While some of these un-investigated deaths are well-known, others have been confined to the Hollywood history books. There was the two-time Oscar nominee who was shot down during World War II, and whose records are still classified. There was also the actor who made dozens of films and was found dead of a suicide - despite being tied up and drawn all over. Yet another death not investigated was the rock star on the rise who was believed to have killed himself, except he'd been beaten up first.
Here are some deaths whose causes have never satisfactorily been investigated, or who had investigations re-opened only to find nothing new.
Murphy died in December 2009 of what the Los Angeles County Coroner's office determined was heart failure brought on by pneumonia. A number of conspiracy theories sprouted up in the wake of her death, blaming it on everything from toxic mold to a Homeland Security hit. But four years later, a laboratory analysis requested by her father showed signs of heavy metal poisoning, and he sued the County to reopen the investigation. They never did. In June 2016, author Bryn Curt James published A Case For Murder: Brittany Murphy Files. In the wake of the book's publication, several people who worked with Murphy attested to her poor health in the weeks before her death, a refutation of James's thesis. The case remains one of the biggest mysteries in recent Hollywood history.
Age: Died at 32 (1977-2009)
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
Profession: Musician, Actor, Voice acting, Singer
Credits: King of the Hill, 8 Mile, Clueless, Girl Interrupted
#33 on The Greatest '90s Teen Starssee more on Brittany Murphy
The final day in the life of Jimi Hendrix was so shrouded in mystery and inconsistency that it spawned decades of alternative theories. The autopsy showed that he died of vomit inhalation due to an overdose of various drugs, but his companion the day he died in London gave numerous versions of what happened when she found him that morning, several of which directly contradicted each other. Twenty-two years after Hendrix died, a former girlfriend petitioned Scotland Yard to re-open the case.
British detectives made inquiries, but declined to open a new investigation, and the official verdict of the coroner was left open, meaning it can't be determined if the death was an accident or suicide.
Age: Died at 28 (1942-1970)
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States of America
Profession: Record producer, Guitarist, Songwriter, Entrepreneur Musician, + more
Credits: Almost Famous, Wayne's World, Point Break, Minions
#52 on The Best Rock Vocalists
#81 on The Best Singers of All Timesee more on Jimi Hendrix
Walker's death in a one-car crash in 2013 was immediately determined to be an accident caused by out of control speeding, with no drugs or alcohol involved. But as with many other celebrity deaths, a conspiracy theory that Walker was murdered soon arose - an act related to aid money meant to go to the Philippines. This theory wasn't taken seriously by police and was never investigated.
Age: Died at 40 (1973-2013)
Birthplace: Glendale, California, United States of America
Profession: Film Producer, Model, Actor
Credits: The Fast and the Furious, Furious 7, Fast & Furious 6, 2 Fast 2 Furious
Also Rankedsee more on Paul Walker
The great playwright died in New York City in 1983 under circumstances so strange it took multiple examinations to figure out what happened - and even now, the sequence of events that led to his death has gaps. Williams died in August of that year, having choked on the plastic cap from a bottle of eye drops that he'd put in his mouth for some reason.
The initial determination for the death was natural causes, but this verdict was changed when the bottle cap was found in his larynx. Chemical testing was done on the body, and it took months for an amended coroner's report to be released; said report revealed the presence of barbiturates in Williams's system. Speculation was that the Seconal he was taking suppressed his gag reflex, leading him to choke, but even now, what happened isn't clear.
Age: Died at 72 (1911-1983)
Birthplace: Columbus, Mississippi, United States of America
Profession: Screenwriter, Writer, Playwright
Credits: A Streetcar Named Desire, Suddenly, Last Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof The Rose Tattoo
#5 on The Best Gay Authorssee more on Tennessee Williams
Best known for playing Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, English actor Howard was a two-time Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor. In 1943, Howard was on a flight from Lisbon, Portugal back to the UK that was shot down by a flight of German bombers over the Bay of Biscay between Spain and France.
While the flight was a known civilian plane flying over undisputed water, the German planes went out of their normal operating path to shoot it down - leading to theories that Howard was targeted as a high-profile passenger whose death would demoralize England. Another theory held that German intelligence believed Winston Churchill himself was on the flight, because Howard's manager was with Howard and the two men looked similar. Other theories state that British intelligence cracked a German plan to shoot down Howard's plane thinking it was Churchill's, and allowed the flight to go ahead, for fear the Germans would discover their codes had been broken.
With the war raging, it was impossible to conduct a thorough investigation of the attack. As Foreign Office files related to Howard's death are still classified, it's fallen to journalists to try to piece together what happened.
Age: Died at 50 (1893-1943)
Birthplace: Forest Hill, London, England, London
Profession: Soldier, Film Producer, Actor, White-collar worker Film Director
Credits: Gone with the Wind, Of Human Bondage, Romeo and Juliet, Pygmalion In Which We Serve, + moresee more on Leslie Howard
Television's original Superman, Reeves had fallen on hard times after the show ended, and was having financial and career difficulties. In 1959, after a drunken argument with friends, including his fiancée, Reeves went upstairs in his house, and shot himself in the head. The death was quickly ruled a suicide, but a number of circumstantial details led to a conspiracy theory: that Reeves was murdered by one of his houseguests.
The LAPD claimed the gun was too thickly oiled to find fingerprints, and gunshot residue testing wasn't typically done then. Beyond that, Reeves's mother refused to believe that her son killed himself, and many of the people in Reeves's orbit believed that he'd been killed by an ex-girlfriend named Toni Mannix, the wife of an MGM big shot. None of these theories were seriously investigated, and Reeves's death has officially remained a suicide.
Age: Died at 45 (1914-1959)
Birthplace: Woolstock, Iowa, United States of America
Credits: Gone with the Wind, From Here to Eternity, Adventures of Superman, Samson and Delilah Knute Rockne, + more
Also Rankedsee more on George Reeves
In 1966, rocker Bobby Fuller was riding high from the success of his first Top 10 hit, "I Fought the Law." It would also be his last, as he was found dead in his car in LA on July 18 of that year. A cursory examination was done, and concluded Fuller had killed himself by pouring gasoline on himself and sitting in a hot, sealed car. But the autopsy also showed signs that Fuller was beaten, and the boxes for both "accident" and "suicide" were checked on his intake form.
While some theories have put forth that Fuller was killed by the mob, Charles Manson, or the LAPD, a 2015 book put the blame on a much more plausible idea: LA's longtime police chief William Parker had died a few days earlier, and in the chaos that followed, a minor rock musician's death simply wasn't given the thorough investigation it merited. The case has never been re-opened, and likely never will.
Age: Died at 24 (1942-1966)
Birthplace: Baytown, Texas, USA
Profession: Guitarist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Singer
Credits: Sadie J
Also Rankedsee more on Bobby Fuller
A character actor with over 70 film appearances, Dekker also served a term in the California State Assembly, and was blacklisted for a time due to his denunciation of Joe McCarthy. By 1968, his career was on the decline, and after being missing for a few days, he was found dead in his LA apartment by his fiancée.
Dekker was discovered naked, kneeling in his bathtub, bound by chains and leather thongs, with a noose tightly wrapped around his neck and looped around the curtain rod. He was also blindfolded with a scarf, handcuffed, had a ball gag in his mouth, and hypodermic needles sticking out of each arm. To add insult to the death, his body was defiled by someone who wrote homophobic slurs on it with red lipstick, and there were signs that he'd had money and camera equipment stolen.
Despite the fact that many of these actions would have been impossible to perform alone, Dekker's death was ruled a suicide - a conclusion so absurd both the press and the coroner rejected it. Due to the sordid, possibly homosexual nature of the crime, no further investigation was done, and it was written off as an accidental death from auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Age: Died at 63 (1905-1968)
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Profession: Politician, Actor
Credits: The Wild Bunch, Kiss Me Deadly, Gentleman's Agreement, East of Eden Gamera, + moresee more on Albert Dekker