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10 Child Actors Who Tragically Died Young
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Heather O’Rourke
1. Heather O’Rourke

Heather played Carol Anne in the Poltergeist series, released from 1982 to 1988. She passed away when she turned 12 in 1988 due to a misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis. She suffered cardiac arrest and septic shock due to the misdiagnosis.
Gary Coleman
2. Gary Coleman

The famous actor from Diff’rent Strokes 
suffered from a brain hemorrhage, and passed away at the age of 42 in 2010.
River Phoenix

3. River Phoenix

He appeared in 
Explorers, Stand by Me, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as other works. He died of a drug overdose of heroin and cocaine at the age of 23 in 1993.

Judith Barsi

4. Judith Barsi

She started in TV, and 
later ended up in several films, including Jaws: The Revenge, The Land Before Time, and All Dogs Go to Heaven. She was shot in the head by her father while she was sleeping at the age of 10 in 1988.

Dana Plato

5. Dana Plato

She played Kimberly Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes and then was involved in made-for-TV movies and independent films. She died of a Lortab and Soma drug overdose at the age of 34 in 1999.

  
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Brad Renfro

6. Brad Renfro

This young actor 
starred in The Client, and ended up starring in 21 films, two TV episodes, and a few short films before his death. He died after overdosing on heroin in 2008. He was 25.

Carl Switzer
7. Carl Switzer

Carl starred as Alfalfa in Our Gang, which was a series of short films, from 1935-1947. He also starred in several other films and TV shows during his career. He was shot to death by an acquaintance in 1959 at the age of 31 due to a dispute over money.
Lee Thompson Young

8. Lee Thompson Young

Lee became famous in his role as the main character in The Famous Jett Jackson, a series on the Disney Channel. He also was in the movie Friday Night Lights. He played a detective in his final role in Rizzoli & Isles, a TV show on TNT. He died at the age of 29 in 2013 after
committing suicide by shooting himself.

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Jonathan Brandis

9. Jonathan Brandis

Jonathan started out as a child model. Later on he starred in various roles in TV and film. His best known part was in seaQuest DSV, where he played Lucas Wolenczak. He committed suicide by hanging himself in 2003 at the age of 27.

Anissa Jones

10. Anissa Jones

Anissa was best known for playing Buffy in Family Affair, a sitcom on CBS. In 1976, she died of a multiple drug overdose at the age of 18.



 

Summary: These 10 child actors were stars, and most rose quickly to the top. However, tragically, they all died while still young.

 

Image Credits:
“Jonathan Brandis Wiki” by Airwolfberlin – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
“GaryColeman May 2005” by GaryColemanE3May05 – Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
All other images either Fair Use or Public Domain



 

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