Hollywood is a glamorous place. Celebrities are glorified and put on pedestals. Their lives often seem untouchable and utterly immune to the horrors of everyday life. Therefore, when something violent and horrific happens to a celebrity in Hollywood, it leaves people baffled and confused.
Though the City of Angels has it’s glitz and glam; it’s also a place that breeds greed, selfishness, lust, and the desire for excess. Unfortunately, this can leave celebrities vulnerable to jealous lovers, crazed fans, and everyone in between. Here are the most shocking murders in Hollywood history. You might not know that this Motown legend was murdered by his own father (page 8).
15. Gianni Versace
- A murder that was chronicled on Season 2 of FX’s American Crime Story
Gianni Versace was one of the most celebrated fashion designers of all time. Sadly, on July 15, 1997, Versace crossed paths with Andrew Cunanan, who was later revealed to be an active serial killer. As Versace entered his Miami mansion, Cunanan shot him twice in the head. The fashion powerhouse died instantly.
Eight days later, Cunanan killed himself during a standoff with police. After his death, police discovered that he had left five more victims in his wake. Versace’s life and death were chronicled on Season 2 of FX’s American Crime Story, The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
Next: A 1947 murder that still rattles Hollywood
14. Elizabeth Short, aka the “Black Dahlia”
- Over 70 years later, this is still one of the most gruesome murders in Hollywood.
The story of the Black Dahlia is one that still rattles Hollywood to this day. On Jan. 15, 1947, aspiring actress Elizabeth Short’s mutilated body was found by a woman and her daughter who were taking a walk in Los Angeles. Short’s body was sliced into two pieces and was completely drained of blood. Her face slashed from the sides of her mouth to the corners of her ears and she was washed clean, and “posed” with her legs spread apart. It was horrific.
Over the years, many people have confessed to killing Short, but no one has ever been arrested. Short’s murder remains unsolved.
Next: The terrible murder of a young actress that forced a change in California law
13. Rebecca Schaeffer
- After Schaeffer’s death, California changed the law so that you can no longer get private addresses from the DMV.
Rebecca Schaeffer was a 21-year-old burgeoning actress in 1980s. She had appeared on TV shows like My Sister Sam and in the film The End of Innocence. Unfortunately, she gained the attention of Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan.
Bardo wrote numerous letters to Schaeffer and even drove to the My Sister Sam set to try and meet the actress. Eventually, he became enraged with Schaeffer after seeing her in a sex scene in the film Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. He called her “another Hollywood wh*re.”
On July 18, 1989, after obtaining her home address from a private investigator, Bardo rang her doorbell and shot her in the chest at point-blank range. Schaeffer was pronounced dead 30 minutes after getting to the hospital. Bardo was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Next: The murder of an “SNL” star at the hands of his wife
12. Phil Hartman
- Jealousy and drug use can be a volatile mix.
Phil Hatman was a beloved actor and a fan favorite on Saturday Night Live. However, things took a turn for the worse when he married former model and aspiring actress Brynn Omdahl in 1987. Though the couple seemed happy at first, even having two children together, Omdhal had a hard time dealing with Harman’s success.
She had also become dependent on drugs and alcohol. Omdahl finally snapped on May 28, 1998. After arguing with his wife about her drug use, Hartman went to bed. Shortly after 3 a.m, the former model entered her bedroom and shot her sleeping husband three times, twice in the head and once in the side.
She then drove to her friend Ron Douglas’ house and confessed to the crime. Douglass called the police and before they arrived, Omdahl locked herself in the bathroom and shot herself in the mouth.
Next: The brutal rape and murder of a former Los Angeles Raiders cheerleader
11. Linda Sobek
- Violent and obsessed men are a real issue for women across the globe.
Model and former Los Angeles Raiders cheerleader Linda Sobek became an object of obsession for photographer Charles Rathbun. After sexually assaulting Sobek, Rathbun murdered the 27-year-old by strangling her. He then buried her body in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest.
Sobek had met Rathbun when she hired him to take her pictures. The pair worked together several times until Sobek left home one day for a session with Rathbun near the woods and never returned. Rathbun was found guilty of first-degree murder and rape and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Next: The suspicious drowning death of a Hollywood starlet
10. Natalie Wood
- To this day, no one can explain how Natalie Wood ended up in the water.
Natalie Wood grew up on the big screen. She was a child star in the film, Miracle on 34th Street and she went on to be a full-blown adult actress in movies like Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story. Wood was a massive Hollywood force. Unfortunately, on Nov. 28, 1981, she mysteriously drowned during a weekend boat trip to Catalina Island while sailing with her husband, Robert Wagner, actor friend Christopher Walken, and boat captain, Dennis Davern.
When Wood’s body was discovered the following day, autopsy reports showed that she had bruises on her body and arms, as well as a cut on her left cheek. Initially, Wood’s death was labeled an accident because she had been drinking and had two types of medications in her system.
However, in 2011, Davern came forward and revealed that he had lied to police at the time of Wood’s death and that he’d overheard Wood and Wagner fighting the night of her death. The case was reopened, and in 2018, Wagner who has been adamant that he had nothing to do with his wife’s death is now a person of interest.
Next: The killing of a Hollywood publicist that never made much sense
9. Ronni Chasen
- The murder of a major Hollywood publicist still has a ton of loose ends.
Ronni Chasen was a massive name in Hollywood. A publicist to the stars, she represented names like Hans Zimmer and the Newman brothers. She also handled the campaigns for films like Driving Miss Daisy and The Hurt Locker. Chasen’s life and career came to a screeching halt on Nov. 16, 2010. She was driving home from the premiere of the film, Burlesque when she was gunned down in her car on Sunset Boulevard.
Convicted felon Harold Martin Smith was a person of interest but he committed suicide when police approached him. The gun he used in his death was the same one used to kill Chasen. However, things got stickier from there. Though police thought Chasen’s death was a robbery gone wrong, many people weren’t convinced.
Most people think Smith was hired to kill Chasen. Suspects included the Russian mob due to an art deal that had gone wrong, Chasen’s rumored boyfriend Jonathan Novak, loan sharks who supported Chasen’s brother’s alleged gambling addiction, and even her own niece, Jill Gatsby. Nothing was ever substantiated.
Next: A legendary singer who was shot by his own father
8. Marvin Gaye
- A Motown singer who was killed for defending his mother
Marvin Gaye is one of the most legendary singers of all time. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he had massive hits with Motown Records. Unfortunately, his personal life wasn’t so fantastic. He had long-standing animosity towards his father, Marvin Gay, Sr. who was abusive towards him and his mother for years.
On April 1, 1984, Gaye intervened when his parents got into a physical altercation. Later, Marvin Gay Sr. entered the singer’s bedroom and shot him three times in the chest. The “Sexual Healing” singer was pronounced dead at a hospital the day before his 45th birthday. Gaye’s father was initially charged with first-degree murder.
However, the charge was reduced to manslaughter after it was revealed that he was suffering from a brain tumor and the younger Gaye had drugs in his system when he died. The elder Gaye was sentenced to a suspended six-year sentence and probation. He died at a nursing home in 1998.
Next: A drive-by-shooting that left a legendary West Coast rapper dead
7. Tupac Shakur
- A rap beef ended Tupac Shakur’s life.
Tupac Shakur was one of the greatest voices in hip-hop. Though he’s had several run-ins with the law, it was a beef that began at the 1995 Source Awards that would change rap forever. Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Record, instigated the infamous East Coast/ West Coast beef. Shakur and New York rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. were caught in the crosshairs.
On Sept. 7, 1996, 25-year-old Shakur left Mike Tyson’s boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with Knight. As the stopped at a red light, a Cadillac pulled up next to them and opened fire. The “California Love” rapper was hit four times. He died six days later from internal bleeding.
Nobody has ever been arrested for Tupac’s murder, and the case remains open.
Next: The killing of a Brooklyn rapper just seven months later
6. The Notorious B.I.G.
- Sean “Diddy” Combs watched helplessly as his best friend was murdered.
The East Coast/West Coast beef didn’t simply fade after Shakur’s death. Instead, it was amplified. In the months after the “Dear Mama” rapper’s death, Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. voiced concerns for his safety. His fears were valid. Just after midnight on March 9, 1997, Wallace sat at a red light after a night out in LA. His friend and producer Sean “Diddy” Combs was just a few cars back.
A dark-colored Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up alongside the SUV Wallace was in and opened fired. Like Shakur, the rapper was hit four times and pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. Suge Knight is widely believed to have ordered the hit on Biggie, but nobody has ever been charged. His murder case remains open.
Next: The horrendous murder that sparked the trial of the century
5. Nicole Brown Simpson
- These murders led to an unbelievable acquittal.
Nicole Brown Simpson’s marriage to former NFL star O.J. Simpson was violent and tumultuous, so much so that Brown Simpson finally divorced the USC alum in 1992. This did not stop Simpson from stalking his ex-wife and terrorizing her. Therefore, when Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were found brutally stabbed outside of Brown Simpson’s Los Angeles apartment on June 13, 1994, suspicion was immediately on Simpson.
The murders were brutal to say that least. It was obviously a crime of passion since Brown Simpson was found stabbed numerous times so forcefully, that she was nearly decapitated. Her ex-husband was eventually indicted for the crimes and shockingly found not guilty for both of the murders. However, he was found liable for the deaths in a civil suit and ordered to pay over $33 million to the Brown and Goldman family.
Simpson would eventually go to jail anyway. In 2007, he was found guilty in an unrelated armed robbery. He was released from prison in 2018, but we don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who doesn’t think Simpson is guilty of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
Next: The horrible death of a 22-year old The Voice contestant
4. Christina Grimmie
- A murder that devastated fans of The Voice
Christina Grimmie was just getting a taste of fame when she was gunned down by Kevin James Loibl, an obsessed fan. Grimmie had appeared on Season 6 of The Voice and had garnered quite a following. In June 2016, she was shot and killed at her concert in Orlando while she was signing autographs.
James approached the singer and opened fire. Though Grimmie’s brother tackled him tot he ground, the singer’s injuries were too severe, and she died. Loilbl eventually broke free and turned the gun on himself.
Next: A murder that cut the life of a mega-talented Tejano singer short
3. Selena Quintanilla-Pérez
- The murder of this young songstress at the hands of her friend shocked the world.
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was a massive superstar in the ’90s on the verge of crossing over. A magnetic entertainer with a stunning voice, it seemed like the entire world adored Selena. Unfortunately, adoration also breeds jealousy. Yolanda Saldívar was in Selena’s inner-circle. She was a trusted friend, president of Selena fan club, and manager of the singer’s boutiques. However, greed got the best of Saldívar. She began stealing from Selena and her family and was fired from her positions and banned from contacting Selena again.
The “Como La Flor” singer didn’t want to simply end her friendship with Saldívar, so she agreed to meet her privately at her motel. On the morning of March 31, 1995, Saldívar shot the Tejano singer after they had an argument in her motel room. Selena was able to scape and identify Saldívar as her shooter before losing consciousness and later dying in the hospital.
Saldívar was sentenced to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.
Next: The killing of a Beatle
2. John Lennon
- A crazed fan plotted The Beatles legend’s murder for months.
Unfortunately, being in the spotlight means that celebrities have to deal with crazed and obsessive fans. John Lennon ruled the ’60s as a member of The Beatles. However, by the 1980s the group had broken up, and Lennon and had moved with his son and wife, Yoko Ono to New York City.
Mark David Chapman, a crazed fan, became angry at Lenon for saying The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” Champan meticulously plotted Lennon’s murder for months, and on Dec. 8, 1980, Chapman stalked Lennon outside of his Manhattan apartment and shot the singer in the back with a revolver.
As Lennon staggered into the building’s reception, Chapman waited calmly on the steps for the police to arrive. In 1981, Chapman pleaded guilty to the murder of John Lennon and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Next: One of the most horrendous crimes in history
1. Sharon Tate
- The Manson Family is responsible for Sharon Tate’s heinous murder.
Actress Sharon Tate was a victim of one of the most gruesome murders of all time. The Hollywood actress had starred in movies like The Fearless Vampire Killers and Valley of the Dolls. She was also married to director Roman Polanski, and the couple was expecting their first child together.
On Aug. 8, 1969, Tate who was 9 months pregnant at the time was home with some friends in Hollywood while Polanski was away on business in London. That evening Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger were murdered by members of the Manson family. Another victim, Steven Parent, was found shot dead in his car in the driveway.
Tate was stabbed 16 times, one of her breasts had been cut off, an “X” had been cut onto her stomach, and the word “PIG” had been written on a door in her blood. She was later buried with her unborn son in her arms. Though he was not present for the murders, Charles Manson was later convicted along with Manson family members Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel for the crimes.
Manson died in prison in 2017.
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