31 Child Actors Who Died Young People
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31 Child Actors Who Died Young

Child actors who died young include some of the most recognizable names in Hollywood, as well as some who starred on stage and screen many decades ago. All of the actors and actresses listed here were in the business as kids, and sadly, all passed away way too early in their lives. Their causes of death vary from health-related problems, to suicides or accidents, but every child actor listed here was taken from this Earth way too soon.

The untimely death of a star is always a tragedy, and when it comes to child actors who died at a young age, it's especially tragic. This list is, unfortunately, proof positive that no matter how famous you are, you are not immune from pain and sadness in life. The names here on this list are among the most famous people who died young.

Some of the child actors listed here died very young, like Poltergeist star Heather O'Rourke, who passed away in 1988 at the age of 12 during surgery to repair an acute bowel obstruction. Other stars, like River Phoenix, died in their early 20s (in Phoenix's case, he died of drug-induced heart failure). Sometimes drug abuse was involved, sometimes not. Actor Brad Renfro battled addiction demons in the last years of his life. After starring in The Client as a young teen, Renfro died of a heroin overdose in 2008.

Child actors who committed suicide are also included on this list. In August of 2013, for example, former Disney star Lee Thompson Young, who appeared on the show "Famous Jett Jackson" and had a part in the TV crime drama 'Rizzoli & Isles,' took his own life at the age of 29. In November of 2003, 'seaQuest DSV' star Jonathan Brandis committed suicide at the age of 27.

If you're looking for more information about famous celebrities who died young, check out these lists of members of the '27 club' (who died at age 27) and the most depressing celebrity trainwrecks of all time.

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  1. "Carol Anne" from Poltergeist died in 1988 from complications during surgery to remove an acute bowel obstruction. She was 12 years old.

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    Age: Died at 13 (1975-1988)
    Birthplace: Santee, California, United States of America
    Profession: Actor
    Cause Of Death: Cardiac arrest, Iatrogenesis, Septic shock, Intestinal Obstruction
    Place Of Death: San Diego, California, United States of America
  2. Skye McCole Bartusiak died in her sleep at the age of 21, in July 2014. Her death was ultimately ruled an overdose. Said the Harris (Texas) County Institute of Forensic Sciences, "The exact cause of death is an accident due to the combined effects of hydrocodone and difluoroethane with carisoprodol."

    The child star was known for her role as Mel Gibson's daughter in The Patriot.


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    Age: Died at 22 (1992-2014)
    Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States of America
    Profession: Actor
  3. The child and teen star of Stand by Me and Explorers died in 1993 at age 23, after speedballing cocaine and morphine. The scene unfolded in front of The Viper Room, a legendary Sunset Strip music venue, while then-owner Johnny Depp was performing onstage with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. As news circulated through the club about Phoenix's collapse outside, the show stopped, but he was never revived.


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    Age: Died at 23 (1970-1993)
    Birthplace: Madras, Oregon, United States of America
    Profession: Activist, Guitarist, Environmentalist, Musician, Singer-songwriter + 1 more
    Cause Of Death: Heart failure, Drug overdose, Cocaine overdose, Heroin overdose, Combined drug intoxication
    Place Of Death: West Hollywood, California, United States of America
  4. "Arnold Jackson" from Diff'rent Strokes died of a brain hemorrhage in 2010 at age 42. The former child star had lapsed into a coma in a hospital near his Provo, UT, home and passed away shortly after being take off life support.


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    Age: Died at 42 (1968-2010)
    Birthplace: Zion, Illinois, United States of America
    Profession: Actor, Voice acting
    Cause Of Death: Epidural hematoma, Cerebral hemorrhage
    Place Of Death: Provo, Utah, United States of America
    also ranked
  5. The young star of Jaws: The Revenge and The Land Before Time (voice of "Ducky") died in 1988 at age 10. In a murder-suicide carried out by her father, Judith and her mother were shot, killed, and subsequently set on fire before he shot himself to death in the family's garage.


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    Age: Died at 10 (1978-1988)
    Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
    Profession: Actor, Voice acting
    Cause Of Death: Ballistic trauma, Firearm, Homicide, Murder
    Place Of Death: Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California, United States of America
    also ranked
    #21 OF 141 Saddest Deaths Ever
  6. "Kimberly Drummond" from Diff'rent Strokes died in 1999 at age 35 while visiting her fiancé's mother in Moore, OK. Plato took a lethal dose of Lortab and Valium before laying down for a nap and never woke up. The death was eventually ruled a suicide. 

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    Age: Died at 35 (1964-1999)
    Birthplace: Maywood
    Profession: Actor
    Schools: William Howard Taft Charter High School
    Cause Of Death: Drug overdose, Suicide
    Place Of Death: Moore, Oklahoma, United States of America
    Children: Tyler Lambert
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