Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Live Fast, Die Young: 20 Great Artists that Never Reached 30
The phrase Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse, originally spoken by actor John Derek in Nicholas Ray's Knock on Any Door (1949), emphasizes how unfulfilled promises have always been fascinating and intriguing for many of us. While some great artists lived up to their full potential, sometimes through decades of fruitful careers, others have passed away long before that, leaving many of us wondering which masterpieces might have lost along with their elder years. Following are 20 great artists that enlightened our souls with their art for a short time, but signed-off to rest in peace before reaching the age of 30.
1) Jean Vigo
French film maker Jean Vigo contributed to poetic realism in film in the 1930s and influenced the French New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s. He died of Tuberculosis on October 5, 1934 when he was 29.
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2) Egon Schiele
Austrian painter Egon Schiele is well known for his twisted body shapes repeating in many of his paintings and drawings. Schiele became one of the notable exponents of Expressionism but died of Influenza on October 31, 1918 when he was 28.
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3) Janis Joplin
In 2004 American singer and songwriter Janis Joplin was ranked by the Rolling Stone magazine #46 on a list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. She was a heroin addict and died of heroin overdose on October 4, 1970 when she was 27.
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4) Kurt Cobain
American musician, singer, guitarist and songwriter Kurt Cobain was co-founder of the Seattle based rock band Nirvana and their leading singer. Even though there are many different versions for what really happened with that shotgun on April 5, 1994 the official version is that Cobain shot himself to death when he was 27.
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5) Brian Jones
British musician Brian Jones was a founding member, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist of British rock band The Rolling Stones. Jones drowned in his own private swimming pool in Sussex, England on 3 July 1969 when he was 27.
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6) Jim Morrison
American singer, poet, songwriter, writer and (frustrated) film director Jim Morrison, also known as The Lizard King and Mr. Mojo Risin', was the founder, leading singer and lyricist of the legendary rock band The Doors. Considered by many as the greatest, most charismatic and influential figure in rock history, Morrison ended up with very few friends and a heart attack while bathing in a Paris hotel room on July 3, 1971. He was 27.
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7) Jimi Hendrix
American guitarist, singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix is considered as one of the greatest and most influential guitar artists in rock music history. According to Dr. Bannister who attended the star at the time of his death Hendrix was drowned in his own vomit, almost entirely red wine served at an earlier party. The full circumstances which led to his death, however, have never been fully uncovered. Hendrix was 27.
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8) Jean Harlow
American film actress Jean Harlow was one of the most prominent sex symbols of the 1930s. Also known as the Platinum Blonde and The Blonde Bombshell, Harlow starred in several films, mainly designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal. She died of uremic poisoning and kidney failure on June 7, 1937 when she was 26.
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9) Sharon Tate
American film actress and Golden Globe-nominated Sharon Tate was one of Hollywood's most promising upcoming stars even before her marriage to genius film director Roman Polański. She was murdered on August 9, 1969 by the Charles Manson gang. Tate was 26 years old and two weeks from giving birth at the time of her horrific death. This famous photo (from John Gilmore and Ron Kramer's Manson: The Unholy Trail of Charlie and the Family) shows Tate on the murder day.
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10) Georg Heym
German poet Georg Heym is known for his outstanding groundbreaking expressionist poetry. He drowned in a frozen lake during a skating trip while trying to save his friend Ernst Balcke. It was January 16, 1912 and the genius poet was just 25.
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11) James Dean
Double Oscar-nominated American film actor James Dean became a cultural icon following his roll as Jim Stark in Nicholas Ray's monumental film Rebel Without a Cause. He played two more pantheon rolls (Cal Trask in East of Eden and as the Jett Rink in Stevens' Giant) but was killed in a car crash accident at the age of 24. Dean was one of the most talented and original style actors Hollywood has ever seen. He was the first actor to receive an "after death" Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Actually, Dean the only actor ever received two such nominations.
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12) Judy Tyler
American film actress Judy Tyler appeared in the 1957 film Bop Girl Goes Calypso but is mostly remembered for her co-starring with Elvis Presley in the movie Jailhouse Rock. After completing her part of the Presley movie filming Tyler and her husband Greg Lafayette went on a vacation. They were killed July 4, 1957 in a car accident north of Rock River, Wyoming. Tyler was only 24 when she died. She was so young she never got to watch any of her only two films.
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13) River Phoenix
American film actor River Phoenix was an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated and was listed on John Willis's Screen World, Vol. 38 as one of twelve "promising new actors of 1986". On the Halloween morning of October 31, 1993 Phoenix died of speedball (mix of heroin and cocaine) overdose outside a Hollywood night club named the Viper Room. He was 23.
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14) Ian Curtis
British vocalist and lyricist Ian Curtis joined the new wave band Joy Division in 1976 and quickly became their undisputed leader. Years after his death Curtis is still a major source of inspiration and a subject for many other artists. Curtis hanged himself in his own kitchen on May 18, 1980 after watching Werner Herzog's Stroszek and listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot. Amongst suggested reasons for his suicide are epilepsy related problems and failure of his marriage. He was 23 years old.
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15) Dominique Dunne
American actress Dominique Dunne appeared in several made for television movies, television series, and films but was most known for her role as Dana (the oldest daughter) in Poltergeist (1982). Dunne was strangled into coma on November 4, 1982 by her ex-boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney after she refused to reconcile with him. Sweeney, then a popular Los Angeles chef, strangled Dunne in the driveway of her home. She died a few days later, at the age of 22.
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16) Buddy Holly
American singer-songwriter and rock and roll inventor Charles Hardin Holley aka "Buddy Holly" is considered one of the most influential artists in pop music history but only lived to see about one and a half years of success. He was described as "the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll" and in 2004 ranked #13 on a list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by the Rolling Stone magazine. He died in an airplane crash on February 3, 1959 on his way to Fargo, North Dakota. The plane took off in light snow and gusty winds at around 12:55 A.M., but crashed after only a few minutes.
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17) Sid Vicious
British punk musician John Simon Ritchie also known as Sid Vicious was the bass player of the Sex Pistols and one of the most prominent prophets of the punk-rock decade. He died of heroin overdose on February 2, 1979 at the age of 21.
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18) Charles Sorley
Scottish war poet Charles Sorley volunteered for military service in England during World War I and arrived at the Western Front in France as a lieutenant in May 1915. He ranked Captain at the very early age of 20 but was shot in the head by a German sniper at the Battle of Loos on October 13, 1915 and died instantly.
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19) Divya Bharti
Indian film actress Divya Bharti born Divya Om Prakash Bharti was a popular Indian film actress in the early 1990s. Bharti was already a shining star in 1990 when she was just 16 years old. In 1992 she appeared in more than 14 Hindi films which was at the time a record for a newcomer to the Hindi film industry. Bharti's career was ended in April 5, 1993 when she mysteriously accidentally fell off a 5-storey apartment building in Mumbai. She was 19 when she died.
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20) Tara Correa-McMullen
American actress Shalvah McMullen, better known with her stage name Tara Correa-McMullen, was mostly famous for her role as gang member Graciela Reyes on the CBS TV series Judging Amy. McMullen had just about enough time to co-star with Martin Lawrence in a first feature film - Rebound - but was murdered on October 21, 2005. She was just 16 when she died.
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Enjoyed this article? See also: 20 (More) Great Artists that Never Reached 30