Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood
Young movie stars, Natalie Wood (Rebel without a Cause, West Side Story) and Robert Wagner (Prince Valiant, A Kiss Before Dying) were married for the first time on December 28, 1957. They divorced in 1962, reunited 10 years later, and remarried on July 16, 1972. Their second marriage lasted until Natalie’s early death when she accidently fell overboard and drowned on the night of November 29, 1981. At the time, Natalie, her husband, the boat’s captain, and Christopher Walken, who was Natalie’s co-star in the film Brainstorm, were spending a Thanksgiving weekend aboard the couple’s yacht which was moored off the coast of Catalina Island. Tragically, nobody onboard noticed that Natalie was missing until it was too late. Her body was found the next morning floating less than two hundred yards offshore. Wood was 43 years old.
Dana and Christopher Reeve
Actors Christopher Reeve (Superman, Somewhere in Time) and Dana Morosini (Above Suspicion, Everyone’s Hero) were married on April 11, 1992. Christopher Reeve became a quadriplegic when he shattered his first and second vertebrae in a horse-riding accident on May 27, 1995. After the accident, the Reeves lobbied on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries, founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation, and co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Christopher Reeve also authored two books, “Still Me” and “Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life”. Christopher died from heart failure on October 10, 2004, at age 52. Dana Reeve followed less than two years later. Although she was a non-smoker, Dana died from lung cancer on March 6, 2006. She was 44 years old.
Priscilla and Elvis Presley
The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, and Priscilla Ann Beaulieu were married on May 1, 1967, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Their only child, Lisa Marie, was born exactly nine months later on February 1, 1968. The couple divorced in 1973, but shared custody of their daughter and remained friends until Elvis died on August 16, 1977, at age 42. Presley’s body contained 14 different stimulants and depressants at the time of his death. Shortly after, President Jimmy Carter issued a statement that credited Presley with having “permanently changed the face of American popular culture”. Elvis Presley is buried on the grounds of Graceland in the Meditation Garden.
Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate
Actress Sharon Marie Tate was married to director Roman Polanski from January 20, 1968, until her death on August 9, 1969, when at age 26 she and her friends were brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson’s “Family”. Sharon Tate was nine months pregnant when she was killed. According to the coroner’s report she had been stabbed sixteen times, and five of the wounds were in and of themselves fatal.
Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson
Natasha Jane Richardson was the daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave and the granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave. In the summer of 1994, she married Irish actor, Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Kinsey). The couple had two sons, Micheál, who was born in 1995, and Daniel, born in 1996. On March 18, 2009, when she was 45 years old, Richardson died following a head injury sustained during a fall while she was taking a skiing lesson at a Quebec resort.
Linda and Paul McCartney
Linda Eastman married Paul McCartney of The Beatles on March 12, 1969. She was a professional photographer, animal rights activist and a member of Paul’s band, Wings. Linda became Lady McCartney when Paul was knighted in 1997. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and died on April 17, 1998, at the McCartney family ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Paul’s last words to Linda were: “You’re up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion. It’s a fine spring day. We’re riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear-blue.”
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Musicians, peace activists and visual artists, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, were married on March 20, 1969. After The Beatles, John Lennon enjoyed a successful solo career with such acclaimed albums as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, which produced the iconic songs Give Peace a Chance and Imagine.
On the night of December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times in the entrance of the Dakota apartment building. Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of the Double Fantasy album for Chapman. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. On the following day, Yoko Ono issued a statement which ended with the words, “John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him. Love, Yoko and Sean.”
John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier
John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier were married on September 12, 1953. In the 1960 U.S. presidential election, John Kennedy narrowly beat Republican Richard Nixon, and a little over two weeks after the election, Mrs. Kennedy gave birth to the couple’s first son, John, Jr. A second son, Patrick, was born on August 2, 1963, but died two days later.
On November 22, 1963, the First Couple flew on Air Force One from Carswell Air Force Base to Love Field in Dallas, Texas. They were accompanied by Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie. A 9.5-mile motorcade was to take them to the Trade Mart where the President was scheduled to speak at a luncheon. After the motorcade turned the corner onto Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, three gun shots rang out. The President was shot once in the upper back and was killed with a final shot to the head. President Kennedy was 46 years old when he died.
In January 1994, Jacqueline was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer. She died in her sleep at 10:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, 1994, two and a half months before her 65th birthday. She is buried alongside President Kennedy, their son Patrick, and their stillborn daughter Arabella, at Arlington National Cemetery.
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
Early Hollywood actors, Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty) and Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey, To Be or Not to Be) were married in March 1939. On January 16, 1942, Lombard was killed in a plane crash at the age of 33, while promoting the purchase of defense bonds during World War II. Gable, who was devastated by her loss, joined the United States Army Air Forces shortly after her death. On January 15, 1944, Gable attended the launch of the Liberty ship SS Lombard, named in his wife’s honor.
Lombard is interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Although Gable remarried, he was interred next to Lombard when he died in 1960 as the result of a heart attack.
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and screen siren Marilyn Monroe eloped on January 14, 1954. Trouble began brewing in their marriage almost immediately when during their honeymoon in Japan, Monroe was asked to visit Korea as part of the USO. She performed ten shows in four days for over 100,000 servicemen. Things boiled over in September of the same year when Monroe filmed the skirt-blowing scene for The Seven Year Itch in front of New York’s Trans-Lux Theater. Their turbulent marriage dissolved 274 days after the wedding but the couple would go on to remain life-long friends.
On August 5, 1962, Marilyn died at age 36 as the result of a drug overdose. After her death, DiMaggio claimed her body and arranged the funeral. He also had a half-dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week for the next 20 years.
Joe DiMaggio would succumb to lung cancer on March 8, 1999. On his deathbed DiMaggio said, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn”.
Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee
Singer Bobby Darin met teen star Sandra Dee when they co-starred in the film, Come September. The pair fell in love and were married in 1960. Unknown to most of his fans, Bobby Darin’s health was dangerously fragile and strongly motivated him to succeed within the limited time he feared he had left to live.
His fears materialized when Darin was 37 years old. He entered Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for surgery to repair two artificial heart valves received in a previous operation. The surgery was initially successful but Darin died in the recovery room on December 20, 1973.
Although the couple were divorced in 1967, Sandra Dee never remarried and referred to Darin as the love of her life. Her later years were marked by ill health and she admitted that for most of her life she battled anorexia nervosa, depression and alcoholism. In 2000, it was reported that she had been diagnosed with several ailments, including throat cancer and kidney disease. It was complications from kidney disease that ultimately led to her death on February 20, 2005, at age 62.
Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain
Rockers Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain were married on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, on February 24, 1992. Love wore a satin and lace dress once owned by the actress Frances Farmer and Cobain wore green pajamas. Six months later, on August 18, the couple’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain was born.
During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction, illness and depression. The pressures of his fame as the lead singer and guitarist of the rock band Nirvana, along with some lifelong personal pressures, finally led to his death at age 27 from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
A suicide note was found near his body at his home in Seattle, Washington. The note said, in part, “I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now”. A high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in Cobain’s body at the time of his death.
George Burns and Gracie Allen
George Burns and his wife Gracie Allen were a comedy team who worked in vaudeville, films, radio and television and achieved substantial success during the decades of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. George Burns wrote most of the material and played the straight man to Allen’s innocent and zany dumbbell persona.
As is often the case with performers who play dumb, Gracie Allen was in reality, highly intelligent. She fought a long battle with heart disease which led to her early retirement and finally to her death from a heart attack in 1964. Afterward, Burns visited her grave once a month, professing to talk to her about whatever he was doing at the time. George would go on to live another thirty-two years and had reached the age of 100 when he died on March 9, 1996.
As much as he looked forward to reaching age 100, Burns also stated that he looked forward to death, saying that the day he died he would be with Gracie again in heaven. When he was interred with Gracie, the crypt’s marker was changed to, “Gracie Allen & George Burns — Together Again.” George had said that he wanted Gracie to have top billing.
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