Posted by: distributorcap | June 18, 2009

60’s Thursday – What A Way To Go

What a Way To Go (1964) stars Shirley MacLaine (in a role originally intended for Marilyn Monroe) as a woman who keeps marrying poor men, who then strike it rich and who then drop dead – leaving her even wealthier.

What a way to go for some of these 60’s icons…

Albert Camus – Nobel prize author in literature. 1/4/1960. Camus wanted to go to Paris by train, but was convinced by his friend to ride with him. The car swerved off the road, killing Camus instantly. Camus, who was afraid of cars, was found with the train ticket in his pocket.

Ernest Hemingway – Nobel and Pulitzer prize winning author. 7/2/1961. Wrote “Old Man and the Sea.” Grandfather of Mariel. Hemingway committed suicide with a shotgun. He suffered from alcoholism, liver failure, high blood pressure, insomnia, skin problems, and depression.

Ernie Kovacs – Comedian Television star. 1/13/1962. Married to Edie Adams. Killed in a car accident in Los Angeles. Kovacs lost control of car while lighting a cigar.

Clara Blandick – Auntie Em from the Wizard of Oz. 4/15/1962. Committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills and then tying a plastic bag over her head.

Marilyn Monroe – Most photographed woman of the 50s. 8/5/1962. Found dead at her home in Brentwood from an overdose of pills – possible suicide. Allegedly having affairs with both John and Robert Kennedy. Final movie never completed. Much mystery surrounds her death.

Sylvia Plath – Poet. 2/11/1963. Most famous work is “The Bell Jar.” Killed herself in her London apartment by wrapping a towel around her head, and then putting her head in the oven.

Patsy Cline – Country & Western singer. 3/5/1963. Most famous song is “Crazy.” Big star at the Grand Ole Opry. Killed in a plane crash in Tennessee.

Alan Ladd – Actor. 1/29/1964. Known for roles in Westerns – his most famous role was Shane. Watched his mother commit suicide. Tried to kill himself in 1962. In 1964, he died from an overdose.

Sam Cooke – Singer. 4/11/1964. Influential Black singer in early Rock and Roll. Killed by a woman who may have set him up for a robbery with a friend.

Nat King Cole – Singer. 2/15/1965. First Black singer to have his own TV show. Father of Natalie Cole. Lung cancer. Cole smoked three packs a day.

Linda Darnell – Actress. 4/10/1965. Gorgeous actress from the 1940s, best known for her roles in Unfaithfully Yours and Forever Amber. House caught fire and Darnell died from the burns.

Dorothy Dandridge – Actress. 9/8/1965. First black woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (Carmen Jones). Died from overdose of alcohol and anti-depressants.

Marie McDonald – Blonde. 10/21/1965. Actress known for her large chest. Overdosed on seconal, though ruled accidental. Husband killed himself in same room a few months later.

Bobby Fuller – Singer. 7/18/1966. Had one hit – “I Fought the Law” in 1965 with his group the Bobby Fuller Four. Found beaten and covered in gasoline in car parked in front of his Los Angeles apartment.

Montgomery Clift – Actor. 7/23/1966. Four time Academy Award nominee – best know for From Here to Eternity and Judgment at Nuremberg. Drug addict and closeted homosexual, severely injured in a car accident in the late 50’s. Died of coronary artery disease at age 45. Brother-in-law of Eleanor Clift.

Lenny Bruce – Comedian. 8/3/1966. Controversial stand-up comedian. Arrested several times for obscenity. Found guilty in 1964 and was jailed. Died from morphine overdose.

Jayne Mansfield – Blonde. 6/29/1967. Found success as the next dumb blonde after Monroe. First established Hollywood star to appear nude onscreen. Actually spoke 5 languages and had an IQ of 173. Mother of Law & Order SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay. Died in car accident in Louisiana. Her wig flew off giving rise to the urban legend she was decapitated. Three of her children were in the back seat, include Mariska. They all were unharmed.

Joe Orton – Playwright. 8/9/1967. Famous for his black comedies like “Entertaining Mr. Sloane.” Killed by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell. Halliwell pounded Orton with a hammer and then killed himself.

Brian Epstein – Music manager. 8/27/1967. Manager of the Beatles, often attributed with their initial success. Died of accidental drug overdose.

Otis Redding – Singer. 12/10/1967. Killed in a plane crash near Madison, Wisconsin. “Sitting On The Dock of the Bay” was released after his death.

Nick Adams – Actor. 2/7/1968. One of the four stars of Rebel Without A Cause to die young (the others being James Dean, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood). Died from overdose of paraldehyde, ruled accidental. No means of ingestion of the drug were found.

Frankie Lymon – Teen Idol singer. 2/27/1968. With the Teenagers had one of the biggest hits of the 50’s – “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” Became a heroin addict and died from an overdose.

Albert Dekker – Actor, Politician. 5/5/1968. Appeared in The Wild Bunch. Found hung from a shower rod wearing women’s lingerie. There were hypodermic needles stuck in his arm.

Barbara Bates – Actress. 3/18/1969. Is the final “Eve” to Anne Baxter in All About Eve. Plagued by depression, she killed herself by running the engine of her car in a sealed garage.

Jeffrey Hunter – Actor. 5/27/1969. Famous for playing Jesus Christ in King of Kings and Captain Pike in Star Trek. Lost out on the role of Mike Brady in the Brady Bunch to Robert Reed, Collapsed while climbing stairs, fatally hitting his head.

Judy Garland – Actress. 6/22/1969. Dorothy. One of the biggest MGM stars of the 1940’s. Found dead in her London apartment from accidental overdose.

Brian Jones – Rock star. 7/3/1969. Co-founder of the Rolling Stones. A month after quitting the band Jones was found dead in his swimming pool.

Sharon Tate – Actress. 8/9/1969. Perhaps the most famous Hollywood star murdered. Tate and four of her friends were victims of the Manson gang. Was 8 months pregnant. Made several movies but known for Valley of the Dolls.

Rocky Marciano – Boxer. 8/31/1969. World heavyweight champion 1952-56. Retired undefeated. Died in a plane crash in Iowa.

Sonja Henie – Figure Skater. 10/12/1969. Three time Olympic champion skater, and highest paid movie star of the late 30s – for skating movies. Died on an airplane en route for cancer treatment.




  1. Hi Cap;I must be getting old as I remember all of them.When you see the final outcome of all these peoples lives, you have to wonder.

  2. ich – yep you have wonder about the price of fame sometimes

  3. D'Cap.. are you on a death trip today…lol I am not sure it is the price of fame, it is the trip sometimes fame takes people on when they travel the road they choose. Not all, but some of them chose a hard and dangerous lifestyle. They paid a hard price. Some were just accidents, plane crashes, car crashes, not something that you can predict or avoid sometimes. As they say.. Shit Happens.

  4. annette – LOL – yep some were just accidents and shit happens to everyone and anyone

  5. Happens to everyone except the CheneyBot. I think you got Dekker and Hoover mixed up. 😉

  6. Wow, that was interesting.You're not depressed, are you?

  7. Lot's of folks died in plane crashes, didn't they? Even as short a time ago as the 60's, flying was much riskier than it is now.

  8. Umm, what's wrong with you today? Eleven straight days of rain getting to you?

  9. Whew! That was fun! Of course, if America had had a comprehensive system of health care back in the sixties that included psychiatric coverage maybe some of the deaths could have been avoided. Such loss.Except for Bobby Fuller…. I still hate that song

  10. Don't forget The Searchers for Hunter!I directed one of Orton's plays a couple of years back. It's really a shame – he was just getting big, and The Beatles had hired him to write their next movie script. Three of his plays made the top 100 of the 20th Century list by (IIRC) Britain's National Theatre. Prick up Your Ears is a pretty good biopic on Orton starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina, with Vanessa Redgrave and Wallace Shawn, too.

  11. Sam Cooke died 12/11/1964, not 4/11/1964. And the "robbery" theme was just a smokescreen, FYI. To some key people, Sam was worth more dead than alive.Erik GreeneAuthor, "Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective"

  12. Now, if you continue this theme and do just 1960s rock n roll people – the list will many pages long.

  13. Unfortunately many people who gravitate to show business are empty inside and need the accolades. They doubt themselves when they "make it" and if they tasted stardom and lost it they are devastated on the way down. That is why you see so many "accidental" drug overdoses in the entertainment industry.

  14. what a cheery little post! dcAp, did you get my email?

  15. wheres spencer tracy and lucky lucianno?

  16. I'm with Ichabod. I must be getting older, too, 'cause I remember all of them.

  17. aint i the cheery one?well we had to do the dead 60s icon at some point in the seriesand thats for the correction on Sam Cooke…his death was a big mystery – and some people say a set up

  18. Yeesh.You left out famous toilet deaths, Elvis and Lupe Velez.It looks like Clara Blandick committed a "final exit" suicide decades before the book Final Exit was published.

  19. Man! Those are all really tragic stories! I have always wondered about Sam Cooke's death. the circumstances of it were really fishy and of course, esp. in those times, there coulda been some racial overtones to his death.

  20. Plath must have been disciplined. My head would have been out of the oven in 30 seconds if not sooner.

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