Celebrities Who Died of Alcoholism

This is a list of celebrities who died from their addiction to alcohol. While we may be more accustomed to celebrities dying to heroin and other drugs, many have died due to an addiction to alcohol. Alcoholism is more than simply a lack of self control; today, it is considered an all out addictive disorder. In other words, it's not a bad habit - it's a disease. 

Including Jack Kerouac, Billie Holiday, Richard Burton, Peter Cook, and Errol Flynn, this list shows the celebrities who, for whatever reason, couldn't fight the addiction and lost their lives to the disease. Female silent movie star Julia Burns and Barbara Payton are also just a few of the famous women who died of alcholism.

Who are the most famous alcoholics? What famous people died from alcohol? Which famous actors were known to be drunks? While harder drugs may take more of the spotlight, alcohol dependence is a serious syndrome as alcohol has the potential to damage every organ in the body, including the brain, which can lead to other psychiatric disorders. Celebrity deaths are always tragic, but losing notable stars to severe drinking problems is no different. 

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  • Richard Burton
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Cause of Death: Cerebral hemorrhage

    A star of the stage and screen, Burton was a well-regarded actor nominated for a record seven Academy Awards without a win. After a long stint of alcoholism - which included being diagnosed with cirrhosis of the kidneys and liver - Burton died August 5, 1984 in his home in Switzerland.
    • Age: Dec. at 58 (1925-1984)
    • Birthplace: Pontrhydyfen, United Kingdom
    • Profession: Actor
    • Credits: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Where Eagles Dare, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Becket
  • Mickey Mantle
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Cause of Death: Alcoholism

    Mantle, a 20 time All-Star baseball player who spent his entire career with the New York Yankees, noted after his career had ended that alcohol had hurt him both personally and professionally. Towards the end of his life, he required a liver transplant because hepatitis and cirrhosis (as well as cancer) had rotted his liver. Despite a successful transplant, the cancer spread and defeated Mantle on August 13, 1995.
    • Age: Dec. at 63 (1931-1995)
    • Birthplace: Spavinaw, Oklahoma, United States of America
    • Profession: Baseball player
    • Credits: The Match Game, Safe at Home!, Baseball Tips for Kids of All Ages, Diamonds on the Silver Screen
  • Veronica Lake
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Cause of Death: Acute hepatitis

    Lake was a well known film noir actress known for her hairstyle and femme fatale persona. Her alcoholism combined with mental illness issues led to her decline and eventual death on July 7, 1973.
    • Age: Dec. at 50 (1922-1973)
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Pin-up girl, Actor
    • Credits: Sullivan's Travels, This Gun for Hire, The Blue Dahlia, I Married a Witch
  • Ryan Dunn
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Cause of Death: Automobile accident

    A star of the MTV series Jackass and Viva La Bam, Dunn was the driver of a car involved in a solo automobile accident that resulted in his death and that of his passenger. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and he was known for his struggles with addiction. The funny man died in the early hours of June 20, 2011.
    • Age: Dec. at 34 (1977-2011)
    • Birthplace: Medina, Ohio, USA
    • Profession: Stunt Performer, Film Producer, Actor, TV Personality
    • Credits: Jackass 3D, Jackass, Viva La Bam, Street Dreams, Blonde Ambition
  • Jack Kerouac
    Photo: flickr / CC0

    Cause of Death: Alcoholism

    Kerouac, one of the pre-eminent voices of the beat generation, was a gifted writer with a severe drinking problem. He covered a range of topics from spirituality to drugs and poverty, and was lauded for his style of writing. One evening, while drinking whiskey, Kerouac felt sick to his stomach, started vomiting blood, was taken to the hospital. He died the next day, October 21, 1969, from a hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis.  
    • Age: Dec. at 47 (1922-1969)
    • Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, United States of America
    • Profession: Painter, Poet, Novelist, Screenwriter
    • Credits: On the Road, Big Sur, Pull My Daisy, Kerouac, the Movie
  • Billie Holiday
    Photo: The Library of Congress / Flickr

    Cause of Death: Alcoholism

    Holiday, a seminal influence in the fields of jazz and pop singing, was charged with drug possession as she lay dying from heart and liver disease in a New York hospital. She temporarily quit drinking after being diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, but later took it back up and died of her maladies July 17, 1959.
    • Age: Dec. at 44 (1915-1959)
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    • Profession: Songwriter, Musician, Actor, Composer, Singer
    • Credits: Schindler's List, Se7en, The Thing, The Green Mile