Top Hollywood Curses

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:22 pm

The top Hollywood curses spark our imagination and provide all kinds of fodder for the tabloids. Whether we’re talking cursed roles, doomed productions, or even an unlucky family, a number of Hollywood curses have become the stuff of legends. In the following post, I’ve listed a few of the most popular curses to strike down celebrities, as well as some of the more offbeat. Whether or not you believe in such supernatural mumbo-jumbo, I hope you’ll still find it an enjoyable read.

The 27 Club

Okay, our first entry includes musicians instead of actors, but many of those listed as members of The 27 Club have still rubbed elbows with the Hollywood elite or had some manner of dealings with Tinseltown. As the name might indicate, The 27 Club is filled with musicians who’ve died at the age of twenty-seven, and the total number (over 40) is stunning. Here are some of the most notable members of the club, along with their cause of death.

The Curse of Rebel Without a Cause

Was the film Rebel Without a Cause cursed? Made in 1955, all three of the lead performers were dead by 1981. James Dean would die in a head-on car crash the same year the film was released, Natalie Wood would drown at the age of 43, and Sal Mineo was stabbed through the heart at the age of 37.

The Lee Family Curse

Legends have persisted for years that Bruce Lee was killed for sharing his martial arts secrets with the Western world. That seems unlikely, but there’s no disputing the fact that his death at the age of 32 was a tragedy. After collapsing two months before, Lee complained of a headache on July 20th, 1973 and took a painkiller and muscle relaxant before going to bed. He never woke up.

Twenty years later, his 28-year-old son, Brandon Lee, was filming the big-screen adaptation of the underground comic book known as The Crow. When a mistake occurred on the set, a bullet became lodged in a gun that was later pointed and fired at Lee. The bullet exited the gun, passed through Lee’s abdomen, and struck him in the spine. The operation to save his life lasted for six hours and required 60 pints of blood, but the young star was eventually pronounced dead on March 31st, 1993.

The Superman Curse

One of the top Hollywood curses involves the men chosen to play Superman and their supporting cast. Some say that the whole thing started when DC Comics screwed over co-creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Whatever the case, it’s certainly claimed its fair share of victims.

The Curse of Billy Bob Thornton

When he’s not busy insulting Canada or comparing himself to Tom Petty, actor Billy Bob Thornton seems to have a habit of loaning bad mojo to his co-stars. After all, how else can you explain the suspicious number of friends and co-stars who’ve up and died after being associated with Thornton?

The Incomparable Atuk

The film about an Eskimo warrior moving to the city has been cursed ever since it was written. In fact, it was eventually shelved after passing into the hands of a number of doomed actors. Here’s a complete list:

The Omen Curse

When it comes to top Hollywood curses, you’ve got to expect at least one involving the Prince of Darkness. That quota was met in 1976 with the release of The Omen, a film about the birth of the Antichrist. Just take a look at all the weird events surrounding the production:

The Curse of Poltergeist

Speculation about the Poltergeist curse started when crew members used actual skeletal remains for the filming of the memorable swimming pool scene. Afterwards, a series of accidents and deaths began to occur.

The Conqueror

Our final entry isn’t so much one of the top Hollywood curses as it is an example of really bad judgment. Future recluse Howard Hughes produced this film about the life of Genghis Khan and cast John Wayne in the lead role (nevermind the fact that Wayne wasn’t the least bit Asian). Lead actress Susan Hayward was almost killed by a panther during filming, but the worst part came during shoots in Utah’s Snow Canyon. Since it was nearby to the Yucca Flats, the site of numerous nuclear bomb tests, cast and crew were subjected to dangerous amounts of radiation. In fact, photos exist of John Wayne and others holding Geiger counters with the needle in the red. Ninety-one of the 220 cast and crew would eventually be diagnosed with cancer, including Wayne, Susan Hayward, and director Dick Powell. To make matters worse, The Conqueror proved to be a critical and commercial failure.

If you’d like to read more about some of the top Hollywood curses, check out the following books from Amazon. We do get a small commission for sending you there, but that doesn’t affect your final cost in the least bit.


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