Even though we didn’t know them personally, celebrity deaths can still deeply affect us. Whether it’s because we’ve seen them grow as child actors, cheered or cried over their movie or TV scenes, or have been impacted by their music, it’s always shocking when someone passes too soon.
Here, we pay tribute to the many stars who died in the prime of their lives, leaving us to mourn over the life and career that could have been. They may not be with us, but they will not be forgotten.
Taiwanese television host and singer Alien Huang has died at the age of 36, according to Taiwanese media.
Huang, who is famous for co-hosting the long-running variety programme 100% Entertainment with singer Show Luo and TV host Linda Chien, was found dead at his home in Taipei on Wednesday (Sept 16).
According to Taiwan’s Apple Daily, Alien returned home at about 10pm on Tuesday. There was no one at home at that time.
He was found lying half-dressed in the hallway near the bathroom by his father, who was looking for him to have lunch together, at about 11am on Wednesday. There were some external injuries on his head and some bloodstains on the floor.
He was pronounced dead by the paramedics who arrived at the scene. The police did not find any drugs, wine bottles or signs of struggle on the premises.
Preliminary investigations show that he died after slipping near the bathroom.
Actress Oh In Hye died at age 36, following a cardiac arrest. It was reported that she had allegedly attempted suicide in her home, and was discovered by a friend.
She was rushed to the hospital immediately for treatment. It was reported that she was in a stable condition yesterday morning, but passed away later that day. Her burial will take place on the 16th, following her funeral.
The actress appeared in numerous films, most notably in 2011’s Sin of a Family, Red Vacance Black Wedding, and in 2013’s Eating, Talking, Faucking. She hasn’t appeared in any other works after 2014. It was also reported that she also works as a florist and has her own YouTube channel.
In another tragic death in the world of K-pop, a member of boy group TST (formerly known as Top Secret) passed away suddenly on June 16. The young idol, whose real name is Kim Jeong-hwan, had just turned 28 in April. His family has requested for the cause of his death to remain private and asked that the media and fans refrain from spreading speculations.
Yohan debuted in 2015 with the now-disbanded group NOM, before making a comeback with TST in 2017. In his final Instagram post on May 31, he posted images of himself at beautiful places, with the caption: “I want to go travel”.
The well-loved ‘Kai PoChe!’ actor was found dead in his Bandra apartment on the morning of June 14. The 34-year-old passed from suicide by hanging, and was revealed to have been battling depression. When news of his death broke, many politicians and actors alike took to social media to express their grief and sorrow over his untimely death.
He became an instant hit with his good looks and boyish charm when he was noticed in the famous soap on Zee TV’s ‘Pavitra Rishta’ in 2009. After that, his fame grew after acting the Bollywood buddy drama, ‘Kai PoChe’. In more heart breaking news, his sister-in-law had reportedly stopped eating since his passing and she eventually passed away while the actor’s last rites were being performed.
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Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ E.E. Cummings
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Fans all over the world were shocked when news broke on May 23 that the award-winning Japanese pro wrestler and star of now-suspended popular Netflix reality series, Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020, was found dead at just 22 years old. Her organisation, Stardom Wrestling, issued the statement to fans, saying, “We are very sorry to report that our Hana Kimura has passed away. Please be respectful and allow some time for things to process, and keep your thoughts and prayers with her family and friends.” No official cause of death has been reported, but fans speculate that she died by suicide due to cyberbullying. Her final Instagram post was a selfie with her cat and the message: “I love you, have fun and live a long time. I’m sorry.” Our thoughts are with her loved ones.
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わたしのだいじなファイブスター。 わたしは昔から 周りと馴染むのが苦手で、 集団行動が苦手で、 引っ込んでる杭のつもりが出てて、打たれたりしてた。🔨 1人は慣れっこで、1番自分を出せて、1番楽しい。 だから私はこのファイブスターグランプリが楽しみで仕方ない。 去年はめきしこにいて不参加。 一昨年は大江戸隊に所属していて同門対決をした。(その頃は大江戸隊を家族だと思っていたから騙された悔しさと負けた悔しさで口をすぼめた。。) 今年はTCSというユニットを作ったけど、別にあいつらと仲良しこよしするつもりはない。 幸い同じブロックにユニットメンバーはいないけど。(決勝で会えるかな。) だから今の私には何も失う物はないし、私1人で全ての力を出せるって思うと本当に楽しみで仕方がない。 スターダムという団体に上がり始めてから掲げている目標は、 「スターダムを侵略する」 これは今でもずっとブレてない。 TCSを作ってから、 どこのユニットよりも1番多いメンバーで アーティスト・オブ・スターダム(トリオ)のベルトも巻いて 少しずつだけど侵略できてると思う。 でも決定的な何かが足りないんだ。。 私がトップだって証明できるモノが。 今までチャンスがなかった訳じゃない。そこで勝てなかった私がいた。 私はシングルマッチが大好きだ。 でも、実際スターダムでまだ一度もシングルのベルトを巻いた事がない。 シンデレラトーナメント(シングルマッチのトーナメント)でも優勝した事がない。 なんにも結果が出せてない。 これじゃあただの 理想ばかり語る口だけヒネくれぼっちだ。 だから私は1人で良かったと、今まで1人でやってきて良かったんだと思える結果が欲しい。 仲間がいなくて寂しかったあの頃の私を 仲間を裏切って本当にこれで良かったんだろうかと思ったあの夜を 結果を出せていない今を….. ….全て許して抱きしめちゃいたい！ だから私にとって今年のファイブスターグランプリは凄く凄く大事で凄く凄く楽しみな大会なんだ！！ 失われた青春を取り戻す為にスターダムに入団したのだけれども(あと侵略する為)悪いが、私は私の為に私の傷を癒す為だけに青春させてもらう！！！！ この技と共にッッ！ "Hydrangea" 「移り気」「冷淡」「辛抱強さ」「冷酷」「無情」「高慢」 ・かつてのパートナー、そして敬愛すべき負け犬の花月からタップを奪った素晴らしき日の帰り道、綺麗な紫陽花が咲いていたんだ。
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The Chicago Typewriter actor and model passed away on May 11 after battling stomach cancer. He was just 31 years old. His sister broke the difficult news on his Instagram account, thanking friends and fans for their messages of condolence that have brought them some comfort. “Thanks to you, we were not alone as we sent my younger brother to heaven,” the statement read.
Taiwan-born Canadian model-actor Godfrey Gao died after he collapsed while filming a Chinese variety series on November 27, 2019. His agency, JetStar Entertainment, confirmed this on Weibo. He was reportedly rushed to hospital, where he died after nearly three hours, according to JetStar’s statement. According to Chinese media reports, he had been filming Chase Me – a night-time variety series by Zhejiang Television which focuses on physical tasks for its contestants. He reportedly collapsed at around 2am midway through filming. The 35-year-old was known as the first male Asian model to appear in a Louis Vuitton campaign, as well as for his leading role in Chinese TV series Remembering Lichuan.
South Korean singer-actress Sulli was found dead at her home on October 14, 2019. The 25-year-old former f(x) member had just made her solo debut in July, but had been battling severe depression for years. She was also a victim of cyber-bullying, which she cites as the main reason why she quit the girl group in the first place. After her death, the “Sulli Act” was proposed to enact a new law that demands online users to use their real identities online, in an effort to curb malicious online comments. Sulli had started her career as a child actress, appearing on the historical drama Ballad Of Seodong (2005), before joining SM Entertainment as a member of girl group f(x) in 2009. She was beloved by fans for being outspoken against hateful online comments and cyberbullying, as well as advocating for feminism such as the “no bra movement”.
41 days after Sulli took her own life, her best friend and fellow K-pop star Goo Hara was discovered dead at home. Fans were deeply shocked as the 28-year-old former KARA girl group member had just released a new song and had just completed a promotional tour in Japan. Like Sulli, Hara also suffered from depression and cyberbullying. She was locked in a legal dispute with ex-boyfriend Choi Jong-bum, who allegedly assaulted her and threatened to release a sex video filmed without her consent. Hotlines to call if you or someone you love needs help: Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 AWARE Women’s Helpline: 1800-777-5555 Institute of Mental Health’s Emergency Helpline: 6389 2222 National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868
The passing of 28-year-old actor Aloysius Pang shook Singaporeans, with many expressing disbelief and heartache. Aloysius was carrying out repair work inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer — an artillery gun mounted on an armoured chassis — for reservist while at the Waiouru Training Area in New Zealand, when he “sustained injuries when the gun barrel was lowered”, said the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). Many will hopeful that he would pull through, but after a series of surgeries and despite the efforts of the doctors there, he was placed on life support and eventually succumbed to his injuries. Aloysius was a bright child star, beginning his career at a tender age of nine, before taking a hiatus at 14 and returning to the small screen again at 2012. In 2014, he was named by Mediacorp as one of 8 Dukes of Caldecott and received the Best Newcomer Award at the 2015 Star Awards. He was slated to film an upcoming drama, My One in a Million, after Chinese New Year.
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On behalf of our family Throughout the past few days in the hospital, it has been a difficult time for us. Every news that were brought upon us since his last op was devastating with little signs of hope on his recovery. We all broke down when the medical team spoke to us that his condition is worsening and we should be prepared for the worst. We're going to lose a brother. And my parents are going to lose their precious son whom is only 28. Thus I seek everybody's kind understanding that we are unable to comment further during these precarious time.
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Main vocalist of popular K-pop boy band SHINee, Jonghyun, as he was better known, died at the age of 27 from carbon monoxide poisoning in his apartment in Seoul on Dec 18, 2017. Although widely regarded as having one of the best vocals in South Korea and applauded for his astuteness to craft his own musicality, Jonghyun struggled with depression and fame. He left a suicide note with a close friend and fellow singer Nine9, where he described his pain and said he was “broken from the inside”. His album, Poet Artist, which was completed before his death, was released by his label SM Entertainment, and all profits from the album went to his family to start a charity foundation to help others. Many believe that his death points to the demands of the South Korean culture, which has one of the highest suicide rates amongst developed nations.
Actress Emma Yong, known for being one-third of popular local musical comedy theatre act Dim Sum Dollies, succumbed to stage 4 stomach cancer (tumours had spread to her spine, uterus, pelvis and kidney) at the age of 36 after a 16-month long battle. The bilingual thespian also starred in Glen Goei’s 2009 film The Blue Mansion where she played Mei-Yi, an oppressed daughter-in-law in a rich family, and was named Best Supporting Actress award at the 2006 Life! Theatre Awards for her role in Chinese-language musical Shanghai Blues. Since her passing, the Emma Yong Fund was created to support local theatre practitioners that suffer from critical illnesses.
Known as “Madonna of the East”, Anita Mui was a popular Cantopop idol who died at the age of 40 in 2003 due to cervical cancer. Anita started her career in 1982 with her debut album, Debt Heart, and had sold over 100 million records and performed over 300 concerts. She was famous for her outrageous dance moves and costumes, as well as high-powered vocal performances, which revolutionised the gangtai style of music. Not limited to her singing abilities, Anita was also an esteemed actress, finding success in films like The Heroic Trio (1993) and July Rhapsody (2002). She was also casted in Zhang Yimou’s 2004 film House of Flying Daggers, but had to pull out due to health reasons and passed away shortly.
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CNN once placed Leslie Cheung as one of “Asia’s 25 Greatest Actors of All Time.” Not only is he a celebrated actor for his roles in films such as Farewell My Concubine (1993) and Happy Together (1997), Leslie is also known for his Chinese pop music that dominated the airwaves alongside Anita Mui, Alan Tam and Danny Chen. Behind his versatility lied a man plagued with depression brought on by his fame and attacks on his sexuality. It eventually led him to commit suicide by jumping off the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong at the age of 46 in 2003. He had written a suicide note that began with the word ‘Depression’, which was found in his pocket.
Amy Winehouse, a British singer from London, was known for her soulful vocals and signature beehive up-do and thick cat eyes. Her 2006 album, Back to Black, not only showed off her songwriting prowess, it also showcased her abilities to shine across soul and rhythm and blues musical genres. The album also led her to win five Grammys in 2008, which included Best Pop Vocal Album and Song of the Year for Rehab. But behind her powerful voice and unique take on music, Amy struggled with substance and alcohol abuse, depression, eating disorders, and a toxic relationship with former husband Blake Felder-Civil, who reportedly introduced the singer to drugs. Many artists have credited Winehouse as an influence who helped pave the way for them, including Adele, Duffy, Ellie Goulding and Emeli Sandé.
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For our girl Amy, it has been seven years since you passed on to the other plane of life. Since then there have been a few years of questions, intrigues, truths and recognition. And even after these past years, we feel that you are still close and alive, encircling us with your memory and your light. ─ Your spirit lives and has filled our hearts with love and tenderness … know that we are eternally grateful for your personality, for the love and intensity that despite so little time in this world, you shared with all of us and with so many people around of the world. ─ Today is the greatest day, but every day is a day to celebrate and remember your spirit and all the beautiful art you left! All of us from the four corners of the world miss you every day more than words can express. __ Thanking the Amy Winehouse Foundation for doing a great job in memory of Amy to support, inform and inspire vulnerable and disadvantaged youth to reach their full potential. With love ▪ ✫ 14.09.1983 ─ † 23.07.2011 #AmyWinehouseNeverDies
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Known most famously for his role as a naive quarterback, Finn Hudson, in American musical dramedy Glee, Cory Monteith, 31, was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room in July 2013 after consuming a deadly combination of heroin and alcohol. The actor, who was dating fellow Glee actress Lea Michele both on-screen and off, had been struggling with alcohol and substance abuse since he was 13 and had entered rehabilitation twice by the time he was 19. Seven months prior to his death, Cory had checked into rehab for the third time.
Known for his critically acclaimed roles in Brokeback Mountain (2005) and as Joker in Batman film The Dark Knight (2008), the 28-year-old Australian actor died after accidentally overdosing in 2008. He had posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Joker. Before his death, Ledger’s former fiancee Michelle Williams had revealed that the actor had insomnia and had to take sleeping pills. Heath himself admitted in an interview that although his body was exhausted, his mind just kept going. In 2011, the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia in Perth named a 575 seat proscenium theatre after the actor.
Before Jackie Chan (and later Donnie Yen) popularised Chinese martial arts, Bruce Lee was the one to watch. His films sparked an interest in Chinese marital arts in the West, and dramatically influenced the direction and tone of martial arts films in the United States as well as globally. Lee Xiao Long, or little dragon as he was most famously coined, moved from Hong Kong to the United States in 1959, and began teaching martial arts before making it big with films like Fists of Fury (1971), Way of the Dragon (1972) and The Game of Death (released posthumously in 1978). Shortly before his death at the age of 32 in 1973, Bruce was diagnosed with cerebral edema (accumulation of fluids in the brain) after a bout of seizures and headaches. His passing was ruled as a death by misadventure.
Despite living a short life of 36 years, Marilyn Monroe is still widely remembered for her blonde bombshell characters. From doing raunchy pin-up modelling to singing happy birthday to US President John F. Kennedy, Monroe is most famously remembered for the scene in 1955 romantic comedy The Seven Year Itch, where her white dress famously flew up when she stood on a subway grate. Her life came to an abrupt end in 1962 when she overdosed on barbiturates, which reflected her struggles with substance abuse, depression and anxiety.
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Remembered as a ‘bad boy’, James Dean became an icon of social disillusionment and generational differences that teenagers faced after his roles in Rebel Without A Cause (1955) and Giant (1956). His uniform of denim in these movies is also canonised in the denim history as a pivotal moment that contributed to the widespread popularity of jeans in postwar America. His interest in auto racing perhaps led to his end as he died in a car accident along highway route 466 in Cholame, California at the age of 24 in 1955.
Another American cultural icon, the Jailhouse Rock singer Elvis Presley passed away at the age of 42 due to a heart attack. The King of Rock and Roll was reported to have suffered from drug dependency, which might have been the cause of his multiple ailments. Elvis was known for his flamboyant interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style that often courted controversy. Widely regarded as one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century, he was also a prolific actor, with roles in films such as Love Me Tender (1956) and G.I. Blues (1960).
Aaliyah Dana Haughton, or better known as Aaliyah, was a popular hip-hop and R&B singer before she died in a plane crash in the Bahamas at the age of 22 in 2001. She was in the Bahamas to film the music video for her song, Rock The Boat. A child star who first gained recognition at the age of 10 when she appeared on a television show Star Search, she went on to sign with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson’s Blackground Records. Having sold over an estimated 24 million albums worldwide, Aaliyah is remembered for her contributions to the music industry that has since influenced fellow artists like Adele and Rihanna.
Text: Ho Guo Xiong, Kwok Kar Peng, Natalya Molok and Elizabeth Liew
Additional reporting: Lim Ruey Yan/The Straits Times
This post was updated on Sep 16, 2020.
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