ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

When an actor of any age passes it is a tragic loss, but the death of a child star feels particularly more sad. Even though we didn't know them, they were so familiar to us we feel a sense of loss, having followed them through their journey in Hollywood from such a young age. While some deaths of young actors are very shocking, one thing is sure for them all: they were all taken far too young.

Here's a list of child stars who died before their time:


1. Heather O'Rourke

Most famous for: Playing Carol Anne in Poltergeist I, II and III

What happened?: In early 1988, after being misdiagnosed months earlier, Heather O'Rourke became ill at home and despite being resuscitated en route to hospital she died on February 1st. It was ruled that Heather's death was caused by cardiac arrest during surgery to repair a bowel obstruction complicated by septic shock. She was 12.


2. River Phoenix

Most famous for: Stand By Me, My Own Private Idaho, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

What happened?: After partying at the infamous club The Viper Room, River Phoenix collapsed and died of drug-induced heart failure on the sidewalk outside the club. His brother Joaquin and his sister Rain were both present and tried to help him, but he was pronounced dead in the early hours of October 31st, 1993, at the age of 23.


3. Judith Barsi, The Land Before Time

Most famous for: The voice of Ducky in The Land Before Time and Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven as well as appearing in Jaws: The Revenge.

What happened?: Judith's success as a child actor helped her family financially but her father, Jozsef, became increasingly jealous, abusive and paranoid. Despite her mother promising Child Protective Services that she and Judith would leave Jozsef they didn't, and on July 25th, 1988 he shot and killed them both as they slept. She was 10.


4. Rob Knox, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Most famous for: Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

What happened?: After intervening in a fight to protect his younger brother, Rob Knox was stabbed outside a bar in London on 24 May, 2008. He was 18. Though he had already filmed his role in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the film was released after his death.


5. Sammi Kane Kraft, Bad News Bears

Most famous for: Playing Amanda Whurlitzer in the 2005 remake of Bad News Bears.

What happened?: On October 9, 2012, Kraft was riding in the passenger seat of a car when it rear-ended a semi trailer and was then struck by another vehicle. She was later pronounced dead at hospital, aged 20.


6. Corey Haim, The Lost Boys

Most famous for: The Lost Boys, License to Drive, Lucas

What happened?: Haim began using drugs at an early age but as his career slowed down he developed a larger addiction. On March 23, 2010 after procuring more than 550 prescription pills using aliases, Haim died of pneumonia and was found by his mother, whom he shared a house with. He was 38.


7. Ashleigh Aston Moore, Now and Then

Most famous for: Playing Chrissy in Now and Then

What happened?: There are conflicting reports of how Ashleigh Aston Moore died, but she passed away In British Columbia, Canada on December 10, 2007. She either died as a result of a heroin overdose or of pneumonia and bronchitis. She was 26 years old.


8. Christopher Pettiet

Most famous for: Playing Zach Crandell in Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead and 15 in Point Break.

What happened?: After struggling with addiction for years, Pettiet died of an accidental drug overdose on April 12, 2000. He was only 24 years old. Following his death a scholarship fund was started by in his name by his fomer acting coach.


Source: Ranker


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