This article was originally published on 24/7Mirror
While many of us can't imagine a world without our favorite celebrities, sadly, they are only human. Many of them lived lives so extraordinary that they, unfortunately, passed in the most unexpected of moments, leaving only a photo behind to commemorate their last day or even hour. The last known photographs of the most beloved historical icons are reminders of their incredible talents and tributes to their extraordinary lives. These pictures will give you an idea of what those last few days were like for these unforgettable legends.
1. Brittany Murphy At Her Last Red Carpet Event
Everyone's earliest memory of Brittany Murphy on screen was in her breakout role as Tai Frasier in the iconic Clueless. Her quirky personality and incredible talent paved the way for Murphy's other roles in Uptown Girls, Riding in Cars With Boys, and 8 Mile.
At her last red carpet appearance, many people noticed how frail Murphy looked. A week after this outing, she passed away from pneumonia due to severe anemia and drug intoxication. Murphy was only 32-years-old, and many people were in shock by her sudden death.
2. Steve Irwin Before He Goes Diving
The legendary Crocodile Hunter, Stever Irwin, was well-known for wrangling massive crocs and educating people about the wonders of wild animals. He found his love for animals when he was young because his parents owned a zoo in Queensland, Australia.
The photo was taken moments before Irwin and his cameraman, Justin Lyons, decided to jump in the water to get footage for a project about stingrays. While filming, Irwin was stabbed by a stingray barb and died on the way to the hospital. His memory and mission have lived on through his two children and wife.
3. Chadwick Boseman Concerns Fans With An Instagram Video
From his role as Thurgood Marshall to the mighty King T'Challa, Chadwick Boseman created what people call the "Boseman Effect." He inspired so many young people of color, and all over the world, fans stuck out their chests and repeated the line, "Wakanda Forever."
Although he hid his battle with colon cancer, many people noticed how much weight he lost in one of his final Instagram posts. Boseman underwent many surgeries and chemo treatments while continuing his work, and no one knew how sick he really was. On August 28, 2020, Boseman lost his lengthy battle with cancer.
4. Last Fan Photo Of Kobe Bryant
Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant was considered one of the greatest basketball players in history. Throughout his professional career, he won numerous championships and MVP awards with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant was also a proud father and husband to his four daughters.
On the morning of January 26, 2020, Bryant, his daughter Gianna and six family friends boarded his helicopter for a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy. The conditions were foggy, and visibility was low, which caused the aircraft to crash into the side of a mountain. It was completely unexpected, and his death shocked everyone worldwide.
5. David Bowie's Instagram Post To Promote His Album
David Bowie was not just an influential rocker, but he influenced more genres than any other musician living or dead. With hits like "Space Oddity" and "Lazarus," few people could compete with his career. He also left his mark on the fashion world and impacted the trends for men and women's fashion.
At his release party for his final album, "Blackstar," Bowie made his last appearance two days before his death. He hid his liver cancer diagnosis from the public, which is why everyone was shocked by his death. He tried to work through his illness, but it was too much for him. Fans created memorials outside of his apartment in New York and at his birthplace in England.
6. Princess Diana Moments Before Her Car Accident
After marrying the Queen's eldest son, Princess Diana blossomed in the public eye and became the "People's Princess." So many people adored the gracious beauty, and her style was iconic. Diana was charitable, and she knew how to work the crowd once she got comfortable in the public eye.
At the height of her popularity, the paparazzi were relentless in following Princess Diana. While driving through a tunnel in Paris to flee the paparazzi, Diana's car crashed, and she perished along with her driver and friend, Dodi Fayed. Her funeral was the most viewed event in history. Three million people mourned outside of Westminister, and 2.5 billion people around the world watched on TV.
7. Dale Earnhardt Prepping For His Final Race
You may have known him as "The Man in Black," "Ironhead," or "The Intimidator," but most knew him as Dale Earnhardt. The 76-time Winston Cup winner was dubbed one of the best drivers in NASCAR history, and his aggressive driving style helped him move up the ranks in the racing world.
At the 2001 Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida, tragedy struck. He is pictured here with his family before the race, which would be his last. During the race, Earnhardt's car was swiped by another vehicle, and he was propelled into the wall. He did not survive the crash, but his legacy lived on.
8. Alan Rickman Going To His Last Few Events
As one of the most misunderstood characters in the Harry Potter series, Alan Rickman brilliantly portrayed Severus Snape for all eight movies. With his slow deep voice, he played the perfect villain who turned out to be the one who would save Harry Potter in the end.
Many people did not know, but in 2015, Rickman told his close friends that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after suffering from a minor stroke. In January 2016, Rickman passed away in London. Tributes poured out, and fans created a memorial for Rickman underneath the Platform 93/4 sign in London.
9. Carrie Fisher Seen For The Last Time
With her gold bikini and memorable performance as Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher rose to fame and became a household name. She was a Disney legend, and legions of fans followed her throughout her successful career.
In her last few hours, Fisher posted a photo to Twitter outside the airport before she boarded a flight to LA from London. During the flight, Fisher suffered a heart attack, and the doctors and nurses on board tried to save her. However, she sadly passed away at the hospital after the plane made an emergency landing.
10. John F. Kennedy Right Before His Assassination
Serving as the 35th President of the United States, John. F. Kennedy faced numerous foreign crises during his presidency in Cuba and Berlin. With his incredible speeches and charisma, JFK helped pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964, a significant turning point in history.
On the days leading up to his assassination, JFK's motorcade route was published in all the local newspapers. Lee Harvey Oswald plotted according to the routes and shot Kennedy while he was passing the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963. This was just moments before the assassination took place.
11. Naya Rivera's Final Selfie
Actress, model, and singer Naya Rivera is best known as the sassy yet talented Santana Lopez from Glee. Her breakthrough role inspired her to support LGBTQ+ and women's rights causes. The incredibly talented actress was also a loving mother to her five-year-old son.
On the day of her disappearance, she posted a sweet photo with her son, captioned, "Just the two of us." Hours later, her son was found on a boat by himself, and she was nowhere to be found. After a five-day search, her body was found on August 13, 2020, and it was ruled as an accidental drowning from the strong rip currents in the lake. The investigation found that she used her last bit of strength to put her son back on the boat before she was swept under.
12. Garry Shandling Hanging Out With Friends
Known for his Emmy nominated shows, It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show, Garry Shandling got his start as a sitcom writer. He wrote for shows like Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter.
His last photo was taken at Kathy Griffin's home, where he hung out with friends. Shandling passed away from complications related to his hyperthyroidism. Before his death, he appeared on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld. He jokingly stated, "What I want at my funeral is an actual boxing referee to do a count, and at 'Five,' just wave it off and say, 'He's not getting up.'"
13. Amy Winehouse Breaks Down On Stage At Her Last Performance
With her deep contralto vocals and unique style, Amy Winehouse quickly came up in the music scene during her late teens. She was quickly discovered, and for some time, she was kept an industry secret because everyone wanted to sign her. Winehouse's first debut album was "Frank," and it was a big hit,
The soulfulness in her voice hid so much pain in the young singer's life. Winehouse abused alcohol and drugs during her short life to deal with her emotional pain. At her last performance in Belgrade a few days before her death, the singer appeared to breakdown on stage, which broke the hearts of everyone at her concert.
14. James Dean's Last Drive
The devilishly handsome James Dean is most famous for his role as bad boy Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause. He was part of the post-WWII generation filled with teenage angst and disappointment. Besides his acting career, Dean was also passionate about his Porsche 550 Spider.
Dean and his friend Rolf Wütherich, pictured in the Spyder, were on their way to a racing event in California when they hit another car. Dean passed away in the crash, and curiously, someone predicted his death a week before it happened. Dean showed off his speedster to British actor Alec Guinness, who said, “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.”
15. Kelly Preston Snuggling With Her Husband
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kelly Preston launched her acting career in 1985 with her first role in Mischief. She had roles in movies like Jerry Maguire, For Love of the Game, and Twins. Along with her career, Preston often spoke about her loving relationship with her husband, John Travolta.
Preston chose to keep her two year battle with breast cancer private, but on July 12, 2020, she passed away because of the disease. Her bright and beautiful soul was loved by many, and her family and closest friends surrounded her throughout her difficult battle.
16. Whitney Houston's Last Night Out
Once you heard Whitney Houston's music, it was like her vocal cords blessed your ears. The record-breaking singer's albums were all certified, and she received a Guinness World Record for the most awards earned by an artist. Despite her success, Houston struggled in her personal life with partying and drugs.
Three days before she was scheduled at a 2012 pre-Grammy Awards party. Houston was last seen leaving the Beverly Hilton Hotel after a rehearsal. The paparazzi photos from that night painted a troubling picture of her substance abuse. On the day Houston was supposed to perform, she passed away. The event became a tribute to her successful career.
17. John Candy On Set
During the '70s and '80s, John Candy rose to fame for his comedic skills and was well-known for starring in parody movies. His most famous roles were in Splash, Spaceballs, and Uncle Buck. At the time of his death, he was working on two projects, including a western parody called Wagon East.
Throughout his career, Candy struggled with his weight and died from a heart attack. Since he had two projects in the works at the time of his death, they were released as a dedication to his memory.
18. Chester Bennington With His Wife And Children
Many remember Chester Bennington as the lead singer of Linkin Park on their debut album "Hybrid Theory." After the massive success of the album, the band released a second album, and then Bennington decided to form his own band, Dead by Sunrise. He later left to be the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots.
Just before his death, Bennington is pictured with his wife and children, looking happy as ever. However, he was struggling with his mental health and took his own life. Bennington's wife created 320 Changes Direction in honor of her late husband. The campaign's goal is to break the stigmas surrounding mental health.
19. Robin Williams' Last Instagram Post
Funnyman Robin Williams was one of the best comedic actors in history. Movies like Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, and Aladdin brought laughter to millions of people worldwide and earned him two Academy Award nominations. However, the laughter he provided for fans did not help his internal struggle.
On the outside, Williams seemed like a man who could smile and laugh at any moment, but internally he was struggling with mental health issues. In August 2014, the world was stunned to find out that Williams took his life. We mourned the loss of this fantastic man, but it opened many people's eyes to the reality of mental health.
20. Anton Yelchin Just Days Before His Freak Accident
Growing up in the former Soviet Union, Anton Yelchin's family was ridiculed for being Jewish before moving to the United States in 1989. The actor was just a baby at the time, but this move opened many opportunities for him. Yelchin's career took off after he appeared in Taken.
Besides his love for acting, Yelchin was an aspiring photographer who posted his final photo just three days before his death. He was young and healthy, and no one expected his sudden passing. The actor got in a car accident near his LA home, and people were shocked to hear about his death.
21. Aretha Franklin Takes The Stage One Last Time Singing Her Top Hits
"R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find out what it means to me." The Queen of Soul music, Aretha Franklin, rose to fame in the '60s with hits like "Respect" and "Chain of Fools." Born and raised in Memphis, Franklin was the daughter of a Baptist minister, and her mother was a pianist and singer.
Her family inspired her dreams and supported her throughout her success. After a long career, Franklin sang one of her classic hits, "I Say a Little Prayer" at Elton John's fundraising gala in November 2017. This was her final performance before she passed away in August 2018. Her $80 million fortune was divided evenly by her three sons.
22. Burt Reynolds Promoting His Last Movie
As one of the highest-ranking box-office stars in the late '70s and early '80s, Burt Reynolds became a Hollywood icon with movies like The Longest Yard, Semi-Tough, and Hooper. His career spanned over 60 years, and until his last days, he was working to promote his work.
In March 2018, Reynolds was last seen at Build Studio, talking about the film The Last Movie Star. Sitting alongside his co-star Ariel Winter, it was the last interview before his untimely death. He passed away from a heart attack in September of the same year, and tributes poured out for the beloved celebrity.
23. Elvis Presley Belts It Out Till The End
As the "King of Rock and Roll," Elvis Presley became a cultural icon. With his striking looks and blue suede shoes, The King made rock and roll music mainstream during the '60s. His fans couldn't get enough of his hits and stage presence.
After his split from Priscila Presley, Elvis turned to drugs to cope with his troubles. On June 26, 1977, Elvis played one last show in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was barely recognizable from his former self because his health deteriorated massively. Two months after the show, Presley was found dead in his home. Forty years after his death, Elvis was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his effect on music and culture.
24. Michael Jackson Impresses Fans One Last Time
Michael Jackson changed the way we think of pop music, and he was dubbed "The King of Pop." His elaborate videos, incomparable dance moves, and talented vocals, Jackson became one of the greatest entertainers of all time. To this day, "Thriller" is still the best selling album of all time.
At 50-years-old, Jackson was still blowing people away with his sick moves. Just two days before his death, he was rehearsing for a concert at the Staples Center. Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009, and the world mourned the pop culture icon, and all that he had contributed to the world of music and performance.
25. Lucille Ball Was Begged To Take The Stage For An Award Show
I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball was legendary in the world of comedy and off-script adlibs. She won four Emmys out of her 13 nominations, and she paved the way for women in Hollywood by becoming the first woman to run a production company. Her company produced Star Trek, the television series.
When Bob Hope was presenting at the 1989 Academy Awards, he begged Lucille Ball to join him. Although she put up a fight at first, his relentless pleas broker her down, and she joined him on stage. A month after the awards, she sadly passed away.
26. Bradley Nowell Performing With Sublime At Their Last Show
After a trip to Jamaica with his father, Bradley Nowell was exposed to reggae and dancehall music, which lead to his passion for rock music. He is widely known as the lead singer of the ska-punk band Sublime. He met his bandmates, Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh while attending California State University.
While performing at the Pheonix Theatre in California, no one knew it would be the last concert with the original members of Sublime. One day after the show, Nowell passed away from a drug overdose, and the band released their third studio album in his honor.
27. Philip Seymour Hoffman Attending A Film Festival
As a teenager, Phillip Seymour Hoffman was bitten by the acting bug, which inspired him to attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. After graduation, Hoffman landed a role on Law and Order. A year later, he got his breakout role in Scent of a Woman, and his name was widespread.
Hoffman got a reputation for playing the outcast, lowlife character, and in 2014, he attended the Sundance Film Festival. No one knew that this would be his last public appearance. Throughout his career, he struggled with a heroin addiction, and just two weeks after this photo, he overdosed.
28. Amelia Earhart With Her Flight Partner
Amelia Earhart was a female icon and an aviation pioneer. Her transatlantic solo flight was a historic moment for pilots and women worldwide. Her well-documented experiences were instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.
On July 2, 1937, Earhart and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, took off towards Howland Island. It was one of her last stops in her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Sadly, her plane lost communication, and no one really knows what happened next. It is assumed that her plane crashed in the ocean, but there have been many conspiracies and rumors surrounding her plane's disappearance.
29. Challenger Crew Getting Ready For Their Mission
In 1983, The Space Shuttle Challenger crew made history with their first space launch. It was the second orbiter of NASA's space shuttle program. After nine expeditions and three years of exploration, the crew was set for a tenth launch. However, the space shuttle exploded after 73 seconds, which killed the entire crew.
No one understood what went wrong at first because the shuttle had withstood nine other missions. President Ronald Reagan appointed a special commission to investigate the explosion. It was found that NASA ignored many safety guidelines, and they were held responsible.
30. Vladimir Lenin Towards The End Of His Life
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, who was also known by his alias, Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary who served as the head of the government in Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union. Under him, the Soviet Union became a one-party Marxist-Leninist state governed by the Communist Party. Lenin was motivated by the execution of his brother.
Lenin was responsible for repression and mass killings, which made him a highly controversial historical figure. Towards the end of his life, Lenin suffered multiple strokes, which left him wheelchair-bound. His sister and doctor took care of him until he died in 1924.
31. Muhammad Ali Facetimes His Daughter In His Final Days
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Cassius Marcellus Clay, otherwise known as Muhammad Ali, was one of the greatest boxers in history and earned the nickname, "The Greatest." Besides his accomplishments in boxing, he was a philanthropist and activist for many important causes.
Throughout his life, Ali became one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century. A few days before his death, he video chatted with his daughter Hana. She shared this screen-shot of their conversation and said he was an inspiration to her until his final days.
32. Abraham Lincoln's Possible Final Portrait
As the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln accomplished so much during his time in office. He led the Union through the Civil War and abolished slavery. Lincoln's work paved the way for a brighter future in America as he strengthened the federal government and modernized the country's economy.
There have been disputes about his last portrait, but it is believed that Lincoln's final photo was taken on a balcony at the White House in March 1865. He was then killed by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre in April of the same year.
33. Frank Zappa's Final Interview
Frank Zappa was a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist composer who's nonconformist style was a satire on American culture. He combined numerous styles to get his unique sound, which was characterized as innovative and stylistically diverse.
During his last interview, Zappa looked frail and sickly as he was battling prostate cancer. Throughout his life, he was vocal about his disapproval of drugs, but he smoked tobacco heavily. In 1993, he sadly lost his fight with cancer and passed away.
34. Lee Harvey Oswald On His Way To The Hospital
While it has been highly disputed, after multiple investigations, Lee Harvey Oswald was the confirmed killer of JFK. As a former Marine who defected to the Soviet Union, he met his Russian wife, and the couple moved back to the United States. After living in a few different states, he settled in Texas, where he took a job at the Texas School Book Depository.
On November 22, 1963, Oswald shot and killed President John F. Kennedy. He was taken into custody that day and prosecuted for the assassination of the president by the morning. While he was being transferred to the county jail, Oswald was shot and killed by a nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.
35. Heath Ledger Is Seen On Set For The Last Time
Growing up in Perth, Australia, Heath Ledger had always dreamed of moving to America to start an acting career. In the early 1990s, he packed his things and made his dreams a reality. His most recognizable roles in The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain, and A Knight's Tale earned him numerous awards.
Ledger was known for his method acting style, which helped him with his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. However, it caused him to have sleeping issues after he isolated himself in a hotel for a month for the role. He struggled to get out of the character's headspace while he was filming his last movie, The Imagination of Doctor Parnassus, which was released after his death.
36. John Lennon Memorial Stories
John Lennon is undeniably a historical icon because of his contribution to music and culture. Lennon, alongside Paul, Ringo, and George, formed the Beatles, but he left to form a band with his wife Yoko Ono in 1969. Lennon's music style shifted after he left the band, and his music had messages to end the Vietnam War.
The last studio album he recorded with the Plastic Ono Band was "Walls and Bridges," which was after his split from Yoko Ono. He had been in New York recording the album when he was shot by Mark Chapman, who asked him to autograph an album. Although Ono claimed there was no funeral, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for a moving vigil.
37. Ruth Bader Ginsburg At Her Last Public Event
Feminist icon and Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was legendary because she was the first Jewish female justice. RBG successfully fought against gender discrimination and unified the liberal block during her 27 years in the Supreme Court.
RBG battled cancer five times and only missed two days of work throughout her treatment. On September 18, 2020, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Ginsburg, succumbed to complications from pancreatic cancer. It is believed that only the most righteous people die on this day according to the themes of the Jewish new year.
38. Franklin Delano Roosevelt At His Home In Georgia
Many scholars have compared FDR to the likes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for his accomplishments in office. He helped the US recover from the worst economic disaster in history and lead the country through World War II. He also battled with Polio throughout the entirety of his political career.
During his fourth term as president, Roosevelt's health started to decline rapidly. Days before the founding conference of the United Nations, FDR went to his home in Georgia, which he referred to as "the little White House." On April 12, 1945, he said to his wife, "I have a terrific headache," and slumped down in his chair. He passed away later that evening.
39. Keith Moon At A Movie Premiere
Keith Moon was the prodigy drummer from the British rock band, The Who. He started the trend of smashing his equipment after shows because of his restless behavior. Moon was noted for his unique style and eccentric personality that boosted him to stardom.
After attending the premiere of The Buddy Holly Story with his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax. After the event, the couple returned to his flat, and he asked his girlfriend to make him steak and eggs while he watched a movie. When she refused, he uttered his last words, "If you don't like it, then you can f**k off." She found him dead the next morning from a drug overdose.
40. Leonard Cohen Enchants People With His Music
Singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen was a Canadian singer whose work explored many different topics. He was an accomplished musician who earned a place in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
His last interview took place at the Canadian consulate in LA, where he discussed the themes of his work and other artists. He was smiling and seemed healthy at the time. A month later, Cohen passed away after a long battle with Leukemia in November 2016.