Famous People Who Died from Heart Attacks

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Heart-related illnesses account for the highest number of deaths globally. Heart attacks, heart failure, and cardiac arrest claim the lives of numerous individuals daily in the United States. Celebrities, despite their fame and fortune, are not exempt from these tragedies.

While it’s not uncommon for older individuals to succumb to heart attacks, there have been instances where beloved singers and movie stars were suddenly taken from us due to cardiac events.

In this article, we reflect on some of the talented individuals we have lost to heart-related illnesses.

#1 Michael Jackson (1958–2009)

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On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson suffered heart failure due to sleep-inducing medications administered by his personal physician, Conrad Murray. Jackson was rushed to the hospital but was declared deceased at the age of 50.

#2 James Gandolfini (1961–2013)

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James Gandolfini, famous for his role as Tony Soprano in ‘The Sopranos,’ passed away at 51 from a heart attack on June 19, 2013, in Rome, Italy. His unexpected death deeply saddened Hollywood.

#3 Elvis Presley (1935–1977)

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Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, with his death commonly attributed to prescription drug addiction. However, Sally Hoedel’s 2020 biography suggests other contributing factors. Presley was 42 years old.

#4 Lisa Marie Presley (1968–2023)

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Singer Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley, died of cardiac arrest at her California home on January 12, 2023. She was 54 years old.

#5 Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999)

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Renowned filmmaker Stanley Kubrick passed away in his sleep on March 7, 1999, due to a heart attack. He had just completed his final masterpiece, ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’

#6 Peter Sellers (1925–1980)

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Peter Sellers, famous for portraying Inspector Clouseau in ‘The Pink Panther’ films, died of cardiac arrest on July 24, 1980, at the age of 54. He had a history of heart problems.

#7 Tom Petty (1950–2017)

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Tom Petty died unexpectedly at 66 from cardiac arrest on October 2, 2017. The combination of pain relief drugs overwhelmed his heart.

#8 Richard Pryor (1940–2005)

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Legendary comedian Richard Pryor experienced a mild heart attack in 1977 and a second one in 1990. He passed away on December 10, 2005, following a cardiac arrest. Pryor was 65 years old.

#9 Clark Gable (1901–1960)

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Clark Gable died on November 16, 1960, from a second heart attack. His physically demanding role in ‘The Misfits’ is believed to have contributed to his untimely death at 59.

#10 Orson Welles (1915–1985)

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Orson Welles, the multifaceted actor, director, writer, and producer, passed away at 70 from a heart attack on October 10, 1985. His health issues and obesity had been ongoing since his mid-forties.

#11 John Candy (1950–1994)

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Comedian John Candy battled with his weight throughout his life, which contributed to his fatal heart attack on March 4, 1994, at the age of 43.

#12 Michael Clarke Duncan (1957–2012)

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Actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away on September 3, 2012, from complications following a heart attack. Known for his imposing physique, Duncan was 54 years old.

#13 Carrie Fisher (1956–2016)

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Carrie Fisher, known for her role as Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars,’ passed away on December 27, 2016, after suffering a heart attack on a flight. She was 60 years old.

#14 Christopher Reeve (1952–2004)

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After a horseback riding accident in 1995 left him paralyzed, Christopher Reeve died on October 10, 2004, from cardiac arrest at 52.

#15 Roy Orbison (1936–1988)

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Iconic musician Roy Orbison died from a heart attack on December 6, 1988, at the age of 52.

#16 Andy Warhol (1928–1987)

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Pop artist Andy Warhol died in his sleep on February 22, 1987, due to an irregular heartbeat after gallbladder surgery. He was 58 years old.

#17 Luther Vandross (1951–2005)

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Luther Vandross, the celebrated singer and music producer, passed away on July 1, 2005, following a heart attack. He was 54 years old.

#18 Jerry Garcia (1942–1995)

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Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead’s iconic guitarist, died of heart failure on August 9, 1995. His health issues included substance abuse, weight problems, and sleep apnea. He was 53 years old.

#19 Louis Armstrong (1901–1971)

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Jazz legend Louis Armstrong died of heart failure on July 6, 1971, at the age of 69, after a performance in New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria.

#20 Bing Crosby (1903–1977)

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Bing Crosby passed away on October 14, 1977, after collapsing from a massive heart attack while playing golf in Spain. He was 74 years old.

#21 Burt Lancaster (1913–1994)

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Burt Lancaster, a prominent figure in Hollywood’s Golden Age, died on October 20, 1994, following his third heart attack. He was 80 years old.

#22 James Cagney (1899–1986)

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Hollywood legend James Cagney lived until the age of 86, passing away on March 30, 1986, due to heart failure.

#23 James Stewart (1908–1997)

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James Stewart, an esteemed actor, passed away at 89 from cardiac arrest on July 2, 1997. The cause was a pulmonary embolism.

#24 Peter Finch (1916–1977)

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Peter Finch, recognized for his role in ‘Network,’ died of heart failure on January 14, 1977, at the age of 60, just after appearing on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.’

#25 Brittany Murphy (1977–2009)

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Actress Brittany Murphy died at 32 from cardiac arrest on December 20, 2009. Pneumonia and multiple drug intoxication contributed to her death.

#26 Roscoe Arbuckle (1887–1933)

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Silent film star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle died of a heart attack in his sleep on June 28, 1933, at the age of 46.

#27 Lee Marvin (1924–1987)

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Actor Lee Marvin died of heart failure on August 29, 1987, due to complications from heavy alcohol consumption. He was 63 years old.

#28 Diego Maradona (1960–2020)

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Soccer legend Diego Maradona died of cardiac arrest on November 25, 2020, while recovering from brain surgery. He was 60 years old.

#29 James Coburn (1928–2002)

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James Coburn, who won an Academy Award for his role in ‘Affliction,’ died of a heart attack on November 18, 2002, at 74.

Sources: The Guardian, History, NPR, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Associated Press

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