Hollywood's most mysterious deaths

Steve Charnock
Yahoo UK Movies Features

The death of Hollywood star Natalie Wood has been the subject of much discussion since the tragic night she plunged into the icy waters of the Isthmus Cove in California, back in November 1981, while dining with husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken.

The official word on the 'Rebel Without a Cause' star's end was 'accidental death by drowning', but not everyone is convinced. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have recently re-opened the case, and while Wagner and Walken are not suspects, the authorities (we assume) have new evidence that leads them to suspect foul play. 

Wood's mysterious death isn't the only to haunt Hollywood, though. Throughout the years, there's been quite a few stories that seem to have come straight from a movie script.

Here's a run-down of some of the more intriguing cases...

[Gallery: Films that made the most money in one weekend]

Johnny Stompanato

'Johnny Stomp' was a Hollywood bodyguard and low-level mafia muscle who started an affair with Lana Turner in 1957 that ended in tragedy. Stompanato famously drew a gun on Sean Connery on a film set, after accusing him of having an affair with Turner (the future Bond coolly disarmed the hood and broke his jaw).

In '58, the couple (who had a tempestuous relationship), got into a physical fight and Turner’s daughter Cheryl Crane stabbed him to death. She was found guilty of 'Justifiable Homicide', however many say Lana actually did the deed, especially after she settled out of court with the Stompanato family when they sued her.


The Black Dahlia

In 1946, Elizabeth Scott was a beautiful 22 year-old aspiring actress from Boston with dreams of stardom. In 1947, she was dead. In one of the most gruesome crimes of the time, Scott's body was discovered horribly mutilated.

Hollywood's press went nuts for the story, painting the victim out to be a real-life femme fatale, dubbing her 'The Black Dahlia'. Despite the publicity, the case was never solved... Brian DePalma went on to make a rubbish film about it.

George Reeves

One of TV's biggest stars of the '50s, George Reeves was the first Superman seen on screen. He struggled to break intot he movie biz though, and shot himself with a Luger pistol at 2am on June 16th 1959. Or did he?

Not everyone thinks it was Reeves' finger on that trigger. Many, including his mother, suggested that his ex, Toni Maddix, was responsible (she was the sole beneficiary in Reeves' will). This also spawned a movie - the 2006 film 'Hollywoodland', starring Ben Affleck.

[See more: The manliest films of all time]

[See more: Chick flicks blokes secretly love]

[See more: Meet the cast of the new James Bond]

Bruce & Brandon Lee

The most famous martial artist of all time, Bruce Lee was at the top of his game in 1976. Six days before the release of the classic kung fu film 'Enter the Dragon', Bruce Lee took a nap at a friend's house after taking a painkiller for a headache. And never woke up. His autopsy concluded that the 'Way of the Dragon' star must have been hypersensitive to the muscle-relaxant properties of the painkiller he'd taken.

Many disagree though and have pointed the finger at triads, a 'Dim Mak' (Death Strike) from an earlier fight or even a family curse. That last theory reared its ugly head again in 1993, when Bruce's son Brandon died after a prop gun malfunctioned on the set of the gothic actioner, 'The Crow'.

[Exclusive clip: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol]

Bob Crane

Known for playing the leading role in the '60s TV show 'Hogan's Heroes', Bob Crane was bludgeoned to death in an Arizona apartment in 1978. His friend John Henry Carpenter was the main suspect, but was never arrested.

He was in the frame after Crane's blood type was found in his car after a falling-out between the two and further suspicions were raised after sordid secrets about the pair's penchant for videotaping each other in the bedroom came out. Crane's story was brought to the screen in 2002 in 'Auto Focus', with Greg Kinnear in the lead.

Brittany Murphy 

Christmas 2009 saw the LA Fire Department called to the 'Sin City' star's house, where she was announced dead on arrival with pneumonia and severe anaemia the cause. That's odd enough.

But just six months later, her widower Simon Monjack died of exactly the same two things in the very same house. 'Toxic mould' has been attributed to the strange deaths, although Murphy and Monjack – and crucially, the chief coroner on the case – dismissed the claims.

David Carradine

In June 2009 in a Bangkok hotel room, the 'Kill Bill' star was found hanging inside a wardrobe. Police said the death was ‘suspicious’, but eventually the pathologist ruled that Carradine had died during a dangerous solo sex act.

His family (perhaps understandably) were not happy with the verdict. They reckoned Carradine was planning to uncover shady goings-on in martial arts underworld and had upset powerful people. His ex-wife meanwhile claimed he was bumped off by violent transsexual prostitutes (honestly), who targeted the 'Kung-Fu' star because of his wealth.

Any mystery Hollywood deaths we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments section below...

[Competition: Win a laptop!]