Law Life

10 Child Actors Who Tragically Died Young
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

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.


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.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

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





Galloway’s Houston Office is seeking an insurance defense Paralegal. Tasks include legal resea...

Apply now

Legal Assistant - Insurance Defense

USA-FL-West Palm Beach

Insurance Defense Firm seeks qualified legal secretary with minimum 2-4 year previous experience wit...

Apply now

Legal Secretary


Markow Walker, P.A. is currently seeking a Legal Secretary for our Oxford,MS location. Word and Word...

Apply now



Attending court and administrative hearings and interviews, researching legal issues, writing b...

Apply now




Search Now

Commercial Litigation Associate Attorney


Boston office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks a commercial litigation associate a...

Apply Now

Foreclosure Attorney


Atlanta office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks foreclosure attorney with experien...

Apply Now

Foreclosure Attorney


Memphis office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks foreclosure attorney with experien...

Apply Now

Most Popular


To Top