Whitney Houston and Other Stars Who Died Before Their Last Movie Was Released

Coming to terms with celebrity deaths is never easy. However, we’ve at least been able to say one last goodbye to certain stars who passed away before the release of their last movies. From Whitney Houston to Paul Walker, these celebrities never got to see the success of their final films.

Whitney Houston


This celebrity made her name as a pop icon, though she did make a few appearances on-screen as an actor. Whitney Houston starred in the 2012 remake of the original 1976 film, Sparkle, but she sadly wouldn’t live to see it hit theaters. Houston battled a cocaine addiction, and was found unresponsive in a bathtub three months after filming wrapped on Feb. 11, 2012. Her death was the ruled as the result of accidental drowning with cocaine in her system.

According to the 2018 documentary, Whitney, Houston was actually required to pass a weekly drug test in order to keep working on the movie. During the first rehearsal, she arrived “bloated and slurring,” but she did manage to stay drug-free throughout filming.

“This would have been a big, big comeback, she is so brilliant in it,” said Howard Rosenman, an executive producer of 2012’s Sparkle. “I was just raving about her performance, she was so great in it. I’m just in shock.”

James Dean

James Dean was only 24 years old when he died, but he managed to become one of the most legendary actors of the century. He’s most well-known for three major roles in East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Giant (1956).

Dean tragically died in 1955 while shooting Rebel Without a Cause, as the result of a car accident while driving his Porsche 550 Spyder. In addition to the film being released after his death, he was nominated for two Oscars and won a Golden Globe Award posthumously.

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-IRELAND ALLIANCE

It seemed like the entire world mourned over the death of Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the Star Wars series. She passed away at 60 of a massive heart attack on Dec. 27, 2016. One year later, however, she made her last appearance on-screen for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, shared his grievances in a statement:

Carrie and I have been friends most of our adult lives. She was extremely smart; a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everyone loved. In Star Wars, she was our great and powerful princess — feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think. My heart and prayers are with Billie, Debbie and all Carrie’s family, friends and fans. She will be missed by all.

Heath Ledger

Nobody will ever forget Heath Ledger’s incredible performance as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. However, the movie was released months after the star’s tragic death. He was found dead in his New York City apartment on Jan. 22, 2008, as the result of a fatal mix of sleeping pills and prescription drugs in his system.

Friends and family of Ledger’s have since revealed that he’d been struggling in his final weeks. According to Ledger’s friend and dialect coach, Gerry Grennell, he was battling a long-lasting, pneumonia-type illness that left him “exhausted, emotionally and physically.”

Plus, as Grennell pointed out, Ledger was still recovering from his recent breakup with his girlfriend, Michelle Williams, as well as dealing with the pressure of fame. “He was desperately unhappy,” Grennell said, “desperately sad.”

Paul Walker

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker | Universal

Star of the Fast and Furious franchise, Paul Walker, died in an untimely and tragic accident. Before he was done filming scenes for Furious 7 (2015), Walker got into a fatal car crash while driving his Porsche Carrera GT in Los Angeles. According to The Guardian, he’d been driving at over 100 mph when he crashed and suffered major burns and trauma injuries.

Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel explained how Walker still inspires the franchise. “Part of Paul’s legacy lives through every frame that we shoot,” he said. “You are reminded of this angel that was so integral to this concept of brotherhood for our millennium. There’s something beautiful about that. There’s something celebratory about that.”

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