Back in 1982, a tragic accident ripped through the heart of Hollywood when three actors were killed during the Steven Spielberg produced sci-fi horror Twilight Zone: The Movie. May 11 is officially designated Twilight Zone day, so today we look back on the worst tragedy to ever shake this beloved show.
A helicopter was flying at an altitude of only 8 meters on the set — far too low to avoid the explosions used by pyrotechnics on the ground. One of the blasts hit the machine, leading it to spin wildly out of control and to crush child actress, 6-year-old Renee Shin-Ti Chen. Horrifically, actor Vic Morrow and 7-year-old Myca Dinh Lee were also decapitated when the helicopter crashed in California..
The three deaths sent shockwaves through the industry, later bringing even more attention due to the criminal charges brought against director John Landis and four others, including Steven Spielberg. From that moment thereon, the catastrophe signaled the need to implement increased safety precautions on movie sets.
And at the crux of all the legal proceedings was a 20-year-old girl, a young Jennifer Jason Leigh hot off the success of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, who was mourning the death of her father, Vic Morrow. Indeed, unbeknown to many, the actress's father was in fact the man who was killed in the deadly accident. Here he is in action as part of the movie that got him torn away from his loving family:
Back then, speaking of the moment her mother was telephoned with the dreadful news, Leigh recalls:
"I went into shock for four or five hours. I didn't know what to feel."
As far as reports go, back in the '80s, Leigh and her sister went on to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Warner Bros., Landis and Spielberg. The case went on for years and to this day, the amounts compensated are still unknown — the suit was settled out of court.
Over two decades later, and Jennifer's close involvement with the helicopter accident has been largely forgotten. Instead, it is her talent within the entertainment industry that has placed her in the forefront as one of the industry's most successful actresses — just yesterday, she secured an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. Here's the trailer: