Fame may bring money and glamour, but it can also bring terrible risks and is no defence to humanity's darker side.


1. John Lennon

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PA Photos

Born in 1940, Beatles singer and songwriter, John Lennon was a popstar, pacifist, activist and icon to a generation.  He was murdered in New York City, by Mark David Chapman a 25 year-old security guard from Hawaii.

On December 8, 1980 having signed autographs for fans outside his apartment, 40-year-old Lennon headed to a recording studio. Deciding to skip dinner because he wanted to say goodnight to his 5-year-old son, Sean, he returned to his apartment, The Dakota in NYC.

He was approached by earlier autograph hunter Chapman, who aimed 5 hollow point bullets at Lennon’s back from a Charter Arms .38 Special revolver and fired.  Lennon was hit in the back and shoulder and shouted, ‘Im shot, I’m shot’, as he staggered to the Dakota’s reception.

Chapman sat on the kerb, waiting calmly for the for the police to arrive.

Lennon Assassin Mark Chapman

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Lennon was rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital but pronounced dead on arrival in the emergency room by Dr. Lynn.  At that very same moment, Beatles song, ‘All My Loving’ came on the hospital’s sound system.

There was no funeral for Lennon but his remains were cremated at Ferncliff Cemetary in NYC and vigils were held all over the world.

Chapman pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life.  He was eligible for parole in 2000.  He has been denied parole 8 times and is currently incarcerated at Wende Correctional Facility in New York.


2. John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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PA Photos

Probably the most famous on-screen murder of them all, the 35th President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, by Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old former Marine who defected to the Soviet Union.

President Kennedy was born in 1917, into what would become one of the great political dynasties of our time.

He became President of the United States in 1961 and was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas aged 46.

JFK agreed to make a Presidential visit to Dallas to kick-start his re-election campaign and raise funds.  He and his entourage, including wife, Jacqueline arrived at the Love Field airbase and then made their way to Dallas via motorcade. Moments after they turned on to Elm Street, the President was struck twice by a sniper, positioned at the Texas School Book Depository.

The President was rushed to Parklands Hospital.  He was pronounced dead at 1.00pm, after all heart activity had ceased and last rites had been administered.  His body was taken from the hospital and loaded aboard Air Force One. Vice President Johnson had refused to leave for Washington without President Kennedy and his widow Jacqueline.

Johnson was sworn in as President on Air Force One with Jacqueline Kennedy by his side on the same day her husband was publicly murdered.

murdered celebrities: Vice-president being sworn in

Vice-President Jonson being sworn in as President aboard Air Force One with widow Jacqui Kennedy at his side. Photo: Wikipedia

After a State funeral on November 25, President Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetary.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and while being transferred from Dallas police HQ to county jail, Oswald was murdered on live television by Dallas nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.

Oswald’s killing has the dubious claim to fame of being the first live televised murder and spawned one of the greatest conspiracy theories of our time.

Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby. Photo: Wikipedia

Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby. Photo: Wikipedia


3. Gianni Versace

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The world famous Italian fashion designer was murdered on the steps of his Miami home on July 15, 1997 by Andrew Cunanan, a 27 year old college drop-out.

Versace dressed the rich and the famous and his friends and clients read like a who’s who of A-list celebrities.  His death sent shockwaves around the world.

50 year-old Versace was returning from a morning walk on Ocean Drive in Miami when spree killer, Andrew Cunanan emptied two bullets from a .40 calibre pistol into Versace’s head outside the designer’s home. Versace was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Centre in Miami Beach but died shortly after.

There was a huge outpouring of grief in the celebrity world following Versace’s murder and a star-studded funeral took place on July 24 .  Guests included Princess Diana and Sir Elton John, below.

Murdered celebrities: Princess Diana and Elton John at funeral

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Versace’s final resting place was in Italy, where his family held a private service.

Versace was not Cunanan’s only victim but he was his last. Cunanan murdered 5 men between April 1997 and July 1997 before turning the gun on himself on July 25.  Police have no idea why Versace was targeted and the killer’s motivation remain a mystery.

Killer Andrew Cunanan's body is remved following his suicide. Photo:  PA Photos.

Killer Andrew Cunanan’s body is remved following his suicide. Photo: PA Photos.


4. Tupac Shakur

Murdered celebrities: Rapper Tupac Shakur

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Rapper Tupac Shakur was murdered on Sept 13, 1996, aged just 25.

Tupac Shakur was an American rapper, songwriter and actor.  He sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time.

He was born in Harlem, NYC to Afeni Shakur and Billy Garland, who were both members of the Black Panthers, a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist movement.  His music reflected that ideaology.

He was at the centre of the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry in the 1990s.  He headed up the West Coast with Death Row Records whilst The Notorious B.I.G. ran Bad Boy Records on the East.

After leaving a Tyson fight staged in Las Vegas, Shakur and his entourage intended to travel, in convoy, to Club 662.  On the way, a white cadillac pulled up to Tupac’s car and shot Tupac in the chest, pelvis right hand and thigh.  The wounded Shakur was transferred to the University Medical Centre of Southern Nevada and put in a medically induced coma.  When he started to haemorrhage, the doctors tried repeatedly to save him until his mother told them to stop.  Tupac was pronounced dead at 4.03 on Sept 13, 1996.

His death remains an unsolved homicide.


5. Sharon Tate

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Born in 1943, Tate was murdered on August 9, 1969 by members of the notorious Charles Manson family.

The model turned actress appeared in a number of small TV roles before appearing in several films.  She was gaining quite a reputation as a promising new talent.  She was nominated for a Golden Globe, Golden Laurel and the Motion Picture Herald’s Star of Tomorrow Award.

In 1968, she married film director Roman Polanski and by August 1969 was pregnant with their first child.

On August 8, with her husband away in London, 8.5 months pregnant Tate had some friends over for lunch at her LA home.  They dined together that night too and all returned to the house on Cielo Drive, north of Beverly Hills at around 10.30pm.

During the night, the whole group was murdered by members of Charles Manson’s ‘family’.  Tate had been stabbed 16 times and the word ‘Pig’ had been daubed on the outside of the house in her blood.

On August 13, Tate was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetary in California with her son, Paul Richard Polanski in her arms.

Murdered celebrities: The body of Sharon Tate is taken from her Los Angeles home. PA Photos

The body of Sharon Tate is taken from her Los Angeles home. Photo: PA Photos

In 1971, Charles Manson was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people, including, Sharon Tate.  The murders were all carried out by members of the group at his instruction. He was convicted of the murders through the joint-responsibility rule, which makes each member of a conspiracy guilty of crimes his fellow conspirators commit.

He is serving life in prison at the Corcoran State Prison in California.

Murderer Charles Manson. Photo: PA Photos

Murderer Charles Manson. Photo: PA Photos


6. Gemma McCluskie

Murdered celebrities: EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie. PA Photos

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EastEnders actress McCluskie was mudered by her brother Tony in 2012.

Born in 1983, Gemma McCluskie was a Britsh television actress.  In EastEnders, she played Kerry Skinner, great-niece of Ethel and close friend of Slater sister Zoe.

On March 1st, 2012, McCluskie disappeared from the London home she shared with her brother Tony.  Cast mates from the  BBC soap including Martine McCutcheon, Brooke Kinsella and Natalie Cassidy started a twitter campaign, #FindGemma to raise awareness about her disappearance and appeal for any information.

On March 6, a headless torso was found in Regent’s Canal and on March 9, police confirmed it was Gemma’s.  On September 12, the actress’s head was found in the same stretch of canal.

On March 10, 35 year-old Tony McCluskie was formally charged.  He didn’t enter a plea and was remanded in custody.

The trial revealed that on the day of the murder, the siblings had argued.  Gemma had asked her brother to leave.  He grabbed her but claims to have no further memeory of what happened.  Death was attributed to being struck several times over the head with a blunt instrument.  Tony McCluskie, then dismemebered his sister’s body.  He was caught on CCTV the following day taking a suitcase of her remains to Regent’s Canal.

Tony McCluskie was found guilty of her murder on January 30, 2013 and jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years.

Gemma was laid to rest on Novemeber 30 at St. Monica’s Church in East London.

Murderer Tony McCluskie. Photo: PA Photos

Murderer Tony McCluskie. Photo: PA Photos


7. Jill Dando

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Jill Dando was shot outside her house on April 26, 1999.

Television journalist and presenter Jill Dando was born in 1961.  On the day of her murder, she left the home of her fiance, Alan Farthing in Chiswick and returned alone to the house she owned in Fulham.

As she reached her front door she was shot once in the head by a 9mm calibre automatic pistol.  The method, a hard contact execution, meant pressing the gun firm against the head to silence the shot and protect the killer from any blood splatter.  Dando was taken to Charing Cross Hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.

Her murder was reconstructed on Crimewatch, a show she had presented.

On May 25, Barry George was arrested and on May 28, he was charged with her murder.  He was found guilty at the Old Bailey on July 2,  2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

George appealed and was successful on his 3rd attempt.  He was acquitted on August 1, 2008.  Dando’s family and fiance did not ask the police to reopen the case.

Various theories about her murder have emerged, including a jealous ex, an unknown lover, a professional hit due to her involvement in Crimewatch, a deranged fan, mistaken identity and a revenge attack over an alleged paedophile investigation she was involved in.

At the time of the murder, a connection to a Yugoslav terrorist was dimsissed but over time has gained credence.  It alleged that a Serbian Warlord ordered her assassination in retaliation for the NATO bombing in 1999 of Radio and Television Serbia HQ.  Dando had earlier made an aid appeal for Kosovar Albanian refugees and this may have alerted Bosnian-Serb hardliners.

In the week of her murder she was on the cover of the Radio Times and had previously held the title of BBC Personality of the Year.

Her funeral took place on May 21 1999 at Clarence Park Baptist Church and her murder remains unsolved.


Do you remember the cases of these murdered celebrities?