy Greco in early August 1962, but mere days later her psychiatrist found her dead at home, having apparently taken her own life in a deliberate drug overdose. She was 36.
15. Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison is universally recognized as one of the greatest frontmen in the history of rock and roll, but he'd much rather be remembered as a poet. Morrison was happier writing words than he was singing them, and was initially so shy of performing in front of an audience that he'd sing with his back to them. He eventually overcame that shyness, but only with the aid of a lot of psychoactive drugs.
Morrison and his band, the Doors, developed a reputation as rabble-rousers, with some of their performances turning into riots, and the apparent drug references in their songs provoking moral outrage. They were banned from many cities and television networks, and Morrison was eventually banned from performing with the band at all. He retreated to France with his girlfriend Pamela Courson, who he's pictured with here on June 28th, 1971. He died of apparent heart failure six days later on July 3rd, joining the notorious '27 Club' by doing so.
16. Jimi Hendrix
From one member of the '27 Club' to another. Jimi Hendrix's unorthodox and psychedelic approach to playing guitar made him one of the most celebrated performers in the world. His sets at the first ever Woodstock Festival and Isle of Wight Festival made him an international megastar, with songs like 'Voodoo Chile' and 'Hey Joe' achieving huge success in the charts. 'Purple Haze' became something of an anthem for Hendrix' generation.
Like far too many rock stars, Hendrix seemed intent on burning out instead of fading away. He drank and partied hard, and developed habits that would ultimately lead to his untimely death. This picture was taken by Hendrix' girlfriend in her back garden on September 17th, 1970. A day later he was dead, having choked on his own vomit after mixing alcohol and sleeping tablets. It had been barely a year since he was the star of the Summer of Love.
17. Robert Kennedy
All of the pictures we've seen so far have come days or even months before someone passed away (with the sole exception being Mahatma Gandhi). In the case of former American politician Robert Kennedy, this picture almost arrived moments after. It captures a panicked and terrifying scene after he was shot on June 5th, 1968. Kennedy would survive the evening, but died in a London hospital the following morning.
The man in prison for Kennedy's murder is Jordanian Sirhan Sirhan, although he's always denied the killing and evidence suggests that he couldn't have fired the fatal bullets. It was just another terrible night in a century of them for the Kennedy family whom some speculate have been cursed by a supernatural force. Many of the political Kennedys and their descendants - including former President John F. Kennedy - have met with unnatural ends.
18. Adolf Hitler
Smiling as he inspected the young troops and seemingly without a care in the world, Adolf Hitler must have been as skilled an actor as he was a tyrannical dictator. By the date of this picture - April 28th, 1945 - Hitler knew that the war was coming to an end, and that he was going to lose it. He'd gone out into the city to inspect bomb damage and try to raise the morale of citizens. It may have worked on them, but there would be no salvation for his own morale.
Having been betrayed and abandoned by his own generals and pincered by the Allies on one side and the Russians on the other, Hitler was trapped like a rat with nowhere to go. He finished his tour of the city, sealed himself in his bunker for two days and tried to think of any way out of the situation. He eventually found one - suicide to avoid being captured.
19. Anne Frank
Photos of Anne Frank are quite hard to come by. She's known to the world only because of her diaries, and she wrote most of those when she was hiding from the occupying Nazi forces in the city of Amsterdam, Holland. Her diaries have resulted in television shows, movies and a permanent museum being established in her memory and honor. She may not have survived the war, but the spirit of hope and defiance she seemed to embody did.
Someone who's in hiding is unlikely to pose for many photographs, and so we have to look a couple of years earlier to find one of Anne Frank. Here she is as a younger child in 1942, with her sister. She died in a Nazi concentration camp three years later at the age of 15. In the years since her death, her diary has been translated into over 60 languages.
20. Anna Loginova
It's completely wrong, but we always seem to treat death as a more tragic incident when it occurs to someone who's particularly young and beautiful. Perhaps it's telling of how we feel about potential. When someone dies in their 40s or 50s, it's still sad, but they've at least experienced a lot of life. When someone's in their 20s or 30s, they've barely had a chance to settle at all. In any event, the profile of Anna Loginova in death was higher than it had ever been in life, and she was a 29-year-old model.
She was, however, more than just a model. Loginova had noted how much hassle and harassment models in her native Russia had to put up with, and so trained as a bodyguard, eventually starting an agency of female bodyguards to protect Russia's rich and famous. She was killed on duty trying to prevent a carjacking in January 2008. This photo was taken only weeks earlier, at her final-ever photoshoot.
21. Elvis Presley
This grainy, out-of-focus photograph demonstrates how hard it was to get a reliable picture of a moving vehicle in the early 70s using the average camera. The resultant image would probably have been thrown away if it hadn't been for is subject matter - this is the last known photograph of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley, taken after midnight on the night he died.
Presley, better known as 'The King' to his followers, had something of a chaotic career. He performed some of the best songs of all time, and has had more chart success than almost anyone else other than Michael Jackson and the Beatles. He also struggled with weight gain, drinking, and drugs - especially during his stint as a performer in Las Vegas. He was bloated and struggling with heart issues towards the end of his life, and on this night his heart decided it could take no more. He had at least made it home to Memphis, Tennessee to die in Graceland.
22. Christopher McCandless
You might not know this young man by his real name - the world somehow came to know him as 'Alexander Supertramp,' although we only really came to know him at all after his death. McCandless fancied himself as a new-age adventurer, challenging himself to live alone in the wild for as long as possible to see what it taught him about both himself and the human condition. Sadly, he didn't survive the experiment; he starved to death in the Stampede Pass in 1992. He was 24 years old.
McCandless has gone on to be viewed as something of a romantic hero by some - a man dedicated to reconnecting with nature and pursuing a simpler life. Others point out that walking out into barren territory without a map and with no survival training was tantamount to suicide, and turned out exactly as could have been predicted. This photo was developed from film on a camera found with his body.
23. Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart lived for adventure, and was never happier than when she was about to face a challenge. You can see how broadly she's smiling here in this picture, as she packs for her attempt to become the first woman in history to circumnavigate the globe in a plane. Sadly, it was to be a trip she'd never return from. Earhart's plane got into difficulty on July 2nd, 1937, radioing for assistance and reporting that it was running low on fuel and flying low.
An unprecedented search and rescue effort followed, but no trace of Earhart or her plane was ever found. There have been several theories about what happened next, which range from alien abduction to a simple case of crashing into the sea and sinking, but as more than eighty years have passed, it now seems likely that we'll never know for sure What we do know is that the world had lost a very brave woman far too soon, at the age of only 39.
24. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States of America, and served in the office for a longer period than would be permitted under current rules. He took up his seat in the Oval Office in March 1933, and didn't leave it again until April 1945. What made Roosevelt especially remarkable is that he'd suffered a disease which had rendered him unable to walk, but had managed to convince most of the world that he could. He could 'walk' short distances by using a cane and an iron brace and swiveling his hips, and in other cases, his aides would simply carry him by his elbows.
Even in this picture, he may have been convincing people that he was feeling better than he actually was. It was taken on April 11th, 1945. By the following morning, he'd passed away after suffering a huge brain hemorrhage.
25. George Harrison
We've already seen a picture of ex-Beatle John Lennon on our list, and now here's what we believe to be the last-ever picture taken of his former bandmate George Harrison. Harrison may not have had quite as high a profile as Lennon or Paul McCartney, but he was still a very accomplished musician in his own right. He was the writer of many of the Beatles best-known songs, and enjoyed plenty of success in his own right after the band broke up.
Harrison's services as a musician were in constant demand right up until the time of his death. He appeared as a guest musician on an album by his friend Jools Holland in 2001, and had his picture taken for a booklet which came with physical copies of the album. In November of that year he passed away, having been quietly suffering from lung cancer for some time. He was 58 years old.
26. Nipsey Hussle
On March 31, 2019, Hussle was fatally shot outside his store, Marathon Clothing, in South Los Angeles. As the hip-hop world and L.A. community languishes in devastation of philanthropic hip-hop icon Nipsey Hussle's untimely passing, fans are recollecting his noblest and sweetest memories he left with us.
One of those moments happens to be the last picture that the Victory Lap rapper took before his passing. Posed adorably with a child (reportedly of a fan), Nipsey is pictured in a white T-shirt, white durag and red shorts beside the young girl. The photo was taken in front of his Marathon Clothing store where he would later suffer gunshot wounds that he fatally succumbed to. While it's just one of several that Nipsey posed for with his supporters and fans of his Slauson Avenue neighborhood, many have now eulogized the photo as the truest physical resemblance of Nipsey the Great's spirit: a father, a community activist, and a leader of the people.
27. John F. Kennedy
When we discussed the circumstances of Robert Kennedy's death a little earlier on, we mentioned that some people feel that the Kennedy family have been subjected to a curse. They've certainly endured more tragedies than any other high-profile family we can think of, with many of them having died as a result of accident or murder. There has been no more high-profile murder in the family - or in American politics in the last century - than that of John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.
As Kennedy was assassinated while out in the open, many people were taking pictures of his motorcade at the time. This one was taken mere moments before Kennedy was struck by an assassin's bullet on November 22nd, killing the President at the age of 46. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder, but was himself murdered by Jack Ruby before he could stand trial. Many popular conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination still circulate online.
28. John Candy
During the 1980s and 1990s if you wanted a comedy making you phoned John Candy. The larger-than-life actor was everywhere from 'Stripes' to 'Uncle Buck,' but was probably best known for 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles.' Candy was a huge man with a huge presence to go with it, but being such a physically large human being had negative consequences for his health.
Candy was morbidly obese for his whole adult life. He was also known to smoke and drink heavily, and had been an infrequent user of cocaine. When you also take into account that his family had a history of men dying young from heart attacks, his fate seemed to be written in stone. He suffered a fatal heart attack on the set of 'Wagons East' - from which this picture was taken - in 1994 at 43 years old. The movie was completed using a stand-in and special effects, and was dedicated in his memory.
29. Keith Moon
Legendary rock and roll drummer Keith Moon of 'The Who' didn't seem destined to be on this planet for a long time. He drank and used drugs heavily, and was well known for his love of practical jokes and a party lifestyle. Moon's neighbor Steve McQueen once built a huge fence to keep Moon out of his back garden. Moon built a ramp, drove over the fence on his quad-bike and landed in McQueen's swimming pool. Simply put, Moon was a hell-raiser.
This picture was taken on September 6th, 1978 at a party to celebrate the premiere of the 'Buddy Holly Story' movie. Moon was dead the next day at 32, having overdosed on Heminevrin. Ironically, the drug had been prescribed to him as a solution to his alcohol addiction, but didn't seem to be working. There was also alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of his death.
30. Kim Jong-il
The precise circumstances surrounding the death of Kim Jong-il are a little hard to determine. The notoriously secretive nation of North Korea doesn't release any information about the health of its leaders, whom it treats as living deities. It's believed that Jong-il passed away after suffering complications from a stroke, but it's likely nobody other than his immediate family will ever know for sure.
We can provide some date context to this picture, though. It was taken at a supermarket in Pyongyang on December 14th, 2011. Three days later, North Korea confirmed that Jong-il had passed away, and entered a state of mourning. Ill health may explain why he appears to look a little frail in this final image. His son and successor Kim Jong-un is visible behind him on the staircase, having perhaps been summoned home to North Korea because his father knew that his death was imminent.
31. Paul Walker
Paul Walker was pictured leaving charity fundraiser in Santa Clarita on November 30, 2013 - just moments before his friend's car hit a pole and burst into flames. Just moments after leaving for the short ride with his friend and financial adviser, Roger Rodas, the vehicle crashed into a pole and tree before coming to a stop. Less than a minute later, the vehicle burst into flames - killing the beloved actor.
An autopsy concluded that Walker was killed by injuries from both the impact and the subsequent fire, and dispatch recordings revealed that firefighters noted he was 'DOA' when they got there. Rodas, 38, died from 'multiple traumatic injuries' before the car exploded in flames, according to the autopsy released by the Los Angeles County coroner's office.
32. Abraham Lincoln
Yes, even back in the 1800s, people were having photographs taken of themselves! Abraham Lincoln had a more legitimate excuse than most though - he was the serving President of the United States of America. This official portrait was taken in March of 1865. On the 15th of the following month, Lincoln was dead at the age of 56.
Like Kennedy nearly a century later, Lincoln had met his end at the hands of an assassin's bullet. The President had attended Ford's Theatre to see a show on his final night on Earth, and found assassin John Wiles Booth there waiting for him. Lincoln would never have seen the bullet coming - he was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range. Booth's motivation for the shooting was a grim one; he was a racist, appalled by Lincoln's plans to allow black people to vote in elections.
33. Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball was an actress, model, and comedian. She also has some claim to being the most famous woman called 'Lucy' of all time. That's partially because of her habit of using her abbreviated first name in the title of many of her shows, including 'I Love Lucy,' 'The Lucy Show' and 'Here's Lucy.' At least the audience was always very clear on what they were getting.
Ball's career had faded somewhat by the 1980s, but she was still attempting to make a comeback right up until the point of her death. Her final public appearance, captured here in this photograph, was at the 1989 Academy Awards on March 29th of that year. Less than one month later on April 26th, she suffered an aortic heart rupture while at her home, and died instantly at the age of 78.
34. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King always seemed to know that he wasn't going to make it to the end of his life naturally. Even in his most famous 'I Have a Dream' speech, he noted that he 'might not get there with you.' His method of peaceful protest - like that of Mahatma Gandhi decades earlier - had both furthered his cause and captured public imagination. Nobody - other than perhaps Rosa Parks - ever did more in the name of the Civil Rights movement than Dr. Martin Luther King.
King had a lot to be happy about at the time he was assassinated. He'd seen his movement turn from a murmur to a roar, and was winning over large audiences and friends in influential places. He smiles here for this picture at the Lorraine Motel on April 3rd, 1968. The following day, he was shot dead by James Earl Ray in Tennessee. In death, King became a symbol and a martyr. He died, but his dream never has nor ever will.
35. Diana, Princess of Wales
The world fell in love with Diana, Princess of Wales far more than her husband seemingly ever did. Her radiant beauty and enchanting smile snared the attention of the tabloid press long before her fairytale marriage to Prince Charles during the 1980s. The media's fascination with her survived the couple's divorce, and so she used it to highlight the causes she believed in. Sadly, and somewhat cruelly, it was also the media that killed her.
Diana, who was at the start of a relationship with Dodi Fayed, had enjoyed a night of drinks and dinner at the Ritz Hotel in Paris on August 31st, 1997. She was leaving the hotel when her car began being chased by a motorcade of paparazzi. Diana and her party accelerated to get away, but lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tunnel, killing all but one person on board. Diana was not that one person, and was dead at the age of 36. This photo was taken just minutes before the fatal crash.
36. Ryan Dunn
The cast and crew of the hit MTV show 'Jackass' always lived dangerously. It was the whole point of the show. The friends performed extreme stunts and pranks, often with little or no regard for their own safety. All of them suffered serious injuries over the course of their recordings. Many of them also developed unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol. In the case of Ryan Dunn, those relationships would cost him his life.
Dunn was driving his Porsche at 132 miles per hour when it crashed headlong into a tree on June 20th, 2011. The vehicle burst into flames, and both Dunn and his friend Zachary Hartwell were killed instantly. Later toxicology reports indicated that Dunn had been more than twice over the drink-drive alcohol limit for the state of Pennsylvania at the time of the incident. A few short hours beforehand, Dunn had posted this picture on Twitter, showing that he was drinking in a bar.
37. Mark Twain
Sometimes seen as 'the American Shakespeare,' Mark Twain is probably the greatest playwright and author in American history. He was responsible for both 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' among other great luminary works. He was also one of the finest thinkers of his era, maintaining an interest in new technologies and new ideas that lasted for his whole life.
Somewhat poetically, Twain felt that he both came into and left the world with Halley's Comet. He was born within two weeks of its closest approach to Earth in 1835, and died a mere day after its closest approach in 1910. He'd said in 1909 that he intended to die as the comet came close, and he was true to his word. This picture was taken in April 2010; the same month he died of a heart attack on the 21st.
38. Babe Ruth
We suspect that you won't have seen the majority of the images on this list before. This one, however, is likely to be an exception. It's one of the most famous sporting photographs of all time, capturing the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth saying his final goodbye to the Yankee Stadium where he spent almost all of his playing career. A cancer-stricken Ruth is frail and gaunt, having to use a baseball bat as a makeshift cane in order to stand, but still bows respectfully toward 'Ruthville.' The image won photographer Nat Fein the Pulitzer Prize.
Astonishingly, none of Ruth's doctors had the courage to tell him that he was suffering from cancer; he was left to figure it out for himself. Shortly after this image was taken, no longer able to support himself, he entered Memorial Hospital, where he died on August 16th, 1948. This photo was taken barely two months earlier.
39. Will Rogers
One of the most charismatic stars of the early 20th century, it seemed Will Rogers could perform any entertainment task that was required of him. He was a cowboy, a satirist, an author, an actor, and a social commentator. He was also a close friend of the famous American aviator Charles Lindbergh. Through Lindbergh, Rogers developed a keen interest in flying. Tragically, it turned out to be a fatal attraction.
Rogers and his friend Wiley Post were performing test flights across Alaska when they met with their doom. This picture was taken just before they set off on their final voyage on August 15th, 1935. Experts have never been able to agree on whether they crashed due to technical problems or pilot error, but regardless of cause, their plane ended up upside down in a lagoon near Point Barrow, having lost its right wing. Both men died instantly on impact.
40. The Crew Of Challenger
The people in this picture were the victim of one of the greatest disasters in the history of the American space program. You're looking at Commander Francis R. Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialist Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist Ellison Onizuka, Million Specialist Judith Resnik, Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis and Payload Specialist Christa McAuliffe. That's McAuliffe at the bottom of the picture, waving to friends. The image was taken on January 28th, 1986, the day Challenger was due to fly.
As we all know, Challenger was never destined to make it to the stars. The shuttle exploded on takeoff, killing everybody on board. A variety of mechanical issues had lethal consequences for the vessel, resulting in a fireball that nobody had a chance of surviving. The incident changed the way that NASA went about preparing for space missions, and highlighted the dangers that all astronauts accept as part of their jobs.
41. Dale Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt is one of the best-known NASCAR drivers of all time, with one of the longest-lasting careers and the longest lists of accolades. He was known by many nicknames, including 'The Count of Monte Carlo,' 'The Intimidator' and 'The Man in Black' because of his high-pressure, aggressive driving style. He was showing no signs of slowing down from the sport as he approached 50 years old, but tragically he'd never make it to that age.
Earnhardt was driving the final lap of the Daytona 500 on February 28th, 2001 when he collided with another driver, the result of which was his car leaving the track and crashing hard into the outside wall. The seatbelt in Earnhardt's car failed, and the legendary driver was killed instantly via blunt trauma to the head. This picture was taken on the day of his final race.
42. Dean Martin
When we think of Dean Martin, we think of the smooth and sophisticated crooner of the 1950s and 1960s; a member of the 'Rat Pack' who was good friends with Frank Sinatra and the rest of the gang. It's harder to imagine him as a frail and less stylish old man, but that's how he ended up. Martin kept a lower profile in the later years of his life, but he was still occasionally caught by the lens of the paparazzi, which is precisely what's happened here.
The photo was taken in early December of 1995 as Martin and friends left a restaurant. By this time, the 78-year-old-Martin was already suffering from terminal lung cancer, and would have been aware that his time on Earth was drawing to a close. He succumbed to respiratory failure on Christmas Day that year.
43. Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa didn't live his life the way anybody else wanted to. He was a wildly eccentric character who experimented with a lot of drugs, and was heavy into psychedelia. His pursuit of the unusual extended into his naming strategy for his children, as his daughter Moon Unit can attest to. Zappa considered himself to be a satirist and a social commentator as well as a musician, and stayed committed to his artistic visions all the way through to his death.
Zappa suffered from an aggressive form of prostate cancer which ultimately made performing as a musician too painful for him, but he still gave interviews up until his final days. This still image is actually from a video recording of an interview which he gave in late 1993, not long before he died in December of that year. As you can see from the image, he was already in hospital by the time the interview took place.
44. Margaret Thatcher
How British people feel about Margaret Thatcher will depend on which one of them you speak to. Some feel that she restored the nation's pride, defended the Falkland Isles against the Argentinians and crushed the dangerous socialist fringes of trade unionist movements. Others believe she provoked a needless war with Argentina, pursued an agenda against common workers, destroyed the coal industry and stole milk from school children. It's all a matter of perspective!
Thatcher was driven from power in 1990 but lived until 2013, enduring years of poor health in her later years, and especially seeming to struggle after the death of her husband Denis, who had always been her strongest supporter. This last-known image of her was taken at her 87th birthday celebration in October 2012. She suffered a fatal stroke on April 8th the following year.
45. Benazir Bhutto
There are many inherent risks that come along with being a politician. As we've already seen from Robert Kennedy, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln on this list, one of those risks is that someone may wish to assassinate you. The risk of this increases significantly if you're trying to introduce liberal policies into a conservative environment. In the case of Benazir Bhutto, she was trying to do precisely that while also a woman in a political system controlled by men. Shortly after announcing that she would soon be campaigning for the Presidency of Pakistan, she was killed in a car bombing incident in December 2007.
This image was taken moments before the fatal bombing, and seems to demonstrate multiple issues with security around the event. People were allowed far too close to the car, and there's no evidence of a strong police or security presence. It's widely believed that Islamic fundamentalists carried out the attack.
46. Tammy Faye
This is a harrowing picture to see, but it shows us a woman who was determined to say one final goodbye to her fans. Tammy Faye had been struggling with cancer very publicly for eleven years and battled it bravely, but it was a war she was never ultimately able to win. She died on July 20th, 2007 at the age of 65. Only hours before her death, on July 19th, she appeared on the 'Larry King Show.'
It's from that appearance that this image is taken. Despite the makeup and the wig, it's impossible to hide the toll that cancer took on the singer and evangelist. She weighed only 65 pounds by the time of the interview, and was too ill to eat solid food. She somehow found the strength to give this final interview, and in it, she thanked all of those who had reached out to her, and all who had sent her their love and best wishes. It was a remarkable achievement.
47. Heath Ledger
As this is one of the more recent pictures on hour list, we suspect many people will be familiar with the sad tale of Heath Ledger. He passed away just as his career appeared to be approaching its prime. He'd given us a breathtaking and heartbreaking performance in 'Brokeback Mountain,' and then provided what will probably always be considered the definitive version of 'Batman' villain the Joker in 'The Dark Knight.' Before he could even enjoy the success of the latter film, he'd died of an apparently accidental drug overdose.
At the time of his death in January 2008, Ledger was working on a movie entitled 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus', from the set of which this picture was taken the day before Ledger's death. The movie went on to be completed without him; Ledger's acting friends agreed to share the part with him, making his role an ensemble one. The fantasy nature of the film allowed for that possibility, and so Ledger's final recorded work was released to the public in 2009.
48. Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse is one of the most tragic entertainment figures of the 21st century. The British singer seemed to be a throwback to another era, with her incredible singing voice and her 1950s style of both music and dress. As with so many gifted artists, though, she struggled with addiction issues that blighted her life, and eventually claimed it early.
Winehouse was open and vocal about her struggles when she was writing music, leading to hits like 'Rehab' and 'You Know I'm No Good' which dealt with her problems head-on. Talking about them couldn't help her overcome them, though. She'd managed to overcome her drug problems, and this picture of her in London on July 12th, 2011 showed her looking healthier than she'd appeared in some time, but she couldn't stay away from alcohol and passed away with alcohol poisoning on July 23rd. She's yet another member of the '27 Club'.
49. Notorious B.I.G.
The story of Notorious B.I.G. (also known as 'Biggie') is almost a B-side to the story of Tupac Shakur. The two men were on opposite sides of a bitter blood feud in the world of rap music. There were even suggestions that someone in Biggie's entourage may have been responsible for Shakur's death. It seems equally likely that Biggie was shot as an act of retribution for the death of Shakur.
The response to both incidents was similar; outrage, sorrow and a series of tribute records. Somewhat ironically, it was the success of Puff Daddy's tribute song 'I'll Be Missing You' that made Sean Coombs into an international star. This photo of Biggie and Coombs was taken on 9th March 1997. Later the same night, he was shot dead in a drive-by shooting; the exact same fate that had befallen Shakur months earlier.
50. Tupac Shakur
The fame of rapper Tupac Shakur is such that even people who know nothing about rap music know a little bit about the man. Whether or not you've ever taken the time to listen to his tracks, you're probably familiar with 'California Love' and 'Changes,' and you know that he was killed in a drive-by incident which remains unsolved. What fewer people know is that Shakur was photographed moments before the shots were fired, and this is that photograph.
The night in question was September 7th, 1996. Shakur, only 25 years old at the time, had been in Las Vegas to celebrate a friend's birthday. Some rappers with whom Shakur and his entourage had issues with were also in the city on the same night, and it's widely suspected that he was assassinated because of these issues. His death prompted outrage and great media debate about the nature of 'gangsta rap' and its effect on young people.
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